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How our editors have been finding joy over the last year

Here are some of the things that picked up our spirits, made us smile, and helped us find the joy in each day

Silhouette of a surfer walking on the beach with a beautiful sunset on the water behind him
Image Credits Photo by Vincent Knakal

Here’s to 2021 — possibly the most anticipated New Year since Y2K! And though there’s a lot of 2020 that all of us would rather leave behind and never think of again, truth be told, we also managed to find some good in there, too. Here are some of the things, ranging from silly to serious, that picked up our spirits, made us smile, and — yes — helped us find the joy in each day. We’d love it if you’d share your coping tips with us. Send them to details@ranchandcoast.com.

Shortly after we started staying home in March, my husband and I realized we needed a dose of funny at the end of each day. Channel surfing yielded only mixed results, but then I remembered seeing the boxed set of all 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory on a visit to Warner Bros. Studio in L.A. Soon, help was on the way. Having only ever watched sporadic reruns, it was fun to see the development of the story line about brilliant Caltech scientists who understand the universe but are clueless when it comes to relationships, particularly with women. The writing and acting are spot-on and, even though the series ended in 2019, it’s still the longest running sitcom on television. We watched all 279 episodes on 36 DVDs, and Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, and the others never once failed to make us laugh out loud. Elizabeth Hansen, Travel Editor

Two things high on my to-do list entering 2020 were to quit smoking and to finish a novel I had started. The first was easy. My son came home from college in March because of the coronavirus lockdown and he was giving me such grief I quit cold turkey within a week. It took me a little longer to get going on the writing. I didn’t really start until summer when I realized the virus wasn’t going away and I needed something to focus on other than the election. I’m happy to report I’m now about 20 pages from having a completed draft. Bill Abrams, Contributing Editor

I have always been passionate about reading, which normally means I want to be an avid reader, but most often, my usual daily routine (often dictated by the schedules of my kids) prevents me from tackling my ever-growing “to-read” list. Then, last March, I quickly learned the value of carving out personal time to protect myself from becoming overwhelmed by all the drastic changes happening not only outside my home, but inside it — namely, two kids always home and nearly zero time for myself. It became more important than ever to create my own, new structure to serve my mental health, and that was a golden opportunity to devour all the books I used to say I didn’t have time for. Reading calms, inspires, educates, and provides the ultimate escape — no suitcase required. By mid-December, I had read or listened to 52 books, and I vow never again to use busyness as an excuse to not read. Need a recommendation? Email me at deanna@ranchandcoast.com. Deanna Murphy, Managing Editor

With the exception of a much-needed weekend staycation at the Catamaran in October, I have essentially cooked three meals a day since mid-March. As a result, I have discovered how much I truly love cooking. I find it to be an art form that is therapeutic and calming, and it’s rewarding to know our family is enjoying made-from-scratch nourishment day in and day out. And due to the pandemic, we did not gather with family as we typically do on Thanksgiving, so I successfully cooked my first turkey dinner, complete with all the sides, and gravy that I’m proud to say came pretty darn close to my father’s. Mia Park, Editor-in-Chief

I’m a collector of historical ephemera, but I’m not a hoarder. Still, maintaining an appearance of neatness has always been a challenge. Since I’m more project-oriented than home-directed, in recent years I’ve paid little attention to the house itself. But, COVID-19 altered all that. My priorities sharply changed. In March, I began sorting items in cupboards, on shelves, and in closets in both the house and the garage. Photographs were shared with friends and family or tossed. Everything was thoroughly cleaned. Goodwill was the recipient of many deliveries and the trash can was repeatedly filled to overflowing. I found a couple missing items. Furniture was rearranged. Then my house was tented for treatment of termites, given a beautiful new roof, and an additional rain gutter. Now, nearly everything is in its logical place and my happy residence is a peaceful home. I’m content. Darlene G. Davies, Arts & Culture Editor

For the most part, I escaped relatively unscathed during the pandemic, so I’m not looking for COVID sympathy. After all, how worked up can you get for the guy who gets paid to drive new cars? But that doesn’t mean things weren’t weird in forgettable 2020. During the first couple of weeks of the shutdown, test vehicles vanished. Then they reappeared fully sanitized in the driveway with the key fob in a pouch on the porch. Retrieval was also like a dead drop among felons. On the other hand, with empty roads, testing was a euphoric experience, except for the occasional boy-racer who wanted to see how fast his machine would go. And some of those miscreants discovered that the CHP wasn’t working from home. Brian Douglas, Automotive & Aviation Editor

I have spent the past year sprucing up my home, organizing old photos, and working on fundraisers for nonprofits that have been forced to pivot during the pandemic. I have also tried to stay connected with family and friends, many of whom I haven’t seen for more than a year. Thank goodness for Zoom, email, texts, social media, and good old-fashioned phone calls. Long walks on local beaches, from Coronado to Carlsbad, have been another way to connect, not just with nature but people, from toddlers tentatively dipping their toes in the surf to young lovers wrapped up in each other’s arms. And it is comforting to know that despite these difficult times, there is constancy. We know that the sun will come up in the morning and it will go down in the evening. People all over the world, and here in San Diego, pause each evening to marvel as the sun sets in a brilliant burst of color. I often think of the Robert Browning poem, which ends: “God’s in His heaven, All’s right with the world!” The world doesn’t feel right, but I hope the New Year will provide healing and hope for a better world post-pandemic. Andrea Naversen, Editor-at-Large


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