By Looking Back, I Saw a Way Forward.

After Christmas this year, I handed my husband and both of my adult children a sheet of paper, an envelope, and a pen. 

I asked them to write down their thoughts about their pandemic lives during 2020. Now, my family is not known for their creative writing. All three attended Business Schools and make their livings in the Finance-Technology field. You can imagine their reaction.

I calmed them down and said it could cover any part of living in the time of Covid-19. What did they learn about themselves, what new skills, hobbies, or habits they picked up, and what did they miss the most? It could be as long or as short as they wanted and as serious or casual as they felt was authentic.

As the writer in the family, I had to stop myself from drafting an outline, revising, editing, etc. I just put pen to paper and wrote. Well, more fool me. My son took a similar approach, but my daughter pulled out her phone and started writing down and organizing her thoughts. My husband took himself off to the dining-room table, and head in hand, pored over the sheet, a deep frown etched on his forehead. I was touched by how seriously they took the task.

After they each sealed their envelope, I asked them to write their name on the front and sign the seal. Then I placed them all in the bottom of an old jewelry box that I’ve had since I was 18. They all wanted to know when we would open them. I suggested five years, and we all agreed upon it. 

The next day, I thought back to what I had written and realized by reflecting on the past year, I had also set out a list of New Year Resolutions.

In my letter, I wrote how I had tried and loved a few new hobbies, things I would never have dipped my toe into if not for the pandemic. There was a resolution! In 2021, I aim to add a few more fun activities. 

A new day. Sunrise in Ullapool, Scottish Highlands.  57.8954° N, 5.1613° W

Then I had written about growing my business—my day job as a public speaking coach—and how perfectly it fitted in with our virtual world. I had used my work time much more efficiently, put in much more effort, and seen the results. Another resolution! In 2021, I would build on this growth and set even higher goals for myself. 

While writing about my business, I had expressed gratitude that I was able to move my business to a virtual world when so many were derailed. A third resolution! In 2021, I would take even more time to be thankful.

My letter wasn’t all joy and happiness. I had stated how much I missed being with my friends. Another resolution! I vowed that in 2021, I would make even more effort to spend time with friends. Although I always loved the quick coffees and the dinners, I had moved away from hosting friends at our house. It was just so much easier to make a lunch or dinner reservation. But there is something special about having people in your space, sitting at your table, eating the food you prepared.

Aperitivos in Portofino, Italian Riviera

I had written about how sorely I missed traveling. It was almost a physical ache not to see new places and learn more about the world and the people who live in it. That formed my second to last resolution. I would plan even more carefully to be able to take more trips. I would even learn to love those long-haul flights!

My last resolution sprang from a sentence in my letter. I had stated how I hated the way people were suddenly robbed of their livelihood; the small family-run restaurant, the Jazz bar, the hairdresser, the solo performers, all felled by something out of their control. That formed my final resolution. In 2021 I will aim to share my good fortune with more people. I am not Bill Gates, but if I can make a small difference to one person, then I will.

What started out as a desire to capture an historic time evolved, for me, into my resolutions for 2021. By looking back, I saw a way forward.

Full disclosure: for those wondering if I haven’t broken the “secret seal” by divulging all this, have no fear. These 6 points are only a taste of all I wrote! 

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