Issue #7: Lessons from 2021
As we stagger into 2022, this image seems fitting:
But for real, it’s only been a few of weeks into the year, and I’m already feeling like:
It’s way too easy to whine and complain--and there are legitimate reasons to be angry and outraged--but I want to step away from that for a moment and reflect on some positives for a bit. Honestly, that feels like running straight into a raging hurricane to pick a few daisies, but hey, smelling the flowers doesn’t always happen in the most convenient times, right? *laughs nervously*
Here are some lessons learned during the insane year that was 2021:
Rest is important. This one is hard, considering that I am very restless and find it almost impossible to sit still for more than two minutes. I wish I could channel my cats and take naps.
But what helps me slow down? Reading. Posting up on the couch and diving into a great book never fails to help me go offline and feel a sense of calm.
Seek out positive, uplifting, and supportive interactions. Even during lockdowns, Zoom meetings, and quarantines, I managed to find a way to maintain meaningful connections. Don’t get me wrong: some relationships faded or grew strained, unfortunately. But not all. I was able to forge bonds with fellow creators and stay inspired by their motivation. I was able to connect with colleagues, and even catch up with some awesome former students, who made me these adorable cookies:
There is no way I could’ve gotten through the past year without help, support, and encouragement from my friends and family. During these tumultuous and stressful times, these connections buoyed me through the storms.
Celebrate everything: the big wins and even the small (cute) things.
My brother’s dog had puppies, and these tiny, sweet love-muffins are certainly worth celebrating. *Squeals* Okay . . . phew . . . let's get back on track: I made myself a “to do” list, which included smaller chores like “load the dishwasher” and bigger tasks like “respond to 10 emails” or “grade 15 essays.” Either way, at the end of the day, I felt satisfied with what I was able to accomplish.
Creativity--in any form--feeds our spirits. Sometimes, I was NOT in the mood to write. I just felt so drained and unmotivated. It took a while to accept my “drainage,” so to speak. Nevertheless, I tried to do something that gave me an outlet, even if it was singing along with a favorite song or making a cheesy meme. I’ve recently become obsessed with charcuterie boards. My youngest son has also figured out a way to make his own VR headset. His urge to create and problem solve inspires me to develop that part of myself whenever the opportunity arises.
Do I have a resolution for this year? Nah, I won’t add any more pressure on myself. My only goal is to carry the lessons from last year with me to 2022--maybe it will balance the rest of my 2021 baggage.
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This quote captures the recent discussion around people feeling “uncomfortable” about certain stories. Specifically, we (teachers in my district) have been dealing with various book titles being challenged and facing censorship because they explore issues around race, gender, and prejudice of some form. Some don’t like the tension these books create. However, we cannot begin to build a better future--to bring forth justice--without knowing the truth about our country’s past. Can it cause tension? Of course. But we need to lean into that, embrace it, in order to make this world a better place for the next generations.
Recent Reads: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Sapiens is a fascinating examination of human history. Harari’s engaging prose illustrates our complex history much like a narrative, including many images. This book is epic in its scope, and it did take me a little longer to finish because of that. There were parts that were so mind-blowing (like the notion that money and credit is a system based on mutual faith--trust me, the book makes a convincing case) that I had to re-read those pages to make sure I fully absorbed the information. If you like history, anthropology, and economics, you’ll LOVE this book.
Just Mercy is a nonfiction book about Bryan Stevenson’s career as an attorney and his efforts to seek justice for the poor and wrongly condemned. Many people acknowledge that our justice system is flawed, but few understand the extent of the injustices inflicted upon Americans today. There were many moments that horrified me and brought me to tears. Just Mercy reminds me that stories can make us better humans. With that said, we must push back against efforts to censor books like these. Every story matters.
Writing Update: I’m still revising In the Middle of the Sea, completely re-working the opening chapters and several scenes--essentially revamping more than half the book. Honestly, it was a challenge to find my rhythm during the holidays, but I feel like I’ve been able to break through the “sloggy” parts and make progress that I’m happy with. Furthermore, I’ve been sharing pages with my SCBWI critique group. They have given me constructive feedback and encouragement I needed to push through. I am super grateful for them.
Garden Update: After years of bearing one or two fruits a year, our blood orange tree gave us a whopping eight oranges! So exciting! We could definitely use some extra vitamin C these days.
That's all for now, but stay tuned for updates in February. In the meantime, feel free to reach out, share this with friends, and/or comment on this post. :)
Some updates, musings, and sharing of inspirations.