A 2020 Gratitude List: Looking back for Clarity

Hey, um…was 2020 actually kind of a banner year for you, in spite of it all?

The past 10+ months have been full of uncertainty, but we are already pretty well-acquainted with surfing the wild waves…

We had lots of big plans in January 2020, and while almost nothing worked out how we expected, plenty of things DID actually crystallize in positive ways for us.

I’m super-grateful for our privilege and our wellbeing.

Since 2013, I’ve done a simple ritual to close out the prior year, as part of my work with Leonie Dawson’s workbooks.

This involves reflecting and re-framing the things that happened to gain clarity + momentum to carry me forward!

The idea is to look back at the past in order to learn from it and release it…instead of getting hung up in that stagnant energy and staying there.

This means I’m celebrating 2020 with a gratitude list.

Psst! you can do this with me in my INVOKING 2021 Circle! 

Now, sure, there was some gnarly stuff in our personal world. Loads of upheaval (more than usual – even for us!), and definitely some tears and tragedy.

That said, I refuse to downplay our personal victories and joys – especially this year. I won’t be making anyone’s life easier or happier by holding back my own joy!

My motto of the year was chosen back in early January, and it’s “Extra is the new minimum”, a quote by Gala Darling, who is my glam-rock, DGAF inspo. I think I did a pretty good job embodying that vibe, even with the year going all kinds of wonky…

So anyway, here’s my 2020 gratitude list:

– #1 best thing: WE MOVED!

Moving in a pandemic was…interesting…but it also was perfectly, divinely timed.

We made the final decision less than a week before covid hit the US, and I remember the reaction of one of my best (and most financially savvy!) friends. She was surprised we still went forward with our plan, despite the pandemic. I think the word she used was ‘ballsy’! 🙂

To me, it didn’t feel ballsy. If anything, it felt like the Universe was calling me in, saying, are you SURE you want this? Are you really ready for it? Um, obviously, yes!

I couldn’t even consider refusing..

THE BUILD-UP…

We actually started out by looking for apartments, and we thought we’d found one that was really nice. No yard to mow (yay!), but also no garden to grow. /sadface/
It seemed like a solid, practical plan.
Mm-hmm.

Within the HOUR of us deciding to go for that apartment, my husband fell 34 feet off a ladder onto concrete.

Amazingly, he walked away with just some cuts and scrapes, and a badly sprained ankle.

Damn, Spirit, you don’t have to yell THAT loud at us when we’re about to make a mistake!
Grateful it wasn’t worse.
Right!

So our new place is a HOUSE, with a yard, garden beds, and a fireplace. It’s fantastic for now and a massive upgrade in a zillion ways.

– I also consulted my oracle decks, address numerology, and the sounding board of several of my closest friends before choosing it!

FUN, FRIENDS, FAMILY…

– We went to King Spa for my birthday – the largest Korean spa in the US! (This was obvs Before Covid, or BC, for short)
– Got to hang with my bestie Saba, when she ran a whole-ass marathon! Three of us wandered around SoCo (yes I know it’s pretentious to say SoCo instead of South Congress, hush), tried out a day-spa, and ate at the Hillside Farmacy. Another great day, BC.
– Was shocked to find the best-ever gluten free restaurant for macaroni and grilled cheeses… in Waco, of all places (MacHouse, you are so yummy. And so far away.)
– Connected with one of my only extended family members via Instagram! I’ll never say social media or tech is bad…
– Had several epic backyard bonfires. I am starting to measure the quality of a season by how many outdoor fires we are able to have.
– Found some great clothes at the thrift store and ThredUp. < use my link to get $10 off!  I almost always buy second-hand. It’s fun and just makes sense.
– Ate LOTS of home-grown strawberries from our garden, as the plants had survived a Summer and Winter and were finally established!
– Did lots of huge charcoal art on the concrete outside, and bought myself more dedicated art supplies (love Jerry’s Artarama!)
– Survived the great TP shortage! I had to meet a friend to swap homemade elderberry syrup for desperately-needed toilet paper that week!
– Discovered that the most yummy way to take elderberry syrup is by mixing it with La Croix fizzy water!
– Bought my daughters old-school jelly shoes, and I ended up borrowing them so much, they were my fave footwear all year!

Binge-watched TONS of Gaia.tv….Gregg Braden and Bruce Lipton and Michael Tellinger documentaries

BIZ STUFF

It’s weird, but moving sort of instantly, effortlessly unlocked something in my head regarding my biz.
Without even realizing what I was doing, I was back into birthwork!
I could not be a doula or teach childbirth ed sustainably where I lived before…but here, it’s totally possible.

