Yikes, 2020 – am I right? While it is the cliche to end all cliches, 2020 was quite the dumpster fire of a year and while we at Nurses With Heart know that the simple flip of a calendar page will not magically change our entire world, it is awfully nice knowing that we made it through a year which will be infamous in every history book that future generations all over the world will read. Nurses With Heart typically likes to take a look back at our year, which while we will continue on with the tradition this year, will be a bit lighter in tone than usual.
Everybody wants to laugh – you know that. They need to laugh… people need to laugh.”Carl Reiner, American Actor
In 2020 the global population spent more time at home than humanly imagined, resulting in binging of television and food, endlessly scrolling through social media feeds and comments (which you knew were a bad idea to read in the first place), and endless wondering and worrying about everything from finances to housing to whether or not you would get sick to if it was a good idea to let your significant other cut your hair.
The two more useless words in the English language – Don’t worry.”Mary Higgins Clark, American Author
Linguistically, 2020 brought the world a whole slew of new phrases that became norms in our daily conversations. The whole world suddenly became familiar with terms the public health community has been using for years: “contact tracing” (which does mean the stalking you do of who your friends talk to on social media), “flatten the curve” (which is definitely what we will need to do after Nurses With Heart’s excessive overindulgence in holiday cookies), “P.P.E.” (not to be confused with the “P.P.P.” – how difficult is it to come up with a different sounding acronym when you know both of them will probably be used in the same sentence?), and “social distancing” (which is every introvert’s dream). We also all apparently reverted to being children as we relentlessly had to be told not to touch our faces, not to sneeze on our friends, and to wash our hands (big yikes on that last one! And yes, please wash your hands, because germs).
Take all the courses in your curriculum. Do the research. Ask questions. Find someone doing what you are interested in! Be curious!”Katherine Johnson, American Mathematician
Besides bringing civilians into the public health conversation, we also began to frequently use terms like “remote learning” (which led to a cascade of more terms which parents began to dread, like “hybrid” and “pods”, which while frequently are terms associated with horror films, were most definitely related to educational issues and also, don’t forget to show all of those teachers in your life a lot of love, because man-oh-man, do they deserve it!), “virtual – [insert term here]” (happy hour? conference? insanity?), and “zoom” (we sure missed out on buying those stocks!).
What can I say? Librarians rule.”Regis Philbin, American Television Presenter
Besides changing our language, we also added in new habits and cheered on our frontline workers and our essential workers, waved to our loved ones from outside of assisted living facilities, and wept as we watched the death count rise beyond what was imaginable in our times of information and modern technologies.
Vera Lynn, Singer-Songwriter
There is always something we can be concerned about. The secret is to rise above it and do whatever we can to make the world a better place.”
“Unprecedented” is most certainly the word of the year, overused and having lost all meaning – at what point does everything that is happening which is unprecedented become precedented? The term “pivot” certainly must follow upon the heels of “unprecedented” as anytime anything unprecedented occurred a pivot was required. It was amazing how many people and businesses executed pivots so unbelievably well in too many times to count (hip hip hooray for resiliency and ingenuity and the creativity of the human spirit!).
You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”Kenny Rogers, American Singer-Songwriter
All of the unprecedented times and pivots led to logistical answers that kept us all going, in many shapes and forms. In Santa Fe, local distilleries shut down taprooms to produce hand sanitizer, which both allowed for their companies to continue to survive but also support disease prevention efforts within the community. We adjusted to limited indoor dining, and then curbside pick up only, with restaurants getting creative about how to serve food in those dreaded but now-very-necessary styrofoam containers. Medical appointments finally made the shift to telemedicine, seeing patients in the comfort of their own homes and relying on home health practitioners to relay vital signs, physical assessments, and draw blood for laboratory specimens in living rooms, at kitchen tables, and on front porches (lesson learned: cats are a chaotic hazard posed to any sterile field and are, of course, drawn to them like moths to a flame).
Please phrase your answer in the form of a question.”Alex Trebek, American-Canadian Game Show Host
On a more global scale, the scientific community surged ahead in the development of some of the most effective vaccines ever created, as well as vastly increasing our understanding of how respiratory illnesses are spread, how to care for individuals with limited resources in makeshift medical spaces like gift shops and field hospitals, and how to run public health campaigns to inoculate our population against misinformation (i.e. please, please, please do a little research before you share what your uncle’s girlfriend’s sister’s son post on Facebook).
At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results.”Chuck Yeager, American Test Pilot
Surprisingly, other things happened besides COVID this year – researchers discovered the longest underwater creature (which is essentially a 150-foot-long string), scientists found a new human organ (a surprise set of salivary glands in the upper part of the throat), and conclusively decided that toddlers have been squirmy since the beginning of time (10,000-year-old tracks were found in New Mexico which appeared to show a woman walking with a toddler on her hip, then set the toddler down to readjust, and picked the toddler back up again to continue on her trek).
Take chances! Get messy! Make mistakes!”Joanna Cole, American Author
And just as life continued on while COVID raged, as did death in its inevitable march. 2020 hurt for so many and it is both difficult to fathom the number of those lost as well as highlight even a significant portion of this population. From terrible accidents to social injustices to civil unrest to diseases, both new and old, it was an extremely difficult year full of losses of young and old alike. These tragedies finally brought to the forefront of global attention the widespread commonality of social inequities and how intensely they impact our populations, both on a local and global scale. This was a year of uncomfortable conversations, and of fearful actions and anguished decisions. But growth often comes out of strife, so hopefully, our challenges of 2020 will result in a year of knowledge, change, and social improvement.
When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”John Lewis, Civil Rights Leader
And of course, improvement and growth are always the focus of the dreaded New Year’s resolution for all of us at Nurses With Heart. Due to the turmoil of 2020, here is what we are focused on for 2021:
- Finding new ways to remain connected to our communities, whether they are personal, professional, or local. We made it through the year by reaching out to provide support to all of our wonderful staff and clients, who in turn connected with us in ways that made us smile and laugh and feel incredibly loved. We need to continue to remember that social distancing does not equal social isolation, so while we are all tired of waving through windows and sharing drinks over zoom, we can continue to get creative in ways that continue to create a sense of belonging and support in our communities.
- We will focus on what we can control and revel in those small wins. Yes, we can wash our hands (because yikes guys, germs!!)! Yes, we can wear our face masks (let’s bring back the Bejewels of the 90s for that extra pizazz)! Yes, we can send a loved one a funny joke to brighten their day (after all, 2020 is the year of the meme!)! Yes, we can say no to that additional cookie (well, maybe we can’t say no, but we can at least let go of the cookie guilt!).
Don’t lose that anger. Just have a little more patience and forgiveness. For yourself as well.”Larry Kramer, American Playwright
2021 may feel a bit daunting to begin after the year we have just endured and it is human nature to avoid wanting to do difficult things. But newsflash! After all of that “doomscrolling” we have just participated in, we have spent a year doing hard things and endured. Despite all of the bad things that 2020 brought us, it did manage to demonstrate that people can change and become better, more dynamic, and wonderfully compassionate beings. And yes, there will be an unprecedented amount of unprecedented things which we encounter over the next year, but we will rise to the challenge, pivot, wash our hands, put on our masks, and meet every new problem with a laugh and a spritz of hand sanitizer. We welcome 2021 as a clean start with clean hands and certainly hope that you, dear readers, will do the same!
Happy New Year!
Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States