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Emily Ley Blog

Simplifying 2021: Looking Back

December 28, 2020

Simplifying 2021, Looking Back by Emily Ley

Wow. 2020 is coming to a close. What. A. Year. As a whole, we've never been so challenged, so stressed, and so overwhelmed. And yet, dare I say, I've learned so much this year. That's often what happens when we're pushed beyond our comfort zones, isn't it? 

I grew up a lot this year. I turned 37. I became a homeschool teacher. I began to educate myself more about our government, racial injustice, and public health. I openly took a stand for a lot of things this year. I allowed my outsides (specifically in my friend-groups and on the internet) to match my insides. 

And while the rest of 2020 felt hard, that part felt really good. 

Personally, we settled into our home this year in a new way. We've been in Pensacola two years now. And it really feels like home. Like our forever home. We have developed great friendships with other families (even during a pandemic), we've gotten more involved with our church (same sentiment -- pandemic), and we've also gotten involved with a few not-for-profit organizations in our area. Community feels good.

I think I'll always be decorating our home. Tinkering with things, moving furniture this way and that, adding something to a wall and swapping it out. It's just fun -- making a house a home. My Christmas gift from Bryan was new bedroom furniture (ok, Christmas... birthday... Valentine's day... hahah) and I just love it. My friend and our interior designer, Lacy Phillips, did an amazing job helping me select pieces that made that space feel like "our" space -- a quiet spot in our house away from the hustle and bustle of kids and work and everything else.

I purchased my first piece of art this year. A beautiful piece by Theresa Losa -- after we spotted her work at a Serena & Lilly in Atlanta two years ago. It has a special spot in our bedroom.

My kids. Oh my kids. They're big kids now. It happened slowly and quickly during 2020. I feel like we started the year with little ones (well, two little ones, one already big) and now, they're all big. In some ways, what a relief! In others, oh my heart... where did the time go? Last night, the babies (T and C, they'll always be "the babies" to me) came into my bedroom, freshly out of the bath with combed wet hair, in their winter jammies. Tyler was sad because they had to go to bed. Caroline said, "We'll get to play together tomorrow!" And Tyler said, "Yea! I wasn't done playing with you. Let's go to bed." And they scampered off to get into Caroline's bed together and wait for me to come up and say prayers with them. They've slept together nearly every night of 2020. What a precious twin memory. What a soothing thing that must have been for them this year. What a moment in time I'll always remember, kissing two little heads inside a fluffy pink bed, hearing them giggle and laugh under the covers as I tell them to whisper and go to sleep (knowing they won't). 

And Brady. We were told this year, by his teacher, that he is very concerned for others -- having invited another boy (whose friends had all been placed in a different class) to sit with him at lunch and play football on the recess field. Remember, these kids are fully masked at school (which has to make socializing and making friends even harder). But our boy was being an includer. Hang up my hat, I'm done as a parent. That is my hope and prayer for my kids and it is coming true. Be an includer. Look for the lonely kid and draw them in. Ask everyone to sit with you. He is the kindest, smartest, sweetest kid I know. And looking back at this year, I see so much growth from him. So much empathy from a child on the cusp of becoming a preteen. (HOLD ME). 

Bryan and I had a wonderful year as well. He turned 40 in May and we celebrated not with our years-planned trip to London, but with a quiet dinner at home recreating his favorite restaurant (with the help of the actual restaurant itself and some of our close friends) and watching a video made from all of his friends, from all over (I had them send me quick clips of themselves withing him happy birthday!) and Cameos from some of his favorite NFL players. His reaction was priceless (and he used a few choice words, so tell your kids to put earmuffs on if you're watching this with them, haha).

Being quarantined is challenging, as you know, but we found ways to make it fun for the family and for us. At home date nights arguing over what to watch on Netflix, rides in the golf cart, sitting in the Adirondack chairs looking out at the bay. We celebrated twelve years of marriage with a dinner at a favorite local spot with all three of our kids in tow. We wanted them to know that our marriage is something we all should celebrate AND we wanted to take the opportunity to get dressed up, get out of the house, and show them how to behave in a fancy place. October 18, 2020 was one of my favorite memories of the year. A delicious dinner, craft sodas for the kids and wine for mom and dad, desserts for all -- a drawn out experience (thanks to tapas and multiple orders placed as we ate) that is one I'll always cherish.

On the work front, Simplified has never been better. My team has really taken the reigns this year -- allowing me the freedom to oversee the vision of the company, lead our team well, and focus on writing books. I have not one, not two, not three, but four books coming. Yep. Four. I'm so excited just typing those words! Over the next few years, but I am so excited to lean more into my role as an author and content creator -- sharing what I'm learning and loving with all of you. 

Simplified is taking on a new vision for 2021. I'll talk about this more in our "looking forward" post, but in 2020, we felt like Simplified was emerging from its first twelve years into a new look and feel. More on that later, definitely with the first launch. :)

Simplifying life looked a lot different this year than it has in the past. In the past simplifying felt a lot like organizing, decluttering, and prioritizing. This year, it felt a little bit like survival. Choosing what mattered above all else and letting the rest fall to the floor -- even important things. We had to set homeschooling aside some afternoons for our sanity (and opted for rousing games of hide and seek in the backyard instead). I had to let my kids have endless screen time for afternoons in a row so I could meet a book deadline (and they were home from school bc of COVID). I had to cancel a LOT of things. Travel. Dinners. Meetings. Seeing our family. Celebrations. But in the end, what mattered remains... right? Faith. Hope. Love. Looking back, I am grateful for FaceTime. For Zoom. For the ability to drop a warm meal off at a friends house. For socially distanced birthday drive-bys. For incredible, incredible, incredible teachers and staff who literally did the impossible. For children who are resilient. For a job that allowed me flexibility to ebb in and out of wearing nineteen different hats at once. For the Simplified community (the sisterhood group has been the highlight of the internet this year -- such a positive space) as a place to go to for advice, encouragement, and a virtual hug. 

Looking back, 2020 was a lot. It was a lot of bad things. It was a lot of good things. It was a pivotal year for me, for our family, for our company, for our nation, for our world. Looking forward, I hope to take all that I learned and push forward. So onward we go, toward a new day -- a fresh start, a new year. Love you all! Glad you're here. xo

xo,

Emily

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Simplifying 2021 Giveaway by Emily Ley

Simplifying 2021 Giveaway

Enter to win a beautiful framed painting from Simplified's very own Jessa Bray. Enter by midnight EST on December 31, 2020. Winner will be notified in early January. 

Also, my new book, Growing Boldly: Dare to Build a Life You Love releases on February 9! Pre-order here!