[00:00:07] BS: Season’s greetings. I am Britt Skrabanek and you’re listening to Love Your Enthusiasm, a show where creators, teachers and explorers share techniques and inspiration to help you stay focused on your passion.
Today, I’m bringing you another solo segment, where I explore topics that impact your enthusiasm, either positively or negatively, or some combination of the two. In previous solo shows so far, I have covered taking alcohol breaks and lowering your cost of living. This special end of the year episode, I’m talking about what to take with you from 2020.
We’ll take a look at how this year impacted your enthusiasm and what we can learn from our losses and gains as we move forward into 2021. For those of you who changed life directions unexpectedly, like I did, I share a few steps to help you transition as well. Any topics, or questions you want me to cover in future solo segments are always welcome. If you have requests, hit me up through the contact form at loveyourenthusiasm.com/contact. Or connect with me on social. I will drop these links in the show notes on the website.
All right, let’s keep moving.
[00:01:38] BS: Why in the hell am I talking about 2020, when we’re all beyond ready to move on from this year? Well, that’s actually the reason I’m covering this topic, because a lot of us wrote off the year as a loss. Oh, I don’t know, back in the summer, my 2020 is … Google searches around that time, included the following search results. 2020 is a nightmare. 2020 is a bad year. 2020 is a mess. 2020 is a crazy year. 2020 is a dumpster fire. 2020 is canceled. Around Halloween, one of my personal favorites, 2020 is booze sheet.
Everyone ended up labeling 2020 all year, just trying to understand the pain and confusion they felt. Labels are one of those things that just makes something identifiable, organized, and able to be compartmentalized. Humor, if we combine humor and labels, that’s a whole, another thing. Humor is one of our favorite defense mechanisms. It works especially well this year, as we smiled and slapped a label on 2020 the entire year.
I have to wonder about 2021 being that light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t mean this negatively at all, but it’s very hard to say, there’s a beginning and an end just because it’s a calendar year. How do we know that unwrapping the plastic and hanging a fresh new calendar on the wall is going to be the answer? I certainly don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. That is a fragile mindset approach to carry with us into a new year, don’t you think?
I relate it to a trap I used to fall into, which is I’ll be happy when … I’ll be happy when I buy that thing. I’ll be happy when I get X, Y or Z. I’ll be happy when 2020 is over, or when 2020 is fucking over, as I’ve heard a lot of people say. Not only does this approach put a lot of pressure on ourselves and everything we do. The buildup we attached to thinking happiness comes after a certain thing is obtained, or accomplished causes this self-destructive rollercoaster of emotions.
That concerns me and I hope it concerns you, which is why I couldn’t bring myself to record a fun, lighthearted holiday episode today. I thought about it, but it just felt wrong, because 2020 was an epic year that affected lives around the world. I thought it would be more valuable to explore this idea of hindsight is 20/20. That way we don’t forget to look back and learn from our experiences before we move on to a new year.
Okay, I’m about to do that really cheesy thing, where I give you a dictionary definition of something and I apologize, but this one’s really good. I promise. The Merriam Webster definition of 2020 hindsight is the full knowledge and complete understanding that one has about an event only after it has happened. As 2020 comes to a close, I doubt any of us can fully understand the events of this year, because they were so bizarre and completely beyond our control. We can at least begin to understand how we behaved, how we reacted, what we did and didn’t do, and how all of this impacted our enthusiasm. Even using the word enthusiasm this year was a lot to ask. I realized this as I was inviting guests to be on the show, which I launched in June, right in the middle of all this shit. It was a big ask and several incredible women I know, told me they couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to talk about their enthusiasm on this show. I totally understood.
For the women who have been on the show, talking about the love they have for their enthusiasm, I am eternally grateful and in awe of them. I was interviewing people in April and May when lockdowns were happening everywhere and people were completely uncertain and frankly, pretty fucking terrified about the future. Every time I stopped the recording, I almost couldn’t believe we managed to have the conversation at all. But you know what? We leaned on each other for support. The #WomenSupportingWomen is not just a hashtag. It is something we need to do and it does work.
Moral of the story, we all know that happens. 2020 was pretty much a complete cluster fuck. When it came to following our passions, we had to fight for it. We had to fight distractions, uncertainty, fear, depression, anxiety, you name it. We had to keep on keeping on and it was very, very difficult. Whenever I feel negative, like I’ve been wrong somehow, which happened a lot this year, I like to look at what I learned during that time. This never fails to help me turn what I thought was a loss into something I’ve gained.
The first question is, what did you lose this year? Losses have happened all around us. We’re observing them and living them. The close signs, the commercial spaces for lease, all of the out of work artists, musicians, servers, retailers, teachers, and flight attendants with nowhere to go. It’s everywhere. I lost a new business this year and it was gone before it even started. The thing about loss is that with loss, often comes change. Like me, you may have changed your life direction because of your losses.
