The year pull-ups were on my annual list.

A Year of Lessons

A Year Of Lessons

My 2020 began with wonder and happiness. My daughters and I were in Ecuador, exploring the Amazon. After two hours in a motorized canoe, we arrived in a remote village where we would spend the week living simply without cellular service or wifi. We spent our days building a school, and connecting with the Amazonian people. Watching my daughters laughing with the children, tasting authentic delicacies including grubs, and trying their hand at traditional hunting techniques are memories I will cherish forever. 2020 was off to a perfect start. We returned home and the year continued as expected. In February we travelled to visit my parents in Florida and celebrated my birthday with a magnificent lunch. Despite my acrimonious divorce, I was able to find happiness on these occasions. It took time to learn how to live in the moment, but 2020 gave me that gift.

When rumblings of a deadly virus broke, I was, where else, but in a cold cavernous courthouse. My attorney’s and I made lighthearted jokes about the unknown virus as we waited for the judge. That weekend, as my daughter and I walked the halls of a high school at a dance competition, discussions about the mysterious illness amped up. I casually ordered paper towels and toilet paper with one click just in case. I can remember the last social plans I allowed my children to arrange. “This is it girls. After today, we are on lockdown.” School closed, and our new reality began literally overnight.

Prior to Covid, I was in constant motion. Some of my inability to sit still was a symptom of the trauma I had suffered from my marriage, and divorce, and some was just my inherent active personality. Being forced to slow down wasn’t the worst thing for me and having all my girls home with me was a gift which I immediately recognized as a blessing within a storm. For eight weeks I had my girls all to myself and I was beyond thrilled. Grateful. Thankful. We did like most families and tried to enjoy our time together. Once a week I would host a “fancy” dinner in our dining room. No sweats allowed. We ordered art supplies for painting and tye dye to keep busy. In my mind, the value of time is immeasurable, which is why I choose family getaways in remote locations. I get their undivided attention, and create memories without interruption from their social media addictions, and never ending F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out)

As spring arrived, Covid’s noose loosened and slowly we re-entered life. The divorce grew closer to the trial and my parents were unnecessarily dragged into the legal circus. Miraculously, on October 30, 2020, a finalized divorce was signed by the judge. 2020 was not wasted. 2020 was growth. 2020 was closure. 2020 was freedom. I am sure many of you are thinking why is she telling us this? Why is she exposing her private life so publicly? It’s because after living through 2020, I refuse to hide the truths anymore. If my words resonate with even one human, and can comfort them in some small way, assure them that they are not alone in their struggles, then exposing my ugly truths will have been worth it. I will not smile silently and pretend anymore. And I don’t have to. I don’t have to portray this divorce as neat, or fair. And I will not protect or hide the guilty anymore. If I deny the deceitful behaviors that transpired, then I am just an accomplice. I know there are many people facing similar battles with a mountain before them. I know it’s scary and lonely. Daunting. I know there are days of strength and days where you can hardly get out of bed. Please know with certainty that the tornado will end. Fighting for your rights and the rights of your children is an act of courage and conviction,but normal life will return.There will be a day when you wake up to feel safe, and content. From the start of my journey, a very close friend painted a picture for me. She said, “You know the movie The Shawshank Redemption? When Tim Robbins crawls through the sewer to his freedom? Through all the shit and mud and rushing water against him? That’s you. You’re in the tunnel, but you will come out and you will see light again.” And she was right. It was a long and dirty crawl, but I’m safely on the other side.

I’ve grown a tremendous amount in the past five years, and 2020 was a culmination of substantial self examination. It’s an ending to a chapter in my life that had some highs but many lows. 2021 has never been more welcomed. Of course, the obvious reasoning is putting the pandemic behind us, but for me personally it’s a true new beginning. The divorce is final, the girls and I are better adjusted, and we are finally protected legally. I wish I could protect others from the pains my daughters and have lived through, but I understand that’s impossible. The only recourse I have is to speak of my experiences truthfully. I recognize that teaching my daughters to listen to their internal voice is a vital life skill. Throughout 2020, I learned to trust myself, my judgement and my beliefs even when it was against what others advised. We can choose to pay attention to that little voice, or we can ignore it. Ignoring is the easier path. I ignored numerous signs and red flags, but this was my destiny. I firmly believe my life unfolded as it was meant to be, for my own personal growth, and to be the mother of my daughters.

Each December as the years roll from one to the other, I compose a list of things I would like to accomplish in the coming year. The list varies from travel destinations, to physical challenges, to learning new skills. I don’t call it a resolution list because they are really just goals, hopes and dreams that when put in writing seals the intention. A resolution suggests that if it’s not fulfilled, it’s a failure. My lists are intentions with no risk of failure. For instance learning to play guitar was on my list last year, and while I can barely play a single song, the hours I have spent practicing have been fulfilling. That’s enough for me. Perfection is not a requirement. I hesitated making a list this year, perhaps because it’s difficult to find inspiration given the state of the globe.

This is my 2021 list:

Travel on Safari with my children

Hike in Sedona

Complete the final edits on my novel in preparation for publishing

Ride the Peloton daily in the month of January

Meditate more consistently

Be kind to myself and have less self judgement

Be more consistent in training my 3 dogs

Try new hiking trails twice a month in the warmer months

Be consistent with my Tuesday’s blog

Try to add more content/social media posts regarding my blog

There are always some things that won’t be on the list because they live in my heart. More like a work in progress, like being an attentive and present parent, and a commitment to self growth. I always want to push myself to ask why, try new activities, and expose myself to new experiences. Overall, 2020 was treacherous, but despite it all, the memory of it doesn’t feel as awful as I thought it would. Living life is not meant to be smooth. It’s my belief that challenge’s enrich our life. They promote growth and force reflection on what we value in this life and can even give us the opportunity to connect with others on a similar path. Everyone has their bumps and ugliness, I’m just choosing to share mine.




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Leslie Abner

Leslie Abner

Blogger. Real life through my lens. www. LALAONLIFE.COM

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