We have all experienced 2020 in our own way. No blueprint. No template. For me, the overlapping theme in handling the bumps in the road known as COVID-19 was optimism. As we welcome 2021, I continue to remain optimistic.

Let’s face it, the pandemic showed us we have no true control, outside our own actions. The virus has pushed all of us to look in the mirror and face a lot of truths. (I will not address the racial injustice, the tremendous loss of life and the political unrest. That’s a whole different blog I will present down the road. )

I look back and I realize the pandemic forced me to face my own mortality, but even more importantly it reinforced my desire to live my life. My blog today is to remind you to be kind to yourself, your friends, family, colleagues and anyone with whom you come into contact.  We all need extra kindness, and patience. When my children were younger I would tell them to put their patience button on (of course it was imaginary) if I sensed they were getting antsy. Well, thanks to COVID-19, I imagine we are all beyond getting a little antsy.

During the pandemic, I experienced so many blessings.

When I think of blessings, my children, 26-year-old Jacob, and 17-year-old Ari, are always the first that come to mind. They both thought, and probably still do think that I am over the top with the pandemic precautions I instituted in our home. It’s OK that they tease me because I know it’s out of love.

They are young and want to have fun. I get it. As a mom, I want to protect them, keep them safe. The virus is a stark reminder that we can only do so much. There is no control. All I can do is remind them to wear a mask, socially distance and wash their hands. (I even put wipes and hand sanitizer in Ari’s car as a “mom” reminder.)

Being quarantined with Ari has been an especially precious gift. He’ll be leaving for college soon. I am sure I will not get a day, let alone a few months, of having Ari home and all to myself.

It was on Valentine’s Day 2020 when my fiancé, Gonen, proposed. I draw strength every day knowing that he is by my side through it all. It strengthened our relationship.  That his gift of flowers has been replaced with care packages of toilet paper, Lysol spray and disinfectant wipes were much more than just a sign of the times to me.

I have never called my parents so much until the pandemic. My mom and dad are both dealing with not seeing their children and grandchildren. We did the drive-by for Mother’s Day and celebrated my dad’s birthday in a small in person dinner. Another time we did a Rita’s water-ice drop-off. I try to call my mom and dad every day, and every time I ask her, “What’s new?” It’s usually the same answer. “Nothing. What’s new with you?”

I never worried for their safety and health so much. The gift for me is that I have my parents to worry about. I’m lucky to have them and I know it.

My extended family is small but precious. My brothers, my uncle, my two cousins and their children are part of my heart, and every one a blessing.

I got quality with my grand dog, Blitzen. This two-year-old Husky has captured my heart! This is a first, I never considered myself a dog person until now.

My colleagues from the Acuity Healthcare team, where I work as a vice president of public relations, are part of my support team. They are the best clinicians who know what it means to provide care and they did that, not just for our patients and families, but for our entire team. They were always there leading the team through the pandemic.

My diverse and deep friendships fill my heart and life. This year I drew strength from each and every one of my friends. Some friends I’ve had since childhood. Others are newer, friends whom I have had more time to build deeper bonds. Today, they are more in my life than ever before.

Pre-Covid I never would have considered going camping! It was one of the best weekends I have ever had with my family. Thank you, Eliza, Jacob’s girlfriend, for being a wonderful camp director. Can’t wait to do it again!

I’m thankful for Zoom, where we shared holiday services, laughed through many happy hours with friends and even shared a Gingerbread house decorating gathering. Come Thursday night, I’ll be ringing in New Year’s Eve with an 80’s dance party!  Memories made throughout 2020 were not less special, from the online Bat Mitzvah and wedding to Ari’s 17th birthday drive by parade – they were just different.

But his last year hasn’t just been about what I can do for me. It’s also been about what we can all do together as a community to help us move forward.

With vaccines, we recognize there is light at the end of this tunnel. Every day, we are learning more about the virus and treatments for the virus. I remain optimist because no one can take it away from me or you, for hope for brighter days ahead.

This New Year’s Eve, I will raise my glass and say L’Chaim, the Hebrew toast meaning “to life.” Here’s is to a better, richer and easier life in 2021! I hope you will remain hopeful and that collectively as a community we will heal and stay heartfelt in all we do.