A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog called How to Change your life direction in Three Difficult Steps. Notice I said difficult, not simple, which always infuriates me, because how often can we sum up things in three steps without them being completely difficult? Anyways, I will link to this blog in the show notes, as always. Really, it’s probably more 300 steps rather than three steps, by the time you work through everything. I’ll go ahead and share those steps with you now, in case you didn’t catch them on the blog, and I hope this helps if you’re in limbo right now and changing your life direction.
Number one, sit with it. From a young age, many of us learned to move on a little too quickly. There were all these catchy childhood songs. I always think of Chin Up from the movie Charlotte’s Web, circa 1973. That whole idea of buck up, chin up, get over it, move on. At the beginning of April this year, I was literally sitting on my couch when I realized my new business Clove Travel and Wellness was over because of coronavirus. The travel industry was decimated. The idea of having this content publication and podcast that was about being healthy while traveling was completely lately out the door.
I had poured all of my energy into launching this travel wellness content platform. I had started it in October of the previous year, worked all through the holidays to get it launched. Then it was one delay after another. I had no idea that travel was going to be canceled, right? Who would have saw that coming? I even had a website. I mean, I had 13 guests. Most of you actually ended up being on this podcast, who I had already interviewed and all of this great written content where I had hired writers. I mean, ready to rock. As the reality of the pandemic escalated, I kept delaying the launch of this business. Maybe next week. Okay, maybe next month. How about maybe never?
What did I do? Well, obviously I was really upset. I’m not going to let, because it was heartbreaking. I did sit with it. During my move across the country from Portland to Milwaukee and March during the lockdown, I had hundreds and hundreds of miles of deserted roads to sit with it. I didn’t talk about Clove once during the drive with my husband. We had all of that downtime and we just didn’t even talk about it, because we knew it was over. We didn’t need to talk about it. Clove was gone. I had to fully acknowledged that loss before I could move on. That was the key was sitting with it. Take the time to mourn your loss, your job, your business, your passion, whatever it is that you lost this year. Don’t just try to move on quickly without a mourning period, because you won’t. Sit with it for a while. Think of it as paying respects to yourself for the time and energy you spent over those months or years.
Number two, decide what’s next. Back to my story by the middle of April, while stuck in my new apartment in Milwaukee, I knew what I wanted to do next, because I did the work of sitting with everything. It ended up being this podcast you’re listening to, which is actually a spinoff from a popular guest series I ran on my blog for years called The Life Enthusiast Chronicles. I had always wanted to do something else with The Life Enthusiast Chronicles. I had no idea what it was. I was already hell-bent on hosting a podcast anyways. Everything came together to form my podcast, this one that launched in June, Love Your Enthusiasm.
Being forced to change directions in this case, helped me see another path I had already been going down. I literally blurted the idea out to my husband on the couch that day. “What if I started a podcast based on The Life Enthusiast Chronicles?” Then he said, “There you go.” A good formula that actually works really well when you’re trying to decide what’s next is what if I do insert next direction in life here? Okay, so what if I do insert next direction in life here? This is a question I highly recommend asking yourself. After you hear the answer, ask someone else the same question. See what they think about it. Make sure that someone is obviously someone you trust with your life, because they won’t steer you wrong.
The last step, number three, give it your all. Once you’ve decided on a new life direction, you have to give it your all. That doesn’t just mean throwing yourself into it. You also need to make a long-term commitment. I committed to two years with Love Your Enthusiasm. I made it an LLC, a business, not a hobby or a whim. Sometimes we want to make space for new things in our lives, but we don’t know how. We get really busy. We get really caught up in things. Sometimes that decision is made for us by completely uncontrollable circumstances, such as 2020. If you feel you’re forced to pivot your life this year, I encourage you to see this as a new direction you may not have considered before. Give it your all and see where it takes you.
We thought about our losses. Now it’s time to think about what we gained this year. What have you gained this year? I just want to let that sink in, because I think it’s very easy to think about the bad things that happened to us and to the people we love. There are also a lot of things that we gained, either from those bad experiences, or maybe as we were just talking about from unexpectedly having pivot with our business, or with our passions, something else. I mean, what did you gain? Something.
I will share a few questions to provide as prompts to maybe help you figure out what you gained. I’ll also share a few of my personal observations as well, that might inspire those 2020 memories and observations of your own. The first question is, did you gain more time with someone, or something you love?
I imagine the answer is yes, because it is for me as well, just across the board in multiple ways. I will tell you a quick story and I mentioned this on my blog, but I just love it so much. It was so unexpected, because I remember when the lockdown first started in Portland back in March. I went for a walk to my favorite nearby park to take in some trees, needing a break. Being productive during this really unsettling time, of course, was near impossible. Taking walks obviously helps with just about anything, similar to meditation, in my opinion.
