What we achieve from what we go away behind in 2021
I think we can safely say that we are all ready to leave 2020 behind. But how can we?
We are changed. We see the world differently. We see our friends and family differently. We have seen our way of life come to a grinding halt. We literally went through a horror movie where a pandemic is killing millions of people and scientists have to rush to find a cure.
That is a lot. Most of us haven’t even really processed this year yet, so the idea of jumping into 2021 with New Year’s resolutions might feel a strain. It does it for me.
But something I’ve been thinking about is not what I want to do in 2021. Instead, my question is: what do I want to leave in 2020?
Emily Blanchard of EmilyEveryDay is one of my favorite home design bloggers and Instagrammers based in Rhode Island. As someone who might be a little proud of my 4,132 followers, Blanchard has over 40,000 and she truly is a brand influencer.
She shares beautiful photos of her Warwick apartment, usually with calming whites and grays mixed in with a little nautical. She gives her personality a glimpse of what’s going on in her life, what she’s buying and what trends she loves.
Her popularity as a home design influencer resulted in her work being shared in top outlets like HGTV and Nate Berkus. She was named Best New Voice for three years by Domino Magazine and Rhode Island Monthly Best Lifestyle Blogger.
Home design became Blanchard’s brand and full time employment. Companies reached out to her to showcase their products for her on her Instagram page and blog.
And guess what she’s leaving behind in 2020 – her home.
“I realized that life is not about what we have, but about memories,” said Blanchard in her now empty apartment on the day she left to begin a new adventure in a van.
That’s right, this decor and style influencer who has built her entire brand around the house is now doing without one. She joins the “van life” movement.
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“It feels like a natural evolution,” she said as her new pup Theo examined my delicious shoes. “My love of interior design is about finding beauty, and that’s what I want to find while traveling and seeing more of the world.”
Those who join the van life usually commit to living all day in a van that has been reconfigured much like an RV. Blanchard’s converted Dodge ProMaster is insulated and wired for power. It has a bed, sink, cupboards, shower adapter and portable toilet.
“I can’t wait to open my back doors and only see mountains,” she said.
Blanchard had a difficult year 2020. Her mother died suddenly and they had a very difficult separation. In discussing these changes, she explained that her choice is not just about leaving a place behind, but also about leaving behind what did not serve her.
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“As I went through my mom’s stuff, I realized that we spend our lives collecting and then it’s thrown away,” she said. “Why would I want dishes that my mother keeps in her attic only to be kept in mine?”
One of the things Blanchard loved about her mother’s house was sticky notes her mother had scribbled on, often with quotes or prayers. She framed one and it’s hanging in her van.
Her mother had written a quote from George Bernard Shaw that reads: “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. “
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While most of us cannot literally leave it all behind in 2020, there is a lot to consider in our own lives on Blanchard’s new journey.
Maybe there are physical aspects that we need to leave behind. Maybe it’s our room and how much stuff is in there. But it can also be our choice. As we show ourselves for the day. Our beliefs that hold us back. All the negative and limiting narratives that keep playing in our head.
I’m not good enough to do X I don’t have time to do Y. People would laugh if I tried Z.
Because if we have learned something in this difficult year, life is short and precious. Let us boldly fill 2021 with what is good for our soul and leave in 2020 what is holding us back.
Vanessa Lillie is a writer who lives in Providence with her husband and young son. She writes a weekly diary for the Providence Journal. Staff author G. Wayne Miller curates the diary.