Gratitudes, Revelations and Lessons from 2020

November 24, 2020

As is our tradition this time of year, the Brilliant Ink team would like to share all that we're thankful for. And although 2020 feels more like a year we'd quickly like to forget, it's meaningful to take a moment to reflect on what has inspired us to give thanks.


The pandemic has been a devastating time for everyone – from front-line workers to those directly affected by COVID-19 to everyone else cooped up at home, adjusting to new ways of working, learning and connecting. One bright spot in this mess has been the new value placed on internal communications. 

With a workforce suddenly remote and simultaneously navigating trauma, communicators have stepped up to help organizations connect with their people, navigate the confusion, and regain focus on what matters. I’m thankful to see so many brilliant clients, friends and colleagues in the spotlight – and finally with the seat at the table they’ve long deserved. – Jackie Berg


As hard as it is to have a little one at home while working a full-time job, I feel very grateful for my son. Like all of us, he experienced a lot of "firsts" during the pandemic. He learned how to walk, became a FaceTime pro, and started talking up a storm. 

Throughout this year, no matter how stressful life got, he was there to provide some warm snuggles, sweet giggles and hum along to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (on repeat!). I am so grateful (this year and always!) for him. Keep shining, my sweet boy <3 Lindsay McCleary


This year has felt completely out of my control. And for someone who likes to be in the driver's seat, I was, as the kids say, shook. However, this year has taught me that I may not be able to control a pandemic running rampant around the globe, but I can control myself and how I spend my time. So, I'm grateful for 2020 because it taught (read: forced) me to find a new appreciation for creating space. Space to create, to think, and to appreciate the things (even the smallest things) that bring me joy.

When things eventually go back to “normal,” I don’t want to lose sight of the importance of creating this space for myself or how necessary it is for my mental health. I want to carry this new appreciation to pause, to intentionally choose how I spend my time and to relish the “little things” and the people that bring me joy. Because, as much as it hurts this control-freak, that's all I can do. – Claire Stuart


Above almost everything else this year, I am tremendously grateful to my kids’ teachers, and in fact ALL teachers. In the face of this pandemic, teachers have risen to challenges none of us could have EVER imagined. I’ve witnessed my kids’ teachers seamlessly engage kids in the classroom while incorporating distance learners who have joined on Zoom, all while masked and socially distanced. 

Teachers have lost so much of why they do this job in the first place - they can’t laugh and sing and hug their students, much less stand over their shoulder to help them with a tough task. Yet somehow, my kids have stayed engaged and continue to learn enthusiastically, which is hard enough in “normal” times but a downright miracle these days. Teachers = miracle workers. THANK YOU! – Ann Melinger


Books, books, and more books. I’m grateful for the endless volumes of gorgeous, inspiring writing that’s waiting to be read, and then read again. Being home during the pandemic has re-energized my love for memoir and deepened my appreciation for authors who bravely share their journeys of tragedy, hardship, heartbreak, and perseverance. – Becky Sennett


I’m grateful for this year’s election (and not just because I’m happy with the outcome!) I was able to deepen my understanding of the way our democracy works and, more importantly, I was able to share it with my children. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of ugliness and things that left me feeling frustrated and disillusioned, but I was able to share those feelings with my kids and explain to them that though our country is imperfect, we are still proud to be here and to do our civic duty. – Anna Downing


2020 has been a roller coaster of emotions unlike any I’ve ever experienced. I consider myself to be easy-going and energetic in my everyday life but once I found myself overworked and isolated, I was becoming anxious and lethargic. I even though I must be the only one feeling this way.

Add to that the tensions, discomfort or denial of the rest of the world as they finally woke up to the experiences, injustices, and microaggressions that Black people and people of color face every day, I was floored. Seeing half the world come together for a global reckoning was overwhelmingly exciting. Seeing the other half dismiss, excuse or deny it was so defeating.

Learning to open myself up to my loved ones, friends and colleagues about how I was really feeling, whether it was numb, anxious, lonely, stressed or exhausted didn’t make me less than. Instead, I felt seen, heard and valued. I realized that others were feeling the same way (they’re human too!) and I wasn’t as alone as I thought.

Being vulnerable doesn’t make you weaker, it makes you stronger. Opening yourself up to those close to you requires strength and recognizing that you can only go so far alone. So why not go further together? – Gabriel Galdamez


First off, I've learned so much this year about systemic racism and its devastating long-term effects on our communities of color – a deeper learning that was, for me, so necessary and sadly overdue. I've also learned a lot this year about speaking up, showing up, and pushing for change. 

It may come as no surprise to those who know me that I've received feedback more than once that I should be "patient," I should be "realistic," and that I should be "quiet." (Quiet is not my natural state, and it hasn't been since I was tiny.) Yet, in the world of work, I've always battled with when to speak up, when to push forward and when to wait. And as a communicator and change manager, it's doubly challenging because messaging and rate-of-change are real obstacles to overcome. 

As I've learned more about the systemic racial injustices that show up at home, at work, and in the world, I've also learned about the responsibility I have to be LOUD. I must push forward, speak up, and ask hard questions – especially when I'm in rooms where everyone looks like me. It's my job to live and work with urgency, and I plan to do just that. – Sara Forner Howland


We could all create a mile-long laundry list of the things that went wrong this year. It has been one long and grueling dumpster fire that we’re anxious to put out. From the pandemic to unimaginable racial violence to natural disasters to remote schooling to the most divisive election year most of us have experienced. What a mess. 

But as I look ahead to 2021, my hope is that it wasn’t all for naught. I want to believe that we’re currently living through a tipping point in our country’s history – an awakening that will lead to progress and real change. So instead of forever begrudging 2020, I am grateful for the lessons it taught us and for the spark it lit under us to take action. – Patty Rivas

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Ann Melinger

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