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Light Staff: 2020 Silver Linings

As we wrap up an especially challenging year. The Light staff reflects on the moments, activities, and people that made 2020 a little more bearable.


In past years, silver linings could be found by spending time with friends, going on vacation, and visiting family members who you may not have seen in years. As 2020 is coming to an end, we can all agree this year has taken everyone through a whirlwind. With some good and some bad, it is important to see what everyone is thankful for, looking forward to a new year and new beginnings. As we all know, it gets dark earlier as fall and winter progress, and a silver lining I have found this year has been traveling around the city looking at christmas lights. Each house is uniquely lit up with small bulbs of neon lights, and large blow up characters filling yards that illuminate a neighborhood. My favorite past times have been turning up my Christmas music and driving through nearby neighborhoods to look at all the houses decorated roof to pavement with fun and festive holiday decorations. Whether alone or with friends from school, doing this helps take my mind off stressful times and remember what Christmas is all about. Christmas lights help spread holiday cheer no matter where you live. These lights and decorations give a small insight to the family living inside the wonderfully lit up house, helping open up a new level of spirit. Some houses may have a small tree wrapped in a single strand of white lights. Others may have a yard filled with inflatables and their house wrapped in colorful lights, being able to be seen from miles away. Few houses may have no lights at all. Each individual home shares the common love for the holidays no matter what one family may celebrate.


Although this newfound COVID-19 world has brought about some unfortunate new regulations on my high school social life, my silver lining is that I have been able to spend more time with my best friend and dog, Hank. The increased time that I’ve gotten to spend with Hank has really helped our relationship grow stronger. We start off every morning by waking up in my room, traipsing downstairs for breakfast, and then running around the house together to get ready for school. Then after the half day school we take our daily nap together after a quick snack. The rest of our schedule consists of play time, homework/more naps on Hank's part, and more snacks. Spending my quarantine days with Hank has been a treat, and I’m so happy to call him my best friend (even if he doesn’t care).


For me, the biggest silver lining of the pandemic was my dog, a scruffy miniature Schnauzer mix named Zuma. She jumped on my bed every morning with a wagging tail, kept me company during every Google Meet, and was the perfect excuse to explore new parks around Cincinnati. Had it not been for Zuma, I probably would’ve stayed in my bed for the entirety of fourth quarter, but thanks to her, I got outside in the fresh air every day. She even inspired my Pandemic Personal Narrative for Mrs. McKee’s class after she brought a (live) baby bunny infrom our backyard while I was in a class…definitely the most memorable part of AP bio.


The silver lining of my 2020 was getting to spend time with my family. Through quarantine, I was able to grow closer to my siblings and parents, and make memories with them I will treasure forever. My family helped me through all the tough times we fell upon this year and kept me company during isolation. I’m so grateful for them and all the time we were able to spend together.


Cross country was the #1 activity that helped me pull through during the pandemic. It's weird to think about at first, but to me, it makes complete sense. For me specifically, I like routine, and cross country gave me routine! It also gave me a way to exercise while also socializing with girls from different grades. In a different way too, it gave me a chance to get to know the girls specifically in my own grade, given that there were only 13 of us. I'm a little sad now since the season is over, but I'm glad I did cross country, even if it was during a global pandemic.


2020 has no doubt brought many challenges to everyone, including my family and me, but with challenges, there are always silver linings. My family's silver lining is that while we were cooped up in our house for months, we decided to get a kitten, Calvin, in June. He is extremely energetic, playful, sweet, and he loves to explore. Although he was originally supposed to be an indoor cat, he is in love with the outdoors and enjoys climbing trees. Calvin has no doubt spiced up the long and boring days of quarantining and he fits perfectly into our family!


