The two most comforting times of day for me exist in darkness.

I had to stop and think what day it is when I began to write this. Yes, yes, I know Christmas was yesterday, but what day was that? It has felt like Sunday for a few days now.

Most mornings I wake, turn on my Nespresso and foam some milk and then take my latte to the couch. On a good morning, the sun has yet to brighten the sky. I sit in the dark, my hands cuddling my cup and think. I scroll through the news and when I am ready, I wash my face and dress and then walk out back to my studio.

Evenings, after dinner, I am weary and the anxiety and worry I keep at bay threaten to overwhelm my mind. There is grief there as well. This sadness stretches beyond the global into the personal. My mother and I had a fight, final fight, and though I apologized for my part, she never replied. I alternate between the relief of letting go, of trying to please and, ahhh, at least now you know how things stand, and the sadness of a child who longs for unconditional love, support, tenderness.

I’m learning to give this to myself.

I don’t say this, but Rob knows that with nighttime I tend to turn off. We watch an episode of the “Sopranos” or if it’s Sunday, he turns on football and I watch “The Crown.” Sometimes we read for a bit before bed.

My favorite time of day is when the lights are turned off and if I am lucky, I drift off.

The two most comforting times of day for me exist in darkness.

We all know what 2020 has brought. But even in its deepest and most tragic moments, I feel like layers have been removed with each passing day. At first, the layers were physical as I learned to peel off my gel nail polish. Then my gray roots began to shout. I stopped wearing lip gloss and then eye makeup, until my morning routine included only tinted moisturizer, under eye concealer and light blush.

But, the peeling off of layers quickly morphed into something far deeper.

Covid has been less worrisome to me than the spread of disinformation, judgment and suspicion. When I fall into a dark rabbit hole of sadness, this is what pushes me over the edge.

I am deeply aware of my own mortality in a way that I have not been. Death is a certainty. I don’t want to hasten it, but I am working to feel less frightened of it. Perhaps this is because I do not feel I am putting off what I need to say or want to do. Maybe that is all we can really do with our time?

Life feels sweeter, and even though I cannot remember what day it is most of the time, I treasure moments.

I indulged initially, telling myself I deserved more wine or chocolate. This may be true, but now I am sensing these things do not serve nor soothe me.

Our world has begun to feel more insular, we are cocooning. There have been many house projects; a new deck, my studio, new siding and new door for the garage, a swamp cooler installed and window wells have been redone. Soon our backyard will be dug up and landscaping will begin. There will be new walkways, fence, a fire pit and when spring comes, the trees and perennials will be planted.

Home means something quite different now. We are grateful.

Some people miss travel, and I do as well, but not so much adventure travel. I miss freely jumping on a plane to see our family and the road trips Rob and I enjoy to places like Moab, Crested Butte, Steamboat.

Sometimes I feel exposed and raw, but then I wonder if this is actually more me feeling like me.

In some ways, I’ve had to find my center again after moving too far in one direction or another, but I love the awareness that learning continues despite our age. Unless we have locked in and think we already know it all.

I suspect my mind will continue to expand until my final days, like former contributor Renée Levine. She is on my mind quite often.

With every ache and pain or cough, I initially fear covid, fear being judged or ostracized if I get sick.

I wonder why we are not more compassionate and caring.

Sometimes I wonder what and who we will be when this pandemic ceases to be killing us in the thousands. Will we be able to look upon our neighbors and community members and feel a part of something larger? Or will we put one step in front of the other and continue on a path of selfish individualism?

I believe we are our brother’s keeper.

My inner workings are those of an introvert and the pandemic has served this deep desire for solitude and time to create. I can see how I have let social expectations get in my way. Something tells me I will not let this happen again.

Time is finite and there remains so many things I want to do and learn.

I am a better person when behind the camera, writing or working on a bold painting. Aren’t we all when we allow ourselves to be seen and heard?

2020 has peeled off the fantasy, made it hard for us to hide.

Could it be that this is the substance of life?

Could it be that this is where we can find peace?