Commissioner’s Message: What Will You Carry Into 2021?

By Kristin Bjorkman Dunn

At times it felt like it would never end.  The year that seemed to span a decade.  Yet here we are at the start of 2021.  Is that a worldwide collective sigh of relief I hear?

Turning the calendar to a fresh page and a new year reminds us of the infinite possibilities that lie ahead.  It brings with it the delight of untapped possibility.  Like the brisk air on a cold winter morning, the newness is invigorating.  What is around the corner for us in 2021?  Hopefully an effective vaccine, gatherings with those we hold dear, and an end to Zoom meetings.

How do you approach the new year?  Do you take stock of where your life journey has led?  Do you sit with pen and paper and jot down a trajectory for the year (and years) ahead?  Do you question if this will be the year you finally grow your own vegetables, take that French class, learn to paint, or explore topics you are passionate about?    Whatever your approach, there is something about a new year that brings energy and a sense of hope.

In this moment of renewal, maybe you will find a unique way to find space for a daily ritual in your life.  Perhaps you will connect with nature.  Idaho is filled with breathtaking scenery where you can treat yourself to the view or go on a hike.  Maybe you will carve out space to pause and to breathe and to be.  Perhaps you look for ways to expand your perspective or commit to slowing down and savoring each moment.  Maybe you will nurture your creative soul.  It could be the year that you decide to be a mentor, check up on someone, and bring encouragement. 

If you are in search for a way to stop work, change gears and connect with others and recharge, you might take inspiration from the Swedes.  The Swedes practice FikaFika is a cake and coffee break which natives insist is something of an art.  Fika refers to the pause – not just to enjoy the food and drink but to savor the moment itself.  It is a social phenomenon, a legitimate reason to set aside a moment for quality time.  Fika can happen at any time, morning as well as evening. And it happens not just once, but twice a day.  It can be savored at home, at work, or in a café.  It can be with colleagues, family, friends, or someone you are trying to get to know.  

Despite all its hardships, 2020 was the year we slowed down, took a breath, and found good in the little moments.  Moving into 2021, I will carry forward some of the moments from 2020 that seemed small, but made us feel big. I am referring to the feel good moments such as a walk in the park, reading more books, playing more board games, and the outpourings of empathy and generosity.  Perhaps one of the dearest of all these moments for me is the time I had with my two teens.  The pandemic brought me, my husband, and our son and daughter to the dining room table. It became our office and schoolroom.  The kids completed their school instruction and my husband and I worked our respective jobs.

When the opportunity came to take a break from this work at the dining room table, our family shared laughs and watched the occasional TikTok from which the inspiration came for a family Olympics that included bowling with toilet paper rolls and slurping food without using our hands.  Sometimes we took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood.  This precious time and connection was a silver lining of living in a pandemic world.  In 2021, I will continue to cherish however many more days the pandemic gifts to me with my two teens.

In addition to this gratitude that I carry forward into 2021, the words of Mahatma Gandhi, speak to me as I greet the new year.  He said, “It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” However you welcome 2021, I hope you find your own space.  May you feel encouraged in the new year even if the landscape looks different than it ever has before.

Growing up, Kristin Bjorkman Dunn lived in several parts of Idaho. She called the towns of Salmon, Burley, and Moscow home. When she was finished with school, Kristin’s first job took her to Coeur d’Alene. Kristin now makes her home in Boise. In her spare time she can be found reading on her back patio, running on the greenbelt, or camping with her family.