2020: A Year of Reflection

2020 . . . what a year.

For so many of us, this year was hard. It was a year of loss. It was a year of isolation. It was a year of uncertainty. It was a year of frustration and helplessness, It was a year of grief.

While all of those adjectives above very accurately describe 2020, this year was also a year of discovery. It was a year of realization of what truly matters. And it was a year of love.

A woman reflection on 2020

Allow me to explain. 

This year brought a whole lot of togetherness with my family. To be honest, some days were great, while others were very hard. Some days felt like continuous showings of Groundhog’s Day . . . where we did the same things every day.

In the spring, with no school, we made it through home-school and some semblance of education in our house. Some days, I knocked it out of the park teaching my kids. Some days, I failed. But I learned that every day and every moment was a chance to start anew. It was a chance to re-center myself and put one foot in front of the other. While that time was very challenging, and tears were sometimes shed by mom and kids, it was also very rewarding. I saw resilience with my kids. I saw kindness. I saw compassion. And I saw fun.

We discovered new board and card games, we learned how to draw like one of our favorite authors, Mo Willems. We learned about zoo animals each day with the Cincinnati Zoo. We went on weekly family walks to parks and places we had never discovered before.

We did things we never would have done in a normal year.

We learned not to take each other for granted. We learned that even in isolation when things were hard and we got on each other’s nerves, that we were blessed to have each other. It was nice to have a slower paced life which in the past we sometimes wished for. 

This year I discovered what was truly important.

If you are anything like me, social media, and more specifically Facebook, can be the greatest way to keep up on the world, but it can also be frustrating. Very recently, I have given up social media. Okay, I have not given it up completely . . . because so much of my life relies on social media to get the word out about what is happening and to find out information about groups and things I am involved with. However, I have cut way back.

I took Facebook off of my phone. That may seem like a small thing. And while it is, it is a small thing that made a huge impact on my demeanor, on my attitude, and on my anxiousness. Toward the latter half of 2020, Facebook was just cluttered with people tearing each other down. People were judging others for whether or not they sent their kids back to school in-person this fall. On the same token, parents were judging other parents who opted to stay virtual. Then there was all of the mask debate. People on both sides of this issue were being downright mean to each other. These are people who are supposed friends. Whatever happened to listening to another person’s point of view and engaging in healthy debate?

Then there was the election. What a downright ugly time. People forgot that no matter who they voted for or identified with that there are more things that unite us than what divides us. They promoted hatred and would share information with no attention as to what the source was and whether or not it was actually true. With all of this, I had had enough.

I deleted Facebook from my phone.

I still check it from my computer, but I do not have the mindless scrolling that I used to. And you know what? I don’t really miss it. I feel happier and less stressed and anxious. There is plenty to still be anxious about in this year, but I do not have Facebook adding to that stress. 

As I mentioned before, this year has been a year of isolation.

We had to be creative about finding ways to see people and be in touch with those we love. Zoom was great for that. In addition to that, I also felt like I was more intentional about sending emails, Marco Polos, and texts just to check in. We all want to feel that we are being thought of even when we can not be together. I cannot even begin to describe how awesome it felt when someone would send a text just because they were thinking of me. What a gift. This is something that I will continue to work at in this new year and when this pandemic is a thing of the past. 

This year has taught me to celebrate the big things and the small things.

It has taught me to celebrate victories with each one of my kids when they accomplished something. We have tried to teach our kids that when you work had and really try, you will accomplish big things. I have tried to teach our kids that we can in fact do hard things. It has taught me to celebrate big even though the feat may seem small. 

This year taught me about the importance of self-care.

This is an area that I am still struggling with. As a mom I am thinking about ways to take care of myself. I am trying so hard to keep everyone on track and at times am abandoning myself in the process. What I am realizing is that I can only be an effective mom if I am doing well. A wise friend recently shared with me that I can only be the best mom I can be if I take time to rejuvenate and spend time doing things for me. This is not something I am good at. I am a work in progress. This is a goal I have for the new year. 

This year has been a year of reflection.

It has been a year of discovery of what truly matters. It has been a year of teaching and learning. Even though this year has been difficult, it has been a year of growth. As 2020 draws to a close, I invite you to reflect on your year.

What positive things came out of this hard year? How did you grow this year? What were the best things that happened to you this year? How did you overcome challenges? What are you most proud of? Think about those questions and realize that no feat is too small.

Every day is a new opportunity to do better and to start over. Every day is a new day to love well. Every day is a new day to lead with love. Even when the world feels heavy, there are still things to be grateful for and there are good things that are happening all around us.

Take time to notice those things and remember that we can do hard things. 


Brenda is an Iowa native who has lived in the Iowa City area since 2005. She is married to her love, Robert, since 2012. Brenda is an elementary teacher by trade. She spent almost nine years as a stay at home parent but is now back in the classroom spending time with her school kids and being a mom to her own kids. She is the mom of three; Gabe (April, 2013) Maggie (April, 2015), and Julianna (September, 2017). Brenda enjoys being active by running and working out. She also enjoys trying new recipes, volunteering, playing board and card games, and being involved in church. Brenda is an elementary teacher and loves cheering on the Cubs, UNI Panthers, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. It is a busy but beautiful life!


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