This year flew by, just like that. For once, I spent most of my 2020 working, living and playing within the four walls of home. For once, my perspectives of life, in all its normalcy, was consistently pushed to be redefined. If you are like me, 2020 must have been a year that forced us to set boundaries, at the same time challenged us to be versatile. It was a year that made me realize the value and worth of friendships and personal relationships, the challenges of building trust and strength in a team at work, the ability to be resilient to the challenges and struggles of our family, and the ability to be a shapeshifter in my skills and capabilities.
2020 has been memorable and certainly was balanced with both ups and downs. The highs were great, while the lows were humbling. Here are some aspects of life in which 2020 taught me to re-understand, re-learn, and redefine.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie
While I thought that I was being vigilant and careful, I succumbed to being a victim of COVID-19 in November 2020. This resulted in a flurry of chaos at home, dealing with senior family members who had their opinions (mostly out of fear of getting infected or was just thrown out of their comfort zone), difficult in-laws who struggled to step in to take over the care of my dimentic, disabled and ailing father-in-law. When my husband and I had to be isolated and admitted to the hospital for COVID-19, we saw the true colors of family members, and witnessed their setbacks in emotional intelligence. Being in isolation for eight days also provided time for deep reflection, though this didn’t often result in any resolutions but solitude and separation from physical contact does take a mental toll. I was lucky to be surrounded by good friends, who delivered kind messages and care packs. I concur and truly believe that in really down times, while I understand that blood is thicker than water, but in many cases, the value of true friends surpass the value of what the family can provide.
What I have gained: Hopefully COVID-19 immunity; definitely friends, great friends at a much deeper level of friendship; and the appreciation of life and health.
Family Values and Support
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” –Richard Bach
Earlier this year, in February, my disabled, diabetic, dimentic and hypertensive father-in-law (FIL) had a fall in his home. This resulted in a gradual deterioration of his mental health, in short, he was experiencing the onset of dementia. This jolted my husband and I into understanding the world of dementia a lot. My FIL had to move in with us as our home was the only suitable home, with the right people (ahem) to care for him. My husband had no choice but to take a year off from work in 2020 to tend to his care. For the first time, our roles as carer and giver to the family switched and reverse. I was chasing the corporate dream and provided for the family while my husband took 100% of his time and devoted it to caring for his dad. It was close to palliative care as his dad was not able to walk, get up unassisted, could not care for his own basic needs. In fact, most mornings, I can overhear my husband talking gently to his father like a child, managing his (FIL’s) morning hallucinations and failing memory. I saw the other side of my husband whom I would not have experience if he did not have to care for his dad. I also saw the other side of my in-laws which unearthed a world of fear, anger and frustrations on my part.
What I have gained: I have gained so much patience. I was fortunate to also experience the amazing act and care of love my husband provided for my ailing father-in-law, despite being thrown harsh opinions from family members, he held us strong as a unit to brave the challenges at home with differing family opinions on our care methodology. I am glad my FIL ended up in our house and that our care for him is actually the best he can get given the circumstances with my in-laws. I have also gained a lot of insights on the true colors of family members, who do not hesitate with opinions and their emotions, yet fail miserably in taking positive actions. I now understand their weaknesses and flaws better and deeper, enough to depart forgiveness and move on. I have gained a deeper understanding of my husband too, in how he balances the needs and wants of family, always giving, and never expecting to receive anything. He helped me see true values of family, he made me realized the meaning of unconditional love, and most importantly, he gave me the confidence and bravery to help me redefine my definition of love.
“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” — Kurt Vonnegut
I have always secretly been passionate about art, not just appreciating it but also in creating it. As I was not formally schooled in this area as such my confidence in expressing my feelings or emotions to art was low. This piece of work started in 2019 but was put on hold as I couldn’t summon the fire in me to even visualize it. With the lockdown in 2020 most of the time, I was given the opportunity to revive my creative passion on canvas. I felt that channeling my energy from my heart and brain to canvas was one easy escapade to surviving the lockdown. My soul was yearning to create, and desired an outlet. This piece grew my soul, and the words on it, L-O-V-E summed the year well. The vibrant colors depict my emotions, throughout the lockdown period, the shades represent the broad spectrum of emotions I went through, yet all outlined by sparkling silver or gold, as if subtly indicating the solid state of mind that I pulled through.
What I have gained: Confidence in expressing my soul through my art. And slowly, through art, I am pushing myself to look for inspiration in other forms and functions.