Life Lessons Learned During A Pandemic

For better or worse, 2020 has changed us. For many, this has been an incredibly challenging, transformative, and life-changing year. Looking back, many can attest to lessons learned about resilience, community, health, and courage. We need to hang on to these essential life lessons before returning to whatever new normal awaits us. So, as we prepare to bid 2020 adieu, think for a minute … what life lesson did you learn this year? Residents around Wisconsin and portions of Illinois shed light on the lessons they have learned amid these unprecedented times.

“I learned when I am thinking of someone, call them. Something put them on my mind so I act on that thought. It has gone a long way to deepen my feelings of connection and it brings me joy. And, they are as happy to hear from me as I am to connect with them.”
— Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dawn Crim

“Despite all the challenges we faced in 2020, we still need to fully educate ourselves on the issues that affect us the most.”
— Madison Police Lt. Reggie Patterson

“So many lessons learned in 2020, but I will say the biggest lesson I have learned is to embrace every moment to live, laugh, and love because life and time are so very precious. While we’ve experienced some major losses in 2020, it’s those who’ve left unforgettable legacies that have not only taught us to appreciate the lessons and blessings in our lives but to use them to make use of our lives for something more than ourselves – to be dedicated and committed to Serve, Impact, and Empower others.”
— Yolanda Shelton-Morris, Community Resources Manager at City of Madison.

“2020 was a challenging year.  It showed me what is really important in life. Family and self-care are priorities and not a privilege.  It has also given me an opportunity to cut the noise, pause and do some deep thinking on life, family and community, while I focus on things I care deeply about during my time on this earth. What makes us human is the ability to love and care for each other in the time of global pandemic. This year shows us that no amount of money, fame and power matters when we are all in the same boat trying to survive a pandemic.”
— Yacouba Traore, IT Manager and Personal Trainer

“I’ve learned that who’s in your life is more important than what you do for a living.”
— Phillip Lee, co-owner of The Shop Nail Salon in Madison

“This year came at me with a series of personal changes and global obstacles that seemed impossible to tackle. As 2020 draws to a close, the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is how to adapt without losing myself in the changes. I allowed the world to shape me into a better version of myself without it changing who I am at the core.”
— Jeaneese Ward, Manager of Volunteer and Auxiliary Services at the Urban League of Greater Madison

“To choose hope over despair. The importance of human connectedness and that the Church is not limited to a building or designated space. It is truly where God’s spirit dwells.”
— Annie Weatherby-Flowers, Community Engagement Coordinator, Madison Public Library

“What I’ve learned in 2020 is that I don’t ‘need’ much to function and to appreciate the constraints in my life: God, my wife, my daughters and my dad. Also, physical, mental and spiritual health are critical to survival and it can positively impact others.”
— Eric C. Coleman, Student Services Supervisor, Milwaukee Public Schools

“It’s not necessarily a lesson, but 2020 reaffirmed for me how I must always be ready, willing, and able to pivot in how I do the work and serve Black women especially.  That same thought applied to my personal goals, too. So, 2020 simply showed me that I can create opportunities to thrive even in the midst of a global health pandemic.”
— Sabrina Madison, Founder & Director of Heymiss Progress + Progress Center for Black Women

“I learned in 2020, that hidden in every obstacle in life, is an opportunity. However, it takes wisdom, patience and a little luck for the opportunity to reveal itself. Please don’t get caught looking the other way when that happens!”
— Oscar Mireles, Director of Omega Schools

“In Romans 12, verse 2, it says, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ In other words, if you change the way you think, you can change the way you live.”
— Stanley “Curly” Thompson, chapter president of the Beloit-Rockford Montford Point Marines Association, Chapter 41.