Uncategorized, Year in Review

2020 Year in Review: Transformative Beginnings and Trial Endings

This is my fifth year writing a “Year in Review” blog post…

and each year I seem to procrastinate more and more as to when I start writing and scrolling through my haphazardly organized photo roll to reflect on the previous year’s adventures. This year, at least for me felt like January and February were their own season, March (when the pandemic really hit the initial fan) was an entire YEAR on its own, AprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptember kind of all ran togetherthen it was Halloween and boom bam Christmas. What. A. Year…

Oh, and by the way, here are links to my previous “Year in Review” posts:

2019 Year in Review: Transitional Hallway Phases and New Beginnings

2018 Year in Review: Reflections and Revamped Spirits

2017 Year in Review: First Occupational Therapist Job, New Last Name

2016 Year in Review: Reflecting on the End of My Occupational Role as Student and Recharging for New Role as Fiancé and OT Practitioner

Let’s get to it.

JANUARY

One of the two months of 2020 where we can go back to being a little more carefree.

James and I hosted Sarah (aka OT4Lyfe) and her husband Ray at our home for New Years 2020 where they witnessed Mobile, Alabama’s traditional Moon Pie Drop. While James was doctoring, I took Sarah and Ray to visit Biloxi, Mississippi where we met up with my mom and drank Bushwackers and ate seafood YUUMMMMM. My dear friend Anna asked me to be a bridesmaid (Duhhhh she loves me) pictured below (my friend Ashley – not pictured – also asked me to be a bridesmaid). Gravy continued being needy as ever (we love him anyways)! I began a partnership with the one and only Picmonic (totally go check out my blog post review of this learning time saving product by clicking HERE )! I continued working as a freelance media creator for Friendly Shoes (LOVE THEIR SHOES AND THE PEOPLE BEHIND IT). Oh, and I impulsively got my hair chopped off:). ALSO IN JANUARY (NOT PICTURED) I began as an adjunct faculty member at my alma mater’s OT Department and cotaught a 3 hour combined lecture/lab with an emphasis on gerontology and occupational therapy for the Spring semester!

FEBRUARY

Mardi Gras Mambo Mambo Mambo! THE ACTUAL FUNNEST TIME OF THE YEAR. Everybody thinks that New Orleans is The. Mardi. Gras. Place. when in reality Mobile, Alabama is the hometown of Mardi Gras. This was the first time James and I got to celebrate the season in our first home together (still getting used to living in a home literally 5x the size of our first apartment together!!!) and so naturally I felt the urge to create a Mardi Gras decorated tree! We went to two Mardi Gras balls (wore the same dress twice #noshame), ate delicious donuts with my aunt, and took a freezing beach day trip to Dauphin Island. Andddd on this month I hit 10K followers on Instagram yayayyyyy (despite my erratic posting)!!!! Here is a link (click here) to my thoughts on 10k followers (spoiler alert: followers are cool and all but social media is not real life)

MARCH

Otherwise known as the month where all hell broke loose in 2020... This was also the month otherwise known as the world shut down. James pictured on the left literally packed a suitcase due to the possibility of being stuck at the hospital a few days. Who would have guessed his second half of his intern year of medical residency would be during a global pandemic? I unboxed one of my favorite gifts of the year –an OT Objective box– from the lovelies at Purpose Therapy Box (totally check out fellow OT Entrepreneurs Ali and Holly’s shop out and if interested consider using my affiliate code “Shannen10”). To survive the unknowns James and I continued taking several “socially distanced” ***shudders at that phrase*** beach day trips. I enjoyed wine and talks with my friends unbeknownst to me that Zoom would become a frequented vocabulary word in the coming months. I began collecting letters of encouragement for dear isolated and scared persons stuck in the hospital or rehab setting without the comfort of friends and family due to almost immediate and rash (but also necessary) No Visitors Policy. While socialization in person became obsolete, there was an ignited presence online for hope despite unknowns. If I couldn’t feel anymore out of my element in my first experience with teaching at a graduate school level, enter online schooling. Pictured below is my attempts of walking my students through guiding patients in a car transfer lolol via “Zoom University“.

