Sidelined, But Not Overcome | Happy New Year, 2021

What a Journey

This time last year, we sat perched at the edge of a new decade. It was an incredibly exciting time. I remember reading blog after blog and hundreds of social media posts that spoke to the idea that 2020 was going to be the year! Many of us recreated our brands, put new ideas into place, and began planning the year-of-all-years for a better self, better relationships, and better businesses. It seemed to be a year for visionaries and prosperity.

I was on that bandwagon, 100 percent. I could feel in my bones the uniqueness and growth that 2020 would bring. I was ready for the investment in life. And everything seemed to be putting itself into place for me to encourage that growth. I felt so strongly about my position in 2020 that I chose my focus word for the year to be WARRIOR. 😬

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1. (especially in former times) a brave or experienced soldier or fighter.
2. (today) frequently used to describe a person who is very strong and doesn’t give up easily

I began 2020 with the following statement:
“As many of you already know, my focus word for 2020 is WARRIOR. I quickly realized that in order to best take the experienced action on the needs of this year and all that it encompasses, I was going to have to simplify. I cannot spread myself too thin and expect to do it well. And here is a little secret about me — I have a difficult time doing something not well. It is an innate part of my personality to either do something well or not do it at all.”

I was ready to embark on some personal and professional changes, and I was ready to fight for every ounce of vision I had for success in both of those categories. I somehow knew that the year would be full of growth, challenge, and strength-building. But, friends! Holy moly. Never in a million years could I have ever understood what 2020 would look like and just how necessary it would be to be that warrior.

Sidelined, But Not Overcome

I turned 40 in March. And it was about a week after that birthday that we were sidelined as a country. We had been watching this insanity unfold across the world. But if you were anything like me, you were struggling to wrap your head around what it all meant and the actuality of what was happening. I took notes from my brilliant and well-read husband, and we pulled our family out of everything and began our at-home quarantine adventure. It was a fearful time for many.

Day-to-day life for each of us changed almost overnight. And it was here that we were asked to be warriors. We became warriors for our families’ well-being, our children’s emotional health, and our personal mental health. We became warriors for the physical health of our communities, neighbors, and schools. We became warriors on a path for new entertainment and adventure. We became warriors for our healthcare workers and first responders. We had to reinvent what life would look like in every single facet of our existence, and the term “new normal” was born.

Hindsight is 2020 😏

Totally cliché, I know. But I couldn’t help myself.

Even today, so many of us feel frustrated, lost, concerned, overwhelmed, fearful, anxious… you fill in the blank. And nobody should be down-playing any of those emotions. But, in spite of those things, we woke up this morning. We are still here, breathing air and enjoying sunshine and rain, and discussing a new year. And that is a defeat of darkness all in itself.

In hindsight, if our hearts and eyes were open long enough, 2020 taught us things we needed to learn: bravery, patience, value, priority, humanity, tolerance, acceptance, faith, love, and perhaps most importantly, hope.

We may have been sidelined, but we have learned. And we have fought for the changes we needed to stay well and stay connected. And we have done darn good work.

Moving Through

I really believed that as we entered 2021, we would be closing the chapter on this pandemic. Yet here we are. That nasty virus is still around. But here’s the thing: We are more capable, more knowledgable, more experienced in our lives. And that creates strength and hope that we didn’t have a year ago. As we close the door on 2020, I hope each of you takes some time to reflect on how the year impacted you. What did you take away from 2020? How did it force you to grow? Where are your greatest challenges today? And how has the past equipped you to take on those challenges?

While we do say goodbye to 2020 with a loud “Hooray!” I also believe the time spent in those trenches deserves a little bit of gratitude, a little thanks for what it has taught us. We are entering 2021 full of hope and looking for joy. The successes of this year will be new successes with deeper value. We have redefined prosperity in such a way that will bless your heart and your home — not just your bank account. We have a new outlook for our families and neighbors that embraces community and gives strength to our children. And we have fought for connections that mean more than a quick coffee break or wine night.

When I chose “warrior” as my focus word last year, I didn’t pay much attention to the “experienced” part of that definition. But that made itself clear.

This year, for 2021, I have chosen my focus word to be CONNECTED.
I am bounding into 2021 with hope, gratitude, and the desire to make deeper roots.

We cannot always choose our circumstances, but we can choose our mindset. I am excited to see how God will move through this year, and I hope you will join me in this excitement. There is strength in numbers, friends. And together, we’ve got it. ❤️

Let’s do this!

With Grit, Grace, and tons of hugs~
Sarah Keenan, Photographer
Westland Farms Studio
Knoxville Boudoir Studio
The Queen and The Key

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meet sarah


I have an affinity to all things light and airy.  I love color, sunshine, romance, and laughter.  I love inspirational quotes, meeting new people, flowers, and the idea of finishing a great book.  My go-to drink is coffee.  My outlet is dance.  And, aallllll of my free time is spent with my crew, including our German Shepherd, Gaia.   

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Hi there!  I am Real Estate Photographer, Sarah Keenan.  Raised in East Tennessee and a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and all that offers runs deep for this gal.  Having worked in photography for over 14 years, I am excited to be back home and working along side folks like you.

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