Accept what is, let go what was, believe in what will be.

My very first letter said “2010, it was a good year”. 2020 on the contrary, was a bad year. However, all the bad also forced some good to come out of it. The BLM protests have finally started to create change, although still small and slow. On one hand, it feels like 2020 is never ending, but on the other hand, it feels like 2020 was over before it began. We are not out of this yet, and have some tough winter months ahead, but I look for new and better times in 2021. A new President, a new vaccine, and slowly a return to a new and relatively normal life.

Pre-COVID times.

The year 2020 had barely started, when COVID made its appearance. At first, I was not too worried. I had seen this before with SARS and H1N1 so I canceled my trip to China and Taiwan in February. But for the rest I did not think it would affect my life too much. We were excited to go to two 49ers play-off games and watch them go to the Super-bowl. Soon after that, everything changed rapidly. On March 7, we still went to see the Warriors in Chase center with Karin and Carla, who were visiting from the Netherlands. Things were already different: there was hand sanitizer everywhere and seats and tables were constantly cleaned.

One last trip

March 12, the day before Mandi and I were supposed to leave for Myanmar, Trump closed the borders for people from Europe and China. The state department told people to cancel non-essential oversees travel. So the next day I scrambled to cancel the flights and the trip we had planned for over a year. As a consolation prize, we decided to do a short road-trip to Joshua Tree and Death Valley. We made it back just when Silicon Valley and California went into “shelter-in-place”. The life I had known for years had come to a screeching halt.

Accept what is

From a busy social life full of travel, friends, dinners and other outings, all of a sudden I was confined to home. After I got over the initial shock, the first couple of weeks were fine. I was getting into a new routine: grocery store every two weeks, where I had to stand in line outside to get in, masks, hand sanitizer, wipes. Empty store shelves as people were stocking up for months. Home cooked meals every day, zoom meetings with friends on the weekend and I worked my way through all my puzzles. In addition, I made a list of projects around the house that I needed to do. They closed all the parks so I started exploring my neighborhood for hikes to get out and get fresh air.

A strange new world

Nevertheless, it was a strange new world: the eerie empty streets, hardly any planes flying over and no socializing. The only people I saw in those early days, were my neighbor Amit and 3 year old Saavan. Daily walks familiarized us with every house and every street in our neighborhood. We joked that the highlight of the week was on Tuesday, when Saavan insisted on chasing the garbage trucks through the neighborhood.

On Easter, I hit a low. The weather had been cold and rainy all week. I had been at home, eating alone every night for 3 weeks. On our Sunday zoom call friends talked about their Easter dinner plans. Normally we would be together, but this year it was just me and I felt lonely and wished it was Monday.

New routines

I knew I had to do something to get out of this, so I downloaded new exercises and pulled my old jazzercise mat from storage. And so the next morning, my new daily HiiT core training began. My neighbor Tini had asked me if I wanted to go biking, so we started biking twice a week. We also added a weekly run. This new routine helped me feel both mentally and physically stronger. In our neighborhood, we started to open our garages and have distant happy hours. May arrived, and county and state parks opened up with new COVID rules: social distancing, masks and single file.

A bigger bubble

I was able to broaden my circle a little. Mandi and I started Thursday evening therapy walks. We started hiking every Saturday and Sunday. I could sit in backyards for a chat with Aevanne, Rhona or Erwin and Lisa. It was breaking the long days of video calls and made life a little bit more normal. Then at the end of May, the killing of George Floyd happened. Violent BLM protests broke out all over the country. It felt like a civil war had started and it was the end of our newly obtained limited freedom. Once again, we had to stay home and for a few days we even had a curfew at night.

In the summer, rules relaxed a little again. Restaurants opened up for outdoor dining, hotels reopened. Lisa, Erwin and I went to Paso Robles for a wine tasting weekend in June, followed by a back packing and camping trip to Yosemite with a small group. In August, Vanessa and I drove Sarah to University in Utah and spent a lovely couple of days in Salt Lake and Tahoe. At the end of August, Mandi, Lisa C and I spent a wonderful week working remotely from Pismo Beach. Life felt almost normal again…

Let go what was

COVID did help me reevaluate many things in my life once I realized that life would not be the same again, at least not for a long time. I learned that some things you take for granted, you should not. Like that I always thought that I was a plane ride away from my mom, but when she got sick in May, I learned I really was not. COVID stopped us from traveling freely. Mom got better, but I realized time is precious, so until I can visit regularly again, I call her every day, just to say hi.

Regroup and reorganize

I am a routine person, but I learned to break routines and start new ones. I did major cleaning around my house, I cleaned out my kitchen, garage, office and closets. Maybe I went a bit overboard when I organized my Tupperware drawer and washed my toy dog. Two cars consolidated into one. I miss traveling but I do not miss the amount of travel I used to do. For the first time in my life, I became involved in politics by joining the Sister District grassroots organization. When I started a new and exciting job in August with the Amazon Kids team working on innovation, it felt as if I had left my old life and started a new one.

COVID Hiking Map
Gratitude

We have learned to let go of how we did things and found new ways: instead of big birthday parties, we do smaller COVID safe ones. We go on our “banditas” hikes every Saturday and Sunday wearing our masks. My circle of friends that I am close to is smaller, but I cannot tell you how grateful I am for them. Because the relationships during this difficult year have become deeper and more meaningful. I also embraced some of the positives that came with the bad. Our neighborhood has become a lot closer and we know each other much better now. Times like these make you realize you need people close by that can help and be a support system. We have small COVID-safe get togethers for birthdays and holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Believe in what will be

Lisa, Mandi and I rented a house in Tahoe for the week of the election. It was a stressful week; on Tuesday night, we went to bed with the horrible feeling that this was a repeat of 2016. We didn’t get much sleep that night but by late Thursday, things looked better and while having breakfast on Saturday, we heard that Biden had been declared the winner. I had not realized how stressed I had been over the election until I felt tears streaming down my face. That night, while watching the first Biden and Kamala speeches, there were tears again, this time tears of hope. As a woman, I was so proud we finally will have the first female Vice President in this country, a Vice President of color. I am hopeful that the Biden-Harris team will be able to bring this country back together.

Giving back

One more thing I did was finish my training with the Child Advocates of Silicon Valley and in November, a judge of the court of Santa Clara swore me in as a CASA. I am now waiting to have my first kid assigned and I am excited and hopeful that I might be able to make a difference in some kid’s life next year.

You gotta take the good with the bad…And smile with the sad. Love what you got…And remember what you had

Learn to forget…But never regret! People change, things go wrong. Just remember: life goes on

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