2020: A Year of Reflection & Resilience (Pt. 2 of 2)
A Collection of Newbridge Family Lessons in Growth and Vulnerability.
Here at Newbridge Health & Wellness, we value honoring and celebrating our victories and successes, both big and small. The year 2020 was anything but ordinary, and brought unique challenges and obstacles that we have had to overcome. 2020 has taught us important lessons in patience, resilience, community, self-care, life values and vision, and the importance of love in the presence of difficulty.
We wanted to share and celebrate some of the lessons our staff have learned this past year, and how we plan on bringing those lessons into 2021. These are lessons in gratitude, resilience, perseverance, courage, and hope.
Digital Marketing Specialist & Member Experience
What surprised me the most in 2020 was how much I am drawn to depth of human connection, vulnerability and growth. I had always imagined 2020 as a thriving senior year; delving deeply into my studies, enriching friendships, and fostering a sense of community and purpose. 2020 was supposed to be a year of personal development by gently closing my chapter as an undergraduate and thoughtfully preparing myself for the real world. However, the world had a different trajectory; We were all unexpectedly thrown into a new sense of reality.
Initially, I was confused, disappointed, upset and frustrated that I could not close my college chapter the way I had envisioned. However, I realized when I looked around, I was not alone, I had a resilient community around me. Everyone was grieving some dimension of loss, and I was determined to shift my lens outward. This year has been a lesson of learning how to lean on, grow with, be inspired by and encourage those around me. This year has been a messy blend of growth and exploration. Personally, I have come to realize that it does not matter what I am doing in life, it matters who I am doing life with. I continually feel drawn to making people feel heard, cared for and loved. My favorite part of everyday life is sharing the little moments with others; listening to friend’s voice messages on the way to work, wishing good morning & checking in with my coworkers with a smile and sense of curiosity, little children at the clinic melting my heart while taking their vitals, catching up with a dear friend on an outdoor walk around the lake, engaging in friendly conversations with my barista, baking sourdough bread with my sisters, connecting and laughing with my family around the dinner table, and facetiming dear friends I cannot be with physically.
The nature of our relationships transformed this year, and we had to be vulnerable and communicate what we needed from others. Each of my relationships provide value and joy in their own ways, and I am proud and comforted to fulfill my intertwined roles as a sister, daughter, grandchild, friend, coworker & citizen of the world.
Care Team Manager
The biggest and best thing that 2020 taught me was that the unexpected can happen at any moment throughout life, and how we choose to react and grow within the unexpected is what builds who we are.
Like so many others I had big visions of what the year ahead would hold for me – a few months prior I had packed up my car and chased a dream of living in Colorado. With no job, no place to live, and no plan, I challenged myself to embrace the adventure of exploration and let life happen. Months went by as the mileage on my car soared, and I eventually settled down feeling content in the fears I had conquered and the growth I had experienced. Just when I thought I had maxed out on self-improvement for a while I found myself isolated in a brand new place, anxiously trying to understand a global pandemic, separated from those I love most, and feeling like the world was crumbling in front of me yet all I could do was watch it unfold on TV. I felt defeated. And had it not been for my recent growth in strength and confidence, I very well may have stayed in that defeat. Instead I used what I had learned to drive me in making some tough decisions in an already emotional year, and once again, let life happen.
Despite the overwhelming sadness, loss, and confusion that so many of us felt, 2020 provided us an opportunity to look for the beauty in the unexpected. That’s the interesting thing about life and growth – they will forever go hand-in-hand. How we restructure our mindset and reactions, and use the strength deep within us is the true beauty. To me, 2021 is not a new fresh year to override the previous less than stellar year, but instead a continuous journey of growth and embracing what each new day of life may bring.
NBC-HWC, Integrative Health & Wellness Coach
Looking back over 2020, three concepts stand out to me above all others: bravery, self-worth, and transformation.
I have never considered myself a brave person, but the pandemic gave me the opportunity to reflect over my life thus far. I analyzed the choices I’ve made, the opportunities I have taken advantage of, and how capable I am to achieve growth. What I realized was a common thread: every time I tried something new, I applied for a program, a job, or an opportunity, or spoke up for what I needed, I was acting courageously. What I had always credited as ‘things falling into place’ were actually a result of working hard and speaking up for myself. Recognizing what I have already accomplished in my life motivated me to dig into my values and overall life vision. I have found the courage to speak my mind rather than sit back and let others take control. I have found the bravery to ask for what I need, to take chances and risks, and to move forward with my goals and dreams.
I recognized that even though I worked hard to get to where I am today, I am worthy of it. It seems simple, but this was a breakthrough for me: I am worthy of a good life. I am worthy of dreaming big, pursuing dreams, and living my own version of an optimal life. All of us are. Life is what we make it, and we have the opportunity to actively make choices that are in alignment with our values to get to our goals. When we can grasp and accept the reality that we are worthy, we undergo an incredible transformation. The most exciting part of this for me, is to recognize that we don’t need a global pandemic to be transformed. Transformation happens slowly, through growth, over time, but this pandemic acted as a catalyst to speed up that growth for us. I invite everyone to look at their lives months ago, a year ago, maybe five or ten years ago, and be astounded by your own bravery and growth.
If you reflect and don’t see your growth yet, that is okay! Sometimes we need a little bit of space and time to understand and clearly see the radical shifts that occur in our lives and communities.
