Mindfully and Kindly Embracing 2020

I’ve been struggling for the past few weeks. I’ve been struggling to write this season’s newsletter for the Happiness Box Project Initiative. 2020 has been a merry-go-sorry year. From immense hardships to immense joys to immense emotions of all sorts.

I couldn’t quite capture all of the emotions that 2020 brought to us. I’ve been reading about post-traumatic growth, grief, kindness, and everything in between. Yet, in between learning about post-traumatic growth, grief, and kindness, I’m arguing with someone about how the USPS dropped the ball on delivering packages, their holidays are ruined, and they will be screaming for a refund.

In an unprecedented year, I argued, that we should understand that things happen that are out of our control. Even if we carefully plan, sometimes what we plan for doesn’t quite come to fruition. That is life and while anger is a natural feeling to things we cannot control, sometimes we just need to take a deep breath. Hanukkah and Christmas looked different this year and while we wanted perfect holidays, gifts don’t make the holidays. Togetherness makes the holidays, but I understand how trying to preserve the normalcy of the holidays have been of utmost importance to most people.

As I listen to the mindfulness program that someone has recorded for a museum’s “Being ___ at Christmas,” it’s important to take a deep breath as we inch closer to a new year. Listen to your heart, listen to the breath as it comes in and out. Rest and relax. Mindfully listen and remember to be kind to yourself.

I’m reading Opening to Grief and one of my favourite chapters was “Beginning with Kindness.” In the days, weeks, and months after loss, it’s important to treat ourselves kindly. Self-kindness is the best gifts not only to us, but others as well. Why? Think of a time you reached out to a loved one, whether it was a friend or family member. How did you reach out? You probably showed up and you were just there with your friend. You listened to their story of all that happened. You might have brought food, offered to go shopping for them, and mustered all the compassion you could.

How can we do it for ourselves? Start where you are and not in some idealized place. Start where you’re standing. Is your house a mess? Are you unemployed? Has your life stopped at a stand-still? With kindness, start here. Sit with yourself in kindness, look deeply, sit with pain and suffering. Mindfully start feeling how “normal” sorrow is and it’s a precious part of being human. Just like being in joy or any mood.

I bet if we all mindfully sat with ourselves, took a deep breath in, slowly released it, it probably would stop all the bickering we not only see online, but in real life as well. I think we would stop shaming people for having a good year during a difficult year, and I think we would all empathize with others who haven’t had a good year. No one should be shamed; we are all starting from where we are currently. We are all in the same storm, but we have different boats, umbrellas, rain knickers, and resources.

I’ve had a merry-go-sorry year. I loved the quarantine, and it has been nice to work on growth, to work on hobbies and my Happiness Box Project Initiative. I completed NaPoWriMo, for the first time in 3 years. I was able to attend weekly Gotham workshops over Zoom. I worked on stories and essays, they’re not complete, but they are there for me to slowly add to.

It was lovely joining in on Zoom chats that not only opened me to things I can’t really get to in normal times, but I was curious and joined in on things I probably wouldn’t have thought of doing if it wasn’t for a pandemic. I “met” a lot of wonderful people this year and learned so many different things. By learning different things and “meeting” new people, I know which path I want to start inching into once I can. Quarantine enriched my life and I felt ashamed to say that for a while.

A good friend of mine said to me, “The Pandemic was a reality for everyone. Good for some, and devastating for others. If you were able to find a way to make the best of it, there’s nothing wrong with that! You go girl!” I thought about it and I’ve always been the type of person who sees what is happening and accept it for what it is. Same with if I’m given news. I can’t change it, so what can I do to adapt? I miss my groups and I miss being with everyone in person, but Zoom is wonderful. Is it the same as being in person? No and I miss the physical affection. However, it’s better than nothing. I couldn’t imagine being alive during the Spanish Flu, yet, they survived. Same with the people who lived through plagues. We can survive too.

I also have my Happiness Box Project. When I started my Happiness Box five years ago on 1-1-21, it started as a small jar to help ease my depression. I wanted to give it a try for 2016; it was started to help me see the good in life. I’m a trauma survivor and I forgot how to see the good in life. I forgot how to be grateful. My Happiness Box saved me. I never dreamed that the jar would turn into a box, then it would help me through a worldwide pandemic and inspire others to start their own.

Maybe my Happiness Box Project helped me develop Post-Traumatic Growth. Maybe this upside down year that filled us all with all sorts of emotions can help develop our resilience and can make us grow in ways we never imagined. It isn’t easy and it’s a long, dark and painful process in the beginning, but with kindness and patience, we can get through this.

I don’t know what 2021 will have in store for us, but I am ready for it. Even if I am not ready for it, it’ll come and we will get through this. I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season and can take the next week to mindfully and kindly reflect on a year that will soon be “hindsight is 2020.”

Published by


Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

2 thoughts on “Mindfully and Kindly Embracing 2020”

  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    When you stop to think about it, “from immense hardships to immense joys to immense emotions of all sorts” is what life is all about – for everybody – not only during a pandemic, but throughout their lives. The super rich might seem to have it all and be “set for life,” but they cannot escape problems, heartaches, traumas and tremendous loss. Yessum, sorrow is normal. Without it how can we know joy? Be kind to yourself first so that you have the power and energy to reach out and help others who are struggling. I believe in the benefits of deep breathing and meditation.

    I think the COVID shutdown gave us a unique opportunity to experience the true meaning of the holidays without all the commercial trappings. We learned that the most precious gifts of all are the gifts of our love, friendship, support, kindness and time. Sometimes less is more, and I choose to look at the holiday period, in fact, all of 2020, as a blessing, because it required us to break our patterns, slow down the pace of our hectic lives and appreciate all the things we can still do under quarantine. The internet keeps us in touch with the whole wide world, and people everywhere are making the most of it. In reading countless comments posted beneath song videos on YouTube, I am seeing outpourings of kindness like never before from people all over the world. It gives me joy to read those comments. Love and joy can spread like wildfire in these dark days.

    I admire the maturity of your reasoning in this post. Flexibility, resourcefulness and the ability to adapt are key to surviving anything life dishes out. Remember one of the fundamental principles of NLP: “It’s not what happens to you… it’s what you do about it that makes all the difference.”

    Happy New Year, dear friend JM!


  2. That’s very true, dear friend. Life isn’t about what happened to you, it’s what we do about it that makes the difference.

    Have you seen Disney’s Soul yet? They get at that concept. Life is about experiencing every day to its full potential. Sure, meaning is important, but it’s mostly about our experiences. I might do a post about it. Was a beautiful movie!

    Have a lovely New Year, dear friend.


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