Updated: Dec 15, 2020
As part of my mindfulness/Best Ever You practice, last December, I set a goal to choose a word each week and focus on what that word meant and take at least one action that corresponded. Not knowing a Pandemic would take hold, I decided to continue with our plan, to make the best of 2020. Here's what I/we did...
1. Zoomed: I started the year off Zooming, not knowing how it all would become a fixture. Randomly, in a Facebook Group with over 300,000 people in it, I answered a post to learn zoom together. That moment changed my life, as I met Kris Fuller. Kris and I have gone on this year to collaborate on multiple projects, businesses and more. She is brilliant, beautiful and kind.
2. Traveled: Like most, our vision for 2020 was different. With the kids in college, my husband and I charted our course for business and leisure travel. We made our way to San Francisco, Tahoe, and Napa.
Then in March, we took our youngest son with us on Spring Break to North Carolina for our other son's college baseball season starting. Ah, did our plans for 2020 change....
3. Regrouped: Upon arrival back home to Maine from North Carolina, with our youngest college student with us still, we started to received notifications about college shutdowns and college sports seasons canceled. It become very clear, quickly, that a Pandemic had set in. Everyone came home, took what was happening very seriously, and the regrouping and our practice of gratitude in every moment guided us all. That bus carrying the New Haven Chargers Baseball Team returned to CT and soon after, we learned of everything shut down.
4. Finished: With six of us working online at jobs or in college, we adjusted. "Finish strong" was a constant reminder to us and the boys, who were all finishing up college on-line at Rochester Institute of Technology, Mississippi State, University of New Haven and Harvard Business School, in a world of what previously was all in person classes. As the store shelves emptied and stay-at-home orders were issued, it was clear during these moments that life this year was going to tug at us in all directions.
5. Learned: With the Pandemic in full motion, I learned Kris Fuller's husband Ben had Stage 4 Colon Cancer. I cried, we cried, they cried and faith, hope, and love cried alongside us. We began to see that life wasn't going to stop just because there was a Pandemic. Kris set up a blog and a Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FullerCancerSupport
6. Worried: This is my worried look. I can remember taking this picture sitting in a Starbucks earlier in the year, sharing with my husband that I thought there would be worldwide issues. I just knew. So, for me, 2020- everything brought about multiple bouts of extreme free-flowing anxiety for me and I'm certain many.
Uncertain future moments, from our own health, children's health, and just about every aspect of life can brew fear if not brought into check. Normally, I'm a very forward-thinking person. This year, I've had to remind myself to keep present, but also to think forward and think positively about the forward-thinking. Rooting in gratitude, moment to moment with a glimpse of future positive thinking, is how everyone in our close circle decided to "Make the Best of 2020."
One moment I really appreciate is with Coach Celano & Jamy Bechler on my podcast.
7. Photographed: I decided during this year, my camera would be by my side pretty much 24/7. I created a blog on my personal website called, Life with the Zoom Lens On. This has turned into a tool for us all to frame situations and retrain your brain to hunker down with even more gratitude, positive thinking and turn the negativity upside down and challenge fear.
8. Cherished: After an introduction by Coach Joe Sperle, I cherished the opportunity to work with the great Sally Huss.
Together in early 2020, we produced two children's books: A Lesson for Every Child: Learning About Food Allergies and Self-Confident Sandy. Sally is a true joy in my life and I'm so grateful for the mentoring and friendship.
9. Wrote: Kris Fuller and I decided we would write. She would document her experiences helping Ben in Fuller Support/Cancer Ninja Wife. Together we would write a book about becoming your best ever you and tidy up some long-standing Best Ever You concepts such as the Principles and the Ten Points of Change. With the help of Sounds True author Jennie Lee, we went from 5 to 6 Best Ever You Principles. From there Kris and I created the now Amazon best-selling journal, Best Ever You: 52 Weeks to Your Bravest, Boldest You. In fact, we've gone from having 1 book to 8. They are listed here: https://www.besteveryou.com/books
10. Stalked: We stalked birds this year. We photographed many birds including, Egrets, Owls, Red Wing Black Birds and Hummingbirds this year.
They are our favorites. My husband and I were determined to slow down so much, with camera in hands, that we could recognize the different birds each day and learn how they behaved, as well as get the best photos we could with the equipment and photography skills we have, meaning we do not have a super professional zoom lens, etc... We have phones and a very nice camera.
