Since we’re blogging this month about the things that have worked/gone well in 2020, I’m going to riff off of Patty Blount’s post and count my own 2020 blessings. What will make this a little easier is something I started several years ago and that has been especially helpful this year: a blessings journal. It’s not journaling in the classic sense—just a nightly list of 3 things I’m grateful for from that day. I keep the journal next to my bed and do this right before I go to sleep each night and it really does seem to help, especially when I’m slipping into the doldrums. (Something that’s happened kind of a lot in 2020, no surprise.) Most of the “blessings” I list are ordinary stuff—the (usually few) things I accomplished that day, some little thing that made me smile, like a vid chat with my daughter or grandbabies, what I had for dinner. (That last one comes in really handy when the days all run together and I can’t remember how recently we had pizza or whether a particular meal was so long ago that it’s time to toss the leftovers.) Anyway, this habit has stood me in good stead in 2020 and I highly recommend it—especially for anyone prone to depression.
So, what am I specifically grateful for right now, in terms of what’s worked for me in 2020? Let’s see…
My Zoom, FaceTime and Skype skills are massively better than they were a year ago. Originally a complete Zoom novice, I’ve now been a featured speaker on a writing panel and also at a reader event. (Oh, and I discovered face powder—something I never used before—really does help mitigate shine when on camera, LOL.) I now host a weekly Zoom critique group meeting with three other writers who are becoming good friends, though we have yet to meet in person. They’re all local, so once it’s safe it should be a lot of fun to get together for real!
The writing has been hard this year. But all that extra (necessary) revision kept me at my treadmill desk daily, day after day and month after month. As a result, I’m in better shape than I was a year ago and even lost a few pounds! Some of the credit for that also goes to a twice-weekly hardcore Pilates interval workout my daughter now leads on Zoom because of the pandemic. Those workouts also give me a chance to hang out with her regularly, even though she lives 2500 miles away. I’ve also been eating (slightly) healthier this year, due to cooking at home a whole lot more than usual.
I’ve always been big on daily routines, but they’ve become even more ingrained—and necessary—this year. Those routines are what keep me on track on those days I don’t feel like doing much of anything. Some good habits I’ve added include exercising before breakfast, doing a couple of German lessons before lunch and solving a Sudoku puzzle every afternoon. (I’m still working on the “no internet after dinner” one…) Having set times to write helped enormously to keep me moving forward on the book I thought would never be done…but that I was finally able to release at the end of last month. (Whew! It’s even getting great reviews!)
With any luck, I’ll be able to keep up with all my good habits going forward, even when the unique challenges of 2020 are no more. Can’t wait!
Brenda Hiatt is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-five novels (so far). The most recent, Convergent, released October 27, 2020.