2020. What a year.
I must say, despite how awful things were as far as the pandemic goes, the loss of so many lives, and the loss of everyday experiences for our children (one of the most heartbreaking parts for me as a parent), the year was not a total loss for me personally.
It was, hands down, the most difficult year I’ve had yet. When the world shut down in March, I was suddenly thrown from being a part-time working mom to a full-time SAHM of two young kids, a full-time kindergarten teacher, a part-time food blogger, AND the boss of my rapidly developing side hustle: food photography for other bloggers.
My business EXPLODED in 2020. I went from two steady clients to ten in a matter of two months, and I was turning work down because I simply did not have the capacity to take it on. I was working with bloggers whom I had admired for so long and formed new and wonderful working relationships with them. AND I was getting to do what I loved: photographing beautiful food. The bonus: I was getting PAID to do so. Never did I think I would be able to make this into a true job, but I did. I was suddenly making my old salary. I was getting to do what I loved.
But, it came at a cost.
I sort of lost myself in the last few months of the year. Kieran’s school shut down again in November, and I was faced with now teaching him first grade. While tending to Finn full time. While working on my own blog. While doing photography projects full time. I was working nights and weekends. I was spreading myself far too thin.
I stopped exercising. I stopped caring what I ate (I’ve always been a mindful eater). I stopped sleeping well. I was suddenly overwhelmed and anxious and…completely burnt out. The toll this took on my physical and mental health was substantial. I am still bouncing back, despite taking a much-needed break at the end of December.
I had to make the very difficult but necessary decision to cut back on my photography workload. Substantially. I now am only working with a handful of bloggers. It feels manageable for now. My hope is that we will return to normalcy at some point and Kieran will be able to safely attend school full time again before this school year is done. Finn will eventually go to preschool. I’ll be able to re-focus on my dream job.
But for now, I am putting my family and MYSELF first. I’m still getting to do what I love, just on a much more manageable scale. It was a hard, depressing decision, but I know that I am luckier than most right now, and I refuse to complain. My sad feelings are valid, of course, but I am also so grateful.
Grateful for my supportive, incredibly hard-working, and loving husband who carries more than his fair share of the weight around here. Grateful for my beautiful and sweet children, who I have spent so much wonderful time with this past year. For our health. For our financial security. For our lives.
I don’t mean to get sappy and too deep here (I’ve written and erased much of this post three times now), but I think it’s an important thing for me to recognize. This year was hard. This year was terrible. This year pushed me to my personal, professional, and parental limits. But a lot of wonderful things came out of it too.
I learned that I have a desirable service to offer and that I am a badass when it comes to drive and determination. I learned that I will be able to do it all again some day. I learned how to run a business. I learned so much about my children. I learned more about my marriage and my spouse. I learned what was truly important in life. I learned some important things about the friendships in my life. While I miss the “old life” immensely, I know that I have my people. They are safe. They are loved. And they are still here. What more do I need?
2021 will bring good things. I am sure of it.
This past month was one of the highlights of 2020. I made the decision in November to cut back on work come 2021, and the relief I felt was immediate.
We also had so much fun with the kids! Finn got to see his first snowfall and we made a day of it. We spent a lot of time baking for the holidays and soaking up the quieter holiday season. We watched as many Christmas movies and TV specials as possible, had many a dance party in the kitchen, and spent a lot of time enjoying each other’s company. This time of year is always extra magical when you have small children.
And now! Onto lighter things. Here are some of the year-end discoveries I made in life this past month. Lots of fun things!
- This probably comes as no surprise to anyone, but my everyday attire consists of leggings and some sort of sweater, sweatshirt, or cardigan. I am all about the cozy these days. I cannot stop wearing this sherpa-lined cardigan that Dan got me for Christmas. It is seriously THE softest and warmest thing ever. I have it in the white color, and while I do worry about it getting dirty easily, so far, so good. Bonus: it’s not too frumpy looking despite being insanely fluffy and warm! The other sweater that has been my absolute go-to: this tunic sweater from LOFT. I have it in a light gray color (which seems to be sold out). I love this one for a variety of reasons – the turtleneck is super cozy, the material is knit and super soft and warm, and it’s stylish enough to be worn out of the house with leggings or skinny jeans. It’s a very nice sweater, but still comfy enough to lounge around in (which I know we’re all doing a lot of right now).