I personally was reminded, by many blurry photos, that with any new skill there is practice, practice, practice and more practice.
11. Gardened: My husband and I hunkered down in dirt, mud and trees, plants and flowers. Ok, Ok, my husband mostly did. I'm great at picking out what I like and pointing to where it goes. He created a park-like, peaceful setting to the left of our house complete with benches and a rock path. It's beautiful and everything is in just the right spot, LOL.
12. Drew: Oh yes, my doodles. I love to doodle and not many see the of light of day. On the bumpiest flight of my life, I drew this gem. I think each spec/heart is represents an altitude drop.
A love of doodling and writing, combined to release the first in the series, Pinky Doodle Bug. Kris Fuller and I wrote the book and it's published by Waldorf Publishing. Vova Kirichenko illustrated to the book, which has been a best-seller on Amazon since it's release.
13. Ate: Many are in an emotionally or vicious stress eating cycle. I kept saying, in my head, during months April, June, July and August that people will emerge from the Pandemic "a hunk, chunk or drunk" and I was worried about the weight gain. It was my terribly worded way of reminding myself to not fall victim to stress with band-aid'ish, non self-love, self-worth behaviors. Being a big fan of chocolate, I did make a few mistakes here eating too much.
14. Exercised: To counter above, during the warm months here in Maine, my husband and I decided we would up our exercise game and make sure we logged more miles walking and more time in the pool swimming. We were very thankful for the unusually warm summer here in Maine, as we didn't even need the pool heater this year.
15. Broadcast: Woven through all I do, is my long-standing podcast. I'm very grateful to all guests this year who joined me on The Best Ever You Show. Together, we not only celebrated our 500th show, we also helped people in so many ways with thoughtful, meaningful content to help us all make the best of various situations.
16. Searched: I need to put down the google search for a while. I googled everything. I feel like google sees me coming now and thinks, "Oh, gosh, not her again." Ridiculous amounts of googling and ridiculous things googled. I hope they don't send me a recap statement of everything I googled, please no.
17. Forgave: I decided to mostly google and learn about forgiveness. I spent the past year learning as much as I could about the topic of forgiveness. Driven by an odd thought, "What would the last words people spoke to you or you to them if you passed away unexpectedly or became incapacitated." As I googled, the more I discovered people are grudge-masters, people have some terrible relationships they don't know how to manage and mostly no perspective. I've written a lot in my journals on the topic of forgiveness. This stands out to me in what I've written:
Never lose sight of what is actually important.
Go easier on people even if they don't go easier on you.
Revisit the gripe in the present moment. Sometimes it is now time to let it go and find peace.
18. Cried: I've cried a lot this year. I thought I was all cried out from my dad dying a few years ago. Turns out my eyes have a faucet function, as our family cried a new river when Kris Fuller's husband Ben died in July from Stage 4 Colon Cancer. If you feel like you are weeping internally, you are not along.
19. Collaborated: On the crying, I've got a lot of smudged ink. As I documented this year, I would find myself crying over my journal in parts. It became time to make journaling much more fun and so together, Kris Fuller and I decided we would make journals a signature part of The Best Ever You Network and Your Life Sparkles.
Just yesterday, our new health journal launched, so now we have two journals we all can use! No, they are not waterproof... Journals: https://www.besteveryou.com/journals
20. Blogged: I blogged it and logged it. I write everything down. Sometimes I think if I don't write it down, I won't remember it, and so I am always pen behind ear and something nearby to write in or on. This year, I re-launched my personal website and multiple blogs to help people be their best. elizabethguarino.com
21. Listened: I intentionally quieted down, sometimes for 3-5 hours at a time, to listen to my heart. I've said this for years now, When you heart speaks, tune in and listen." My heart was weeping for all of humanity and so to deal with myself and listen to what I was feeling, I quieted down. I also listened and logged all ideas that were free flowing in the process to quiet down.
22. Laughed: At various moments, lightening it up, has been so important. Thank you Steve Martin. The moments with you, Harry Bliss and your new book were precious and your twitter feed is a bright light.
23. Lysol'd: A new verb. Meaning, we even Lysol'd the bottoms of our shoes. It actually feels like a face wash & body spray set now. Dear Lysol, we need some new scents. vanilla-Lysol...
