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Posted on: Nov 20, 2020

What I've Learned from 2020 and What I Hope for in 2021

By D. Elizabeth Cox, Kids' Voice of Indiana/Cox & Koons LLP

Hi there, campers! Long time, no talk. Truth is, I just haven’t felt like writing anything I didn’t already absolutely have to. I don’t mind telling you, this year did not go like I thought it would. I made the mistake yesterday of looking back at my Facebook page to the beginning of this year. There were the hopeful posts, then there were the really cute posts from the last week of March that I posted feeling like 11 days in my house was SUCH a long time, but I could totally do 15 and then the post from day 74 when I declared I was “#goingrogue” by not making my bed. It is day 250 as I write this (don’t give me any credit, I asked Siri. I’ve long since lost track.) I’m going to say it has been the longest 15 days of my life.

There were a lot of things I was going to do this year, places I was going to go (conferences in French Lick, AFCC in New Orleans, a girls’ trip to Hilton Head…gone but not forgotten, clearly) that just went completely off the rails. Instead, I learned some things, experienced some “personal growth” and so far, I’ve survived. I thought I’d share some things in case you were feeling alone, or want to feel superior, or are just looking for some product suggestions.

I’ve learned: 
I’m not as tough as I thought I was. Emotionally, I mean. We train ourselves to power through. Awful family situations, immeasurable tragedies, trauma and violence are often part of our daily bread and butter. For a lot of us, we somewhat pride ourselves in our ability to maintain function under pressure. I have failed miserably in this area this year. Absolute struggle. There have been more dishes in sinks and more days on the couch (I’m talkin’ weekdays) with my laptop on my stomach staring at the screen and blinking than I care to acknowledge. The good news is, I still have job(s), I still have friends (distanced) and the world did not implode (yet). My lesson learned here is that I can, actually, bend a bit without fully breaking and that’s somewhat comforting.

Ambition is good, but overambition leaves a ton of projects only partially completed. I thought I’d learn Italian. I haven’t but – Duolingo is free, user-friendly and remarkably forgiving when you don’t log in for six weeks and want to pick up where you left off. Below is a picture of the present state of my paint by number. (I recommend that you start with a simple one, but Amazon has a ton if you just want to get out of your head for a bit.)

Reading is reading, take credit. Whether it is a textbook on parental alienation, a look back at the politics and economic policies surrounding the Great Depression and subsequent recovery (The Forgotten Man), stories about female spies in the Civil War (Liar Temptress Soldier Spy) comics, crosswords, or any number of smutty romance novels, reading takes skill and skills need exercise. If you were reading something, you were working on yourself and that was a big deal this year. I read some things and I’m giving myself credit for it.

I miss people. I have always enjoyed my time to myself, quiet time, time away from crowds. It turns out, there is actually a limit to that. I miss my friends, I miss colleagues. I miss those random moments in the City-County Building when you see a face you know, smile and chat for a moment like two neighbors at the grocery store. It turns out, I am much more of a people person than I thought I was. A couple of years ago I sat in a courtroom and listened to a JO and a WRA ask about each other’s spouses and how they used to play on an attorney softball league together. They spent their careers together in a community. It turns out, I want that.

To that end, I’m going to get a bit presumptuous and do some goal setting for 2021. I’m not going to go crazy and set this new year up for expectations she can’t possibly hope to meet. That was for sure a lesson in over expectation I learned in 2020. I share them both so you can help keep me accountable, and I hope that you might want to join me in some of them.

  • Less TV, more reading.
  • Get outside once a day.
  • Don’t mow over the blueberry bushes.
  • See at least two colleagues, outside of the office, at least once per month.
  • Finish the paint by number.
  • Find out from what a zero inbox situation feels like, at least once.
  • Better skincare regimen (‘cause why not).

If you’ve got goals, something you’d like to share or do differently or start for next year, I’d love to hear them!

I’ll close with the line I learned from Jerry Springer back when he was on the evening news in Cincinnati (dating myself here). Pretty sure he still says it but it felt better when he said it on the news, so let’s pretend it is newsy Jerry: “Take care of yourself, and each other.” I really mean that.

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