Some Lifeboats in the Sea (Or: How Coloring, Books, and Pokemon Have Helped Me Survive 2020)

This year has been filled with a lot of “can’ts,” hasn’t it? We can’t have the graduations we wanted; we can’t go on the vacations we planned; we can’t even go out to eat without feeling like we’re in a post-apocalyptic novel.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the limitations that simply are 2020. After a while, your comfortable home starts to feel like a prison, and living vicariously through books seems like a cruel joke.

I’ve been feeling that way a bit lately, so I’m sure other are, too. That’s why I decided to make a list of all the things I was able to do in 2020. As difficult as it may seem, there have been some some “cans” among all the “can’ts”–like lifeboats in the tumultuous sea of this year. Writing them down definitely helped me; if you’re feeling a little shackled, give it a try. You might find it helps you, too.

20 Things I Could Do in 2020

(20) Revisit a favorite video game from my childhood.

10 points to anyone who knows what video game this is! (And yes, I currently have the high score!)

(19) Try out a local bakery I’d never visited.

(18) Discover new animes (and actually have time to watch them!)

(17) Read more books in one year than I ever have. (I’m at 205 right now!)

My first batch of books from the library during the pandemic. My husband took care of things like food… but I had the necessities covered!

(16) Organize my dining room, office, and “nerdvana” (a room where I keep my nerdiest collectibles).

(15) Start a blog! 😉

(14) Have time to really, REALLY write!

(13) Go on a really long hike. (With hopefully more to come!)

This tree might seem like it goes on forever, but this pandemic won’t.

(12) Bake! (Including…Bat-cookies!)

Holy sugar, Batman!

(11) Find some zen with coloring.

I sadly did not win the librarian coloring contest… but I still had a lot of fun with these flowers!

(10) Spend time outside: Whether it’s a walk in the country or some time spent on my front porch, sunshine and fresh are just beyond the door.

I loved taking these photos in the spring. Now I’m ready for fall colors!

(9) One word: Games. You don’t have to leave the house to be competitive.

My personal favorite… DC Deck Builders. (And yes… I did happen to win this game.)

(8) Evening walks around town (which also means… Pokemon hunting!)

Still trying to hit level 38. Only about a million points to go….

(7) Crafts! My 2019 vacation scrapbook is coming along nicely.

(6) Phone calls! Even if you can’t see someone, you can time travel to the ’90s when people actually spent time talking on the phone, rather than just texting.

(5) Learn a language! I’ve been trying to learn Japanese (which I’m finding out very quickly is NOT EASY!), and brushing up on the Spanish I learned in high school. Gotta keep that brain flexible, right?

(4) Quality time. My husband and I have busy schedules, but we’ve been able to spend more time together–never underestimate the power of just relaxing with someone you love.

(3) Stargazing–a nice reminder that the world will keep turning is to just look up and see the universe around us.

Maybe technically “moon-gazing” but the sky was beautiful that night.

(2) Laughing. Whether it’s a funny book or just being goofy, laughter is only a grin… a smile… a chuckle… away.

(1) Taking it one day at a time. Sometimes, that’s all you can do. You wake up and decide what this one set of 24-hours will bring: Reading? Nature? Being with loved ones? Learning something new? It’s a crazy year, but we still have one very powerful tool: Perspective.

Remember: Perspective is both a wonderful and dangerous thing. It can make the world around you a million times better, or even a million times worse. Even 2020, when so much seems far beyond us, perspective is something we can use to assert a little control in our lives.

If we stay positive and keep supporting one another, we’ll come out on the other side. We’ve got this!

What are some things you’ve been able to do? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

How Will We Live Through It?

2020 has certainly been a year for the history books, hasn’t it? I keep thinking ahead to the future, wondering how the year will look with the advantage of hindsight. How will this year ultimately be remembered?

