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2020's Silver Linings

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Well, THAT wasn't the year we had imagined 12 months ago now, was it? 👀

If for nothing else, 2020 was a year that showed us how to be resilient. And, yes, amidst a global pandemic, the loss of my grandfather due to COVID-19, and more stress and anxiety than I still quite know how to handle we had some incredible Silver Linings.

1. January & February – It’s weird to look back on the earlier months of 2020 and realize those were the last ‘normal’ months we’d have for a while. In February we celebrated Sean’s 33rd birthday with friends at Disney and towards the end of February, Sean and I worked the Orlando Informer Meetup at Universal Orlando. It was the first time I’d really taken notice of something called ‘The Coronavirus’. Already pretty ‘germ savvy’ while at theme parks, we upped our hand sanitation.

It’s tough to look back on those first few months and not cringe, hindsight being 2020 and all. But what I love most about those months is the simplicity of them, and how they’d be the last time we’d travel to a theme park for the rest of the year (and the foreseeable future).

We had no idea what was to come, and that was perhaps the best and the worst of it.

2. March – Before things got too weird with COVID, Kenobi earned the prestigious recognition of #AssholeOfTheWeek on the GSP Assholes Facebook Group that we've been a part of since it began years ago with this gem of a photo:

News of shutdown came right before St. Patrick’s Day, and – right before our annual shave for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and children’s cancer research. Just a week before we were to shave, our event was canceled.

The crucial, life-saving fundraising for these kids that usually pours in over the weeks leading up to our shave slammed to a screeching halt. There would be no Shave Day in March 2020, and that reality, mixed with news about extensive job loss and the loss of lives due to COVID-19, was devastating.

The silver lining here is that, thanks to our team’s hard work from September 2019 to March 2020, we were still able to be our event’s Top Fundraising team with over $19k raised – and we reached our $100,000 raised milestone! In my 10th year volunteering with St. Baldrick’s, I became a Knight Commander of the Bald Table and raised over $10k.

We’d do a virtual shave via Facebook Live in May 2020. With my hair almost long enough to donate again, I would decide to NOT go completely bald until we were able to all shave together again.

What 2021 holds for us here is really a mystery, but Team Live Out Loud will return for our 9th year together as a team and my 11th year with St. Baldrick's. And however much we can raise together, will be a tremendous victory in such difficult times. I’ve said it for so many years – but it has never been truer – every dollar literally counts.

AND! You can join us from anywhere in the world on January 17th for our first fundraiser – the inaugural Live Out Loud VIRTUAL 5k that my sister Stefanie put together for her 31st birthday. You can walk, run, bike, or crawl those 3.1 miles and get the medal to prove it! Prices go up on January 1st – so sign up today!

3. April – With lockdowns still in place in early April, we joined the trend of virtual family visits over Easter Weekend – which also happened to be the same weekend that marked Kellie’s 16th Memorial. My family in New Jersey joined from multiple houses and we played Flip Cup – what was supposed to be an hour or two, turned into many of us hanging out until well past midnight laughing our asses off, making memories, and wondering why we had never thought to do this before a pandemic.

Later that month, we celebrated my dad’s 69th birthday with an impromptu (literally, my sister and I put it together in a couple hours) parade led by our local police department – and filled with a stream of faces we hadn’t seen in the flesh for close to 8 weeks. It was perfect, and an amazing reminder of what – and who – we were working so hard to protect.

4. May – During the last few days of April, we learned my grandfather had COVID, and we lost him on May 5, 2020. Our family was now directly touched by this horrible virus, and I think it’s probably safe to speak for my entire, large New Jersey family when I say we were devastated by his loss. At 86 years young, he still had things to do – and COVID took that from him, and him from us.

I turned 37 and Kenobi turned 2 on May 11th. It was a different birthday this year, and a difficult one at that – but I had a beautiful day outside in our little garden (all I asked for was a new tomato plant, lol) spent with Sean and our pups filled with all my favorites, lots of smiles, and tons to be grateful for as friends near and far helped me to celebrate. Sean also got me my very own copy of Animal Crossing, and, well, I don’t think he’s played the Switch since. 😂

We were also featured in the May/June issue of the Oviedo - Winter Springs Life Magazine for our work with St. Baldricks.

5. June – I celebrated FIVE years with Cisco – which is wild, as it feels like I just started with them yesterday. I joined our PRIDE Employee Resource Organization as the Americas/Global Communications Lead and was also named Editor of the Year for my work on the We Are Cisco Blog. It was a truly full circle moment for this kid who's been writing and telling stories ever since she could hold a pencil. My team also closed out 2020 in being named The Most Admired Employer Brand – again, another full circle moment as I reflected so much throughout the year in how far we have come.

