Lol. I don’t even know how to write this post this year. I feel like my 2019 year in review was such a downer, and then 2020 was like “hold my beer” and here we are.
This quick 5 minute NPR listen really sums up a lot of how this year felt. I am grateful that we made it through the year, that our jobs are flexible and that we even still have jobs. I am grateful that we got to spend more time together that we wouldn’t have otherwise. I am grateful that our country made the right choice in the election in November. But none of the gratefulness this year feels like it outweighs the loss of lives, health and livelihoods that our country, and our family, has experienced.
And I think it’s ok to sit with that for now. I see hope in 2021 with a new administration and a new vaccine, but I also see the reality that our lives will look quite similar to how they did in 2020 for awhile and I’m trying to stay humble in that. I placed far too many hopes and dreams on the back of 2020, and I’m trying to approach 2021 with a stronger vision of reality.
If I had to give this year a name like I typically do in these posts, I’d call it the year of grief. We personally grieved the loss of multiple family members, the loss of plans and dreams whether permanent or temporary. We watched people we love grieve the loss of their livelihoods. Jobs, gone. Businesses, closed.
And we’ve also grieved the loss of who we thought so many people in our life were.
I thought this quote summed it up: “This year may have broken your heart, but it opened your eyes.” The way people behaved in 2020, their reaction to COVID, their choice to speak out or stay silent about the Black Lives Matter movement, their choice to vote for change or vote for a narcisistic white supremacist… it has left a permanent mark on how I view every person in my life. Do you feel similarly?
Friends, family members, people I don’t know in real life but follow(ed) and admire(d) on social media. For some, it has deepened my respect and love for them so profoundly. I want to RUN towards those people in my life for the challenges they’ve faced, the fights they’ve fought and the selfless sacrifices they’ve made. I value my relationship with them infinitely more. But for many others, it has shown a selfishness, irresponsibility, racism, complicity or lack of empathy that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
In many ways I am grateful for how eye opening 2020 was. I think a lot of us knew about these traits in many people in our life, and even in ourselves, but they were easily ignored due to our privilege or busy-ness before 2020 became a magnifying glass so clear we could no longer ignore them. I think it will help us make more just, equitable and informed choices about what we do and who we spend our time with once the world opens up again. But it still hurts.
Not unlike 2019, a lot of the heavier things our family faced this year are things I can’t talk about publicly and honestly nothing I mention here even compares to those. They’re either not my story to share, or I’m simply not ready to share and may never be.
I’ve faced, and am still facing, some new major health struggles. I’m going to keep most of the details to myself for now (and maybe for always) as we navigate things, thank you for understanding that.
But I had surgery back in August and let me tell you, having surgery during a pandemic is something I’d prefer to never do again. Yet, I’ll likely have to in the coming months.
We were originally told that no companions were allowed for surgery, so Jeff and Arlo were going to drop me at the door of the hospital to head into surgery alone. But at the last minute they told us that the rules had changed due to COVID numbers dropping (at the time) and Jeff was allowed to be there.
We scrambled to get COVID testing done and weigh our risks, and had a true hero of a friend step in to watch Arlo for a few hours so Jeff could come with me. He had to leave shortly after I woke up post-op, and I recovered alone in the hospital for days, but I am forever grateful that he could be there even for those first few hours.
And I share that because I want people to know that so many were not so lucky this year to even get those few hours. Every COVID patient, and thousands of others who are undergoing health battles not related to COVID are facing the reality of enduring surgeries, procedures, losses, births, deaths and hospital stays, alone due to (necessary but brutal) restrictions in medical facilities.
Nurses, the true angels that they are, are now not only taking on the risk of contracting COVID to help their patients physically, but the mental weight of helping those patients recover alone, too.
Some people are attending parties and gathering maskless in bars, and others are suffering the scariest moment of their life alone or carrying that suffering on their backs. I’ll never understand it.
After facing tests, appointments, surgery, recovery and ongoing medical care without help or childcare for nearly eight months (on top of running a business), we finally made the hard decision to take the risk and temporarily move some family out here to help us. Even with strict quarantines and COVID testing, I’ve felt so much guilt about that decision but we were running out of options that allowed us to remain isolated and also not put anyone else outside our immediate family at risk.
