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Haircuts, lawn mowing and turning 50; it was all in a year’s work. A look back at a wild 2020.

I don’t have to tell you what a weird and wild year 2020 has been.

And while toilet paper dominated much of the news, the rest was full of pain: Isolation from loved ones, sickness and job loss.

But there were also some meaningful life lessons.

We were reminded about the power of hugs and handshakes and the overwhelming need to be connected to other human beings.

We will never again take our jobs, health and simple things like dining at a nice restaurant for granted.

Indeed, 2020 changed us in ways we never could have imagined.

And for the Vanden Berges, home was more than a safe, comfortable haven.

It was a breeding ground for some hilarious moments, courtesy of the quarantine.

As we embark on 2021, I’m looking back at a few of the more significant moments - and lessons - 2020 tossed in my face.

1. A BIG CAREER CHANGE: I was tired, slightly overworked, but still very much in love with my job as a newspaper editor until February arrived, and I was suddenly out. No explanation, no thank you for my years of dedication. I didn’t even get a slap on the rear. Devastated doesn’t begin to describe the emotion I felt. But rather than let go of my love for community journalism, I launched Beneath the Surface News, and suddenly, the worst thing that ever happened to me, turned into the best.

THE UNEXPECTED LESSON: It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. And for a non-risk-taker like myself, taking a chance on a new business venture was scary. But I am so glad I did it. If you have a passion or dream of self-employment, go for it! If I can do it, you can too.

2. TURNING 50 IS DAUNTING: Jockeying for a roll of Charmin is tough when you hit 50, and The Husband and I both hit that magical number this year. The sting was eased by several meaningful celebrations with family and friends. Botox helped too.

THE UNEXPECTED LESSON: I’m still telling myself that age is just a number, but I’ve learned that there is peace that comes with getting older. I might have struggled through this pandemic a little more had it occurred when I was younger. Wisdom = perspective.

3. BECOMING THE PERFECT WIFE: I don’t mean to brag, but I killed it in the wifey department this year. Not only did I launch my own business, I learned to cut The Husband’s hair. Remember that? Click here if you don’t. And if that’s not enough, I became an ace lawn mower. And cooking? I did a load of that too.

THE UNEXPECTED LESSON: Mowing the lawn is incredibly therapeutic. You should try it. It’s all about those straight lines. I will, however, leave the haircutting to a professional. Turns out I didn’t learn much from all those years of chopping off Barbie’s hair. This year also reminded me that I love the home I share with The Husband, and those quiet nights we spent alone here together for weeks on end is something I will always cherish.

4. 31 BOOKS AND COUNTING: After years of spending hours a day typing and editing news and feature stories, my eyeballs were too worn out to focus on one of my favorite past times: reading a good book. That changed this year. In the past nine months, I have read 31 books.

THE UNEXPECTED LESSON: I had forgotten the importance of self-care; the beauty of delving into an interesting story for sheer enjoyment. Books helped ease the boredom of those long days of quarantine and reading for pleasure is something I have enjoyed reconnecting with.


I hope each of you were able to discover and seize some of the beauty of 2020. And I hope we all remember to carry those unexpected lessons into the new year, showing love, kindness and empathy to others.

And when this pandemic is over, I’m going to hug the crap out of my friends, ditch the mask and slather my lips with gloss, then take a beautiful vacation in a faraway land.

Happy New Year!


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