Wrapping up 2020: this year’s takeaways

by Susan Mullin

stack of wooden blocks that say "2020" as we start wrapping up 2020

2020 threw many challenges our way. From a global health crisis and racial reckoning to job uncertainty, a chaotic presidential election, and everything in between. The TorchLight team is wrapping up 2020 by reflecting on key takeaways. Also, we are looking ahead to a year with new opportunities and blessings all around.

To start us off, we have our CEO and founder, Heidi Parsont:

Heidi Parsont, CEO and Founder

This has been a tough year for so many people. I remain thankful that family, friends, and colleagues are safe and healthy. Given our current situation, I’m so thankful for the outdoors, even as the weather gets colder.

In August, I started to walk 2-3 miles almost daily.  In addition to improving my health, these walks allow me to connect with people.  Since I can’t see people indoors, I walk with friends 1-2 times/week to keep connected to them. I also walk with my husband 2-3 days/week so that we have time alone. This is rare now given how much the kids are home! On the other days, I walk alone and feel energized and more relaxed.  I am thankful that I started this and want to continue even when my life gets busier again.

I’m also thankful that the vaccine will be available in 2021. The pain and suffering of so many will end. COVID-19 has changed the fabric of our nation in many ways. My hope is that we go into 2021 with more empathy. We are a nation in need of healing. I hope to do my part to help us get there.

Julie Lowe, Chief Culture Officer

2020–the year that will go down in history–has brought many things for me. It’s brought a lockdown, a troubled teen at home, a move to a new state, and a new job for my husband. All of this during a global pandemic. Basically, my world as I knew it was rocked to its core. 

The hardships

Yes, there were many not so great days. Yes, there were a few really good days too. By and large, however, when asked, “How are you?,” the answer was typically not much better than “OK.” That seemed to be the universal answer from most people I know.  Anyone who said “great” was questioned.  Who could be great? Not being great meant that we had to really dig to be stronger than we knew we could be. 

For me, I felt just that. Pre-COVID, I was a pretty strong person. I handled challenging moments as good or better than many. COVID was an animal I hadn’t seen and I feel proud that my family and I did the very best we could under some tough conditions. Don’t get me wrong, on the stroke of midnight of  2020, I will gladly welcome in the new year ready to put this one behind us. 

The opportunities

We do that knowing we survived this year coming out a bit more humble and vulnerable to the uncontrollable things life brings. Also, we are a bit more patient and kind to our neighbors and fellow human beings. We value our health more than ever and deeply love and miss those we may have taken for granted. Americans haven’t seen these kinds of restrictions and have always been able to do as we please. This has been an eye-opening experience for all of us.  Leadership, perseverance, patience, science and, above all, kindness to each other have never been more important. 

Let’s raise a glass to 2021 and not forget how far we have come. My hope is we are forever changed in a positive way to look at life a little differently, appreciate the good things we have in life and be better and stronger because of it all.

Stephanie Ranno, VP of Business Development & Account Management

While every year’s end offers a good time to reflect and reset, this year in particular giving weight and time and space for deep reflection feels critically important.

The Things We Lost:

  • Travel- Vacations postponed, conferences canceled, business summits moved on-line.
  • In-person everything – Birthday and anniversary parties, sports, concerts, weddings, funerals- all the in-person moments of human joy, connection, and loss – were changed in dramatic ways.
  • Physical connection and safety – Hugging friends and family, breathing un-masked, a sense of physical safety, stability and comfort.
  • Businesses and Jobs – With millions still unemployed or underemployed, it’s hard not to see the huge economic inequality in our world.
  • Co-workers, friends, and family– Whether to furlough, lay-off, or death, nearly everyone of us suffered some loss this year.

The Things We Gained:

  • Gratitude – A new perspective for the most important things, like health, family, friends, meaningful work, and community (even if socially-distant).
  • Confidence- That we can do uncomfortable things – like talk about racial inequality and make plans to help dismantle it in our own spheres of influence.
  • Creativity – That we can do things differently – like work or learn remotely- but still be us- maybe even a better “us.”
  • Empathy- For those that are suffering more, juggling more, struggling more; and a deeper well of grace for ourselves and others.

Heather Pederson, Director of Recruiting Operations and Engagement

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has become one of the broadest most diverse social movements of our time and I’m proud to say that our family has been a part of it. It’s changed us for good. As the mother of a Black daughter and an activist for social justice, I’ve been encouraged by all the support, engagement, positive change and dialogue that has happened in 2020. I’m encouraged that humanity is moving towards justice and equality.

Wrapping up 2020: TorchLight's Heather posing with her partner and daughter outside a BLM mural

Julie Rutherford, Marketing Director

I’m certainly thankful for the health and safety of my entire family as the year closes. Along with this gratitude, I’ve stood in awe of the power and fearlessness of women of color and their ability to make change happen more than ever this past year. And an increasing recognition of this power and competence by more and more people in our country.

Kamala Harris, Stacy Abrams, Kizzy Corbett, the African-American women’s voting block and countless others have made and will continue to make a monumental difference in all of our lives. It gives me hope for the immediate and long-term future to see women of color at all levels making important gains and having an impact on our world in such important ways.

Wrapping up 2020: Kamala Harris smiling

Katie Hart, Account Manager

It is stating the obvious to say that this year has kept us physically distant from the ones we love. However, despite the distance, I have talked to family members and loved ones probably more this year than I ever have. Even with the “Zoom fatigue” setting in, it has certainly been a silver lining to chat with family and friends and see their faces–especially my grandmother. I cannot wait to hug them all again and I am grateful for the technology that still allows me to be close to them even from far away.

Samantha Nguyen, Marketing Project Manager

While 2020 was filled with many things we won’t forget, we were able to make some good memories away from this year. Although he is a frontline worker, during the times my husband was home, we got to spend more time doing what we love…..playing board games! Over the last year, we have been able to grow our collection and try new games we normally would not have had the time for.

We were also blessed because my sister-in-law moved in with us for a few months. If it wasn’t for 2020, we would not have gotten this much time together. Thanks to quarantine, we are closer than ever and are optimistic about 2021! We have a big move to California ahead of us and are entering a new chapter of our lives as we add a new member to our family in July.  We have hope for the next year and are choosing to look ahead with optimism, positivity, and love. Wishing you all a safe, happy new year!

Wrapping up 2020: Piles of boardgames on a cube shelf

Gabrielle Gramont, Marketing Specialist

This year has been completely unexpected. I abruptly finished my college career on a random Friday afternoon. Four years came to a sudden end without me even realizing it. The pandemic brought with it a very unsteady and chaotic job market that hit my graduating class especially hard. However, although 2020 has brought a lot of uncertainty and insecurity it also brought with it many good things. I am so incredibly thankful to have found a job with a team that is so supportive. Despite not having the ideal closure to my college experience it made me appreciate the smaller details much more and reminded me not to take things for granted. Even though this year didn’t go as I thought it would, I wouldn’t change the lessons and realizations that came with it.

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