And after a turbulent two years in the adoption process, our plans to grow our family are on hold at the moment. I know many of you have been looking for an update. This pandemic has made that necessary decision all the more painful as we’ve spent the majority of the last ten months as just us three.
I would give anything for Arlo to have a sibling and playmate through these long days. But I’m so proud of how much he’s grown, his incredible imagination and how he’s somehow become more outgoing when the rest of us have become the opposite. 😉 The sacrifices the children of the world have made, phew. They deserve so much more credit than they are getting.
We still have a long road ahead of us, so I’m keeping my expectations for 2021 remarkably low, but with a glimmer of hope with a vaccine and new administration on the way.
In 2021, I plan to run TOWARDS that vaccine the second I get the chance to with BELLS ON. I believe in science, I believe in the incredible people that have worked so hard to bring this vaccine into reality without sacrificing our safety. I believe in the medical professionals who are receiving it HAPPILY. Bring it ON!
I plan to continue fighting towards a more just and equitable society, and holding the Biden/Harris administration accountable for doing so, too.
I plan to continue fighting for my physical health with my team of doctors and my mental health with my therapist.
And other than that, I plan to just get through this year. I plan to lean into the happy moments, as we did and shared this year, and ride out the brutal moments as best we can. But really we’re just taking it day by day.
If you’re seeing people outline huge goals for 2021 and that’s getting you down, know that for some people that’s how they’re getting through this unprecedented time. But if you’re the kind of person, like me, who needs to just get through it some way, somehow, one day at a time, know that that’s ok too.
In 2021, I simply hope more people choose science and selflessness over conspiracy theories and selfishness. I’m sending love to everyone who has lost someone, lost trust in someone, lost their livelihood, made sacrifices and/or is struggling as we enter this new year. You are not alone.
And I want to thank you all for being here through every up and down of this almost decade long journey here on Studio DIY. I don’t know what this year will bring for any of us, but I’m so glad you’re here! And I’m excited to continue sharing bits of our life, home, the talented people I come across and more right here as per usual!
Stay safe, wear a mask, thank an essential worker in your life.
Wow Kelly, I know the year was hard for everyone, and I knew it was particularly hard for your family but I did not know how much. I am thinking of you and sending you all the positive vibes for you health issue and for the hardness it must be to put the adoption process on hold. I wish you all the best for you, Jeff and Arlo. Love, Orianne
Thank you so much <3
Oh man! What a roller coaster 2020 was…thank you for being a light, even when facing dark times with your health, and a voice for those who don’t have one through the summer and the election. I too am keeping my expectations for 2021 low and leaning into the happy times. I look forward to seeing what beauty this new year brings and wish nothing but health and happiness to one of my favorite internet families!
Thank you so much for sharing! I too have a surgery coming up that’s going to be postponed because of Covid and will most likely not allow my partner to be with me. I’m terrified to go in alone and have to stay overnight by myself. Especially since I’m high risk. This last year has been wild and deeply upsetting to see that the majority of the country has no regard for what’s going on. I truly hope that Biden will come in an enforce a shut down. It’ll be tough, but I believe, necessary. Here’s to low 2021 expectations 😂💛
I’m so sorry to hear you’re facing a surgery as well. Sending you all my good thoughts and love!
Kate Taylor says
This blog was a little light for me as well during a dark year. It was honestly so affirming and reassuring to see you turning towards tough issues like mask wearing and the election instead of away from them. I felt like I was seeing someone else grow and learn in motherhood even in the tough times and I felt less alone. The Christmas posts were especially meaningful this year because we were trying our best to make the season feel special when we were also so isolated and lonely and celebrating with our small family and no extended family for the first time ever. It helped me see the beauty and importance in the little rituals and gestures that get us through the toughest times. And the fact that you did this for us readers while also being a mom, spouse, and dealing with your own medical issues? Just thank you. Thank you.
Thank you so much for the kind words.
Rachel Imsland says
What a wonderfully honest post. Sad and hopeful all together. I like your attitude of BELLS ON and will keep that thought with me this year. Thanks for sharing! And Happy New Year!
Rachel Smith says
Kelly! Thank you for your words, I connect to them so much in so many ways and it’s really nice for a moment not to feel alone. No big deal, just over here crying! Wishing you and your family good health and happiness this year. May we has a society do better.