With therapy visits put on hold due to the pandemic, Kimbee and I had to get creative with her hours spent as a therapy dog team in 2020. We participated in virtual events, mailed “pup-grams” to folks in need of a smile, and had coloring book pages made of the girls to virtually share with folks. A highlight for us was being able to join our Zen Dog Therapy Dog Network for outdoor, socially distanced Puppy Parades around local nursing homes and we were even featured on WESH 2 News!

6. July / August – In July, we started to transition Kenobi, out of her “nighttime pen” – and she took to it without much fan fair, unless of course – you ask Kimbee, who was annoyed that her little sister had ‘free roam’ alongside her and randomly woke us up at all hours of the night to inform the family of this annoyance.

Caterpillars were in abundance at my butterfly garden this year, and DIY haircuts really became a thing – and we got quite good at them too! I had plans to do more DIY cuts & colors this year anyway, so – shout out to 2020 for keeping me on task. 😂

And Pop Pop’s story was featured on Anderson 360 – we had no idea, until friends of mine sent a text, “We saw your Pop Pop tonight on CNN!” And, well, there you have it. It was so special to see his memory honored in a such a way.

Keeping with 2020’s chaotic nature, Kenobi gave us a scare with her very first late-night ER visit after a reaction sent her all out of sorts. We were lucky to be sent home with her usual ‘VIP’ treatment of anti-vomiting and diarrheal meds and had our girl back to her normal peppy self a couple days later.

And, after starting to seriously look for new homes, and losing out on 3 with the market being as hot as it was – we decided in late August that we would start the process of selling our first home!

7 – September: After just one day on market, we SOLD our First Home! We thought buying our first home 5 years ago was so ‘adult’ of us – but selling that house sealed our adulthood. 😂 It also required us to really start packing – and looking for our new home.

But, to keep things interesting, and after it was clear that Kenobi decided to start blowing us off and suddenly ‘forgot’ the true meaning of the word “come” – we signed her up with Tara at All Star Dog Training. Kenobi started her month long training on September 24th, as we continued to pack away our things into boxes.

8 – October: Normally our favorite time of year, we skipped on most Halloween activities in 2020 as our closing date loomed. But we celebrated one final birthday – Kimbee's! – on Garden Sage as she turned SIX! I'm still not over how she's 6, but here we are.

We moved out of our first home on October 17th and into our parents’ homes while we waited to find our new home. Oddly, as luck would have it, that very same day a house popped up – and after driving away from Garden Sage for the last time, we went to see what would eventually become our NEW HOME! We had a bid put in the next morning, and after a bidding war (because no home purchase in 2020 came without one of those it seems) – we won!

We picked up Kenobi on October 22nd from All Start Dog Trainers and have been SO IMPRESSED with how far our girl has come in her training! We still have lots to work on in 2021 (fear of bikes/anything with wheels – I am looking at you!) but it is so great to see her confidently rockin' commands left and right. A lot of friends asked if her personality would be/is different and I'm here to report that it is 100% not. She is still our goofy little firecracker, she just now LISTENS on top of that dynamic personality. Yes, it was a difficult decision to ‘send her away’ for training – but, after a few instances of not having her "come" when called, we knew this would be the best for all of us AND the safest for Kenobi. My only regret is that we didn’t do this sooner! It's so great to be able to confidently let her roam off-leash.

While at my parents, she also FINALLY learned how to play Frisbee and has been hooked ever since – it's been a big year for this little pup!

9 – November: I'll just leave this month to: Science, Experts, and “Madame Vice President!”

10. December: We closed on our new home December 7th – and quickly got started making it ours. New paint, deep cleaning, and yard work galore kept us busy just in the first few days. We’re excited about our new neighborhood, that we get to keep being Will & Dana’s neighbors 😂 AND – most of all – that our new home came with a great big backyard for Kimbee & Kenobi.

They’ve spent nearly every day out back, mostly running around, meeting their squirrel neighbors and getting yelled at for eating acorns. By mid-January our new furniture should all arrive, and we’re hoping by end of January to have art on the walls and just about everything the way we want it. Oh! We also now have a pool! So, lots of pool toys were gifted to us this Christmas. 😊

RIP Hedges. 😂

And, to close out the year, I’m excited that – as of this morning – two vaccines have been approved for emergency usage, with others still in clinical trials. This is such GREAT news for a mostly difficult year, one that brings me hope that we’ll be able to protect each other even further from this virus and – while most are aiming to ‘get back to normal’ – well, I’d like to be better than we ever were.

So, with that in mind, I hope that no matter what 2020 was for you, that you find hope to see you through. That, even if they are few and far between, you’re able to spot your Silver Linings.

And, most of all, that you continue to wear your masks, wash your hands, socially distance and be excellent to each other – so, together, this time next year…things are even more hopeful than they are today.

We wish you the happiest, healthiest new year – here's to 2021!

Check out these Videos:

📽 My 1 Second Everyday Video for 2020 (released on 1/1/21, trailer) and 2019.

📽 5 Years on Garden Sage - Memories of our First Home.

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