And what I keep coming back to, unfortunately, is one word: Turmoil. 2020 has been a year of turmoil. And I’m not just talking about the pandemic or riots or upcoming election. It’s easy to point at the headlines and claim that those will be our only legacies. The truth–as unbelievable as it may seem–is that we most remember the people and moments that aren’t front page news. Those “everyday” stories are the ones that stay with us because, put simply, they are our stories.

We are most intrigued by the ordinary people who endured momentous times. We ask ourselves: How did they manage to live through the Civil War? The World Wars? The Great Depression?

Because those people, the ones just managing to live through it, are the ones who ultimately keep the human story moving forward.

Barbara Kingsolver described this simple fact best in The Poisonwood Bible. (She is primarily describing women, but the sentiment can apply to the “every-person” as well. ) Kingsolver writes:

“I only know the middle ground where we live our lives. We whistle while Rome burns, or we scrub the floor, depending. Don’t dare presume there’s shame in the lot of a woman who carries on.”

So, here we are in 2020. Here we are living our lives and just getting through it all. And how are we doing it?

With arguments. With violence. With disrespect.

At least, these seem to be the most prevalent. I hope that they’re not; just simply the loudest.

Not long ago, my husband and I were sitting on the front porch and he wanted to play me a Jimmy Buffet song he’d come across. We were listening to it, enjoying the type of relaxation that can only come from good ole Mr. Buffet, when a particularly loud car revved its engine right down our street. For a moment, that was all we could hear. The music was still playing, but it was lost to the noise. But then, the car drove away, and Jimmy was back:

“And there’s that one particular harbour,
Sheltered from the wind,
Where the children play on the shore each day
And all are safe within.”
*

I think kindness is a lot like that moment on the porch. Right now, everything else–the arguing, the rudeness, the dissent–is just louder.

And it comes from all sides, from every viewpoint on every opinion imaginable. Five minutes on Facebook is all it takes to feel knotted up inside.

We all have opinions. And we all have the right to express those opinion, especially when they concern our health and safety. We even have the right to be unkind. There’s no law that says we have to be nice to one another.

That’s something that can’t be legislated, and it shouldn’t be: Because kindness should be a game we’re all willing to play, no questions asked.

So today, I’m issuing a challenge: Do something kind for someone else. Take a moment of your time to keep the world spinning in a positive way. If enough of us do it, then maybe kindness won’t be so overwhelmed by the noise anymore. Sure, there will be discourse. Sure, there will anger. And sometimes, those options are the right ones. Sometimes, enough is just enough.

But is that true in the everyday, simple conversations we have? To the everyday, “middle ground” people who are just doing the best that they can in an often scary situation?

I suppose that’s ultimately up to you. Nobody can make someone else be kind.

But imagine, for a moment, what 2020 would be like if kindness had spread as far as COVID-19.

This will be a year for the history books. And one day, people will look back and wonder: How did they live through it?

Well… how did we? The answer is up to us.


*From “One Particular Harbor”

What No One is Saying About Masks

Alright… everyone has an opinion about masks. Today’s not about that.

We’ve all been wearing them for about five months now, and while there has been endless discussion and debate and everything else, there are a few things that no one is really talking about. And that’s a shame.

But today, I’m going to talk about what no one else is! Let’s get started:

(1) Fashion statement!

Love sharing who you are with your clothes? Of course you do! I have seen masks that have as much style as a bohemian dress or a t-shirt with a favorite sports team. People are decorating them in a million different ways, or choosing them from countless styles. Love dogs? Cute puppy mask! Wanna be a fashionista? Color coordinate with your outfit and jewelry! The creativity is astounding. Say who you are loud and proud!

(2) Men Can Now Understand Us, Ladies! (At least a little, tiny bit)

Alright gals… we all know how it feels when we finally take our bra off at the end of the day. That feeling of restriction evaporates and we can finally relax. I saw a meme the other day that said masks are the new bras… and guess what that means? Guys can now understand how we feel! (At least in that aspect… now if only we could get them to understand “Aunt Erma,” right?)