Thank you for sharing. This is so well said and I feel so many of the same emotions. You put into words what I have been thinking for months and it is reassuring to know I am not alone. I echo your thoughts on this year showing people’s true colors, which was often disappointing. I too have had a couple of surgeries this year and waking up alone after surgery and recovering in the hospital alone was not easy, especially as I watched friends gather and ignore all guidelines. We have isolated, not gone out in public unnecessarily and not seen friends since the beginning and it feels unfair at times because so many people just disregard the recommendations to social distance and stay home. I am so sorry you had so many struggles this year and hope that 2021 brings you and your family health and happiness. I love your blog/insta and how genuine you are and look forward to following your journey this year.
Yes agreed, it is especially painful to see people being so irresponsible when you’re suffering alone. Sending you love and good thoughts as we enter 2021!
Wow, this a very open and sincere article. Mixed feelings of sadness and expectation. I’ll be keeping your “BELLS ON” mentality in dordle mind this year. Please keep me updated. And best wishes for the next year!
Kelly, I don’t know you, but wish I could give you a big hug.
You said this beautifully:
“Every COVID patient, and thousands of others who are undergoing health battles not related to COVID are facing the reality of enduring surgeries, procedures, losses, births, deaths and hospital stays, alone due to (necessary but brutal) restrictions in medical facilities.”
I had 2 miscarriages this year. I needed surgery both times and my husband was not allowed in the hospital. It made an already devastating experience so much worse.
Your blog continues to be a source of inspiration and light in these very hard times. I really admire your strength and wish you all the best in 2021 and always <3
I’m so sorry for your losses, Raquel. I know that pain all too well, and can only imagine how 2020 amplified that pain. Sending you so much love.
They pamper our ladies to the hilt, making sure that the dordle vast majority of them are clean, beautiful, and full of lustful dreams.
I’m so sorry the year has been so painful for you. This was the year that so much of my hope for humanity was shattered, but I can’t let it stop me from trying to do what I know to be right. Good luck with your next steps and I hope getting some family help goes well!
Patricia Newman says
Words like these are so needed at the time of life we all are in. For such a young woman you see life very clearly and you are so wise on how you tackle it. Bless you and your family.
This this THIS!! Same on so many levels to all of it! Wishing you better health in 2021 with hopes for a new beginning founded in science, empathy and common sense ❤️ Much love to you and yours!!!
I know I don’t actually know you and you’re family but I’m grateful for the small glimpses into your lives that you have shared. I think of you all as friends lol. I respect, admire, and hold you all dearly in my heart. Here’s to just getting through 2021 one day at a time (and hopefully a few moments of thriving and not just surviving)
Thank you for being a bright spot! Sending all the best to you and your family in 2021.
I love hearing these updates on your family, but I’m heartbroken with you. I can’t imagine needing surgery during such a chaotic time in hospitals. I pray you’ll have peace and so much health in 2021. Thank you for sharing Arlington and your home life with us! I’ve followed you guys for a long time on Instagram and love the light and color you guys share. That being said, I truly believe that nothing is black and white and there is room for everybody’s opinions and thoughts. Even when they seem completely opposite, I know we all just want what is best for our families and our country and we disagree on who to trust and what to believe. I’m ok with that and will continue to follow along because who said people with different beliefs can’t be friends?! Anyway, so grateful for you and your family and just praying so hard for your recovery. ❤️❤️
Meant Arlo…. autocorrect 🙈
Thank you so much for sharing. Wishing you and the family all the best. Happy New Year! Xoxo!
So well said Kelly. You have put into words what so many have been feeling. I love the quote that you shared, this year has really opened my eyes. I am so sorry to hear about your health issues. Wishing you a speedy recovery, good health & many blessings for the year ahead.
Amanda J. says
Thank you for sharing this, Kelly. ❤️ If only more people had your heart. Thanks for standing up for what’s right and using your platform in a positive way. I know it sounds weird, but I think the world of your family, but I wish you all the best.
