The holidays and vacation time provided some much-needed time for me to take a deep breath and regain my equilibrium. I am, by nature, annoyingly chirpy and optimistic. I tend to always look at the bright side and to forget and forgive quickly. It’s pretty annoying to others, I think. But it’s me.

Even my cockeyed optimism was put to the test this past year. I worked hard to hold things together (including keeping a newspaper staff motivated in the light of dramatic drops in advertising thanks to COVID closings). Around late August, I realized that I had forgotten to take any vacation time. Ooops. I know — first-world problems. But I didn’t want to lose the time I’d earned. But there were elections to cover and an office move from Rocky River to Avon Lake to coordinate. The next thing I knew, it was mid-November. So somewhat unwillingly, I took off basically from the second week of November to the first week of January. I have never, except for a maternity leave, taken off such a chunk of time.

About a week into the stay-cation, I noticed that I was starting to relax. I still had a dozen things on my “to-do” lists, but they were “at-home” goals. Decorating. Cleaning. Walking the dogs twice a day. Exercising. Writing out Christmas cards. Planning how to use a recently acquired real estate license — an endeavor undertaken to fulfill a lifelong dream, as well as a way to stay sane during pandemic quarantines.

In the last week of my vacation, I started really thinking about goals once restrictions are lifted. In many ways, it is a reboot of our lives. I don’t think any of us will ever look at life the same way. In my case, I’ve decided to stop whining about never having been to Europe. I love history. I want to experience the London I’ve read about in books from Dickens to JK Rowling. I want to see the great castles of Germany. I want to walk ancient Roman roads in Italy and gawk at the plaster casts of Mt. Vesuvius victims. I want to sit in a café in Paris and sip a super expensive glass of wine.

So I’m going to start re-prioritizing. Do I need a new car? Nope. Do I need to make a dozen trips to Target and not know how I spent $500 in a month of “stuff?” Nope. Do I need a pool membership? Nope. I live near at least three nice beaches.

This time next year, I hope to have at least one trip under my belt. I’m thinking of England next December. That’s my goal. So I have at least one thing from 2020 to be thankful for: the annus horribilis has given me focus. And that’s kind of cool.

Let’s make 2021 our own annus mirabilis, or “marvelous year.”

Contact this reporter at or 440-871-5797.

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