Dear 2020, Thank You.

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While you might have single-handedly been the most insane year ever, I can’t help but look back at how much I am grateful for this year. 

Yes, like many, I went into that 2019 NYE thinking… 2020 is ABOUT TO BE THE YEAR.  I had plans, domestic travels, abroad trips, events, you name it.  Well, on March 15, 2020, the world had a different plan.  Slowly but surely, my events were canceled, my travels were canceling, my new growth at work was adjusting to a dreaded… remote.  I was more comfortable with the go go go, the hustle of the day, the weeks when you don’t even remember what you all accomplished.  Well, March and April, that first month home was my most trying time with 2020… with navigating work + parenting + homeschool + home-life and relationship. 

I had my lows.  My tears in the tub, when too much was going on, my short fuse because I couldn’t “do it all.”  Eventually, everything built up, and a breakdown led me to dual conversations (both with tears)…one with my managers, the other with my daughter’s teacher. The shared response from both ends, “you don’t have to do it all, it’s ok,” CHANGED EVERYTHING.  I instantly started to feel peace and control back into my life.  I blocked out time at work when I needed to focus on home and vice versa.  I stopped trying to do it all and be a little more human and realizing “let’s take this 2020 and make something of it!”

Thank you, 2020, for teaching me:

  • Detox + Connection: 

I thought I was close to friends and family, but 2020 brought deeper conversations, closeness, and raw feelings. I was learning what true friendships are and which ones were not meant to go the distance.  Quality over quantity.  I learned to protect my heart. I tend to give emotionally, hoping the same will be returned, either needed to be okay without the return or place that relationship in its respective box.  It was exhausting trying to show, be, give to those who could not return the feeling.  Over the span of my life in Milwaukee, friends have become my framily. I would connect, attach, and feel more than just friendships, and when it wasn’t returned, I would feel shattered.  2020 brought strength and growth to work through these times and be okay when a relationship or friendship has run its course. I found support and happiness within myself. 

  • Creative Release:

I used to spend most of my time painting, drawing, building, dancing, Zumba classes here, house project there, you name it.  Over the years, I began to lose that time.  My daughter and I already had a shared love for arts and crafts, and then Tik Tok just threw in a whole new entertainment to the days.  She would bring ideas, I would bring ideas, and we just had a fun time being silly.  I loved watching my daughter grow into her personality, her likes and dislikes, her styles and interests, and most of all, her love for music.  I got back into photography, capturing family and friends and up-cycling furniture.  I missed having my hands being busy, and all of Ashley is coming back to light.

  • Commitment:

To a home.  The specific task that helped, painting an actual wall (not just a solid color).  This sounds silly, and I didn’t realize how much of a big deal this was.  I have painted probably 12 apartments/homes.  However, I kept everything more simple. I never committed to a design or anything that would force me to paint back.  I always wanted to keep moving. I thrived on change and not having to stay still.  I didn’t know how to create a home for longer. Maybe even didn’t WANT to create a home for longer.  The first quarantine project my daughter and I did was to create a mural for her bedroom.  We had moved in a little under a year prior.  I was already itching to move, but I committed. It has been her most talked-about activity we did in 2020 (besides Tik-toks and water skiing).  It felt so good to do something for her that she loved.  This girl is obsessed with rainbows, and her room now houses a giant rainbow wall along with 3D clouds.  I’ll admit I get the itches thinking I’ll have to paint over it one day, but I’m living in the moment and love how proud she is to show it off. 

  • To Slow Down:

I’ve been rushed since 2005.  I didn’t know chill, peace, “slow down,” or even how to sit down and relax.  I’m naturally a mover and go-getter, always wanting to work on something.  Relaxing stressed me out, just thinking about what I could be getting done instead.  Well, once again, 2020, you came through, nights we would truly…sit, chill, binge shows. I felt (and still feel occasionally) guilty for watching TV, but I am learning the balance and also how it helps to clear a mind.  Learning work/life balance and getting to enjoy all the moments was very needed.  Peacefully getting my daughter to the bus and watch her run off into my arms every day out of school.  I wouldn’t trade anything going back to 2019.

  • Peace + Relaxation:

I struggle with high anxiety and OCPD. Some friends reading this may find it unbelievable as I am VERY good at hiding my issues (another issue). So good that it is rarely know externally but a war going on internally.  I can trace back the majority of all my health issues to stress and I probably hear most of all, that I am the most relaxed, chill person.  Surprise, inside I am not. I struggle with a lot of stressors daily, however, now I work on choosing how to handle everything and not letting things handle me.  As much as I am working on things still, I have come a long way since 2019.  I used to keep it all inside, battling myself, having numerous arguments in my head and panic attacks in the dark.  I was forced to finally work it out.  Speak up and learn what I can and cannot control.  It is still a work in progress but I am working on the tools to continue through it and feeling the benefits of a healthy, peaceful mind.  Giving attention to small wins, while navigating big waters.

  • Who I am:

The reason I’ll never regret 2020 no matter what. I found myself again, my voice, my likes, my dislikes, my feelings.  I dove in hardcore, so much that it scared me sometimes with my discoveries.  Learning who I am and how sad I felt to be anything else the last 15 years.  I feel like the woman I always wanted to be, especially for my daughter.  I am speaking up in areas I NEVER would have before.  I am doing actions that I want to do, not feel I have to do.  I am working on pleasing less people and being dedicated to myself.  Many things happened in 2020 that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Whether it was with politics, race, my relationship, friendships, family connections or healthy boundaries. I truly have shed the longest living skin on my body.  I feel more alive, more sure and the happiest with myself then I have in 35 years. 

There are numerous things to be angry about with 2020.  Part of my self work was to find the good in this year.  Ever since High School I would state “everything for a reason,” or “find the silver lining” but I don’t think I was always practicing what I preach.  I held on to trauma, pain, grudges, excuses.  2020 came through like Kool-aid man, kicked in my wall and said.. “Its been too long, this is the year you wake up and grow.”  I truly thank you 2020 for being the biggest mirror and reality check I never realized I needed.

Yours Truly,

Ashley

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