(3) You feel like a superhero!

I know what you’re thinking… Superheroes wear masks over their eyes. Wrong! Check out these heroes who were trendsetters and didn’t even know it!

(4) No make-up!

I’ve not worn any make-up since March. My skin feels amazing, and I feel amazing. Make-up isn’t essential for beauty–just our gorgeous positivity.

(5) Incognito!

See someone in the grocery store that you don’t want to talk to? Well, the odds of them recognizing you from a distance and waving you over have significantly DECREASED! Just duck down an aisle and go, go, go!

Listen, all humor aside (though, to be honest, I actually do really like all those mask advantages), I’ve always been one to look on the bright side. Complaining is easy. Being angry is easy. Arguing is easy.

You know what’s difficult? Being positive. I often say you can laugh or cry, but if 2020 has taught me anything, I think the phrase should be amended: You can laugh, you can cry, or you can shout.

For me, personally, I’ve always preferred laughter. I feel better and I’ve noticed the people around me tend to feel better, too.

We have a lot of reasons to feel terrible this year. I’d rather do something that helps to alleviate all of that rather than add to it.

So I hope this list gave you a smile, or maybe helped you look at masks a little bit differently. No one’s having much fun wearing them, but if you can maybe feel like a superhero or snidely tell your husband, “Welcome to my world,” then maybe we can have a few more smiles than groans.

Stay positive, people. We’ll get through this together. Lots of love!

My Staycation in the Void

Everyone has a word that they can’t stand. One of the most common culprits is “moist.” (If you hate that word… then I apologize for making you read it just now.)

For me, that word has always been… “staycation.”

Right now, the year 2020 is laughing and laughing. Because guess what–everyone is having a staycation!

Including me.

*Insert groan*

Now, here’s the thing. I understand why some people choose staycations. Maybe money is tight. Maybe there are responsibilities at home that can’t be given breaks.

Maybe a stinkin’ pandemic strikes….

Ahem.

The point is, I get why they exist, as alternatives. But I’ve never understood choosing a staycation when there is so much of the world to explore! So many new experiences! Exciting cultures! Pages upon pages of the story that is humanity, waiting to be read–

And you stay at home?

Nope. Don’t get it. If that’s your thing, no judgment, but it just doesn’t make sense to me. Hence why the word “staycation” is so cringeworthy.

But this year, I didn’t have a choice. It was staycation or… well, nothing.

So my husband and I decided to take the week to be lazy. COVID-19 means stress is about as abundant as… well… COVID-19. If we were going to have a staycation, then we were going to do it right.

By doing nothing at all.

I know what you’re thinking. Wow, Sarah. A blog about how you and your husband did nothing for a week. How thrilling.

But stay with me: Yes, we did nothing…. Except watch a movie together we’d been meaning to see for ages; enjoy a trip back to yesteryear with original Pokemon episodes; play board games; challenge each other in old Spyro video games; and go on evening walks uptown.

We did nothing. But somehow, we found a whole lot of somethings. We found time together (which is unfortunately rare with our busy schedules). We found competition and laughter. We found relaxation and nostalgia.

Right now, there is a lot of nothing going on. Trips have been cancelled. Major life events–like weddings and graduations–have been postponed or transformed so that they are nearly unrecognizable from tradition. Many kids who would be going back to class are having to adjust to homeschooling.

Plans have changed. Life has changed. And those changes have left some voids.

We have two choices: We can stare into the void (knowing full well that it stares back) and be intimidated by the nothing lurking there.

Or we can fill it, just like we have all of our lives.

True, we don’t normally have a pandemic to worry about. But we fill “nothings” all the time. The blank page. The empty silence. The uncharted map.

Finding something in nothing is what we’ve always done. It’s what we’ll always do. The rules are different right now and it is, admittedly, a lot scarier. But it is possible.

Even if you have to take a… ugh… staycation… to make it happen.

Copyright Sarah Davidson 2020