What I noticed on those neighborhood walks in March was something I will never forget; parents outside with their kids right in the middle of the day. It took me several walks to figure out why this was so startling. I realized, it was because I wasn’t used to seeing a dad smiling with his daughter on her tricycle at 11:30 AM on a Wednesday, because he would have been at the office, just like my dad was when I was a kid.
I went to morning and afternoon daycare in summer camps, quality time with my dad happened during the ride to and from school and the occasional dance class. I mean, I remember praying for traffic, just so we could be stuck in the car together longer. I pretended to be sick sometimes to miss my dance class, which was something I love more than anything, just so me and my dad could grab dinner and watch a movie instead. That’s just my tear-jerker story. I love my dad and I always wanted to hang out more.
I look back and I know why I felt we never spent enough time together, because we didn’t, because we couldn’t. That’s just something to think about. That’s family stuff. I know so many of us have reconnected with our family, whether they’re near for us or not, that’s something that we’ve gained; more time with someone or something that you love. The next one that you have potentially gained this year, have you gained a greater understanding of yourself and the world? I bet that’s a yes.
Oh, man. This was a hard one for me, because I realized that I depended on travel for a lot of my happiness and inspiration. Once that was stripped away, I felt I was left with nothing to look forward to. It was the weirdest thing. One thing I’ve learned while running a business over the past few years, I’ve learned that the best way to weaken your business and put everything at risk is by putting all of your eggs in one basket.
If I relate that to travel and how much I depended on that for my happiness and inspiration, I was putting way too much emphasis on travel. I was putting all of my eggs in that basket and I had done it for years. It had become a habit that I didn’t even realize. As far as a greater understanding of myself in the world, I definitely gained that this year by having travel removed from my life, because it had been, I don’t want to call it a crutch, but it had become a crutch in a way, as a way to escape, of course. Also, to learn new things about other people and myself. I really had to shift the way that I was finding that happiness and inspiration, like a lot of you, who can relate, especially a lot of travel enthusiasts, but this could be so many other things that taught you this lesson.
It was a surprisingly tough lesson to learn. There is an episode that I will never forget this year and it was with Aura Martinez. Episode 21. She’s actually a life coach, but she’s also a flight attendant. I have no idea what airline she works for. We didn’t talk about it. We kept that private. Here’s what she said and might do this as somebody who travels all the time. She said, we’re so quick to like wanting to travel to different countries and wanting to discover different places. Yet, we forget that we already have a very fascinating place to visit and that is ourselves. Take advantage of this time. Take advantage.
The last question I will ask you about what you have gained in 2020, did you gain an appreciation for life and everything in it? I bet that’s another yes. I remember, and you probably will remember this as well, stopping to notice the birds. When lockdown, quarantine was happening across cities and I’ve always lived in cities, it was just amazing how everyone was commenting on being able to hear the birds. All of that traffic noise that we were so used to was gone. In the middle of busy cities all over the world, we all started really listening to the bird songs, because they were deafening.
It was so beautiful, but I think a lot of us can agree that it’s difficult to stop and notice the birds whenever we’re so caught up in everything. Here in Milwaukee, and I had just moved here, I’m surrounded by gulls, because we’re close to Lake Michigan. I remember just walking over to the Milwaukee River, which is right nearby watching the gulls dive bomb for fish in the river during the lockdown this year, and what an amazing experience that was. The question is, and this could be anything for you about having this deeper appreciation for life and everything in it, even gulls who were mostly worried about shitting on us most of the time, but they can also be very beautiful. How often do we stop and notice the birds? Probably not enough. Again, just so many beautiful moments can be gained, even when so many things seem lost.
I’ll leave you all by saying 2020 is not over yet. You still have time left this year. There is so much to learn from our experiences, and so much to gain from our lasses. Take a look back and see what you want to take with you as you move forward and to 2021.
[00:22:37] BS: That is a wrap for 2020. Woo! Thank you all for tuning into Love Your Enthusiasm this year. I so appreciate your support. There are many wonderfully, inspiring previous episodes that I would love to invite you to listen to during the break. Yes, I am taking a couple of weeks off, if you can believe it to chill out. I will go ahead and point out several episodes now that are super relevant to this end of the year special that will set you up nicely for 2021.
Those episodes are episode 25, Balancing Business and Life with Violette de Ayala. Episode 21, Master Yourself to Master your Life with Aura Martinez. Episode 16, The Beautiful Practice of Forgiveness with Ra Avis. Episode 11, How to Follow your Truth with Karen Munna. Episode 10, Believing in Positive Thoughts with Meena Azzollini.
I will link to all of these wonderful episodes in the show notes. Thank you all. Thank you, thank you so much. I will see you next year.