This week, we took time to look back on the year that was unlike any year any of us have lived before. In our weekly "From the Editor's Desk" column and in our newsletter, we asked Verily readers: “When you look back on the past year, what stands out to you as a memory or change you’d like to hold onto?”

Here are a selection of the reflections women shared with us (note: some reflections have been edited for clarity and brevity). 

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“The connection that I have to nature is much more profound since COVID hit. I feel a need for AT LEAST fifteen minutes a day to recharge.”
– Taylor, St. Petersburg, Florida

“Staying in town! I've decided I'll never be away from home more than two weekends a month. I had no idea how tired these *energizing* excursions were making me.”
– Claire, College Station, Texas

“I'm always ready to love on and help other people; however, I find it hard receiving the love other people choose to give me. Last year though, things got hard, and I had no choice than to let in love and accept the help people gave me. I came to learn that indeed, I'm worthy of love, too, and this is something I choose to hold on to as it's been freeing and has greatly improved my relationships with others.”
– Adebisi, Ibadan, Nigeria

“My family started doing regular HouseParty calls, which was incredible. I have relatives all over the USA, and it was so special having so many of us together every single week. I definitely saw my family more than any other year, when we stuck to the typical Easter and Christmas schedule, and grew so much closer to them. We've even started doing virtual trivia nights!”
– Abby, Okemos, Michigan

“I want to continue making my home a space of beauty and rest—a place I enjoy being, even when I’m not confined to it 24/7.”
– Colleen, Baltimore, Maryland

“When my family decided to stop seeing each other and hugging, it really made us all realize how important we are to each other even more. Even through tension and issues, we are closer than ever.”
– Sabina, Montrose, New York

“Because of the pandemic and shutdowns, I lost two-thirds of my last semester as a college senior. However, I've learned to be grateful for quarantine as it granted me extra time with my family which I wouldn't have had otherwise. …

“I've always had a good relationship with my family members. Whenever I was home from college, though, I worked a lot and didn't take the time to be super present with what was going on at home. With quarantine, though, I was home but not working. I had so much time to visit and be very present with my family members. I am especially grateful for the time with my younger siblings who grew up a lot over my four years at school. I had the chance to really get to know them all over again. Quarantine helped me reconnect with my family and I think it made all of our relationships even better.”
– Annie, Front Royal, Virginia

“I spent a lot more time at home with my family, and it was so nice to get that time together. My siblings and I were homeschooled when we were younger, so we were incredibly close, but as we've grown up and gone to high school and college we haven't spent as much time together. It was nice to get to spend so much time together and strengthen the bonds between us.”
– Isabelle, South Lyon, Michigan

“I'd love to normalize wearing a mask out and about when a person is sick. Originally, the mask discussion centered around care and concern for keeping your neighbor healthy, before we knew it could also help the wearer. Going forward, I think that if we just threw on a mask to run errands when we have a cold or a cough, that would be a small personal inconvenience—a show of courtesy—indicating we care to keep others healthy.”
– Laura, St. Louis, Missouri

“I will definitely be counting this year. Despite transitioning to telework and not being able to see family or hug them when I do see them, I used this year to start my own consulting business! Plus the time at home has made it possible to have a much better work-life balance than I had before which has been great for my health, particularly since I'm also pregnant. I really can't complain!” 
– Christine, Stafford, Virginia

“Because I've had to be more intentional about who I hang out with and how, I've realized that I don't need to make friends with everyone around me. I treasure the good friendships I have and try to deepen those relationships and make new friends with people I really like, but trying to force myself to hang out with people when I don't really enjoy their company isn't helpful or conducive to my happiness.”
– Sophia, San Gabriel, California

“The lunches I spent at home with my husband when we otherwise would not have been together.”
– Bailey Kansas City, Kansas

“Considering my daughter was born in May of 2020, it was actually one of the best years of my life so far, despite Covid-19.” 
– Kristin, Prattville, Alabama

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