I never liked the summertime as a kid. I hated the way mosquito bites covered my skin like button candy... how my hair stuck to my neck and forehead with sweat. I didn't like dirt! But when the first stay at home order dropped, I didn't have anything else to do. I went outside. And it was marvelous. My family joined a CSA; every Tuesday we'd leave the house with empty canvas bags, returning with fresh greens and eggs, plump tomatoes in jewel tones, and - occasionally - a bag of tiny, sweet strawberries. I spread mulch at the community garden, shoveling it into wheelbarrows before carefully smoothing it across a neat carpet of cardboard, knowing that my muscles would ache the next day but thankful for the hard work. On a trip to our neighborhood plant store, I followed a fat, shabby-looking cat as he weaved between rows of potting soil. Eventually, he gave in to my pursuit and showed me his belly, and I sat on the concrete in the sunshine and pet him until he was bored. I pulled weeds. I picked lettuce. On one memorable occasion, my mom showed me how to trim back the lavender bush in our front yard and my hands smelled like tea for hours afterward. We let our dogs chase each other across a field near our house as we watched them from the top of the hill, our shoes off, our toes in the dirt. I sat in the grass making a chain of flowers, feeling like a kid at summer camp. On the Fourth of July, everyone on our street all found ourselves at the crest of the same hill, watching fireworks light up the distant houses, each of us separate but together. There's a bite to the summer air once it gets dark, I've noticed. The sky glows and the whole world smells sweet and you get goosebumps even though it's hot out. As the weather got cooler, we raked leaves. We planted tulip bulbs and put up Halloween decorations. Then Christmas lights. My mom hung planters full of herbs in the kitchen windows, but our mint plant didn't make it. Its leaves shriveled and sagged, but I offered my room as a place to keep it while we tried to revive it. A few weeks later, several long, green stems have appeared, poking out from in between the stiff, dead ones, reaching towards the light from my window - a beautiful piece of summer, all our own, growing against the odds.


I think it is super easy for many of us to view this year as a time ridden of stress and exhaustion, but I also think it has been a year of growth, lessons valuable for a lifetime, and little moments of happiness. One of these moments of happiness and my silver lining for this year is working at my job. I think this is surprising to me since a lot of the time I hear people nagging about their job and how they hate going into work, but I have been so lucky as to have a job at a local juicery that I love and look forward to every week. I have met the most amazing individuals at work and we have grown a bond that is like a little work family.


Christmas has always been my favorite time of year but with the current circumstances of the world, some activities are not quite the same. Although there have been many things I’ve missed out on, one thing I can still enjoy and experience is making christmas cookies with my family. Making christmas cookies has always been a beloved family tradition in our household and on a usual year we would enjoy the company of aunts, uncles, and cousins to create masterpieces of cookies that would give the contestants on The Great British Baking Show a run for their money. This year my parents, brother and I had to attempt to make these cookies without the help and although they haven’t been quite as exquisite, it has been something I’ve used to distract myself from the current situation we’ve been facing all year. Gathering around the kitchen to help construct, bake, and decorate these christmas cookies has almost been a refuge to me for the past couple of weeks. My family will turn on a christmas movie and enjoy other holiday elements such as eggnog while we make the cookies and it always brings me joy which is especially important in this time of our lives.


2020 has been a challenging year but despite everything, my silver lining has been my friends. In the year of 2020, I met so many people inside and outside of school that truly have helped me get through this challenging time. I met a group of girls over the summer that truly changed my life as they made my summer so memorable. They shined with positivity and joy that truly rubbed off on me and made me a better person. After summer, I came into SUA nervous about meeting people but have truly found a group of girls that bring out the best in me. They made me feel so happy and welcome and I am so happy to be a part of such a supportive sisterhood. 2020 has been a challenge for me but my new friends have truly encouraged and supported me in this hard time and I am truly thankful for them.


It’s easy to say that for me that hardest part about COVID-19 thus far has been being separated from my friends and family. I was very disappointed when my eighth grade year got cut short, and I was unable to see my friends for months. I was worried that for my freshman year it would be the same way, and that we would be unable to meet new people through online school. However, a silver lining for me has been going to school in person rather than online, and being able to meet new people my freshman year. I have made many new friends, and they are what helps me to get through this hard time each day. I am very happy that this semester’s shortened school schedule has allowed me to see my friends’ faces almost every day, and has given me and other freshman some hope for our first year of high school.


