Reflecting on 2020

"Storms make trees take deeper roots" ~ Dolly Parton

There are so many ways to look at 2020 (most of which are complimentary and not mutually exclusive). For our family, we were lucky in that everyone stayed healthy (in fact, we recorded the smallest number of sicknesses since we’ve had children), we survived and even thrived at work, and our kids perceived 2020 to be another awesome year in their life. In fact, our almost 7 year old daughter, declared on January 1, 2021, “I already miss 2020, it was a great year!” The missed milestones (my grandmother turned 90, my mom - 60), cancelled trips, re-designed family traditions (we spent the first Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years’ without family) and remote learning did not leave a mark or an impression of a “worst year ever” or anything else worth noting. And in that, I suppose, Adam and I breathe a sign of relief.

As parents, tech professionals, partners, and citizens of the world, we continued to do what we do best in 2020 – make the best out of the situation, look for the silver linings and most importantly keep living everyday. I love that in no moment of 2020, did either one of us say “I’m not really getting out of bed today, because this whole thing sucks” – instead, we redefined our reality and made it work. So here is a look back on what I’ll remember of 2020:

Technology  

Perhaps trite and obvious, especially considering my line of work at a large tech company in Redmond, Washington -  but never have I been more grateful for technology and its impact on my life and my family’s life. The fact is, when the pandemic hit, I spent more time with my family – for awhile, I called each of my living grandparents every day to check in, we had weekly extended family Zoom calls, and reconnected with long distance friends (London, Bend, San Francisco, etc.) by playing games and doing video chats.

In some other post, I’ll write about how I ended up in tech, but in short, coming from a family of two doctors, I really wanted to work in a field that helps people and gives back. And while in the last few years, the rhetoric around big tech has been incredibly mixed and skeptical, the year 2020 reminded me of the impact that tech has on the world and connectivity.

Here is the tech the notable tech that we used:

Video chat: Zoom, Teams, FaceTime, Messenger, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp

Social Games: Houseparty, Codenames, Animal Crossing, Cook-out (VR)

Work

I did not know how I would adjust to working remotely - I am a social creature and thrive on human interactions, coffees, solving problems by walking over to someone’s desk. So working from home was an adjustment. It took me 9 months to accept that I am not really going back to the office and finally moved my primary machine to the home office. One item that has made my life so much better was the Jabra speaker - not having to use headphones was a huge win.

Education

Our oldest child was half way through kindergarten when pandemic hit. While there are few upsides to a 6 year old losing interaction and switching to remote learning, we did find some silver lining. For one, Adam and I got a lot more familiar and in tune with what our child was learning and where she was at. Since in the spring, school district provided education was minimal, we worked study times into our schedule where each of us did 1-2 20 minute sessions a day. During those sessions, we followed some work sheets, but also did some great additional science projects like creating an island out of dough, etc. Outcome: a much higher level of involvement with our kids on their education progress. In the fall, we set up an educational pod to bridge the gap of 100% remote schooling with a small amount of socialization.

Hobbies

Between lack of travel and kids getting older (let’s be honest, it’s mostly the latter), it’s been fun to discover/create hobbies. Notably, I baked a LOT - the below is a picture of 9 out ~15 Bundt cakes that I made i the fall. Added bonus, my grandma is a huge baker, so for weeks, I did a “baking with grandma” on Facetime where we discussed recipes and techniques. I will treasure those moments forever. I also look forward to writing a series of cooking/baking posts (in 2021, I’m following Thomas Keller’s MasterClass and learning how to ice baked creations).

Fitness

Just as 2020 was getting going, I was really getting into F45 training, however, as that went remotely, I switched to online classes - both with F45, then my cousins who led conditioning classes and finally (and most sustainably), I worked with a coach on both fitness and nutrition. More details on what our home gym evolved to be in another post.

Books I’ve read (some are still in progress)

I aspire to read one book a month, and looking back, I’m did pretty well last year (between Audible and Kindle):

All and all, it was a different kind of year - we missed a lot of in person activities, created new traditions and memories, hugged each other tighter and loved each other harder.

Here is to 2021!