Enjoying some nitrous oxide, reclining in my dentist’s chair, I braced myself for the dreaded root canal. It was February, and my dentist and his tech were bantering about the increasing number of confirmed cases of COVID. Even in my very chill, nitrous haze, I sensed the swell of a tidal wave, heading my direction.

Today, 10-months later, I volley between harsh reality and a sliver of hope for 2021. Back and forth. Back and forth. Like many, I’ve cobbled together a few coping strategies, the most important of which is to let shit go. Control what I can, don’t stress about what I can’t.

Here’s what else I’ve learned in 2020…

  • Never buy toilet paper from China, during a pandemic, or maybe ever. Clearly, the joke was on me, after waiting 8-weeks, for 12-luxe rolls, each with about 10-squares of “luxe” TP. I shit you not.
  • Netflix is everything. As is Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO-Max and YouTube. Sometimes, taking a break from reality, to indulge in juicy, mind-numbing, brain-rotting, binge-worthy television, is just what the doctor ordered.
  • In the 10-months we’ve been getting weekly grocery deliveries, I’ve been inside a grocery store only a handful of times, primarily because we ran out of coffee. This was a code-blue-dire-wtf-crisis situation of the highest level (only partially joking). The only thing important enough to set foot inside a grocery store? Coffee.  
  • Grocery picker-packers don’t always pick appropriate substitutes for out-of-stock food items. When I order hamburger buns, for umm, hamburgers, hot dog buns are not a smart substitute. But thank you for trying.
  • My husband is the perfect quarantine partner, sharing my appetite for Netflix and the load for household chores. He vacuums, does laundry, and eagerly devours whatever I cobble together, from whatever groceries we get. Evidently, cutting a burger in strips, so it fits on a hot dog bun, is NOT the end of the world.
  • Back in February, rationing toilet paper was a thing. In the spirit of conserving vital resources, 8-squares of toilet paper, versus the preferred baseball-mitt-sized wad, does the job adequately, if you’re careful.
  • My routine = my sanity. I still workout early (most days), and get to work by 9am, (most days). But I also give in to the occasional lack of motivation, not arriving at my desk until 10am. I’m my own boss, and nobody holds it against me. Not even me.
  • Whiskey, (2-fingers, 2-ice cubes) is a perfectly acceptable coping tool. It helps to smooth my edges, almost as well as nitrous. No judging.
  • I’m more OCD than I realized. More compulsive about hand-washing, wiping down counter tops and packages, and holding my breath when I pass someone without a mask. Was I germ-a-phobic before the pandemic? Maybe.
  • I’ve confirmed something I’ve always suspected. I’m a pretty simple girl, and the simplest things make me happy. Chillaxing on the couch with my hubby; Zoom calls for Taco Tuesday or game night with my kiddos; strong, hot coffee in my favorite mug; silly feline shenanigans; time to imagine, plan and create, and an open mind and heart. For each thing I haven’t been able to do this year, I can count at least two blessings. That’s worth celebrating, because I know not everyone is as fortunate.

So, let’s clink glasses, and say goodbye (or flip the bird) to 2020. Give yourself some grace, and kindness, and recognize what you’ve survived this year. Say hello to 2021, to hope, possibilities and a light at the end of a really long, dark tunnel.

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