The year of cliché

In contemplation, Life
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We’re teetering on the brink of a new month, the final one of 2020. I know we all have many feelings about this year. I’m glad I’m not one to set goals or resolutions at the start of a new year! I don’t think any of us could have guessed what was headed our way, or how we would respond to a pandemic. This was definitely not on my mind as the new year (new decade!) started.

Pandemic. What once seemed novel, unexpected, and unthinkable, has become routine in some ways. We’ve had to adapt, to accept this situation and make the best of it. As I make my quick trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, mask on, I look around and marvel. We’re doing ordinary things in a new way. Many of us have incorporated mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing into our daily lives. The everyday things look somewhat the same…but yet not the same at all.

I think by now we’ve realized we won’t go back to life as it was before. Whatever comes next will be an adaptation, a riff, or maybe an entirely new way of living. It’s hard to say right now. Some have said we’re living in the “upside down,” which indeed seems fitting.

It’s interesting to think about how some things became a cliché this year. I’ve heard the word, “unprecedented” so many times, I’d be happy to never hear it again. We’ve added many new words and phrases to our lexicon: quarantine, shelter-in-place, mask, lockdown, coronavirus, social distancing, Zoom, essential workers, say her/his name…the list is long! In fact, the Oxford Dictionary declined to name just one “word of the year” for 2020, opting for many words and phrases instead.

So, back to my statement about not setting goals for the new year. Although I didn’t make formal plans, I eased into a few activities that have actually helped save my sanity in this pandemic time. In January, I decided that a daily yoga practice–at home–might be useful. And so it has been! What started as a 30-day challenge for myself has become a daily challenge, at least through the end of this year. Deciding to practice at home worked very well for lockdown mode and beyond (cliché number one).

As we entered lockdown and then emerged into the warmer days of early spring, I also got more serious about taking walks whenever possible (cliché number two). This was good not only for my body, but for my mental well-being. Walking about the neighborhood made life seem normal, if only for a short time. Of course, diving off the path, or crossing the street to avoid others, isn’t entirely normal, but it’s what we do to keep our distance. Walks are one of the few ways I ventured out, allowing myself to feel a little more free outside the four walls of home.

Finally, I love to bake, and I’d always been intrigued by the idea of baking sourdough bread. (You see the cliché theme very well now, right?) The long days at home are perfect for baking and for learning new techniques; what began as a “maybe I’ll try this,” has turned into something I’m frequently doing and enjoying. This practice satisfies my need for a creative outlet in two ways: making the bread, and then photographing it!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that many families have experienced great losses this year. Some are mourning the loss of family members who fell victim to the virus; others may be missing their former good health as they take a long time to recover. It’s heartbreaking and devastating.

And most of us are experiencing the loss of in-person connection with people we love, also incredibly hard. There’s a lot of anxiety in the choices we’re forced to make, the plans canceled or deferred, and the daily swirl of news that’s simply overwhelming.

As we close out 2020 (and this, my final post for the year), I wish for you as much peace as you can find, and good health for you and your loved ones. Cliché or not, these are the things we’ve come to value most this year.

Feel free to share how you’ve fared this year in the comments below. I’d love to know what’s helped you in these crazy, complicated times.

~Leslie

4 Comments

    • Thank you! It’s been a fun process. (Hoping to do a longer bread post in 2021!)

  1. Oh, Leslie, this was such a lovely post – a gentle, compassionate summary of this year. Walks have become part of my routine as well. My camera has also been a constant guide for which I’m so very grateful. Lots more connection with some friends and family. Like you say, it’s amazing how much we’ve adapted to this new way of being. Wishing you peace and good health as well <3

    • Thank you, Chinwe! It’s been the strangest of years and I think we’ve all struggled with how to describe it. My photo adventures have suffered for lack of leaving the house, but I look forward to a time (soon, I hope!) when that will change.

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