Photo credit: My friend Natalia Cadena took this of me (check out her work on IG @lacolombianita_)
There are so many things I can say about 2020. This was the year I went through a tough breakup, the year my grandfather died, and the year the whole fabric of society changed before my eyes. However, with all these seemingly negative things, I can say with great honesty that I am actually so grateful for the year 2020.
This year taught me how to be patient, how to accept things as they are, how to be kinder to myself, and most importantly, how to better care for myself so I can love God and others better. In honor of the last few hours remaining of this year, I want to share 20 things I did during the course of 2020 that changed my life for the better.
1) I rested.
I slept. A lot. lol.
When the lockdowns happened early this year, they were exactly what I needed. It's funny because while everyone else around me was mourning the closing down of the outside world, all I felt was relief and gratitude that I could stay at home and do nothing.
After a breakup, there is no better thing for a broken heart than sweet time in hibernation. Quarantine gave me the chance to truly go at my own pace and heal, rest, sleep– essentially just be (in a way could not if I had to face the world every day).
2) I went to mass and adoration more often.
A priest I know once said that you don't have to necessarily go to a healing mass for healing; every mass is a healing mass.
So this year, I took that seriously, and I went to more masses than I can remember. I even had the chance to attend outdoor adoration under the stars a handful of times when we were doing mass outdoors. It's amazing how those moments in front of God in the Eucharist brought out the tears I had been holding in without even knowing. I felt God's grace truly work at healing and lightening my heart.
3) I did the Total Consecration to Mary.
I will admit that I really enjoyed quarantine. With no social media or television, I really was blissfully and peacefully unaware of many of the things that were making so many people anxious. So for the most, part I never experience the anxiety most people did.
Until one point. I am not sure how it came about, but it truly was terrible. I really felt like I was being spiritually attacked. But in those intense moments, I remembered something my Sunday school teacher said to us when I was really young. She said that praying the rosary once a day was a great guard against the forces of evil for that day. Mother Mary is the Terror of Demons.
So I started praying my rosary every day with fervor. And soon, I decided to do the 33 Day St. Louis De Montfort Total Consecration to Mary (which by the way is a beautiful devotion to putting yourself under the total protection of Mary). I can honestly say that Mary really interceded for me, because I no longer felt anxious and on edge by the end of my consecration but instead found a new, stable confidence in God.
4) I did the Consecration to St. Joseph.
When I visited a friend this year, she gave me a beautiful book for the Consecration to St. Joseph. Now, not many people know this about me but I have a strong connection to and love for St. Joseph. He has interceded for me so many times in family issues, work, and finances. I have counted on him for so many favors over the years! So when my friend gave me this book, I knew I wanted to do the consecration.
What is consecration to Mary and Joseph? It basically means that I am putting myself under their total care and protection. They will have my back through life and intercede for me to God so I can love God and others better. Their job is to help me reach heaven. If this sounds like something you'd be interested, you can read more here.
5) I joined a support group.
One of the best things I did for myself this year was join a support group. Some things in life are not meant to be approached alone. The group I joined is filled with people who want and are actively trying to have a better relationship with themselves and others. A group like this is such a rarity and blessing to me.
6) I re-learned how to cook.
Before this year, I had been living in a studio with no kitchen. So basically, I had lost all my cooking skills. But this year, now having the luxury of living in a house where I have access to the kitchen, I slowly got back into cooking. It's amazing how slow it feels to get back into the cooking process, but once I did, cooking has become pretty therapeutic for me.
7) I filled my space with plants.
Yes, I went to Home Depot one day and picked up some plant children. I started off with about 5 medium-small plants. Now I'm left with two of them remaining. My room doesn't get the proper amount of light year-round, so the others didn't make it. But having plants in my room and loving and growing them has been very fulfilling.
8) I went on retreat.
Each year, I try to go on a spiritual retreat to recenter my heart, mind, and soul– and to create a resolution for the year. This year's retreat was absolutely healing for my heart and me gave some things to work on, as well as to look forward to.
9) I started hiking.
I was not much of a hiker before 2020, but this year has showed me how to appreciate being in nature at another level. I live right next to a beautiful trail that overlooks the Santa Monica Mountains. I've been doing this hike multiple times a week, and it's become part of my rhythm for the week.
10) I started spinning.
Okay, so toward the middle of the year, I found an outdoor spin class. Yes, that's the aerobic class where they blast music as you peddle away on a stationary bike. Think 1980s :). It was the sunshine of my week since I was surrounded by super happy, cheerful people. It made me love working out and moving again.
11) I stopped spinning. I started cycling.
So my spin class got cancelled permanently unfortunately. So I bought a street bike and started cycling around my area. Luckily, I am in a very bike-friendly area and this has been a good substitute to spinning. I do miss my people at spin, but I'm starting to find a little community of cyclers who greet me "good morning" when I get out there!
12) I cut caffeine.
A very good decision. I had some weird reactions to caffeine this year, so I decided to just stay away completely. I feel so much better now :).
13) I made new friends.
"Everyone likes having friends but no one really likes making them." I saw that quote somewhere and really liked it. It's true. It's not always fun making friends. It takes time, consistency, and initial awkwardness before you can call someone a true friend. I've been fortunate enough to make a few new good friends this year, and I'll tell you, the initial awkwardness is worth it!
14) I sent good ol' fashioned letters to friends.
To me, writing a letter and spending time with someone on paper is magical. There is something so beautiful about the quality time I spend with someone over a letter. Sometimes I get to see parts of that person that might have not come out right away in person. I love to share what's in my heart when I write someone. Writing letters is a very intimate and heartwarming practice that made 2020 even more memorable and healing for me.
15) I made new pen pals.
I discovered some trustworthy sites online where you can find people to correspond with from all over the world. I now currently write to new friends from Indonesia, Germany, and Slovenia! I met them on interpals.com. In my opinion, there is no greater delight than the surprise of finding a lovely letter sitting in your mailbox. This platform I used is nice because you can message with people before exchanging addresses, which makes it easier to see if they are someone you wish to correspond with.
16) I collected postcards.
I am not huge on collecting things because I don't like clutter, but one of the best things I have done for myself this year is sign up for PostCrossing. It's basically a site where for every postcard you send to someone in the world, someone else will send you a postcard in return. Going to the mailbox and finding lovely notes and postcards from around the world made me feel like I was traveling and meeting new people even though I was in quarantine! These are the 3 cards I received this year that sum up my year: