Photo / Kacey Musgraves’ Happy & Sad sticker
“I’ve decided to give myself permission to focus on my joy.” So says Beyoncé, reflecting on the year that’s been in a new interview with British Vogue. And Queen B gives great advice.
Ahead of the most contentious (and anxiety-inducing) US election day in history - and y'know, the pandemic - we asked a range of US-based friends to share their own moment of joy from 2020 - whether it’s big or small. We hope it brings a little levity and some hope, and is a reminder of valuing the big picture and the little things.
Delaney Tabron, Los Angeles, California
“I don’t know that I would call it joy but there was a moment in June where I stood on the corner of the street where I live with tears streaming down my face, because I felt hopeful that the goodness of humanity could win above all else. Hundreds of peaceful protestors sat in silence and solidarity in support of the BLM movement. It was so quiet and powerful and I felt that I was witnessing history and the birth of a better, kinder, more inclusive world. We have a lot more work to do but this moment made me hopeful that anything is possible if we stand together.”
Olivia Fleming, New York
“This summer (or, New Zealand winter) I found out I was pregnant. We’d been trying for six months and on that breezy July morning in Los Angeles, unable to sleep with excitement, I crept out of bed and as the sun peeled over the palm trees, I watched the stick turn positive. Like a child waiting patiently to open their presents on Christmas morning, I was full of jitters those first two hours before my husband woke up. It was early, just six weeks, but we decided to tell a few close friends and family—we couldn’t not share our little pot of joy in what has otherwise been a dark year for America. Four weeks later I miscarried. The three weeks of bleeding that followed were painful, exhausting, and frankly just unfair, but unexpectedly, I also found deep joy. A New Yorker in LA for two months, I was in my true happy place: surrounded by the majestic mountains of Santa Monica, the denim blue California Coastline, the fragrant desert in the morning and the crickets at night—thankfully, I was not stuck in my small Brooklyn apartment grieving amongst slabs of concrete. Unable to wear a tampon and loathe to wear a pad, I spent those three weeks floating in the ocean alongside dolphins and the odd visiting pelican. Equal parts restorative, nurturing, nourishing, and cleansing, it was swimming in the pacific ocean—the ocean of my home, just miles apart—that was my salve. In those moments, rolling around underwater, eyes open with the mountains as my backdrop, I felt true freedom and safety. A profound sense of connection to Mother Nature and contentment—she was telling me that as long as we had each other, everything was going to be okay.”
Brandy Fons, Austin, Texas
"Running has fed my soul and mind during the pandemic. It has allowed me the time to focus on my thoughts and body in motion with the world around me. It’s the one hour a day that’s just mine to breathe freely in nature and test my fitness levels in ways I never gave myself the time to do before."
Emma Anderson, New York
“It’s corny but friends have been getting me through. We’ve all been going through this eight month isolation, pandemic and heightened political unrest, so it’s been amazing calling on mates in a really intimate and honest way and having fun together however we can. That, and camping over summer was a really safe and incredible escape on the road. A little taste of freedom and new landscapes after being in our apt for so long. Other things that are amazing right now are the free 15min rapid Covid tests, red wine, being on-set again and biking all summer.”
Chelsea Jade, Los Angeles, California
“After hauling my laundry from the coin-operated dryer in the basement of my building, I throw the clean-scented pile into a new mountain range on my bed, dawdle on dealing with it and then find myself pleased at the remainder of buried warmth I encounter when I finally make my bed. A little joy.”
Celeste Wright, Los Angeles, California
“The best day we’ve had during quarantine was the day Neon’s best picture Oscar for Parasite was delivered to my husband in our backyard by his colleague. It was the only spontaneous and light-filled day of the pandemic. We put on our Oscar night outfits (with slippers instead of heels) and drank champagne. And it made us know one day there will be joy again. (And please let that day be today)”.
Natalie Cantell, New York
“During the first lockdown, my old yoga teacher (from back in my Sydney days) began doing virtual classes via Zoom. The first time I joined, I was almost in tears getting this unexpected glimpse at dozens of familiar faces I used to see around my old neighbourhood — people I've hardly thought about since I moved back to New York four years ago. I was overwhelmed seeing them all, and in such an intimate way. I saw their dogs and cats and kids toddling in and out of frame. I saw inside a little corner of their unmistakably Bondi apartments, with surfboards propped up behind their doors and sun pouring in through stained glass windows. It just made me overwhelmingly happy. For 60 minutes at a time, a few days a week, I would get to travel outside of the nightmare that was unravelling in New York City... and just be back in 2014, in my other home. (Thanks, Andrew, a.k.a. @bad_yogi_retreats.)”
Jaime Ridge, Los Angeles, California
“One of my most joyful moments of 2020 was when I was asked to be the godmother of my beautiful goddaughter Ziggy. It brought tears to my eyes and filled my heart with love.”
Jordan Rondel, Los Angeles, California
“2020 has meant a lot less travel for everyone, which is normally a huge part of my life. I find joy in the fact that I've been able to spend more consecutive time than I have in the past five years with my sister and my boyfriend. Also, being somewhat forced to stay in LA has meant that I've been able to put a very solid effort into setting up a life here and getting my business off the ground. I've managed to make a few friends, set up a cute house and despite everything, executed my goal of launching my cake kits here in the US. I never thought I'd say this, but I am somehow very grateful that travel has been restricted this year. On top of that, the warmth of the Californian sun, my new candle, the flowers on my bedside table, this morning's hot coffee and the last song I added to my playlist, are all small things that bring me joy.”
Mette-Marie Kongsved, Los Angeles, California
“There have honestly been countless small and huge moments of pure, unfiltered joy, this year, which in a way is the most hopeful lesson I have learned. That when the vast majority of the elements in your life that you used to rely on to feel happy, centered, content, are suddenly, and I mean suddenly ripped away from you, I could've never imagined that joy could still spring from such a place. The other day, my boyfriend and I got a (trusted) babysitter to watch our one-year old for three hours on a Saturday and got in the car and drove for an hour to a tree nursery to pick out street trees to plant in front of our house and a few trees for our front yard, too. The feeling of walking around amongst all these gorgeous trees, in all different stages of life, was simultaneously the most grounding and hopeful experience, which I hadn't anticipated. We were both walking around with huge grins on our faces. And, picking the four trees that were going to come home with us was honestly so emotional, which also completely caught me off guard. For a moment in time, there was no pandemic, no horrible US election, none of that - all we were focused on was how beautiful these trees would be by our home and how much joy they would spread, simply by being, for generations to come. Pretty fucking cool.”