24. 2020'd: This is a possible new verb as well. I know I 2020'd a lot of stuff this year. From a seriously badly, overly cloved & spiced pumpkin cheesecake to to gigantic hornets nest that they build just outside our front door, to our septic tank system basically breaking, things have been 2020'd here and there for sure.
25. Watched: We watched a lot of Netflix. Loved The Crown and The Queen's Gambit.
26. Disengaged: We disengaged from watching the news. We decided to read headlines and stories on our phones to avoid the alarming tones and shorter stories from news anchors and stations and political ads. The TV was largely off if it wasn't sports, a television series or a movie. It remains off.
27. Loved: This has been a year of love. We celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary and 22nd year of meeting. Now, I thought we'd be on a jet-setting adventure. With gratitude and mindfulness we decided to be far more cautious and on May 15, we got up very early and did a bird-walk within Scarborough Marsh.
I took the liberty of running us through the aging filter (some more than others!) as I wanted to see what I could expect during the next 20 years and without explanation texted this out to family and posted in social media. It was a viral sensation, LOL. It looks more like 100 years, but whatever, LOL.
We also decided we would celebrate our anniversary with beach walks when we could and so we have visited the beach on very early mornings most Sundays this year. Popham Beach is breath-taking.
28. Repaired: Needing to maintain the peacefulness of the beach, in a few weeks time, stuff started breaking around the house. We were saying to each other, "You've got to be kidding me??!!" (I'd mumble, so 2020'd of course.) The pantry light, the outside lights, the toilet leakage, the septic issues, and I kid you not, all three cars. Methodically and calming, fix by fix, we fixed stuff. In one case, bought a new van. In another case, had a toilet pipe soldered. Oh, and the pool heater quit too. whatever. It's just stuff. I loved that approach. Perspective....
the septic breaking though during 2020 is so very 2020...
29. Parented: Speaking of fixes, everything happening at college isn't an easy quick fix.
It's been worrisome to say the least. As our younger sons left for college this year to be present at school, it created a worry for us that is hard to put into words. As parents this year, our roles felt like they changed a little bit. It felt like we were cheerleading and more like emotional support parents. Neither of us could even imagine being so disrupted and our hearts, while rooted in gratitude, ache. Ours like others, adjusted with grace, drive, positivity and more to having their lives uprooted as they were just putting down roots. It's become very important to us to check in weekly with the boys to see how they are doing. Our youngest son, Quaid (pictured) ended up back home and finished up online with Dean's List. The next oldest is in a house, Cam, is online and has decided to graduate early and continue on in graduate school at the same school. We have another son, Quinn, who is pursuing at Master's Degree online at Mississippi State. Our oldest son has a job as a buyer for Performance Food Group and he has been working mostly from home during this time.
30. Shopped: During the Pandemic, I have not been the one to go shopping. Peter has been the one to venture out. That said, my first time out and about shopping was to the new Market Basket in Westbook, Maine. That was in August. I still don't go out much at all. I did get brave a few weeks ago and go to Christmas Tree Shops.
I have however, found a great love of shopping online, which may go hand in hand with over-googling. I'm near certain the UPS driver is annoyed with me despite his smile and kindness. I know that I've started to pretend I am not home to avoid the look of shopping shame. I think when my husband answers the door to cry out "thank you" to the UPS driver, the UPS driver wants to jokingly respond, "Get her under control."
31. Surveilled: 2020 gave us a Ground Hog, a Skunk, Crows, Owl, Chipmunks and more, but the star of the show was the Ground Hog. "Groundhog is out" was a routine family 2020 text. It was pretty peaceful and cute to see him/her running around the yard and fun to feed!
(Picture is from our yard.)
32. Uploaded: I uploaded one of my poems, "Finding Peace in Change" here to hitrecord. It's been so cool to see what people have done with my poem.
33. Reflected: It was fun to look back at memories on Facebook and kind of a reminder of how things will be once again. I took time to reflect each day and review all memories each day this year that came up on Facebook. I've used that platform now for 12 years.
34. Cooked: We absolutely loved watching our New Haven Chargers College Baseball team learn to cook, as a team, via Zoom. In the background listening here and there at first, we found the way the coaches engaged the team to be a brilliant recovery from school shutdown and baseball season cancelled. This created some new recipes for our family to use and it was fun to see the boys in our own kitchen cook together, as Cam brought in his brothers to join in.
