2020 had been a year of many challenges... here's what I've learned

The year 2020 is slowly coming to an end (oufff FINALLY!, or is it REALLY over??).

It has been a year of many challenges for most of us with our unwanted pain-in-the-butt friend, COVID-19.

Unbeknown to us, our lives, as we knew it, unravelled.

We have taken great lengths to adapt to our new reality with its ginormous challenges, showing tons of dignity, humour anywhere we can find it, and much resilience (which sometimes took effort).

For better or worse, these past months HAVE changed us.

How? Let’s look back and see what lessons I’ve learned:

I’ve learned how to surrender with grace, whether I wanted to or not. At the end of 2019, I prepared to write a book. YES, I planned to FINALLY do it.

As Covid-19 arrived, I had to refocus my plans on my business because I foresaw the start of a crumbling industry.

So, as I normally do in a crisis, I was kicked into action and executed Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan E, etc. until I realized I was totally and completely out of plans. I realized this is BIGGER than anticipated. So, I found myself FORCED to surrender the year of my plans to COVID’s reality.

In truth, the events of Covid-19 have made clear to me, that what really matters is: health, family, and overall well being.

These unforeseen challenges have given me a tremendous opportunity to slow down, pause, and do some long overdue deep, deep thinking about my life, like things I deeply, deeply care about. I’ve also had to reevaluate my core values. 

Every day as a meeting planner, teacher, wife, sister, aunt, daughter, friend, colleague, leader, and human being, I would engage with all kinds of people from all backgrounds and careers. What I consciously realized is one thing: how much our lives are intertwined and bound together!!

Communities (personally and professionally) have had to rally together to find solutions and address this GLOBAL PANDEMIC – this is THE clearest example of how we’re all intertwined. I’ve realized how the pandemic has powerfully forced action, both nationally and globally, so that we all support each other.

Speaking of powerful interwovenness after so many years of blood, sweat and tears in my work as a planner, somehow, some way, the universe found ways to remind and honour me with a plethora of accomplishments, including multiple prestigious interviews, and I was inducted in the Industry Hall of Fame. That’s what I call GRATITUDE…

People everywhere are harnessing their collective power to truly push for empathy, kindness, etc.

As individuals (humans), how we choose to act in this moment speaks directly to what we can/ bring/brought to our worlds. The challenges and opportunities of 2020 have been highlighted… one just needs to LOOK!!

Other lessons are individual rituals; what I mean is, creating space to find a presence. My year started with a complex travel plan that I’d organized for months and then, BOOM, this trip-of-a-lifetime was no more. POW!!

Then we NEEDED to somehow pivot everything!!! WHAT PIVOT?!?! PIVOT WHAT!?!?!

Slowly I came out of my SHOCK and basically realized I needed to regroup, reorganize and ground myself, but I NO IDEA how.

I keep thinking back to my first Zoom meetings and realized I’ve been finding ways to heal from this shock through others in my community. Collectively, we were seeking the SAME THINGS.  We have never seen or experienced this before.

As this pandemic has inserted itself in our lives (albeit unwelcome), we are not only living with hardcore adjustments to our personal and professional lives, but we are also living through the heart-breaking news of unacceptable tragedies worldwide. “DEVASTATION” is the word I think of.

I know and am aware that this is NOT FOREVER, and we will claim back brighter days. However, in the meantime, DEVASTATION is still here. This FREAKIN VIRUS is STILL at war with us!!! And still controls our day-to-day lives…. 

And BTW: The phrase “self-care” does not simply mean taking bubble baths, going on online shopping sprees, and indulging because it makes me feel good. It does play a part, however – it has become more of a sanctuary to decompress, meditate, and simply be alone. I have created a ritual of walking everyday for two hours, listening to my music on Spotify and escaping into oblivion for awhile. I come back refreshed, rejuvenated and READY for my sometimes dull and sometimes busy days. By doing this, I have become super grateful for the little gifts life has presented, and I’ve learned to let go of everything that is TRULY not mine. I AM and WILL preserve this ritual for the rest of my life!!! GRATITUDE!!!

