3 things I learned in 2019 that may just help me in 2020
It was a lot of treading water in 2019. But we kept swimming -- right through everything from the delight of Baby Yoda to the anxiety over economic uncertainty and a roller coaster stock market to the deep sadness that follows more mass shootings to impeachment proceedings that all but shutdown the federal government but continues to fail to move polling numbers.
What a year.
While I’ve never been a big fan of “change everything about you”-type of resolutions at the start of a new year, I’ve tried something a little different over the past few years. At the start of 2019, with a little inspiration from Gretchen Rubin, I chose a mantra for the new year.
That option, to me, seems more positive; like it’s something you want to do or be. A resolution can feel a little like a parent slapping you on the hand, saying “no” and “don’t.” And it’s been my experience that those commitments starting with “I won’t …” tend not to stick.
Around this time last year, I wrote that “purpose” would be my word for 2019. I wanted “the things I do, the motion of my body, the words I say, I want them all to mean something. Sometimes that means speaking up and other times it means being quiet.”
Quiet doesn’t mean silent. Believe me, I’ve got something to say. But (hopefully) I’m making progress on being more measured and more uplifting. And because progress comes by building upon steps, and missteps, already taken, here are just three of the many lessons I learned in 2019 that I’m taking into 2020:
1. Ask for help.
I definitely didn’t go into 2019 expecting doctor’s appointments and hospital visits, but that’s what happened after my husband suffered a concussion in February. What started as a scary fall turned into a frightening diagnosis and resulted in two surgical procedures to place three stents in his heart. If raising a child requires a village, then keeping together a family in the middle of a health scare feels like it takes a country. But people don’t know how to help without information. I learned a lot about the importance of talking through things without knowing the answers. I do think that vulnerability, while difficult to display, helped me, my family and others around me.
2. Say yes.
In 2019, we were somehow able to go from health scares in Wisconsin to small plates in Spain. By saying yes to a great opportunity, my husband and I ended up being able to spend our 17th wedding anniversary in Spain, checking out Madrid and Toledo. I got to be a solo tourist for a few days, taking time to look at art and read about it. It was the first time we traveled to Europe as a couple and we appreciated every minute of it.
3. Just try.
While I am deeply appreciative of Master Yoda’s “Do. Or do not. There is no try,” mantra, I do think you have to start somewhere. After leaving a career in journalism in 2015, I had to really try to find ways to continue to do the kind of writing I like the most: this kind. Without trying in different ways and a handful of places, I wouldn’t have eventually had the opportunity to work with Vanguard and write here.
The start of a new decade is here and it looks like 2020 is shaping up to be another year of high intensity and low tolerance for civil discourse. With all of that and The Election in November, I’m going to keep focusing on the things I can control -- mostly myself.
If 2019 was focused on “purpose,” I’m going into the New Year with a commitment to be patient.
Patience is an important virtue all the time, but it might be even more critical when it feels like everything is SO IMPORTANT and HAS TO BE DONE RIGHT NOW and IT’S URGENT, YOU GUYS. Of course, there are many things, climate change among others, to take seriously and note that, yes, time is of the essence. But great action doesn’t come without great preparation.
Here’s to a year full of purpose with just the right amount of patience.
Amy Bailey was a member of the Michigan Capitol Press Corps from 2000-2006. She lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband, son and an easily excitable Australian Shepherd named Max. Amy's guest column, Something to Say, publishes periodically. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.