What Worked For Me in 2020

What a crazy wild ride this year has been! That is likely one thing we can all agree on…

While many folks are hating on 2020 and several are “over it” and still others are ready to just move on to 2021, I hold no grudge against 2020. Honestly, it’s just another year and we have just had different challenges and experiences than years past. How you view any given year matters and I choose to still make the most of it despite things looking somewhat different. Call me a forever optimist! 🙂

A bookish blog I follow, Modern Mrs Darcy, posted recently “What Worked for me in 2020” and I loved the idea so I’m stealing it and making my own list. Perhaps it will remind you that this past year wasn’t a total waste; that in fact, if you choose to look more closely, you probably learned a whole lot about yourself. ;o)

  1. Getting outside! Although it was safer to do things solo and/or socially distance, my mood is always vastly improved if I get outside. My mantra became “outdoors is not closed” even if some folks think that is overused. Seriously, I’m used to being active, doing things with friends, and getting OUT. It is very easy to think due to Covid that you can’t DO anything or leave the house, which was largely not true. Early on I realized this and started hiking (and biking when the weather got warmer) out in the woods – a lot with my husband (he would fish while I hiked) or by myself. One of our best decisions was to get an annual pass to Whiterock Conservancy and go there every weekend that we could. When all my prior athletic goals for the year got cancelled (i.e. Powerlifting meet in April, Gravel bike ride in June), I created a new goal to hike 20 Iowa trails in 2020 and I’ve had a blast exploring the trails in many state parks, county parks, state preserves, etc.
  2. Embracing Solo Biking. I love riding my bike but previously had always ridden with at least one biking buddy (which I didn’t realize until this year). There’s always a little bit of fear that I’ll have a bike breakdown or fall when off by myself, but I learned to feel the fear and do it anyway. 99% of the time it’s just fine and if I get a flat or whatever, I can phone a friend if hubby isn’t available. It was actually liberating and nice to have the freedom to just hop on the bike whenever it fit my schedule without worrying over meeting a friend at a specific time. I’ve stuck to bike trails this year, but hoping to venture to gravel biking alone next year.
  3. Buying a bike to leave on the trainer. Best. Decision. Ever. I have a CompuTrainer/SmartTrainer that I use with Zwift for biking in the winter indoors, but in the past it has always been a balancing act of when to put my bike on the trainer as I only had one bike really that fit on there. I had mentioned to my hubby that it would be nice to be able to just leave a bike on the trainer all the time so that if the weather was crummy or I just was in a time crunch, I could still hop on and ride for 30-60 minutes. He spotted a great used bike deal at Kyle’s and we were on it! I have loved having this flexibility, especially because I’m not going to the gym anymore to workout and I decided halfway through the year to set a goal to ride 2020 miles in 2020.
  4. Putting gym membership on hold. With Covid hitting hard in March, my gym had to close for a month. Although they re-opened, at first I didn’t feel comfortable going back and I was put on furlough so was being cautious about spending money. Summer is always a time where I bike way more and the gym becomes less frequent/important to me, although I typically continue lifting 4-5 days a week. Toward the end of summer, I was debating…my membership if I want to lift (powerlifting) is $100/month or if I revert back to kettlebell classes (which I also love) is $50/month. However, I knew I still had this big biking goal which would mean biking 5-6 days/week whether that was outside or inside on the trainer. And I have literally a whole collection of kettlebells here at home that I had been building over the past several years. So I started investigating home kettlebell programming. I found one I love through Hannah Hutson that is the same technique/philosophy as my gym classes for $29/month. For now, this program + ROMWOD (range of motion workout of the day) + biking is working for me so I’m going with the flow. I have no doubt that once Covid settles down and/or I start getting restless, I’ll be back at Brickhouse Fitness!
  5. Finding Libby!! This is going down as my best Covid find for sure. I love reading and with so many indoor biking miles, and more time working at home on scrapbook/stamping projects, I found myself listening to audio books more. How did I not know about Libby?!?! LOL…its a free app through your local library where you can check out audio books (or eBooks) to listen to. It’s been awesome!
  6. Reading what feels good. I have always loved reading and have had a goal to read 50+ books for the past several years. I had fallen short, but it still landed with me reading way more books than in the past. Well, this was the year for reading!! With all this extra time on my hands because we weren’t really “doing anything” I have had plenty of time to read. The hardest thing has been figuring out what I’m in the mood for. Covid freaked me out at different points throughout the year and I found it hard to really focus on any reading that was too complex or involved. So I went with what sounded appealing. This ended up with me reading a lot more romance/ROMCOM type books but I’m totally here for it. I also still got in some great historical fiction in between the lighter books.
  7. Getting Creative. I’ve always loved my stamping/scrapbooking getaway weekends to focus on making various cards and projects, especially some gifts for friends. This year, I was able to still do a few small scrapbook retreat weekends with close friends, but several of those weekends were cancelled. While I was sad, it pushed me to get creative on my own at home. And we set up several virtual crafting events which turned out to be totally fun…we could be online and chat while we each worked on our own individual projects. Many of my ideas have been inspired by Taylored Expressions, our local stamping store.
  8. Virtual Bookish Events. I have been a fan of Modern Mrs Darcy for a couple years not and subscribe to her online book club. With 2020 in-person events getting cancelled, it opened up a lot of virtual events with authors, with the MMD Book Club, including a Stay-At-Home Book Retreat that was just delightful for my nerdy bookish heart. The author interviews I was able to participate in were amazing as I never would have gotten to meet and hear from so many authors if this year would have been “normal.” Some of these were through MMD Book Club, but also many other venues – the Des Moines Public Library had several and I found out about quite a few through Instagram. I have an Instagram account exclusively for bookish things so it is all in one place; you can follow me at @whatcarolynreads.
  9. Making coffee at home. Mid-March I shifted to working from home (and we are still WFH until at least July 2021) so that meant no more stopping at Starbucks on the way to work. This was actually a really good thing for my pocketbook…and my mocha addiction. Ha! I decided to start trying several different coffees from local folks and it has been super fun. My current favorites are from Capital City Coffee right here in Altoona and Pammel Park Coffee Company in Winterset.
  10. Weekly/daily FaceTime/text/chat dates. I would say I’m an extrovert most of the time, although I do also enjoy my quiet time alone. I worried at first how I would fare with all this Covid lockdown/social distancing stuff. To my amazement, it actually hasn’t been too bad and I’ve found that overall I’m enjoying a quieter life – especially having zero plans on the weekends so we have the freedom and flexibility to just do whatever feels good in the moment (me and hubby). I think why this whole “alone” thing has worked though is because of a few things. First, I’m not really alone, I have my husband, who sometimes drives me crazy, but mostly makes me laugh. Second, I have my small tribe – you know, the friends that you text/chat/FaceTime with on a regular basis to get you through. I know I would have been lost many times during my low points without my weekly FaceTime date with my friend Jess for example. Or my daily/weekly texts with Lacey, my friend in TX, or Jenn, my friend from church or several other close friends that made up my small circle. I also had weekly Zoom calls with my women’s bible study group which was also a lifesaver and a safe space to talk about how we were feeling and turn to our faith and each other.

There are probably other things that have worked well this year that I’m temporarily forgetting – but these are the highlights. I hope that you can relate to a few of these and/or that they help you to reflect on the unique things that have worked well for you and your wellness this past year!

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