I swear, every single time I plan to write a blog post, my mind goes blank! It’s as if I am being reminded that I can only handle one creative endeavor at a time! Since we are well on the way to writing our second book in the series (which by the way, will be even better than the first one), I’ve had limited words to share.
It’s been over eight months since we first packed up our computers and headed home for the last time. And then we went into overdrive – zealously protecting our roles, desperately trying to prove that working from home was working. And despite all the elements that tried to thwart our best laid plans of working through the day – dishes, chores, ten million other people walking back and forth while you’re Zooming with your boss, online learning, the Fedex guy, dogs barking, grocery lists and Instacart deliveries – we trudged on. Worked fifteen-hour days, catching up on emails after dinner, often ignoring our bladders and getting up only to refill that cup or Yeti with coffee or water.
By July, we had burnt out. Exhausted, nervous, thinking about how on earth we could go on like this.
And by September, we were accepting the reality of remaining this way well into next year, after the last snowfall in winter and the last blooms in spring.
These are the craziest of times. They are mentally challenging, often filling our minds with introspective, phobic, manic, paranoid thoughts that besiege us on days when we allow ourselves to give in to them. And the ways of the world aren’t helping. For someone as independent as myself, the constraints of my daily life have weighed me down significantly.
For a while, I was afraid to go to Walgreens.
But in recognizing my fears, I decided to counter them by staying close and active in my relationships. In the summer, I took the opportunity to invite (well quarantined) co-workers and friends who hung out outdoors with us, under the sun and in the open air. The human interaction, after months of isolation, was a lifesaver. We cooked on the grill, watched soccer games on the outdoor tv, reconnected in person and reaffirmed the strength of our relationships with one another. Two months ago, I received a call from a close friend who was building a house a few miles away from mine. She invited me over to see her house, still in construction phase – no floors, some furniture, no drywall. It took a great effort for me to agree to meet her there – the drive, the getting dressed, the interruption in my day of writing.
But seeing her was a game changer for me. There we sat, socially distanced – on cardboard boxes with masks on and thick fall jackets, catching up on life and work and everything under the sun. That visit sparked an even greater resolve to reconnect with more friends. Since then, I’ve scheduled regular Zoom calls with friends from here, from there, from everywhere. I’ve listened to my friends from France give me a rundown on Emily from Paris, watched them play mini golf in the hallway of their apartment, sought career advice from my mentors on the screen and in person, laughed hysterically with my Butterflies, given advice and taken advice from those who genuinely care for me. Most importantly, I realized this year, that those who love you truly will celebrate your success with you, pick up the phone when you call, jump up and down when you bring them good news, despite all the rampant anger and bitterness around us.
This brand-new perspective, this redirected focus, has allowed me to see the year 2020 as I saw it before. When the hope of seeing one another still lived inside me, when I resolved to work as hard as I could to keep our business going. When I thanked my lucky stars every single day, that I got the opportunity to bring my books to life. That my family is near me, that they’re healthy for now and that we’re stronger when we’re together. I forgot about those gifts, got mired in the loss of my independence. For no matter what keeps happening around us, in spite of the inherent sadness and fear that exists within all of us, having friendships that matter lifts our hearts, inspires us to change the world, counters those feelings of isolation and sadness. (And to drive my point even further, I’m hosting #ANNAASKS, an IGTV live interview of the people who’ve inspired me this year.)
For someone like me who has spent years focused on building a life, a family, and a career, cultivating friendships took a backseat for many, many years.
Not anymore. In this crazy, unpredictable, upside down year – hands down – your love and friendship have been my saving grace.
To all of you who’ve kept in touch – thank you for your light.
And to those who still haven’t made the time to reciprocate the love that people who have shown you, DO IT. Before it’s too late.