I Set An Intention for 2020 to Find Joy, Here’s How That Went

Last year, as we entered 2020, I wrote about setting an intention versus a resolution. My intention was to find joy, at least once a day. Little did I know our world as we knew it was about to get rocked by a virus. Was it possible to find joy each day? I guess it all depends on your perspective.

The first month of 2020 started off like any other January. I traveled for an advocacy event amid hearing rumblings about a virus overseas that was hitting people harder than the flu. My mom was getting ready to finish up Chemo and move on to the surgical and radiation phase of her treatment plan. It was a struggle during the first two months of the year to find things to be joyful about, but I managed.

Trying to find joy amidst COVID-19

Then it happened, Florida began to experience its first waves of shutdowns in March. The virus was now fully ensconced across the globe and was impacting the United States like nothing we’ve ever seen. Every day, I tried to find one thing that brought me joy. On the days I struggled the most, I reminded myself of remission. Every day with remission is a joyous occasion, even when symptomatic.

As the shutdowns continued into the spring, many of my specialists moved to a virtual model. For the first time ever, I got to experience what a virtual GI appointment was like. I counted those appointments as a point of joy. After all, I’d asked for them for so long and finally got to have them.

A toilet paper shortage brought out my inner competitor. My mission was clear, and I hunted down bulk toilet paper across two counties. This brought me joy.

My husband and father’s companies were two of the last corporations to send employees to work from home in our area. I found joy (mixed with relief) in that. It was nice to have the husband home more, for the most part.

It became harder to find joy as 2020 progressed

The first few weeks, I found joy in making creative breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for him and me. I even documented them on Instagram. That turned into 6 meals and 2 snacks a day, at 5 days a week, which is like 30 meals on just Monday through Friday. Good grief. With numbers of COVID-19 infections growing in my community, and constantly being home, I no longer found joy.

Many days, I felt relief that we all were safe, but that wasn’t a joy to me. Frustrations grew in our household over people disregarding social distancing, mask-wearing, and stay at home orders.

Seeing members of our community afraid to seek medical intervention for their Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis issues began to weigh heavily. Our community wasn’t the only one facing this hardship. Many chronic illness communities faced similar issues with surgery and treatments getting canceled.

It was hard to feel anything but discontent at that point.

Joy is just not possible on certain days

I had an epiphany toward the end of summer. This was as the positivity rate went down in some places but kept growing higher where I live. It was okay to not find joy at the moment. Some days we are just not going to find something to be joyful about. Sure we can practice mindfulness and be grateful for x, y, and z. For example, I find it relaxing to watch the birds in our backyard’s wetland sprawl. But I wouldn’t say they brought me joy and that was okay.

I never thought that my intention to find joy and practice mindfulness would feel as stressful as a resolution. But, it’s not like I knew a pandemic was on the horizon and life was going to be different.

We have a vaccine now. It’s starting to make its way to Florida hospital systems and our county sent a notice to the public that shots will become available for the elderly soon.

Well, this intention didn’t work out quite the way I expected. However, in 2021, I’m going to continue to try to find joy each day. “Try” being the operative word. Some days will be harder than others. But I’m not going to kick myself if I cannot find joy for the day, week, or even month.

Is there something you sought out to accomplish in 2020 that you decided to try over again in 2021?

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