APRIL

Spoiler: did not go to Boston for #AOTA2020 (oh wait, that is because it was cancelled), but did continue forward with hosting my beloved #ABCsofOT OT month visibility challenge on my instagram stories throughout the entire month of April. At the time of writing this blog post we collectively have ~4500 IG posts created by lovely people like you sharing in squares what occupational therapy is to you alphabet style:) ! I loved sharing my letter G for Goal-Writing and Geriatrics where I got to highlight the one and only Mandy Chamberlain’s insanely magnificent ebook duo that literally spells out how to be better a documenting- specifically in the realm of dreaded goal-writing (click here for my blog post review) and promote her Learning Lab (click here for more information and -affiliate- code SHANOT:107). My mom and I spent a dreary but lovely morning gardening to spruce up my front lawn with some color and love.

MAY

I turned 27 and realized there is now officially no turning back. 30 is approaching… ***gasps*** My mom, brother, and grandma came to celebrate with me with a delicious homemade cookie cake made of course by my mom. I wore a sunflower dress given to me by my friend Taelor. My grandma became a coffee cup model – okay, so maybe not quite;) and James surprised me with a bundle of sunflowers and a beach picnic weekeed.

JUNE

June was a difficult month. The racial tension and socially hurting world especially during this month was extremely hard. Although I can never ever know how it felt/feels and can never truly understand, I did quietly learn than month – as I continue to learn today…

June was the pivotal month where I had my first panic attack to the extent that it was not “just feeling anxious” – rather was a full blown could-not-breathe-chest-in-my-throat-vision-darkening panic attack. Thankful in that moment my boss decided for me that I would not work that day and she drove me home. Just some transparencTEA for you all.

On a lighter note, James went deep sea fishing and we found a new local place to eat beignets which brought us full bellies.

*internally cringes for misspelling pinning ceremony

JULY

James and I celebrated the end of his intern year marking his transition to his 2nd year of residency. We also celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary. I literally cannot believe how fast the time goes. There is not a day where I do not thank the Lord for my James. I love him so very dearly!

Also, in this month the pandemic continued and so did the mask lines. I also decided to publicly (but softly) announce my newest project. I am writing a children’s book series called Living Over Labels…so much more to share here but I will keep it brief: series to merge generation gaps; to facilitate and bridge conversations to help children understand what their adult loved one is going through; aims to foster growth, empowerment, and resilience; emphasis on promoting our adult loved ones who have a specific condition to live over the labels of that societal stigma, diagnosis, or condition…

AUGUST

The bridesmaids and I celebrated our little bridey in a quiet town. More beach time. James figured out the best way to switch from nights to days is to use eye masks. We finally ate at Dauphins and mentally kicked ourselves for never eating there before that evening in August.

SEPTEMBER

Wake me up when September ends…. I wrote in my journal “this is far from over“. September was a strange month. I felt afraid more than I felt okay. I feared for my husband. I feared for myself. I feared for the elderly. I feared for my patients. I felt guilt for the few times we did leave the house to eat somewhere in restricted capacity dining, but chose to cautiously go in support of local restaurants and only at places where mask wearing into/out of the building was required and where outdoor / spread out seating was available. My dad took me to Dauphins this month, too. It was awkward when the waitress thought my dad was my date UM NO!!! (I solved this by loudly saying Dad multiple times the rest of the night so there was no further confusion). James and I did not go to a South football game this year, but we did walk just the two of us around the stadium. I also got to visit one of the most beautiful sunflower fields in Alabama, and then the next day was a hurricane which caused a lot of havoc in my city. I opened up a RedBubble shop to raise funds for self-publishing which like everything else that happened in 2020 is a work-in-progress. You can view my RedBubble shop by clicking here.