When Ohio went into quarantine, I initially was panicked. I thought I had a full bleak and depressing vision for the future months ahead and it no doubt started off quite difficult. Many days were spent curled away in my bed with the damaging light of the computer screen pressed close to my face. My motivation, my energy, and much of my joy was being stripped by many hours of isolation. I was beginning to lose much of what made me, me. I remember one day, many hours into the screen time and social media, I got up simply out of impulse. I don’t know what it was, but I began to look around my depressing dreary abode and was appalled. I began cleaning. As I picked through the pointless piles of random items stored throughout the room, I came across my old sketching book. I have been, for as long as I can remember, an art addict. When I was a young child, I would seize any opportunity to sketch, color, or paint. If it was colorful and expressive, I loved it. I began to look through all the old works that I had conjured up in my little creative mind. This had inspired me to rekindle my once thriving artistic rampage. I begin to form a daily habit of working away at different art projects to keep my brain entertained. It not only improved my talents, but also my mental health. The ability to express myself and my emotions through art was the silver lining that enhanced my 2020.


Although this last year has been difficult for many, there have been a few silver linings for me. My favorite silver lining was having my sister work from home for 7 months. I got to see her every day and share meals, movies, and create new memories. You see, my sister is six years older than me and our lives have always been in a constant state of ebb and flow. While the world seemed dark and scary, we found time to learn to paint, bake, and shared long walks with the our dog. This has been a gift that I fully recognized may not come around again, but I'm glad it did.


If there has been one thing that has helped me through this strange and often stressful year, it has been listening to music and finding new artists. Especially during quarantine but even now with the changed schedule, I have had plenty of time to expand my music tastes and return

to the songs I once loved. Music often allows us to express the feelings that we cannot put into words, and COVID-19 has caused many negative emotions to emerge like fear and anxiety. It can be therapeutic to listen to songwriters reveal that they feel the same way I do. However, music is also a great distraction, and sometimes I just need to blast a One Direction album on my way home from school to forget about that lit essay. My friends and I share songs that remind us of each other, helping us stay connected and find new music. Now it’s time to move on to Christmas classics…


I believe it is safe to say 2020 has been a crazy year for all of us. It may be the most unexpected and tough year our world has faced in many years. Even though these are some of the most difficult times, this is when we need to be the bravest. I have always had this thought in the back of my mind that I remind myself that “asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather the most significant sign of strength.” As humans, we rely on many other influences to keep us happy and content, especially in desperate times of need. We need a furry friend, a shoulder to lean on, or someone to show us the silver linings beneath the dark surface. Within this difficult and strange year, I have found that writing poetry has helped me get through it all. My pen and paper will always be there when I have an idea, if I’m happy, or if I need help. It may sound strange, but especially in a year of uncertainty and contradiction, it is a wonderful thing to make beautiful poetry. It allows me to make a light in a cave, water in a fire, and hope where it may seem hopeless. Being able to express my feelings, my hopes and dreams, my difficulties, or whatever may come to my mind, in a form that can help others understand or relate is something that I will never take for granted. After the year 2020, I think we can all agree, we will never take simplicity for granted and the small details that bring joy in everyday life. For me, writing is one of the simple gifts that is always accessible, and I hope this made others realize something significant that can be easily taken for granted in their own life. Just like me, some may have thought 2020 would be the year where they got everything they wanted. I think now we all know 2020 is the year to appreciate everything we have.


2020 has been an unpredictable year. The vast changes taking place globally have caused anxiety and hardship for everyone. However, some have found a silver lining to help ease their worries. My silver lining is channeling my vulnerability into beauty. During the initial quarantine in March 2020, I decided to pick up a paintbrush. I sat down in front of my canvas and began painting. After about an hour, I finally looked at my phone and noticed how much time had gone by. Could it really have been a whole hour? My brain stayed focused on one thing for an hour? I was so captivated by the image before me that, for a while, I forgot about our world’s harsh realities. This sense of peace that painting brought over me was one that I began cherishing more. From that day forward, I have continued painting and it has brought me satisfaction. Even during 2020, we should all find a little sliver of hope to cling to, even if it’s the small stroke of a paintbrush.


There are three things that helped through the madness of 2020 and their names are Jojo, Lucy, and Chloe. Those three dogs have been a lifeline through the stress of change and the loneliness of quarantine. They had no idea what was going on in the world; all they knew was their family was home all the time and life was good. There was something about their blissful ignorance that helped me be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Well, that and having the small ones on my lap during online classes.

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