I was approached by a psychologist who said she thinks my pregnancy and birth education stuff is especially great for neurodiverse and autistic women. Well, GO FIGURE 🙂

 

I’m not chasing an official diagnosis for myself…but the shoe certainly seems to fit.

– Speaking of birthwork, I started doing postpartum doula work with Austin Baby Guru, and even helped care for a set of twins!– Booked a birth doula client who happens to also be an old friend

 

– Re-launched my RethinkBirth website with new digital products for doulas and mamas.

– Updated my Mother Blessings kit to be more culturally sensitive and inclusive

 

– Included my Induction and Cesarean Birth Guide in my Best Birth Plan Kit

– Helped a dear friend and client quickly pivot her Etsy biz to sell her gorgeously well-made face masks!

 

– Helped my bestie Allison, the Austin Baby Guru, launch an email series, and we co-wrote a fantastic lead magnet together for her phenomenal postpartum doula training program. It’s called How to Earn Money & Find Clients.

 

Some of my favorite-ever work remains writing for my dear friend, Dr. Marissa Heisel. You can subscribe to her intuitive wisdom newsletters, which are full of oracle card, oil, and crystal insights.

 

– Marissa and I spent weeks in February and March, co-authoring a meticulously-researched blog post about protecting ourselves against Covid-19. We were so proud of it when it was published. However, her licensing board did not like what we had shared. We edited, questioned, edited some more….

 

Long story short, Dr. Marissa gave up her chiropractic license because she believes that silence on matters of wellness is unethical as someone who has sworn the Hippocratic oath of First, Do No Harm.

I am so proud of her!

 

I love being able to be creative and get paid for it!

While focusing more on my art and creativity in 2020, I decided to create my own smoke cleansing bundles from the plants we grew + wildharvested. They turned out so well, I even sold some!

Now, I know some ppl get nervous about looking back at their financials…but I LOVE running my end-of-year numbers, because it’s like a stiff drink of clarity, no matter what.

In spite of having a banner year in my business, I did have some wonky situations, which made me aware of how I can improve my biz, and my clients’ experience, too.

This year, I knew we did better than last year…but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we almost doubled our income from last year! 2020 vision, indeed. 

EDUCATION AND KIDS

Sometimes, I have trouble knowing when to quit, or when to stay in my own lane. I have a lot of empathy, and this can lead me into helping way more than I ought to.

This summer, I got way over-involved in trying to help everyone on the internet sort out schooling options and learn about homeschooling.

I realized I was spread way too thin with no return on my investment, and decided to pull back and reclaim my energy for my family and my own needs.

This looked like…
– Helping my 2nd child learn to drive and get her license- Watched my 2nd child launch her art commissions and Depop boutique

– In January, I took my boys to get “professional haircuts” at a salon for the first time EVER (long haired kiddos, unite!)

 

Went to the zoo! Another BC day! Glad I had the motivation to Do Things early in 2020, before the madness descended.

 

– Created burned and tea-soaked vintage paper to write a Hogwarts acceptance letter for a dear friend’s 11th birthday

 

– My middlest tried Girl Scouts and we sold cookies (and ate too many)

 

– Picked early Spring flowers in the mall parking lot with my girls, and tried on rainbow kaleidoscope glasses (BC)

2020 made for weird birthdays for everyone… I was so happy that my boys’ November birthdays were remembered by several of our dear friends. I think everyone had a great birthday this year, in spite of all the craziness.

 

– Watched my middlest grow up so much this year. Somehow being 12 is so different from being 13.

 

– Found candy shaped like lego bricks on a road trip, and totally bought them + played with them!

 

– Enjoyed watching my oldest daughter learning to play ukelele

 

– Finally figured out how to get my boys started with Minecraft skins, mods, and experimented with whitelisted, private, and public servers

 

– Started a GamerKids Discord server so my boys (who don’t have cellphones) could chat with their friends. It grew to nearly 50 kids, and is a critical part of their social world!

 

– Realized that my youngest child had never seen regular, bleached salt when we finally ran out of pink Himalayan salt and had to refill the shaker with “weird white stuff”

 

All my kids got into skateboarding. We have a collection of skateboards now, a few of them custom-DIY-painted.

 

– Got good at French-braiding and Dutch-braiding my daughter’s hair

– Watched my youngest get good at riding a bike

 

– My 18yo and I went to Michi to get Naruto-worthy ramen! We also stopped at the quirky-fabulous antique store next to it, and I realized I love that part of Austin

 

– Watched my oldest do his first two semesters of college, online. He is doing fantastic…and I am so proud of him!

 

HEAVY BITS…

2020 started out with some lovely hope, as we were able to get surgery to save our precious Mimi-kitty from a nasty cancer.

