If you told me I could choose only one picture to sum up our 2020, this would be it.
Background behind this capture – this is from one of 10+ court hearings Josh and I had this year. Though the year started with hearings in the court house, they moved to virtual hearings because of Covid-19.
When someone says 2020, the first thing that comes to my mind is the word “BATTLE.” That’s what we did all year this year – battled for what we believe is in the best interest of our family. The physical, mental, and financial toll of this has been overwhelming in every sense of the word. The things we’re going through are the hardest emotions I’ve ever had to deal with in my life, and I’m shocked. It caught me off guard that year two post divorce would be harder than year one in a lot of ways. Add Josh unexpectedly losing his job this summer in, and I was sure I couldn’t take much more. It’s insane that this year has been harder than losing my dad to cancer as a kid. It’s harder than being a teenager with an abusive step dad. It’s harder than walking away from a marriage. My soul ACHES. My heart MOURNS. My head is HEAVY. My body is BEATEN. Add Covid on top of everything, and, well, that was just the cherry on top.
This last month has been one of the hardest for me. There are so many arrows flying at me, and I was feeling like I couldn’t keep dodging them gracefully. I hit a wall, and I hit it hard (like show up at your parents doorstep at 12:30 AM because you just needed your mom to hold you while you collapsed into her body HARD). But do you know what the best part about that is…. through everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve learned these last two years, I knew what I needed to do almost immediately. And I did it. I talked to my lawyer, I talked to my bishop, and I talked to my therapists. I reset my brain, reinforced my boundaries, and recommitted to myself and my family.
I’ve told a few people that I hate that “2020” is a symbol now. I don’t want to hear “2020” in ten years, or twenty years. I don’t want people to talk about this year. It’s not because of the crap-storm that this year was for the world though – it’s because of how traumatic this year has been for me and my family. “2020” is almost a trigger word at this point.
But then I did a thing. The other day, I set up a slideshow for the Amazon Echo that is in our master bedroom. I wanted it to be pictures of just Josh and me since this room is really our escape from the world. I started going through my camera roll to compile the slideshow and I was overwhelmed with amazement at how much we’ve done this year and how quickly I’ve chosen to put those memories behind the traumatic ones. As I scrolled through, hundreds of pictures of our family caught my attention and pulled at my heart.
When I was done putting our pictures together, I felt guilt. I felt guilt that I was choosing to focus so much of my energy on people and circumstances that mean next to nothing to me. I was giving it all so much power over my thoughts, and WHY?!?!?! Why would ANYTHING come before the seven people I know God put into my immediate circle for a reason. Why was I choosing to live in my head outside the walls of my own home in the chaos of someone else’s choices? That realization, coupled with the new set goals, really cemented a mindset change for me.
I decided I wanted to do the same thing with pictures of our family as I did with pictures of Josh and I. The end-result was the same. The year our family had blind-sided me with how crazy awesome it’s been. I am overwhelmed with the growth our family has achieved this year. Blending a family is a difficult and rewarding process, but seriously, I’m feeling so much more of the rewards this year!! Add in to that Josh having an insanely perfect new career and me starting a second job outside of photography doing something I love too, and it’s been a milestone year for us! We’ve had football champions, time at the beach, sooo many days as a family in Lava, hours and hours and hours of family cuddles, time around our table learning together, SO MUCH TIME together BECAUSE of Covid (we had Josh’s kids 10x the amount of time we’re supposed to have them because of shutdowns…. WE WILL TAKE IT!), soccer leagues, puzzles completed, hundreds of games played, car rides, hikes, spontaneous flights, tons of “firsts”, ballet performances, preschool, zoom calls, RZR rides, dirt bike rides, time with besties, good food, birthday car parades, hours on the golf course, date nights with kids, and so much more.
I challenge you to do what I did. Go through your camera roll on your phone. What stands out to you? Is it the millions of the inconveniences that a worldwide pandemic brought? Is it sadness or frustration over the hardships you’ve endured this year? Or is it smiling faces, family time together, growing kids, and beautiful places? Pictures really do make a moment in time stand still. You can FEEL that moment when you look at them. Make THAT FEELING what defines your 2020. Make THAT FEELING what is at the front of your mind. Change your mindset with me so we can all talk about what a year 2020 was ten, twenty, forty years from now, and it won’t be a horrible year. It will be one of the best ones we ever had because it was the year that families drew closer to each other and we learned how resilient we really are.
I love you all and am so incredible grateful for my clients, friends, and family who have supported Dani & Co Photos this last year. Happy New Year! I can’t see what 2021 brings for us all!