Written by: Judi Snyder, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
It’s not you, it’s me. Many of us remember this famous break-up line that George Costanza used on Seinfeld. Well, I’m borrowing it for my break-up with 2020. I had such high hopes about our relationship. I believed you would be the best year of my life.
Our relationship changed almost instantly, overnight, it seemed. One minute we were having a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner and not two weeks later, I was held hostage at home. What happened? I believed you would be my year in shining armor. What I got was a pile of rusty nails. You definitely misrepresented yourself and now I feel trapped.
I’m disheartened you won’t allow me to hang with my family and friends. In fact, you feel the need to prescribe exactly how and when I should interact with my family and friends. Furthermore, you instigate arguments with my loved ones all the time about politics and masks yet censor any opinions I have in those discussions. You haven’t provided me with the most basic of living necessities, like toilet paper.
You haven’t been as “open” as you promised in your original declaration. When we met, you were a bustling, thriving force that was open to innovation and free enterprise. Now, those very things have become villainized. We never go out to eat at restaurants, shop at local merchants, or go to concerts.
Things we did for enjoyment and diversion from our typical daily stresses, like sports and entertainment, quickly became points of political division followed by name-calling and the canceling of half of America before the game even began. Clearly, you are attempting to shame me with cries of unity when it’s really a demand for compliance to your beliefs with no respect for my opinion.
Since we’ve met, I’ve put on a few pounds due to lack of exercise since you wouldn’t allow me to go to the gym. You have given me no direction on how to maintain good health and a robust immune system. You’ve even asked me to cover my smile, the very thing that once connected us. You’ve threatened to report me if I go to my group religious practice and if I sing too loud. For crying out loud, you wouldn’t even allow me to get my hair done! You’ve strongly suggested I close my business and when I pushed back, you told me to do my business virtually. You claim this is for my health and the greater good of mankind, yet you encourage me to participate in group anger and destruction. I’m confused, and I cannot make sense out of what you mandate?
I know I’m not supposed to compare, but I look around at some of the famous, and I don’t see their relationship with you being held to the same standards. They can open their business, and you support them! They don’t have to stay home and isolate themselves from family and friends, and they don’t have to cover their beautiful smiles and refrain from singing if they don’t want to.
It just feels like you are trying to run my life without discussing how I feel about my personal individuality. I’m not happy. I’ve always thought of myself as an independent woman. When I try and talk things out and share my feelings, I feel gaslighted, like somehow, I imagine that our relationship has drastically changed. You’ve gotten all your media friends to go in on the gaslighting grift, determined to brainwash me, but I warn you, this will never come to be. When we met, you said you loved my independence, and now it seems to threaten you.
So here is how it’s going to go from here on out. You don’t have “dominion” over me. I will take back my personal responsibility and choose what I believe is best for my life. I will never do anything that is immoral or illegal, but I will not succumb to the pressure of those around me if it is not a product of my own conclusion. If you remember, one of the reasons I live here is for FREEDOM of choice. Freedom from tyranny. Freedom to speak my mind without censorship. Freedom to choose what is right for my body, whatever that means, be it food, exercise, masks or no masks, vaccines, or no vaccines, and most importantly, freedom to speak my opinions. You do not have permission to control me.
Breaking up is hard to do. It is not so easy to execute. Sometimes it takes baby steps. The “shoulds” in life never start out big. They begin small and push the boundaries until one day they hit you like a two by four. You think it all happened in an instant, but it has been inching along for years. If 2020 proved anything, it proved this. We believed our liberties were stolen abruptly over a few months in 2020, but the reality is, we were giving them up over the years. We hear contradictory messaging coming from everywhere. Both political parties, media, social media, entertainment, and sports have been methodically massaging the message. And the result is confusion. Kind of sounds like it was systematic, right? A confused mind makes no-decision. Here is the formula: Confusion causes us to retreat. Retreat breeds complacency. Complacency causes indecision. No decision leads to others controlling our path.