Thank you for sharing this with us…particularly the part where you mention that this whole experience has changed the way you view certain people in your life. I watched my mother turn more into a conspiracy spewing, racist defending hobgoblin in 2020 and I barely know her anymore. We can’t talk for more than 3 minutes without screaming at each other. It’s awful and breaks my heart in two, and the whole thing breaks my dads heart, which in turn just breaks my half heart again. But this horrid year made me face exactly what you saw too: these people in my life I thought I knew are these wretched, completely unhinged selfish people and I don’t know how to not look at them through this lens going forward. You’re not alone in this, and if you have any revelations and tips please share…I’m going to need it going into 2021. Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family…we will all get through this somehow!
thank you for this thoughtful, honest post. i am so sorry that you and your family went through so much this year- it is heartening that you managed to consistently pop your head up to be a source of inspiration and cheer.
I feel the same way about people showing their true colours. One of the things that has made me so happy to be following you, one of the few people who only confirmed that I was right about you. Unfortunately that turned out to be quite rare, but I’m very glad you were one of them 🙂 At the same time I too am waiting for surgery. After waiting a lot I had my first in september finally which I got lucky with, but needed a second one as soon as possible. Unfortunately Covid came back for round 2 bigger than ever and knocked it back to maybe march/april if I’m lucky, and it doesn’t seem to be heading that way. It hurts seeing people protesting the restrictions when theres so many that are waiting for surgery’s (and now even chemo and heartsurgery’s), and they just don’t seem to care or believe it, which is insanely frustrating to say the least. Hoping this vaccine comes through as that seems our only hope at this point. Thankyou for sharing your story and for speaking up all year about big stuff. Wishing you and your family all the love happiness and good health!
Sending so much love to you guys! I so admire your courage and strength. Everything you said is so true, so powerful, and so brave. Thank you! Sending good vibes to you this year. So many challenges and it’s okay to not always be okay. You guys are a bright light during these hard times!
Audrey Williams says
Thank you. Of all the bloggers I follow your unapologetic and clearly genuine reaction to COVID and racial injustice has been the most inspiring. Thank you for vocally supporting science, calling selfishness what it is, and loudly supporting a hopefully better administration. You’re using your platform for good, You’re doing shit that matters, you have integrity, you should be proud.
Your blog has been such a bright spot for me in this year. Your unflinching and clear stance on Black Lives Matter, mask-wearing, and the election were refreshing and a beacon of hope. I sympathize with your post, and I can’t fathom how much more difficult 2020 has been for you with health challenges and having to postpone a dearly-desired adoption. I hope 2021 will be brighter for you and your family.
So well written and moving. I have followed you for years and your honesty and creativity shines like a beacon in this sea of digital overwhelm. I wish you and your family all the best for this year ✨🦄
Year after year, I always find your year end posts to be my favorite. Wishing you and everyone health and happiness in 2021. Thanks for not shying away from the struggles of 2020 and being unabashedly an ally in all senses of the word.
I’m in bits. This was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Watching you and your fam brought joy into my heart this year. Thank you for shining even in the darkness. You deserve only good, shiny, amazing things for the A+ People that you are, and I’m sorry that your year delivered anything but.
You deserve so much more Kelly, you and Jeff are incredible human beings and we need more voices like yours.
I really hope this new year brings some peace to all of us.
Regards from Argentina 🙂
Tatum Gosch says
Thank you for creating and keeping up this beautiful space – your blog means a lot to me. It spills joy and goodness into my days. I just want to say I will be praying for you. I will also be praying for our nation. I believe is Goodness – and in the power and strength that comes when Good people come together. May God bless you. May God bless our nation. And thank you, thank you, thank you for spilling color and joy and goodness into my life (and all who read your blog!) With love.
Wow, Kelly. T H A N K S. you’ve described the situation perfectly. Thanks for share. Thanks for scream out that science and kindness is THE ONLY WAY. We’re all together.
Send you all the strength for your own path, keep going, lady! You’ve got the best weapon: your smile.
hugs from Spain
Sarah Krauss says
Kelly, thank you for sharing so much, especially things that are painful to share. This post made me feel less alone, or I should say MORE SEEN. It was a bummer year for me and my husband to realize that some of our closest friends and family were not what we thought – just know that your vulnerability and you sharing your thoughts and feelings for us all to read makes me feel hopeful for 2021 and the future! Thank you!
Thank you Kelly, for your honesty and for the joy you create even through difficult times. I wish you all the very best. 💙
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