It may be Jan 4th but it’s a New Year for me after a much needed 2 weeks of rest! Before welcoming in 2021, I wanted to reflect back on all the things I’ve learned and am grateful for in 2020. The list starts with the top left corner:

1. Moving spaces and signing a year lease right before the pandemic. What timing! But the greatest lessons I’ve learned on this journey have been to embrace the unknown and surrender. Our family was fortunate enough to be okay but I didn’t know what would happen to my business. Comfort with the unknown and surrendering to what is helped me approach the situation with ease and helped get me through. A huge gift of the pandemic has also been to let go of the full responsibility of parenting and household labor. I had taken the responsibility prior because I had the flexible schedule and made a lot less money (and patriarchy, of course) but had I continued, I would have had to let go of my business and of myself. The pandemic and having kids at home full time meant I had to ask my husband to be an EQUAL partner and place my business on equal footing with his work just because it was important to me and that was enough of a reason.

2. The start of Adventure Days with my family where we spent one weekend day exploring a drivable area with no expectations and going with the flow. See what we’re trying to teach the kids? Also, it helped us get out as a family without the whining and drama because the kids knew they didn’t have a choice and had to surrender. While there was a little protesting at first, they got used to it quickly and started seeing it as quality time spent together and now look forward to it. Plus, it helped that we would also get food they don’t ordinarily eat like fast food and sweets.

3. Flowers at the studio from my studio mate Om Operative. Approaching the pandemic with ease helped us find each other after I ran out of cushion cash and we were able to sustain each others’ businesses through the worst of it when we had to completely shut down and nobody knew what was going to happen.

4. Our first family backpacking trip which we’ve been wanting to do for years! It took us a while to get all the gear we needed but we had a successful backpacking trip with the kids where they carried their own packs and we hiked to 5-Mile Island in the Hoh Rainforest. We settled next to a river where the kids loved playing and we got to relax and enjoy nature. Being able to continue camping was a lifesaver for us this summer.

5. The center quote and sign painted on a closed store in Ballard which feels like the theme for this year. Lots of darkness not just because of the pandemic but because one of my kids was incredibly challenging (the pandemic contributing to it, of course). He has been causing a lot of drama in our family and we’ve been struggling a lot but on a ferry ride on NYE, he said to me as we watched the waves, “this makes me appreciate life.” Despite the huge struggles and challenges of our family, it was a beautiful reminder that we can always find small moments of light and hope to hang on to.

6. Going virtual with Coffee with Intention, which returned after a year hiatus, which then led to the creation of other virtual events and workshops. All of this inspired me to create the Empowered Sisterhood community which we are slowly growing. Book+Journal was a one of the virtual events which gave me the opportunity to read some of my favorite books of the year: Untamed by Glennon Doyle, Know My Name by Chanel Miller and The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor – all must reads.

7. Being brave and giving myself permission to be more physically visible online this year. Aside from the sadness picture I posted a couple of years ago when I was working on that shadow, this year was the first time I posted pictures of myself not smiling. It made me so uncomfortable but I did it and am getting used to it. It’s telling that that’s how I like photographing women the most yet was most scared to do it for myself! I also really committed to being on video this year which was also a scary leap but I did it and am getting more comfortable with it.

8. All my photography clients who are the backbone of my business. It wouldn’t exist without them and I’m grateful to them for trusting me, especially during the pandemic when all my shoots are in studio.

9. Daily family walk after dinner tradition which started because of the pandemic. We were lucky to have had an amazing spring and got to enjoy all the blooms and gorgeous sunsets daily, which we wouldn’t have had otherwise. It was a reminder that joy could be found all around us in the most simplest of things like all the peonies in bloom or how the golden hour light would create long, warm shadows of the kids. We’ve tapered off with the winter weather but hope to get back into it again this year.

Have you reflected back on 2020? What were your highlights of the year and what lessons did you learn? What moments of light did you discover in this year of darkness?

Reflecting on the past year, finding gratitude and letting go are important practices before welcoming in the New Year. Join us at Empowered Sisterhood this Friday for a member only workshop where we will set Intentions for 2021 to help guide us through living a more intentional life in the upcoming year.

Join Intention Setting Workshop