It was New Year’s Eve, 2019. George and I attended a small but extremely lively Scottish Hogmanay – a New Year’s Eve celebration that was steeped in Scottish tradition including Scotch, haggis, and bagpipes. I was over the moon. Culture, my hot husband, and me in a sparkly dress. I had no complaints about how I was heading into the new year. As we left the celebration, the host insisted that we take home heaping plates of food as there was more than the guests could eat that night. We happily obliged. You don’t have to tell me twice to take more haggis! We drove home with laps full of delicious Scottish treats and when we got home, tucked our newly engaged, full-bellied selves into bed. The next morning, January 1, 2020 we attempted to start our morning with coffee but upon entering the kitchen, we found empty plates and crumbs all over the floor. Those Scottish treats had been forgotten on the counter overnight and the dog we were taking care of over the holidays had relived us of our leftovers. That right there, folks was the first clue about how 2020 was going to go.
The year is just past the half way mark and it’s been one of the most dramatic, extreme years of all our lives. However, despite the challenges and hardships, I’ve learned more in the past seven months than I do in the average year. I want to use this opportunity to look at some of this year’s events and experiences and try and shift perspective on whathas taken place and dare I say, how I’ve benefitted (even from the worst things). I have to believe that given the relative nature of this existence that we can’t have good without bad, that we can’t have light without dark so that must mean that at times when there is difficulty, there is also opportunity. I don’t think it’s optional. I think it’s inevitable.
On February 11, George and I eloped on the frozen Yukon River. A very small number of our most loved family were there to witness this secret event. The day was damned cold; a balmy -15 degrees, and both my sons were in attendance as was one of George’s nieces and his cousin Doug (Cousin Duck) was his witness. Our dear friend, Kate White married us and our other wonderful friend, Erik Pinkerton photographed the whole thing. It was intimate and private – exactly what we wanted for our marriage ceremony.
So far, so good.
February 18, we left for our honeymoon in Mexico. Flights were great, weather was perfect, food was yummy. George fished, I took a backstrap weaving class, we danced, swam, laughed, and explored. This year wasn’t looking so bad after all.
March 9 we were home from our honeymoon; tanned, relaxed and happy newlyweds. Five days later, the Yukon Territory shut down in response to Covid-19. We were in shock – like the rest of the world. Suddenly, we were working from home, my business had come to a screeching halt (and my income along with it) and George was trying to learn the ropes in a brand new job. We had to move, we were stressed, and our futures were very uncertain.
I allowed my scared, stressed self to freak out for about two weeks. That involved eating my feelings (so much chocolate), drinking a decent amount of wine, not so much sleep, too much news and researching various mental health diagnoses with the help of Dr.Google. I refer to this phase as “circling the drain”. I was positive that my life was over. I had no optimism for the future of my business and was terrified about my financial situation. I was feeling very sorry for myself. Powerless and afraid.
With the help of an incredible therapist who I’ve been seeing for years, I came up with a new plan – one that yanked me out of my victim thinking and back into my usual state of achieving goals and making things happen.
In this new shift of perspective, I decided to undertake a massive PR campaign. One that put my jewelry in front of the editors of magazines like Vogue, In Style, Elle, and so many others. I wasn’t going to stop there, either. I set out to work with bloggers, tv shows, and celebrities. This project is still underway and I have no guarantee of the results but I know that having the goals and the to-do list that come with those goals has not only kept me occupied but motivated, inspired, and excited. Opportunities have been coming at me left and right and I can’t help but see the connection to my shift in thinking. If I were still sitting at home, feeling sorry for myself I’m positive that’s where I’d stay. Instead, I chose to reclaim my power in this bizarre and complicated time and still pursue the things that are important to me.
Of course I won’t pretend that I don’t have moments of uncertainty or insecurity. I DO ask myself “who do you think you are to go after this” but when I think about the loved ones who’ve left us this year and before that, I’m sure they’d tell me to go after what I want because I deserve to achieve my goals. We don’t know how much time we get and it would be foolish and wasteful to spend our already-too-short time on this earth chickening out of doing the things that our hearts are telling us to do. There’s no time for insecurity or imposter syndrome.
So in short, 2020 has taught me that I have the power to chase my dreams. I deserve to be happy and the ability to achieve happiness is in all of us. I’ve learned that dogs love leftovers, especially stolen ones but that you can buy another haggis and cook it whenever you want. I learned that love is what it’s all about and that seeing your brand new husband catch a tarpon on the fly rod at sunset in Mexico is actually pretty magical, even after five straight days of fishing. I learned that trusting that the Universe is always conspiring in your favour is probably the best way to live each day and that even if the whole world shuts down because of a global pandemic that right now, I’m alive, I’m loved, and I’m healthy so I really have everything that I need.
I know we’re so far from being on the other side of Covid-19 but I invite you to share something you’ve learned or how you’ve benefitted from your experiences during this time. What have you found in the ups and downs of the last seven months that has made your life better? I want to hear about it in the comments.