However, just a few months later, we had to come to terms with the fact that her cancer was very aggressive, and while we gave her a few more blessed months…there was little we could do to improve her quality of life.

By summertime, she had to wear a cone-collar 24/7, and we made the heart-wrenching decision to put her down.

This was the first time I had to be the decision-maker in a pet’s passing, and even though we were all in agreement that it was the best thing, it absolutely devastated us.

We thought we did not want to get more pets, ever, but a trio of kitty-siblings showed up, and we couldn’t bear to break up the sisterhood! So our house has cats again, and hearts are slowly mending.

Mimi was my daughter’s best friend for many years, and she had such a complex personality. Mimi is on our ancestor altar. My daughter has a Mimi-shrine in her room as well.

CRAZY STUFF!

I am happy to report that I kept my cool (figuratively) while I handled our truck breaking down and catching fire (literally!) in the August heat, while I was driving with all four kids.

 

Literally? It wasn’t cool at all. It was scary! I had to call 911, the fire department came out, and I was sunburnt for weeks after.

My husband had to leave work (from a celebrity’s house!) to come get us. In the meantime, I called my father to come get us.

We drove in his black Corvette convertible (his last Corvette in a series of many)…to the car dealership, where he gifted me a cute new SUV. 

That is NOT the way I thought I would upgrade my vehicle – but it’s another example of 2020’s spectacular energy roaring in, making a scene, and leaving me better that it found me!

– Also, I was able to save my son’s Betta fish, Ruby, when he got sucked up into the tank’s filter!

We were delighted to find that his tail and fins were able to RE-GROW after he nearly died.

Welcomed our dear friends for a few nights when they learned that Hurricane Laura destroyed their home.
This was another one of 2020’s super-aggro and intense…blessings

MORE FUN + AWESOME STUFF…

– Harvested an insane amount of peppers and tomatoes this Summer, that grew effortlessly + perfectly, without watering!
– I found a really cool old letter written in Hungarian, addressed to my great-grandmother in “Amerika”, dated 1942. I want to follow up on the history of this artifact!
– Went to the Mother Earth News Fair in person. It was…meh. (BC)
– Got a lovely haircut in early January from my dear friend Mitzi (she’s magical!) She’s a loc and rainbow-color specialist.
– Got frustrated with my hair later and cut pandemic-bangs…ahh, I mean CUTE and LOVELY bangs
– Dyed my bangs magenta with Lunar Tides several times, and now they’re growing out awkwardly
– Started seeds right when the pandemic “hit” and everyone was so worried, and they felt very much like a beacon of hope
– Harvested so much lettuce and green onions from the garden

BODY STUFF…

One of my goals was to “get fit”….specifically, to move more, and to live a life that didn’t shy away from physical effort so much.
– I started walking several times a week with my friend Allison, and we were up to 10-12 miles a week this Summer

– In the Fall, I had two weird injuries, both of which had me on crutches for a time. The first one, I hurt my knee by Stretching In Bed (yes, seriously…) and could not walk for a week.

 

– A month later, I dislocated my other knee, and while I am able to walk now, I’m still recovering from that injury.

 

– To fix it, I’ve been using Solomon Seal tincture; Copaiba, Deep Blue, Frankincense, Cypress oils from dōTERRA; Reiki and energy healing; and even a Healy microcurrent session via my friend Crystal…which indicated that my brain was over-stressed and needed the most healing!

Pfft, accurate.

– Spent time learning more about ancestor magic and set up an altar to honor {some of} our ancestors
– Ordered from Etsy sellers more than ever before (which is saying something, as I’ve been an Etsy fan since their inception!)
– Got whooped at Risk several times by my husband. He always takes over the world, lol

– Was so sad to see that Veggie Heaven finally closed for good this year. My mother discovered that place when I was just 16, and at the time it was an epic adventure to go INTO Austin to eat at a restaurant where everything on the menu was veg!

