2020 A Look Back

2020…ok where we do we even start?

We’ve been through so much. It feels hard to remember what life was like 10 months ago. While the pandemic has created a new normal and shaped so much of 2020, as time slowed down and I had time to reflect I realized so much happened that wasn’t related to the pandemic. As we wrap up the year I wanted to look back at 2020’s challenges, but also the positives and share a little peak ahead at 2021 (…it’s going to be a wild one but in a totally different way!)

2020- The Challenges: This year was the second most difficult period of my life (the first was when I went back to work as a single mom when Juliana was 10 weeks old…only because I got more sleep than in 2014!).

Something I haven’t shared on the blog until now is that Juliana was diagnosed with a relatively severe learning disability in November 2019. The diagnosis was very painful and prompted a move from private to public kindergarten in January so she could have access to the government resources we needed through the school system. When covid-19 hit and school closed, it was a difficult situation. I felt particularly ill equipped to teach her given needs. I was SO scared about the gap getting wider, especially when I had seen it start to close between January and March with the help of the public school resources.

The other challenge with Juliana’s education was my new job with Kraft Heinz. I started in December 2019, so 2020 was the ‘onboarding’ year. I knew it was going to be a challenging role but things got crazy once covid came and we all stocked up on groceries. Add to that restaurant closures and you have a very unusual impact to the grocery industry. Things. were. CRAZY. It was a mad rush to get food containers to the island and the demand for groceries was so high it impacted the food supply chain for the rest of the year. It became a 7 days a week job. Sometimes I look back now and I’m not sure how I made it LOL.

I struggled to balance Juliana’s needs with the needs of the job. It took lots of trial and error, time blocking, understanding her learning style and using the resources available to stay afloat. It was the wild wild west as we tried to figure it out, let’s just say that! By May the stress got to a point that one day when tying my shoes, my hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t tie my laces.

Summer provided a break from school that helped a lot. Where things got really challenging was when online learning, i.e. ‘iPad School’ started up in August. Oh my gosh. And we’ll leave that at that. 😊

But I know that despite how hard my situation was I was lucky. I have friends who lost their jobs in the pandemic. I know people that were not able to physically go to their jobs due to having children at home. As hard as it was, I was so fortunate to be in the grocery industry and have a role where I am able to work from home. And as difficult as the last 10 months were, I am trying to be thankful for the challenges in the sense that they have 100% made me stronger than I was before.

2020- The Positives: Ok this the good part I have been excited to share! There were a lot of positives in 2020 that were unrelated to the pandemic. I met my life partner, closed on a condo (my first property in Hawaii!), my career at Kraft Heinz took off, and I got to the root of Juliana’s learning disability. These were all such big things (especially the first and last) and they all happened in 2020.

Love: Keith and I met in June and have been pretty much inseparable since then. I love him so much and am so blessed to have him by my side to do life with. He makes me so happy. I feel spoiled to live with him everyday and make family with him and Juliana. I did a whole post on me and Keith including the questions you guys asked, which you can check out here.

Home: I knew last year I wanted to purchase a home, but I had a new motivation in February when I realized the school Juliana was going to was helping her and wanted to get something in the district to keep her there. I went into escrow on the condo in February and closed in March. I did an update on the condo here. It was a very exciting thing! What I didn’t know was that I would meet Keith soon after and we would be living together before the end of the year. Just earlier this month we moved in with Keith to his home. He lives in a neighborhood, which was been great for Juliana to ride her bike and play with the other children. While I bought a place in 2020, I found home in Hawaii. Some days I still can’t believe I get to live and raise Juliana here but I am thankful every day.

Career: As wild as it was, 2020 has been the best year of my career. It was the year I learned the most and grew the most. It was by far the hardest year, but the challenges I faced taught me I am capable of so much more than I thought. There’s a saying at Orangetheory, ‘the body achieves what the mind believes’ and I think that’s true for our careers too. One of the unexpected things that came from the pandemic was a new level of purpose. When things shut down in March, in stock levels at grocery stores started to run low. I was worried about Hawaii because of the ‘water time’ it takes to get a container ship here and worked with Kraft leadership to make Hawaii orders a priority. My purpose became helping feed the community and keep food on shelf. (Disclaimer: way too many coffee beans were roasted in the process 😉 )

Juliana: My little lady grew a LOT this year! And I discovered something we have been able to treat and has made a huge change for her. As mentioned, we went into the year with some developmental and learning challenges. One of the pandemic’s blessings in disguise was that working with her every day, I got to know her abilities and challenges on a new level. In addition to struggling to retain what she learned, I noticed she was also struggling to focus. My thought was if I could improve her focus, that would in turn support her learning so I had her pediatrician refer me to a specialist to see what could be done. After a few appointments, the specialist referred her for a sleep study. The results came back that Juliana has a severe form of obstructive sleep apnea. The specialist believed that because her brain and body were not getting enough rest, this was causing a lot of the issues with her learning and focus. He got her on a nighttime CPAP machine, which she has been using for 6 months now. After a month, I started to notice changes. The big one but hard to explain is that Juliana’s brain came ‘alive’ on another level. She started thinking in new ways and asking different kinds of questions. The other big change was her ability to process and retain information. She started making gains over the Summer and big gains once the school year started. Despite the craziness and stress of online learning, we were able to close a big part of the ‘gap’. She went from almost two years behind to 6 months…and you guys, she’s reading! I still want to cry sometimes when she reads her little books to me because there was a point last year I worried if we would ever get here.

Just the breakthrough with Juliana would have been enough to make 2020 for me. But I was also blessed with Keith, a job I am passionate about and a place to call our own. While the pandemic shaped the year, it did not define 2020 for me. There were too many blessings.

2021- Looking ahead: All this being said I am SO EXCITED for 2021 to be here! I feel in many ways 2020 was setting the stage for good things to come.

So what are my goals, wishes and dreams for the New Year? Read on to find out! 😊

Family: Keith and I have talked about adding to our family in the New Year. I’ve always wanted Juliana to have a sibling and I know Keith will be an amazing dad because he is already wonderful in that role with Juliana.

Home: We are going to build a home! Ok sort of 😉. There is a new development Keith and I would like to purchase a home in. Because of how tight housing is here, there is a ‘housing lottery’ for each phase of new homes as they are released, so we will be putting in for the lottery. We may get lucky and get it in on an early phase or we may have to wait, but because the development is so big we should be in a good spot as long as we keep trying. I can’t wait to pick out the floor plan, materials and design for our forever home. I think the other thing I am so excited about is making this the place we raise our kids and putting down roots in the new community. I moved around as a child and young adult and I am at a place in my life where I am ready to settle down in a home we’ll be at for the long haul.

Career: 2020 brought new meaning to my role but it made me think about my purpose into 2021 too. One of the things you’ll notice if you come to Hawaii is how much more expensive groceries are. There’s a lot of factors for this (including freight to Hawaii), but something I want to accomplish in 2020 is making the most necessary Kraft Heinz products more affordable for everyone here. It’ll be a challenge, but it’s a goal I’m going to add to the corporate objectives and has given me a renewed sense of purpose going into the New Year.

Whew that’s longer than I meant to write! We are going over to Keith’s brother’s for a bit to celebrate New Year’s Eve with him and his family. I hope that however you are celebrating, you have a safe and Happy New Year. I can’t wait to see where this new page takes us.

…2021 Let’s do this!!

Love always,


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