In the closing days of 2020, I think many of us were looking at the year to come as a time when bad news would cease to exist, and our lives would start to get back to normal — maybe even better than normal.

But we’ve now had a month of being hit with a dose of reality, as we continue to see people suffer from COVID-19, as businesses struggle to survive, and as political divisiveness still rears its ugly head. So, I guess we can all see that our problems didn’t magically disappear when the calendar flipped to a new page.

Even so, I continue to be excited about the new year and the promise it holds. Of course, many challenges remain, but I’ve been feeling a great deal of gratitude in these early days of 2021. Here are a few of the things I’m most thankful for as we head into the new year:

Discovering how productive and creative my team and I can be in this new work-from-home culture: I’ll admit it, I had a tough time transitioning to remote work last spring. I’m a people person and someone who likes to hustle. My typical workday started early and ended late and was filled with in-person meetings and interactions. So, it was hard for me to envision leading Mekky Media and achieving the same level of productivity if I couldn’t see my team and our clients in person. But since we really didn’t have any other choice, I quickly learned to make the most of a Zoom call. We started meeting more regularly and taking time to support each other by sharing personal and business wins and challenges, in addition to the usual client updates. And I planned regular opportunities to come together virtually to focus on team building and wellness (like yoga, mindfulness, meditation and a cooking class). We also stepped up the use of tools such as Slack to stay connected and brainstorm throughout the day. The result? I feel my team has really connected and bonded over the past 10 months and has been more creative than ever — even though we’ve rarely seen each other. We even brought on new staff, and they easily transitioned into our close-knit group. I’m thankful to have learned that we can thrive in this “new normal.” The experience we’ve had will surely impact how we structure our work life when we go back to spending more time in the office.

Being forced to slow down: There were not nearly enough hours for relaxing with family and friends (and sleeping!) in my pre-COVID life. I always knew this was an issue, but I just didn’t know how to fix it as I was working around the clock to build my business. But as the arrival of the pandemic forced us all to cancel just about everything on our calendars, I was left with something I had forgotten existed — free time. At first this made me nervous. I felt I should be doing more, that I must be missing something. But in time, I re-learned how to enjoy a walk with my husband and the dog, watch TV and workout regularly in my garage. Don’t get me wrong, there was still plenty of work, as we were growing the business even during COVID. But with events and my commute on hold, I had time to re-prioritize and focus on myself and the people who are so important to me. This has been a huge, welcome blessing, and I am committed to trying to live this way as much as possible even when busier days resume. n

Growing the business during a pandemic: In the early days of the pandemic, I worried that the agency we had worked so hard to build would suffer during the global slowdown of business. Thankfully, that did not happen. Rather, Mekky Media’s steady growth continued throughout the spring and early summer, and then took off even more. We greatly expanded our client base in 2020 — and even hired more staff to support all the new business. The agency’s success has continued so far this year, with the addition of five new clients in January alone! I’m so proud of my team’s drive, which has led to many client successes and enabled us to grow. I’m also thankful to the new and long-standing clients who recognize the value of the powerful publicity we can provide, especially at this moment in time. I know that many businesses have not fared well in this challenging climate. The success of Mekky Media is not something I take for granted. I vow to work hard in 2021 to continue to be worthy of our clients’ trust and to be able to help even more people and businesses tell their stories.

The opportunity to help businesses and nonprofits when they needed us most: Part of the reason Mekky Media was able to achieve unprecedented growth in 2020 was that we quickly pivoted last March to help our clients as they worked to survive and thrive in the face of COVID-19. We reached out immediately and offered to do everything we could to spread the word about the ways they were meeting the needs of their communities and customers. The attention we gave them paid off, with exposure and media hits, and our clients were grateful. The word spread, and many organizations reached out and asked to partner with us. With each new client we brought on, and with each piece of media coverage we achieved, we all felt so fulfilled in the knowledge that we were helping these businesses and nonprofits stay strong. I’m thankful we can continue to make a difference for our clients as we all wait for the day that we can put COVID behind us.

The first weeks of a new year are always a time that I look back and forward with gratitude. I’m doing that this year more than ever. I bet you, too, see this as a time of reflection, and maybe you can relate to some of what’s on my list. I’d love to hear what else you might add.