OCTOBER

October included lots of happier memories especially the two weeks where our county was doing great and we got “downgraded” to wearing surgical masks instead of N95s (spoiler: that was quickly revoked)! James got new boots. He is quite the charmer in a pair of scrubs and boots if I do say so myself!! We finally saw his parents and brother after 8 months of not seeing them. My friend Audrey who is also an OT and I went on a spree where we made a lot of fun Instagram OT-related reels. My college bestie Ashton (who *surprise* is also an OT) asked me to be a bridesmaid! I got to visit and meet the littlest and cutest new member of the family, McCoy Taylor. My therapy coworkers and I dressed up as The Theraband for Halloween (*I am still bitter that I didn’t win the costume contest haha)…. and then on Halloween night James and Gravy dressed up as twins and I was a makeshift skeleton. I created little candy grab and go baskets as a Covid friendly Halloween. Finally, at exactly 12:01am on November 1 it was basically ThanksgivingChristmas so out came Gravy’s new best friend (Mr. Turkey)!

NOVEMBER

November equaled voting, lots of decompressing with my sunshine by the fire, gratefully getting my hair done, more up and down feelings, and then some. As I reflect on this month, I can recall feeling both happy and then very, very sad and I am not ashamed to share this because I believe I am not alone in those feelings. Despite the sad moments, I had a lot of happy, fun moments including laughing to the point of crying in my witnessing of my James in Grinch Pajamas and finding incredible joy in decorating my new dining room table (no we did not actually have people eat at our table due to Covid but that did not stop my decorating). James and I had the honor of hosting our first teeny Thanksgiving outside, spread apart, with plastic silverware and full hearts which is definitely one of my happier 2020 memories. My pies and first ever turkey were a hit:)!!!!

DECEMBER

December came with a fierce need. I have never loved decorating for Christmas more than December 2o2o. Before James started on his ICU rotation where he also took multiple 28 YES-YOU-READ-THAT-RIGHT… twenty-eight hour calls we took a last minute quiet trip once again to a nearby beach town staying our distance from all with exception of the water, sand, and Prosecco. Gravy stepped up as the “man” of the house – jk – while James was out saving lives and such. I continued doing the best I could as a therapist trying to both facilitate improved patient functional outcomes while also trying not to cry everyday at my sadness for their inability to see their family especially during the holiday season. I continued with the trend of 2020 having terribly bad hair days, but did find some success from the skincare routine my dermatologist prescribed for my maskne so that was a small win (PSA: not the type of blogger to offer skincare advice hashtag consult a dermatologist!).

December also is the month that my parents officially divorced which is extremely painful to type out and read and reread, but there is also closure in writing (typing) this out. I recognize I am not the only person with divorced parents, but as an adult yet still their child there is pain and sadness and unknowns in this experience. I do know that this life event and the months preceding this ultimate decision has impacted my emotional capacity to write, to reflect, to move quickly forward with many things including my desire to self-publish my children’s book series (Living Over Labels – see July)… but I also know that this family circumstance will not halt my passions even if in combination with the weight of the world has contributed to slowing down my pace… Anyways, also in December the miracle of Christmas came and with that also came peace and stillness and grace.

At the very end of 2020 I was connected with a fellow OT named Shea who is also a lovely entrepreneur who creates the most beautiful personalized planners ever and eagerly jumped at the opportunity to perhaps get a head start to a more organized 2021 (full blog post to be provided for product review). ***Transpareny: I am an affiliate and have only been using her beautiful planner for < 1 month – therefore, I cannot provide an adequate review yet….but I will!*** Meanwhile, totally check out her site by clicking here and if you desire use code GRATITUDE (for a percentage off:) )… Leading up to my connection with Shea, I decided that my word of the year for 2021 would be Efficacy, so literally this planner could not have come at a better time…

There is a lot that I (we) did not predict would occur in 2020.

But, despite the bad there is still beauty within…

I experienced the highs of doing something new and exciting (adjunct teaching; hosting my first thanksgiving albeit it was outdoors and served on paper plates even though I still set my new beloved beautiful dining room table) with ultimate lows (panic attacks, feelings of apathy and reduced motivation, grieving for my parent’s divorce, grieving for patients and their extreme isolation).

2021, I am not holding you to an expectation you cannot meet.

I am just asking you to be a little gentler to the entire world in comparison to 2020.

With love and kindness (and sadness) and hope,

SHANNEN MARIE OT

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