What else did I learn? Well, I’ve learned to be deeply and humbly appreciative for my health, and that of my family, friends and work colleagues. I’ve opened up and discovered new ways of seeing things and, yes, it has profoundly moved me. One example (out of many) of this is my mental illness awareness… OMG how naive am I on this subject? I realized, although being well aware of it for years, that I NEVER understood that it is an INCREDIBLY malfunctioning debilitating illness. GOOD GOD in heaven, I had no idea!!! With my teaching (now online), I have learned firsthand (by being a witness) the depths of this mindset and how dark it can go.

It also taught me how outrageously grateful I am that I not only can manage my own state of mind but that I have uncovered this newfound empathy I can offer. I am GRATEFUL that I truly love my husband, dog, family, and friends… And I EQUALLY love, love, love to spend time with these humans, no matter the good times or bad, during this pandemic.

Life’s advice:

-      Always be the best person you can be.

-      Be kind even when you are tired.

-      Be understanding even when you do not want to be.

-      Go that extra mile with NO EXPECTATIONS of returns – be authentic.

-      Do not quietly expect things.

-      Actually, listen when someone talks!!

-      Say I love and I appreciate you.

-      Go out of your way to do things for other humans.

-      And YES, BE THE BIGGER person, especially if you messed up – then TRY to make it up.

-      DO NOT EVER waste your precious time trying to prove how GREAT you are (this usually backfires and actions speak for themselves).

-      Lastly, one of my mentors would always say this and I NOW completely understand:

“Like moths are attracted to the flame.” You will attract people like you… they do come.

And remember: TRANSFORMATION is not easy and NEVER feels good. In fact, it is the total opposite: uncomfortable. However, remember: This is how we humans evolve and shed our layers.

So, succumb and embrace it, and know that by throwing yourself into the evolution/change, it will somehow become a beautiful enriching experience.

And so, we have a few weeks left of 2020.

In retrospect, I honestly cannot tell you if this year was one big blob or a torturous year.

What I can share (for me, anyways) is it was in part an unbelievable blur, with quite a bit of chaos and unfathomable situations.

It would be GREAT to just leave behind 2020 and go into a fresh new year and never ever look back.

But I truly do not think that is realistic. This is why I have chosen to EMBRACE it. Yes, you are reading that correctly: I said embrace it. Because I simply found a purpose, it forced me to do so. And I know it sounds very cliché, but I have to believe that there were lessons to be learnt and I did. So, before I jump (for joy) into 2021, I will definitely remember the moments of gratitude that the universe has graced me with – all the little things that proved to be so important and the personal lessons it taught me, especially that we REALLY are stronger together.

Here’s the thing; We cannot go back .... we cannot change our patterns .... we’ve got to stop feeling bad about ourselves and forgive ourselves for all our behaviour.... and we need to remember that most of us HAVE NEVER had to live through a pandemic.

So, if we ate our way or drank our way or just cried our way through these last nine months, it is OK!!

Maybe some of us got into good shape, and relationships got better or maybe worse.

Some lost jobs, some started completely new careers, and let us not forget those who unfortunately lost loved ones along the way.

As we can see, we have all changed, somehow, someway.

Now, instead of being angry about everything, just accept it.... it’s change, and the world moves forward no matter what is happening.

The point of this retrospective is to encourage us to stop beating ourselves up – change happens, like it or not.

Just take those baby steps to adapt: go for walks, turn off the computers, rediscover reading, pick up the phone to FaceTime with family and/or friends you have not spoken to in ages, eat that friggin fried food (and chocolate and cake), order the ALL DRESSED EXTRA-LARGE pizza, have a friends’ night on Zoom and drink the good champagne or wine to celebrate nothing!! LIVE your best life in these moments!!

Montreal Event Planner has become the go-to authority in the event planning business, not only because of its reputable success, but also because of the expertise and professionalism of owner Daniela Caputo, who combs the globe on a regular basis to find the best destinations for her clients (and our readers!).