I am confident that we all grew in exponential ways during the course of 2020 and we learned extraordinary lessons, and I have hope that we can use these lessons to transcend as a collective and create a great 2021 and future.
2020 was no doubt a year of challenges, but challenges can facilitate growth with the right perspective. At the beginning of 2020, I was facing a myriad of confusing health challenges that I frankly didn’t know how to deal with; both in terms of not knowing what was wrong and emotionally coping with a new reality of not feeling as well as I was accustomed to. Most of my time at the beginning of this year was spent bouncing between doctor’s visits or obsessively seeking answers (maybe a little too much time spent with Dr. Google). This was an emotionally tolling process for me and I developed many unconscious negative thought patterns about what it meant to be healthy and achieve wellness and how to get there, locking myself in the idea that I may never feel completely well again. There were some bumps in the road throughout the process, but I ended up being diagnosed with a few chronic illnesses and starting treatments to provide some relief and much needed clarity midway through the year. While these treatments were helpful, it wasn’t the magic bullet cure-all I convinced myself it would be and I found myself disheartened that things were not back to 100%. At the same time, the world was changing around us and nothing in life felt familiar. If 2020 has taught me anything, it is that healing is multi-faceted and most definitely not linear. And that is okay. While the ups and downs can be frustrating, it is all a part of the process.
I spent a lot of last year waiting for my physical health to improve in order for my mental health to stabilize as well. I felt defeated when my mental well-being wasn’t optimal, even after getting all the answers I was looking for and finding more stability physically.
What I’ve learned was that the mind and body are a two-way street and while it is important to support your physical body in order to have a healthy mind, the mind itself needs attention and to be nurtured as well in order for the physical body to find and feel balance. I spent a lot of 2020 believing rules, restrictions and chasing a state of equilibrium were the keys in order to feel well. I felt like I needed to do this, that and the other thing or I would never heal. I viewed healing as something that would happen in the future, but it was contingent upon following rules and checking boxes. As you can assume, this mindset drove me nuts and instilled shame and guilt. What I needed to realize (and did thankfully) was that my body knows what it is doing and will tell me what I need if I pause and listen to it. I started to work on switching from living a life of fear and restriction into one filled with grace, enthusiasm and empowerment. You can follow every supplement/medication regimen to the T, eat a “perfect” diet, and control every physical factor possible, but until you change your mindset by recognizing and addressing unhealthy ways of thinking about yourself and your situation, you won’t be where you want to be.
Moving into 2021, I will continue striving to be present in the moment, regularly looking inward to check in with my body and mind and ask what it needs, and simply trusting in my body. It has been a journey to learn how to find peace with where I am at and I am looking forward to continue pursuing that growth in 2021.
Apart from “how to do cardio workout in a one-bedroom apartment” and “how to cook a meal with under $10”, 2020 has taught me that it’s not what I’m doing but rather how I’m doing it that can make the experience sublime.
In the years leading up to the pandemic I found myself on regular escapades to visit faraway friends – taking trips to California, New York, national parks and countries around the world was a priority. The pleasure of uncovering new worlds, of stepping out onto the streets of a new city and greeting the unknown around every bend was freeing and fulfilling, absolutely intoxicating to me.
But alas, 2020 brought these expeditions to a screeching halt as my ability to move freely in space was suspended. Unable to fulfill my desire to travel, I became interested in finding that feeling in some closer-to-home activities. I mean, we had already navigated chaos on so many levels by reimagining new social structures, educational structures, work environments, ways to celebrate and a continuous stream of new ways to cope, could the cessation of air travel really stop me from exploring?
It began with the planning. If a camping trip to Wisconsin was to match a month on the Appalachian trail, I would need to treat it similarly. So I scoured the Internet, savoring the details of any camping site I discovered. I interviewed friends and family members with experience camping in Wisconsin and cherished their experience and wisdom. I read recipe books and camping guide books galore!
Next was the suspension of disbelief – I would need to leave behind the assumption of an event being ordinary, mundane and predetermined and allow myself to bask in the rich newness of an experience even when it took place just down the road. After digesting videos, cookbooks and blogs delving into the basics of Chinese cooking, I ventured to the Chinese grocery store in my neighborhood. I stepped into TT Market, forgot that I was in Minneapolis and left Nicollet Avenue far behind. Once inside, I left not an item unexamined as I explored every dish, herb and decoration this wonderful store contained. I carefully selected every item on my list, absolutely enthralled by the newness and unknown depths of each ingredient.
And I’ve had many other huge successes! After a week of research I made a Nigerian meal completely from scratch, influenced by reading “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and “I’m Telling the Truth but I’m Lying” by Bassey Ikpi (so much free time to read books set in Nigeria!) A family trip to a rustic cabin in the frigid hills of Northern Minnesota became an extreme test of survival skills. We planned meals that were lightweight, easy to cook over a fire and delicious, we woke in the night to maintain the fire as if our life depended on it. In our minds, we were no different from the successful Alaska survivalists in the TV series “Out of the Wild.”
Here we are entering 2021 and what I have to offer is a deep appreciation and confidence in our imagination and a lighthearted giggle after realizing that nothing can hold us down. While the circumstances of 2020 disrupted plans and shattered expectations, I’m happy to report that the power of this imagination is ever more evident and the feeling of wonder and discovery is closer-to-home than we may have previously suspected.
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