- I have been obsessing over Primal Foods snickerdoodle collagen peptides all this past month. I treated myself to a container at the end of November and used it in my coffee the entire month of December. It’s delicious! It has a spiced cinnamon flavor but without being overly sweet, and it blends nicely into both coffee and smoothies. It is my favorite collagen at the moment, and when I finish this tub, I will likely get another.
- Speaking of coffee, I have really been enjoying this creamer lately, too. It’s spiced and warm with just enough sweetness to keep me happy. It’s not an overpowering flavor at all! Love it.
- I haven’t gotten a pedicure in a long while (thanks again, 2020), and after a friend recommended this foot peel to me, I went for it. Oh. My. Gosh. This was seriously a game changer for my poor calloused feet. I am basically on my feet all day long, and it takes a toll! This peel is super easy to use, and I saw a major difference. Now, it isn’t for the faint of heart because your feet basically shed all of their skin for about two weeks straight (in massive sheets!), but let me tell you, it is SO satisfying to get rid of all that dry skin. And the new skin underneath is baby soft! I will definitely be doing this again – probably every other month or so. It made such a huge difference.
- My skin has been STRUGGLING this winter. I’m sure it’s related to all of the stressors I outlined above, but my skin is unusually dry and even has some spots of eczema-like irritation. I bought this oil lotion and have been using it religiously, along with this body wash and body cream. All have been making a BIG difference. They are a little pricy as far as body products go, but they are the only products that have truly helped my skin these past couple months. I love that the products aren’t scented either, which often irritates my skin. They also feel luxurious but without an oily residue. Love, love, love!
- I received this silk pillowcase for Christmas (something I’ve been wanting to get for forever!), and I am obsessed. It really does all the things that people claim – my hair is smoother and less frizzy and my skin is smoother and less stressed in the mornings. AND it stays nice and cool at night, which is a big bonus for me because I am SUCH a hot sleeper. Loving it so far!
- I have been loving the OLIPOP sodas as an alternative to traditional soda. I love a Diet Coke every now and then, and while I rarely indulge, every now and then I get a hankering for a bubbly sweet drink. The OLIPOP root beer is amazing! It really tastes like root beer (well, maybe a slightly less sweet version – but that’s what I like) and has a fraction of the sugar and calories. I buy these as a special treat!
- We have been watching so many good things on TV lately. As I mentioned last month, we loved The Undoing (although we did hope for a more surprising ending – it was kind of predictable. But I will forever love Hugh Grant and the ageless wonder that is Nicole Kidman) and currently are working our way through Cobra Kai on Netflix. We also started Your Honor, and while it stresses me the F out, it’s so good. I LOVE Bryan Cranston and will watch him in pretty much anything. I BLEW through Bridgerton this past week and LOVED IT. Definitely my new favorite! It’s like Downton Abbey meets Grey’s Anatomy meets Outlander. Sexy and cute and fun – with a more modern twist on history. I really enjoyed it! I am about to start the new Netflix show Sweet Magnolias, and I have some other ones on my list that I’ve been meaning to watch for awhile now like Emily in Paris and Virgin River. I’m also thinking about trying out Tiny Pretty Things. Have you watched these? I’ve heard mixed things about all of them, but they still sound like something I might want to watch.
- Over the holidays, we watched Soul with the kids and everybody LOVED it. Such a good movie. Highly recommend, even if you don’t have kids! It has a wonderful message about not taking the little things in life for granted and how much beauty there is in the everyday/ordinary. It allows you to appreciate things through the eyes of child experiencing all the little things for the first time. It hit home, especially with everything we’ve all endured this past year. Kieran still asks to watch it a few times a week.
- We also watched The Croods 2 movie and all loved it a ton. We love the first one (especially Kieran), and the sequel did not disappoint. So cute and funny!
And that’s a wrap on 2020 favorites! I am so looking forward to what 2021 will bring. My hope is that we’ve already hit the low and things can only go up from here. Fingers crossed!
Thank you for being here! XOXO!
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