Don’t believe me? Consider this…we hear “my body, my choice.” We can have an abortion, but we are not permitted to choose whether we wear a mask or not wear a mask, take a vaccine, or not take the vaccine. I believe the government will not necessarily mandate the vaccine, but all commerce, public transportation and education will mandate under the guise of being a “private company” that has the right to implement policy. “Follow the science” is like running through a maze of thorns. The “science” is split down the middle on many issues. Or is it? Perhaps it is just the censorship that muddies up our information waters. I’ve seen respected award-winning Yale epidemiology professor Harvey Risch, author of more than 325 original research publications, censored and demonized for his educated opinions on the use of hydroxychloroquine.
While we should all be able to agree that for many areas of our life, there can be different opinions based on different scientific studies and our own personal philosophies furthermore, we should be able to openly debate our opinions with mutual respect and acceptance. Unfortunately, 2020 has highlighted the exact opposite! And if you do have an opposing opinion from the mob, you can be censored, harassed, and canceled without proper predicate. This is compounded by government bureaucrats imposing emergency orders that violate our constitutional rights and empowers the government to pick the winners and losers in life. Don’t believe me? Consider the following oxymorons:
Big box stores can open safely, but not local mom & pop stores
Small and medium-sized business owners can be bankrupted by mandatory shutdowns while huge multinational conglomerates become bigger monopolies, with their owners becoming even more wealthy
Protestors can gather in large groups in close proximity, often without masks, but you can’t gather to worship at your local church or synagogue
Elites can go out to dinner in large groups without masks, but common taxpayers cannot
The elites send their kids to private school for in-person learning but keep your local public school closed, forcing you to miss work (if you still have a job or business) to homeschool or take care of your children
Social justice protests are immune to the virus, while political rallies are super-spreaders of the virus
Elites can go to salons for hair services, but common taxpayers cannot
Multiple studies, over the last 30 years, indicate masks aren’t necessary and don’t work for the micron size virus, but masks are now are mandatory
Government employees continue to earn their salaries, even getting raises and benefits during lockdowns while the common taxpayers are forced to government assistance and lose their benefits
Follow the science of one group of scientists but ignore, or worse yet, attack scientists without evidence, no matter how valid the research, support that opinion.
Getting an abortion and buying booze is now considered essential yet celebrating the holidays with family is forbidden.
We pay more and more taxes but have less and less to say about where our money goes. We have “network” and “out of network” physicians for our healthcare that can change in a month. There is no consideration for our continued care with our trusted medical teams or new professionals that have a specific specialty we need now.
The full impact of this outrageous behavior is highlighted by how respected award-winning Yale epidemiology professor Harvey Risch, author of more than 325 original research publications, was censored and demonized for his educated opinions on the use of hydroxychloroquine. Our confusion continues because what we once “knew” is true no longer.
We talk to our BFF on a phone call about getting new tires, and suddenly there are tire ads all over our mobile phones and computer browser. We no longer trust mainstream media news to investigate and keep us informed because news has become entertainment and ratings-driven. Whichever side of the aisle you sit, it should alarm you that you instantly know which “side” of the isle a particular legacy media lean towards. We’ve become intellectually lazy or maybe just too tired and short of time to read a variety of articles and seek out independent journalists (yes, they do still exist) to form our own opinion.
Getting the picture? We are being manipulated, so now what? How do we get back to being “us”? How do we balance being a good, law-abiding citizen AND maintain our individual unique essence while contributing to the growth and innovation of mankind? As we “become retired-ish” in a post-2020 world, we find ourselves having to navigate the normal transitions of defining our new purpose, turning our savings into a retirement paycheck, and planning for health unknowns AND the woke cancel culture of conformity and oppression. It has never been so important to recognize, honor and defend your personal truths.
I’m breaking up with should. I will refuse to surrender my freedom based solely on the mob’s demand for compliance masked through the guise of unity. Don’t we all remember that former lover who proclaimed, “if you really loved me, you would do this for me”! It felt wrong and manipulative then and it feels the same now!
It begins with remembering your top internal values. What are your internal spiritual drivers, the things that you are willing to fall on the sword for? Once you refresh your memory of your values, determine which battles are worth fighting. Travel down the “what if” road. Ask yourself, “what if I do this” and “what if I don’t do this”? What will result in both scenario’s and AM I OKAY with the consequences?