35. Championed: I love to champion others. It's been wonderful to see everyone's thoughts, goals and dreams continue as best they could. Many friends have released books during this period of time and most have been awarded our gold seal of excellence at besteveryouawards.com. Ways to support others for free, include commenting, sharing, reviewing, liking, and more.
36. Cleaned: We decided to clean the garage. Oh what fun - NOT! We took time this year to clean closets, the garage, the basement and more. I even cleaned my purse and look what I found. The life of a writer....
37. Played: We have played a lot of games this year. I taught myself to play Chess. In all these months, I have only beat the computer on the difficult setting twice. It's so annoying. I play online and it's pretty fun. We also don't miss an episode of Wheel of Fortune.
38. Talked: Kris Fuller and I talk every day either through email or video chat. We have the best conversations. We turned the best ever you group into a conversations group and almost 4,000 people have joined us.
39. Wished: I wished. I prayed. I vocalized. I put this out in social media:
Finish this sentence: For 2021, I wish: _____________________________.
Here's how people responded: https://www.besteveryou.com/post/what-are-your-wishes-for-2021
40. Adjusted: 2020 saw us adjust to life without our beloved dog, Tessa. Best Dog Ever. I know everybody says that about their dog and she was very special to us. This year would have been easier with her with us and her feeling well. That said, she died peacefully with us surrounding her. We will miss her.
41. Shared: Thank you to those who invited me to be on your podcasts this year! Thank you for asking me about my story, Best Ever You, parenting, working from home and more! A few favorites:
Perry Schumaker's Leadership Couch:
42. Voted: We voted by mail.
43. Found: Just kidding, we still can't find those keys we lost to the van. We thought maybe by cleaning we would. We didn't. We did find $20 in a coat and an Easter Egg. All joking aside, we found many moments of peace and gratitude. Back to joking, I did find an awesome gas firepit on Amazon, after Googling it, of course.
44. Smelled: One fantastic Christmas Cookie Candle by Yankee Candle. Best candle scent ever.
45. Heard: We heard you. We did it. We created topics: https://www.besteveryou.com/directoryoftopics
46. Did: We did this too, after hearing you.. We created gear. Designed by Kris Fuller - we have t-shirts, mugs and more!! https://www.besteveryou.com/shopgear
47. Re-visited: After a particularly tricky work-day, My husband and I revisited a favorite spot to take in the sunset.
48. Waited: While waiting for my husband in a store, I discovered a field full of birds.
49. Bleached: Like many, I was suffering from Pandemic-hair. Went in....
50. Donated: Usually, my husband and I donate a lot more of our time. This year, we donated money, blood, a minivan, an Audi, time, books, and more. I was really proud of my husband for donating blood during this time. As for the minivan, it was sad to see the "french fry mobile" go, but with over 200,000 miles, it was time. My husband even tried to keep it and get it fixed. I had to put my foot down on that one... :)
I'm happy to see our Food Allergy Book being given to kids via Eleanor Garrow-Holding at FAACT. We donated a Pinky Doodle Bug book to each child too.
My husband and I are proud supporters of the Olympia Snowe Women's Leadership Institute. I serve as a Leadership Advisor for Lawrence High School in Maine.
We donated to St. Jude Children's Hospital.
51. Appreciated: Everything.
52. Celebrated: Like many, there were occasions to celebrate this year. While the celebration activities may have changed, we still made the best of the moments. Our celebrations included: 19, 21, 23, 25, and "other" birthdays whose ages shall remain quiet, our anniversary, all Holidays and more. We're getting ready to celebrate Cam's early college graduation and acceptance into grad school. We're very proud of accomplishments, such as Quaid being initiated into his fraternity and voted onto the board, Quinn getting great grades in grad school and Connor getting a promotion at work. We're proud and resilience is a good buzzword.
The 2020 experience has changed us.
I'll leave you with a journal prompt: Please reflect on how 2020 has changed you and those around you.
Love to All,
About Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
Maine author/CEO, Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino is the author of six books including the Hay House best-seller, PERCOLATE - Let Your Best Self Filter Through. Elizabeth is the CEO and founder of The Best Ever You Network and Compliance4. Elizabeth and her husband Peter R. Guarino live in Maine with their four sons. Visit ElizabethGuarino.com and BestEverYou.com.