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How many of you believed the whole “2020 vision” mantra we promised ourselves at the end of 2019? Honestly, I feel a little swindled. I entered 2020 with burning optimism that slowly turned into a flicker. However, when I look back, I realize that maybe I was sitting at the wrong fireplace. When I look at 2020 in the world, it’s a total disaster. When I look at 2020 in myself, there’s more there. So join me as I unpack that.

I cooked a lot of fruit cobblers because the reality of not having a set work routine was a hard adjustment. Looking back to February, I noticed how empty my days were without my set work routine. My whole life had functioned with some kind of structure. Whether going through an ever-changing work day or managing school part time back in 2019, I always worked under some predetermined clock. I was always in a rush to do something, even if relaxing was the something. 2020 erased all of that.

I didn’t know when I would find work again. I had already graduated, so I couldn't lean into that. What was I to do? I baked. In the span of March to August, I baked about eight cobblers. Apple, blueberry and peach to be exact. While it didn’t erase the internal panic, it gave me space to start decompressing. Plus, I was finally doing something I hadn’t done in a long time.

Sometimes you learn new things about yourself through other people. Amanda Mack, owner of Crust By Mack bakery in Maryland, is one of those people. GMA Day interviewed her about opening her first physical location during COVID. I admire her tenacity to accomplish her dream in the worst conditions. I realized that I used this time of change wisely. I worked on improving myself for my next job. I fully intend to visit her bakery the next time I’m in my home state.

As I proceeded to break in my new cooking pan, one day it hit me: Baking wasn’t going to cut it. I was experiencing a shift in my life, so I needed to realign myself. As a millenial/Gen Z woman, I am filled with muddled rage and looming anxiety. Now was a perfect time to check that and get to the root of it. Meditation played a big part in me surviving 2020 so far. I’ve used HeadSpace since 2018, but I invested in a full subscription this year. Headspace offers courses, videos and music to promote mindfulness and focus for the future. I use it to sleep better and wake up with purpose.

I find that HeadSpace teaches more than just how to chill. It’s very educational. I found out about Nicole Crowder and HealHaus there. Nicole Crowder owns Nicole Crowder Upholstery in Washington D.C., and HealHaus of New York is a workshop space that offers yoga, meditation and relaxing vibes. Crowder and HealHaus reminded me that as a Black woman I am being bombarded right now. Mental health is finally becoming unstigmatized in the Black community, thanks to people Nicole and places like Heal Haus. They also use their businesses to bring attention to it.

Despite all the meditation I do, I am still susceptible to the emotional trauma African Americans are experiencing right now. I try to take in enough news coverage to be aware, but it's the political residue that sticks the longest. I am more aware of my stance as a young Black woman. I admit I am nervous about how to proceed if all this continues in 2021, which it very well might. When the weight of that ties me down, I actively search for someone who is thriving in spite of what’s going on.

If you’re like me and you need something that gives you a boost of Black inspiration, I  recommend The Dream Create Inspire Tour’s "Black Resistance: A Virtual Mixtape." The Dream Create Inspire Tour, based in Colorado, is a multifaceted artist collective. They host workshops on songwriting and the music industry, as well as promote local artists and small businesses across the country. The Virtual Mixtape is a 20-minute video featuring local artists expressing the need for Black resistance through song. You can watch it on the group’s instagram.

I also recommend Hallease Narvaez’s YouTube channel. In addition to YouTube, she’s also a professional video producer, digital storyteller, and entrepreneur located in Texas. I specifically recommend checking out her Plant Life playlist, where she vlogs her journey to transfer all of her house plants to the LECA system. When I watch both of these creators, I feel a familiar sense of community I didn’t realize I missed until now. 

Whew, I covered quite a bit of stuff. I don’t know who you are or what your situation is, but I hope that reading this helped make your day a little lighter.