My Biggest Lessons of 2020

Teacher and student at white board learning

What I learned this year

Today I’m sharing a list of the lessons I learned in 2020: some are serious, some are heart-wrenching. It’s been a difficult year and the items below reflect that.

  • I don’t need all the metaphysical, moon, Tarot, and astrological planners. Just having some of them will do.
  • While we’re on the subject of planners, stickers are fun.
  • My flu shot didn’t cover flu B this year.
  • Saying no to activities that overextend me or expose me to unnecessarily difficult people counts as self-care.
  • My favorite way to become fully present is to take a deep, relaxing breath while I’m giving my cat belly rubs. I give my full attention to the fluffiness and the sensation of her purring, and I purposefully stay in that moment a little longer.
  • Keeping the most relevant details on a dry erase board (or in one easily-accessible place) can be really helpful.
  • Some nurses are sharing incorrect medical information. As an experienced Registered Nurse with a Masters of Science in Nursing from a bricks-and-mortar research university, I’m urging you to please visit the Mayo Clinic or NIH for your health information. Just because a nurse has an opinion on a topic does not mean they have the facts. Acting on incorrect information could be deadly.
  • As a former trauma ICU RN, allowing a dying loved one to go with dignity is both merciful and loving. By “with dignity”, I mean respecting the person’s wishes, including to stop seeking a cure (or pursuing treatment) when finding one is unlikely, and ceasing to subject the person to every surgery, treatment, or medication that might possibly help. Do your best to recognize when you reach the point that more surgeries or medications could be more risky or painful than helpful. If you’re not sure whether you’ve passed that point, ask a trusted nurse who is caring for your loved one in a professional role. I’m sure your neighbor’s son-in-law is a great nurse–please don’t make medical decisions based on 3rd-hand “information” though.
  • Getting back into reading and audio books has been great.
  • The drive to my muggle job is usually 45 minutes one way. Listening to audio books on my commute makes me feel like all the time I spend driving isn’t wasted.
  • More than anything else, many people just want to be heard. Listened to. Acknowledged. Have their concerns and emotions validated. Realizing they’ve truly been listened to is often more important than being “right” when they’re upset or angry.
  • Crunchy vs. smooth peanut butter can be quite a polarizing topic.
  • Career burnout can be caused or accelerated by frequently or continually lacking the tools or support needed to complete the assigned tasks.
  • Taking a moment to appreciate the beauty around me, wherever I can find it, is healing. Much like practicing mindfulness with my cat, letting myself sink into enjoying something lovely has been such a help.