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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The pandemic year came with anxiety, fear, isolation, sadness and frustration. But we are close to making it to the other side.

  • In the second installment of our COVID reflections project, we wanted to know how you survived — what brought you light and joy during a dark and difficult year.

What we learned: Your answers were filled with love, resilience and ingenuity.

Many of you mentioned loved ones, near and far.

  • "I was diagnosed with cancer the same week Colorado started shutting down and my workplace sent us to work from home. If it wasn't for my partner and his caring and cautious spirit, I wouldn't have gotten through this past year." — Jovanka
  • "Weekly Zoom meetings with my family in Oregon, California and Pennsylvania. The best part is that the younger generation is getting to know relatives much better." — Loretta

Getting outside and exercising also helped so many.

  • "I walk for an hour every morning ... getting out and experiencing the natural world and sunshine has changed my life." — Lynn
  • "Peloton helped me survive!" — Jeff
    • John Frank's take: Peloton has kicked my butt.

Some of you challenged yourself to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby.

  • "Estoy aprendiendo español! For the past year, I have spent a minimum of 30 minutes every morning studying Spanish on Duolingo!" — Austin
  • "I got into playing pickleball. As a tennis player it's an easy game to learn, but it turns out to be surprisingly challenging to get good at it." — Joe

And a few of you have really taken to working from home:

  • "I love it and have no plans to return to the office on a full-time basis. My workspace is better than any office I have ever worked in." — Jim
  • "I'm just so excited to have had no need to wear a bra for the past year. It's the longest I've gone without a bra since I started wearing one, and it's going to be the worst thing — yes, even worse than the traffic — about returning to the office." — Dee
    • My thought bubble: Amen to that, sister.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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Go deeper

Golfer Bryson DeChambeau will miss Olympics after testing positive for COVID

Bryson DeChambeau of the United States on the 18th tee during Day Two of the 149th Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club on July 16 in Sandwich, England. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Golfer Bryson DeChambeau has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the Tokyo Olympic Games, USA Golf announced late Saturday.

What's happening: "Patrick Reed will replace DeChambeau and is undergoing the requisite testing protocol" Sunday and Monday before his expected departure for Japan, per a USA Golf statement.

In photos: Scenes from some of the worst fires raging in the U.S.

A home explodes into flames as the Dixie Fire rips through the Indian Falls neighborhood of unincorporated Plumas County, California, on July 24. The blaze started near the origin of the deadly 2018 Camp Fire and has churned burned over 185,000 acres. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Out-of-state crews went to Montana to tackle a wildfire that wounded five firefighters as Australia sent a large air tanker to help Californian firefighting efforts, as 88 large blazes raged in the U.S. Saturday.

The big picture: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) tweeted his thanks to Utah and California for sending crews over the weekend, as the two states battle their own blazes. The Australian tanker arrived in Calif., this week, where Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) proclaimed a state of emergency for four northern counties Friday.

Updated 4 hours ago - Sports

Swimmer Chase Kalisz first American to win Tokyo Olympics gold medal

Chase Kalisz of Team United States celebrates after winning the Men's 400m Individual Medley Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Swimmer Chase Kalisz has become the first Team United States Olympian to win gold at the Tokyo Games.

The big picture: The Rio 2016 silver medalist's winning time in the men's 400 meters Individual Medley Final was 4 minutes 9.42 seconds. His teammate Jay Litherland took silver, .86 seconds behind him. Moments later, Kieran Smith grabbed a third medal for the U.S. when he won bronze in the 400-meter freestyle.

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.