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January 1, 2021

Reflecting On 2020 & Setting Intentions For 2021


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Reflecting On 2020


My 2020 In Summary

Winter

It’s no surprise that my life in the year 2020 started so different from how it’s closing out. Nick and I spent New Years’ this time last year in Denver, CO. We were surrounded by tons of intoxicated strangers at a rooftop New Years’ Eve party miles away from home the moment 2020 officially started. When we got home from our trip we returned to our 9-5 desk jobs in separate offices, commuted each day in traffic despite weather conditions, and didn’t get to walk our dog until 6 p.m. in the dark. On weekends we would see friends and family, often going out to eat in a restaurant. We were busy and looking forward to a spring road trip down south to escape the Michigan winter for a bit.

Spring

In early March the Coronavirus became a topic of discussion in my workplace and we met at a large table with over 30 people sitting shoulder to shoulder to discuss that the big event we were planning, where company employees from around the world all meet in Las Vegas, NV was going to be canceled due to the virus. I remember feeling relieved and thinking “how terrible it would be if the countries that were already being impacted by the virus unknowingly brought it with them to the event.” At this point, I think we were all still naive at how serious this virus was and how it would quickly change so much in our lives.

I still remember the very last day that felt “normal”. We were having one of those glorious early spring weather days where you can comfortably be outside for the first time in months without a jacket. Naturally, my husband and I took our dog Leo downtown to get ice cream and enjoy the nice weather. Of course, many other locals had the same idea and we all piled into a crowded line inside the ice cream shop waiting to order. I remember wondering if I should be concerned at how congested the shop was but no one else seemed to be worried or trying to keep their distance. The next week at work our internal communications team was putting up notices that the common areas of our office were being closed due to the virus as well as reminders to wash hands after using the bathrooms. I believe over 8,000 people were working in my office building at this time and I remember limiting my touchpoints around the office as much as possible and using hand sanitizer more than even.

The following week my department crowded around at the same group table where we were informed that we will be working from home (an idea that was never typically an option) the next three weeks. This amount of time felt like so long at this point and I was relieved to get out of the office and stay as safe as possible at home. Of course, shortly after the official lockdown period began where we were only allowed to leave our homes for essential reasons such as getting groceries. We didn’t see our closes family and loved ones for over a month and spent our time in isolation working, taking Leo on mid-day walks, watching old seasons of Survivor, and completing more puzzles than I’d like to admit. My work from home timeline got pushed from three weeks to three months and would later extend even longer.

Summer

When the hot weather rolled in, the guidelines around COVID-19 loosened up a bit and we were able to see our parents and a few friends throughout the season. We could even feel some sense of normalcy by eating at a restaurant’s patio seating. I think at this point, we’re were all hopeful that the end of the virus was in sight as case numbers were finally starting to go down. Although we were only spending time with a few people on occasion and continuing to wear masks in public places we were able to experience other aspects of summer that we love such as going to Lake Michigan beaches and spending a few days in northern Michigan. We moved to a new apartment in early July and I also rebranded my blog and social media account to By Olivia Lee to reflect the evolution of my content. I bought lots of house plants and enjoyed a few days of reading books by the pool.

Fall

We continued our daily routine in our “new normal” working from home, spending all hours of the day with Leo by our sides, and tried to find fun in the small, everyday happenings. Nick was in the thick of studying for the CFA, and I remained busy balancing my full-time job with my content creation and blogging. My passion for sharing more home decor content on my platforms developed as our new apartment started to come together with new furniture and decor. We had a beautiful, warm fall here in southern Michigan with the colors changing earlier than usual. I had the opportunity to be part of a photoshoot on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan and was able to bring my Mom along with me to enjoy a mini getaway. I decorated our little apartment porch for fall with cinderella pumpkins and baked more than one pumpkin-inspired dessert.

As the colder weather returned and the holidays rolled around, the impact of the virus continued. Case numbers began rising again, schools proceeded in a mix of in-person and virtual, fall sports were delayed or didn’t take place at all. The highlight of our weeks was deciding where we were going to get a curbside pickup from for dinner on Fridays. Not being able to see all the family and friends that we usually do around the holidays was hard but we are grateful for the loved ones we were able to spend time with or say hello from a distance. The vaccine is being rolled out and a few of our loved ones who work in health care have already gotten it. Like many, I am ending this crazy year with more gratitude for the things in life that truly matter, and for the small things that I once took for granted. My heart is heavy with all the loss and hardship that came this year but I am also hopeful for a brighter year ahead.


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Highlights Of The Year

  • Spending so much time with Nick and Leo

  • Slow mornings

  • Finding clarity in my long-term career goals

  • Our first wedding anniversary at Lake MI

Places I Traveled

  • Denver, CO & Boulder, CO – work trip with Hyatt

  • Traverse City, MI – little summer getaway

  • Mackinac Island, MI – work trip with The Grand Hotel

  • Cincinnati, OH – work trip with Domino’s

What I Learned

  • More about the Black Lives Matter movement and how to be an ally

  • Hand lettering

  • How to keep house plants alive

  • How to create TikTok and Instagram Reel videos

Best Purchases

Favorite Shows

  • The Real House Wives of Beverly Hills

  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

  • Survivor

  • Emily in Paris

  • All Bachelor franchise shows

Favorite Eats

New Things I tried

  • The Peloton app

  • Digital illustration in Procreate

  • Listening to Audiobooks

  • Baking from scratch

Things I’m proud of

  • Strengthening our marriage

  • Teaching Leo how to wave

  • Rebranding and developing my blog & online platforms

  • Partnering with some of my favorite brands to create content


Intentions For 2021

There is still a lot of uncertainty going into the new year with COVID-19 and the chapter of life that my husband and I are currently in. That being said, I have decided that instead of trying to make big plans for the year ahead, I am focusing on setting intentions. I am choosing two words to focus on this year – create & explore. I want to dig deep into my creativity for my career and myself. I want to spend time in every medium I am interested in (photography, graphic design, writing, interior design, hand lettering, paint, clay, etc.) I also want to explore more weather that is through traveling, getting out in my neighborhood, reading, etc. I want to allow myself the time to be curious and present. I work a lot between my two jobs and enjoy doing so but I really want my priorities to shift a little more on experiencing life and not being too hyper-focused on work.

2020 was a huge reminder of just how quickly life can change and be taken away. I want to continue to grow and challenge myself to be a better version of myself but I also want to be gentle with myself and prioritize having fun. I want to engage and stand up for the things I believe in but I also want to continue learning, praying, and listening. I want to dream bigger than ever and have a clear vision of what I want in life but I also want to be grateful and accepting of what life hands to me.

I have no idea what 2021 has in store but I’m excited to find out. Cheers to the New Year!

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