Personally, I’m not a mask person, however I do respect the decision of those who feel more comfortable wearing one. My dad is 86, and he has underlying medical conditions and feels safer if we wear a mask around him. Because I love my dad (and because he suffered through my teen years) I will do whatever makes him feel safe. I choose to wear a mask because my love for him is greater than my disdain for wearing a mask. I wear a mask to the grocery store because it isn’t worth a fight and falling on the sword to run in and pick up a few items. We may not know ahead of time what “feels” right but must be willing to act on our “feelings” when the alarm goes off. We must also be willing to accept the consequences of our choices so choose wisely.
Another way we can minimize our stress is to take an information break. Too much information robs us of our critical thinking skills the same way video games rob our kids of using their imagination. There is a lot of propaganda and misinformation that is designed to keep you confused and paralyzed. It’s ironic that social media has caused us to be more anti-social. If you find you are more unhappy than joyful when you are on social media, then you may want to rethink the amount of time you spend online or canceling your accounts altogether.
Conflict happens when our head is telling us to do something our heart doesn’t want to do. It is our internal alarm that we are departing from our soul. When you find that you are conflicted about anything, take a break, and go commune with nature. Take a walk, pet an animal, or just meditate or pray. Listen to your heart. You’ll get the answer that is right for you.
We can no longer “sleep” through making mindful decisions around our health or avoid uncomfortable political conversations, but we can approach these with integrity and balance the information with our personal values. We all worry about the restrictions we are potentially facing because we already see some of these restrictions put into play around the world. Stop worrying. We are America. We are mavericks and visionaries. We will always find our way to freedom of choice. As new restrictions emerge, so will new businesses. Never underestimate freedom-seeking people of innovation!
Choose your battles wisely and be a critical thinker, not a critical person. Everyone (still) has a right to their opinion. There is no place for ridicule and banishment of your family and friends over a difference of opinion. Recognize that deep down, everyone just wants to be happy and feel safe.
It has never been so challenging to feel safe and secure as it is post-2020. Observing the various current events (contentious politics, Covid 19, masks, vaccines, BLM, riots/protests) and social media behavior over the last year may leave you feeling joyLESS. I’ve struggled myself to find joy amid so much judgment, chaos, and uncertainty about our future. For me, this has been particularly difficult since “relationships” are my number one value.
What I have come to realize is that everyone I know feels the SAME EXACT WAY about the many issues we are forced to confront. They just disagree on HOW to solve the issues. I’m betting the “heart” of your family and friends is love and passion for all people, regardless of politics, race, gender identity, sexual preference, or virus. I believe all judgment and disagreement come from focusing on the “hows” and “whats” it will take to resolve issues.
We are diverse and will never truly agree on the “hows” and “whats,” we have walked different paths, no one right or wrong, as individual and unique as a snowflake. Before we criticize, ridicule, unfriend or estrange from those we love and care about, please take a breath and focus on their heart, the essence of who they are at their core. Focus on WHY we love them, the qualities responsible for our love for them? Focus on the good and positive in the world? I promise if you do this every day, you will find the good and you will neutralize the negativity. One positive thought can neutralize a thousand negative thoughts.
Break up with the viciousness of 2020, the mentality of victimhood, judgment, ridicule, and most of all, break up with “shoulds.” Renew your relationship with freedom of choice, authenticity, compassion, self-confidence, and love—resume date nights with exercise by going to the gym or engaging in your favorite sport. Rediscover your love of optimal health by eating well and building your immune system. Begin a partnership with 2021 by being true to yourself, choosing your battles and being open to new adventures. Happy New Year, Happy New You, may it be your best year ever!
Judi Snyder, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Judi is a retirement and transition coach, helping people nearing or in retirement find purpose, wellness, and financial certainty in their golden years. In 2004, she transitioned from employee to entrepreneur into financial services. Because of her own transition, she understands the unique challenges that come along with creating a new identity and purpose. Judi became a CeFT®, Certified Financial Transitionist®, to further enhance her solutions for those going through financial transition and address the financial aspects of transition. Becoming a CPRC, Certified Professional Retirement Coach, expanded her tool chest to help clients navigate through the non-financial aspects of retirement, such as finding purpose, exploring spirituality, and health and wellness, which are as important as the financial planning yet rarely addressed. Happiness and fulfillment are about more than money.