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At the beginning of 2020, my word for the year was clarity. You know, like 20/20 vision --- clarity? That word quickly blurred into the Covid chaos that ensued in March.

My new word for 2020 became relentless.

Let’s circle back to clarity later.

We felt the relentless responsibility to keep our staff, family and customers safe.

Relentless daily decision making with inadequate information became the new norm as we stumbled our way forward in unknown territory.

Revisioning our business for survival jacked up the pressure a few notches.

Our cycle became work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. For most of 2020.

But was 2020 all bad? No, definitely not. In fact, I am so grateful.

I can honestly say 2020 was not my worst year ever.

I would say that 2020 was “brutiful” --- a word merging brutal and beautiful coined by author Glennon Doyle.

Isn’t that what most of life is? It is beautiful and brutal all at the same time. If we’re open to living within that paradox, we grow in the best possible ways.

Said another way, Father Richard Rohr reminds me that life’s greatest teachers are love and loss.

In this “brutiful” life of love and loss, hope glimmers. That’s where clarity returns.

I wrote about hope a year ago on my blog. It seems I need an annual reminder about hope.

As Brene Brown writes in Daring Greatly, page 239, “hope is a function of struggle. “

Ms. Brown goes on to point out that “hope isn’t an emotion; it’s a way of thinking, a cognitive process”. C.R. Snyder’s research on hope says that hope is a “thought process” — when we can set goals, figure out how to achieve them, develop a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work out, and we believe in ourselves — we find hope! (Brown, Brene, Daring Greatly, New York, NY, Random House, 2012).

The surprising thing? Hope is learned! We will probably need Plans B through Z in case Plan A doesn’t work out 2021, but we have agency to make it happen.

So I’m taking 2020’s relentlessness and making it better in 2021.

I’m relentlessly hopeful for 2021. I hold relentless hope in this paradoxical life of joy and lament, laughter and tears, of love and loss.

Call me crazy, but I think hope the only path to clarity when we strip everything else away. It’s what remains for us to do when all else fades.

Paradoxically, hope invites us to remember tumultuous seasons AND manifest a better way forward.

Relentless hope will take grit, resilience and creativity.

I’m a work in progress on this whole thing and want to know, “what gives you hope?” Share in the comments below.

As Sarah Bessey says in her January 1, 2021 free Field Notes post:

“May 2021 bring you goodness and courage, hope and love, resilience and a hand to hold even on the nights with no stars.”


Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash


  • So well said, Melanie. It’s like you took all my same thoughts and experiences and expressed them with much more elegance. I’ve been unsuccessful in coming up with my word for 2021 – my 2020 word was “present” but that only really lasted the first 10 weeks into the year. Here’s hoping we never have another year this brutal but continue to savour the beautiful…

    Carmen Hamm
  • Children. Children inspire hope in me. They are resilient in ways that we – as adults – have often forgotten. They laugh and cry easily and without filter. They forgive and move on. They take their bumps and bruises and forge ahead – with a determination and perseverance that I can access too.

  • Great post!!

    Donna Fenton

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