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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Time to Pivot

Dec 30, 2020 09:30AM ● By Trish Ahjel Roberts
2020 is definitely one for the record books. In this one strange year, I wrote three books, fell in love with solo travel and discovered I’m a natural on camera. Sometimes I couldn’t fall asleep and sometimes I didn’t want to get out of bed. I lost my father and my uncle to heart disease and my favorite aunt to COVID-19. Two of my friends were hospitalized with COVID. Between the pandemic, isolation, ongoing police brutality, conspiracy theories and a mind-numbing election, I was beginning to feel like a character in a dystopian movie. 2020 has become my personal definition of bittersweet, like a microcosm of life jampacked into a single year. I learned more about myself in the past year than I have in the past decade.

When I first “sheltered in place,” I bought bottles of Prosecco, packs of vegan sausage and enough sushi rice to feed a small village. The days ran into each other—a perpetual “Blursday.” I canceled my yoga teacher training in Ghana, my vegan retreat in Jamaica, the BookExpo in NYC, a weekend trip to Chicago and a writer’s conference in Alabama. I learned I wouldn’t be able to run the NYC marathon, speak at the Veggie Connection or participate in the Decatur Book Festival. Worst of all, I couldn’t visit my ailing father in Brooklyn. For a while it seemed the sense of loss, chaos and isolation would never end. Then, I got up one morning, stepped on the scale and scared myself straight. I had gained a full 15 pounds in what felt like two weeks.
It was time to pivot.

I dusted myself off and started walking. I made my way back to the gym and hot yoga. I read a lot of books, watched a lot of television and hosted a lot of Zoom events. I donated time and money to social justice, animal activism and political campaigns. I leaned into my Buddhist faith. I journaled. I ran. I hiked. I meditated. I threw up my hands, and I surrendered. I learned to be resilient.

I took old clothes, art and appliances to Goodwill. I taught free yoga classes in the park for other quarantine survivors. I called and texted folks to check on them and mailed an occasional card the old-fashioned way. I learned to be thoughtful.

I found new plant-based recipes. I worked with passion, sometimes forgetting how many hours had passed or what day it was. I started a YouTube channel. I turned my kitchen into an office suite, my living room into a video set, and my closet into a recording studio. I learned to be creative.

My newfound resilience didn’t stop the losses or the pain, but it helped me recover. First, from the senseless murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, among far too many others who lost their lives to the pathology of racialized violence, then from the loss of icons Chadwick Boseman, John Lewis, B. Smith and Bill Withers.

I consoled myself with unapologetic self-care. I burned incense and candles. I diffused lavender and frankincense. I mixed fragrances. I anointed myself with oils and whispered affirmations. I went for massages and treated myself to online shopping. I learned to be forgiving.

There were moments when it seemed like there wouldn’t be a tomorrow. I watched as our delicate democracy was tested and won. I leaned on friends and family. They leaned back. I saw my first year of self-employment come to a close during a global pandemic. I created a sea of accomplishments in a very strange ocean. I learned to be hopeful.
Through all of this, I’ve learned that leaning in to love can calm just about any fear or anxiety, and I unearthed a new joy for living. 2020 was one hell of a year. As much as I appreciate all the lessons, I’d like 2021 to know I’ve had enough school to last a lifetime. It’s time to pivot. ❧

Trish Ahjel Roberts is a self-actualization coach, 5-star author, speaker, happiness expert and founder of Mind-Blowing Happiness LLC. Download her free self-care e-book and learn more at

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