We drank a little more than we usually do for several months, then noticed it, and stopped.
– Took walks specifically to see horses and suck on wild honeysuckle blossoms
– Found a fantastic new holistic dentist who uses ozone therapy and has crystals and diffusers in his office. He was able to save my daughter from a root canal!
– Ate fresh-picked citrus off random trees in town, and was astounded at how much better they taste when tree-ripened. This was another peak-experience…and makes me think seriously about buying land in South Texas.
– Got lots of nice 2nd-hand stuff, including a vintage 1954 designer side table that looks like it came straight outta the Jetsons – all free!
– Perfected the best-ever GF browned butter chocolate chip cookie recipe. We can never buy store-bought cookies again without disappointment. We use any ol’ GF flour mix so long as it contains xanthan gum, and especially love this with white chocolate chips.
– Was so delighted by some of the sweetest gifts from my friends – an incredible talisman-necklace from Marissa, made by our friend Amber; and Glennon Doyle’s Untamed from Tasha. Thank you all, Loves.
– Had some good + hard convos around boundaries with some key ppl in my life…and closed the door on more than a few social connections that felt too one-sided to sustain
– Delighted in watching foodie shows on Netflix, and then realizing we live close enough to TRY some of these places…like Suerte (omg. drool-worthy)
– Grew PURPLE potatoes and turned them into the most yummy lavender mashed potatoes!
– Grew an insane amount of Shishito peppers. We were eating them daily, pickled a bunch, gave away a bunch more…
– Other things we grew a lot of: Butternut squash, Chinese yard-long noodle beans, Clary sage, Zinnias (self-seeded), Passionflower, tomatoes, daikon, parsley, spearmint, mugwort
– Learned more about oracle and tarot reading…really amped up the magic study last year. It’s humbling.
– Made a German bee sting cake, gluten free. Then made another one because I got angry + frustrated making the first one. Can’t feed ppl you love angry cake! The second one was MAGICAL-delicious. I used the brioche dough recipe from Artisan GF Bread in Five, and then the recipe above.
– Pulled out the sewing machine and successfully altered some orange-and-cream vintage curtains to put in my kitchen
– Used up lots of glue and shaving cream, and oversaw many, many slime experiments with my boys
– Walked on nature trails with my husband, and enjoyed foraging wild persimmons together

– Made an unreal amount of pesto from all the bail we grew. I gave a bunch away and my freezer is still loaded.

– Made a hot pepper sauce from the hundreds of peppers we grew. It is so spicy it’s basically a weapon. My husband still cooks curry with it.
– Got into disc golf! Then the knee injury stuff happened, so I had to take a break
– Got the most incredible + handmade orgonite necklaces from our friend Dylan. We asked him to make our youngest one, too – and it even glows in the dark!
Tried to make tzatziki wtih vegan cashew-yogurt. 6/10, would not recommend for flavor…but maybe if you were feeling unwell and wanted a good way to consume lots of fresh garlic + cukes, without all the dairy!
– Got back into ink-brush painting. Definitely making more art lately…
– Tried my hand at bulk-and-freeze ahead cooking. Discovered that other family’s “bulk cooking” quantities are our normal cooking quantities! Got overzealous and accidentally increased one recipe by SIX times. It was in fact the perfect amount.
– Baked lots of GF bread from scratch – French baguettes, banana bread…but my favorite was when my girls learned how to make GF donuts!
– Finally got everyone blue-blocking glasses, and got myself some Rx sunnies to cope with driving at dusk. I LOVE them.
– Watched a lot of The Great British Baking Show w the fam, and even found a sky-blue Mason Cash mixing bowl so we can match the bakers on the show!

– Went way over-zealous for Thanksgiving dinner and ended up making a several-course meal, complete with a printed menu that took up a whole page. YES. This is the kind of foodie-shit I revel in.

We made so much food we had leftovers for 5 days afterward! Turkey, roast duck, all the sides, drinks, salads, snacks, and desserts. It was super fun. Probably one of the year’s best highlights.

– Finally got to go see Trail of Lights this year, and it was…okay. All the other years, it was a walkable event, but being in downtown Austin, after dark, when you live far out of town, well…it was never doable until we moved.
NOW, however, they made it into a drive-through only event. Okay, cool I guess. 7/10 for the car sing-alongs. Somehow we went from traditional carols to Wham! to George Michael’s best hits.
– We baked Stained Glass cookies – something we’ve been trying to do for 15 years apparently – and for prettiness, they’re 9/10. Flavor, however…gross. If you’re just baking them as festive sun catchers, then sure.
This was the year I discovered the joys of curbside grocery pickup, and now I can even have them DELIVERED to my door, same-day. Was super-helpful when I was on crutches!
Grocery store trips are nice for picking produce, but otherwise, overrated.
Weirdly, I think I spent MORE time with friends than usual – between Zoom meetups, nature walks, and biz mind-meld sessions with one of my besties.
It was a very social year!

I know it’s a weird thing to say, and I am aware of the privilege I have to be able to say it…but I LOVED 2020.

I am also glad I’ve cultivated the habit of looking back at each year with an eye for gratitude.

Leonie Dawson’s workbooks taught me that, and I highly recommend you get one if you haven’t yet.

We can do the workbooks for 2021 together, in my INVOKING Circle. I’d love for you to join us! 

 

What are you grateful for, when you look back at 2020?

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