Happy New Year, dear readers!
I have been wanting to write this post for weeks, but I've been unsure about what to say. It's been a very hard two years of trying to survive and navigate a pandemic, with a virus that continues to mutate and spread. My city is currently experiencing another wave of hospitalizations. It's sad and frustrating.
And it's difficult to write about life during a pandemic with the grace and depth that is needed. But I want to try. I'll start by saying that if you or someone you love has suffered an unbearable loss, I'm so sorry. I am sorry if someone you loved passed away from covid or if you or a loved one is suffering from long-haul covid.
Truly, the amount of suffering that we have had to endure is staggering. Words are never enough, and yet, I think it's important to acknowledge the pain and loss.
Against the background of a pandemic, I wanted to talk about goals and achievement. How do we reflect on a year that has passed, a year that brought us vaccines and new variants? Freedom and setbacks? How do we think about life moving forward when so much feels uncertain?
Personally, I think the best way to approach these questions is a both/and approach.
* We can acknowledge our achievements, even if they were modest. Even if they were done under duress.
* We can address with compassion our failures and setbacks.
Frankly, I think if you accomplished any of your goals, it's worth celebrating. Here is my list.
☑ I was a consistent, supportive presence in my students' lives. Like many people, I have had my own emotional and mental health struggles during 2021. I was able to persevere and keep showing up for my students, which I think is the best thing I could have done for them.
☑ We enrolled my son in preschool, and he loves it. It was very difficult for us to find a preschool that had any open spots for new students. We were able to find one in west Austin that was a good match for our family. Having Sammy in preschool benefited our family immensely. It gave him much-needed time with other children and with loving teachers. It gave me time to work out and tutor students; both of those activities helped me feel more like myself.
☑ We finally published an issue of Dook Dook Ferret Magazine. This one requires some backstory. One of my freelance gigs is writing and editing a ferret magazine. The magazine operates under a larger parent company called Ferret-World. I am the science writer for Dook Dook, writing articles about ferret medicine and health. This is one of my favorite gigs, and I've been with the Dook Dook team since 2017.
In 2021, Ferret-World was sold to a new owner. The transition from old to new owner was not a smooth one. The magazine's editorial team was in limbo for several months, but finally in late November, we got the go-ahead from the new owner to put together a new issue. On a wing and a prayer, and with a newly hired designer, we created a beautiful issue that went out on Christmas Day, December 25th. (Our magazine is digital.) I'll share with you the cover just so you can see what an amazing job our designer did:
☑ I learned some new techniques for my eye shadow! This goal may seem frivolous, but makeup is a hobby of mine and I love it. This year I learned how to do all-over-the-lid looks with matte eye shadows in my collection. I had been convinced that matte shadows don't look good on me except in the crease, but I learned how to wear them like a wash of color over the lid. What I realized is that because of the matte (non-light-reflecting) quality, mattes are great for really showing off a beautiful color, which I enjoy.
2021 also contained real disappointments, which I'll share here as well.
FAILURES AND SETBACKS:
☒ I had a number of tutoring sessions that I would call "fails." Failure to connect with the student, failure to work collaboratively on the student's goals, etc. It's not realistic to expect every tutoring session to be awesome, but some of these fails really stung. I think the frustration was mutual.
☒ I had big plans for my "free time" when Sammy was in school. I wanted to read, journal, write, practice yoga, prep meals to help us eat more healthfully...most of that did not happen.
☒ My health worsened in measurable ways. I gained a significant amount of weight, and my blood work indicated my health has decreased. I hesitate to share this information on my professional blog, but I am sharing it for the sake of honesty. Now, I want to be clear that I believe the relationship between weight and health is somewhat murky. I don't believe that thin always means healthy, nor do I believe that fat means unhealthy. But for me, it's clear that weight gain has correlated with not feeling great. It's collateral damage from the pandemic.
☒ I was not always kind and patient with my child. I continue to work on this goal and on forgiving myself for not always being the mother I want to be.
* * *
I encourage you to write your own list of achievements and setbacks. It might help you to put 2021 into perspective, even if you feel like it was a crappy year overall. If you are reading this post, then we can say you survived, even if you are in worse shape (as I am). It's okay if all you did was survive this year. It's okay.
I'm proud of you too.
2022 gives us a chance to start fresh. I wish you all a wonderful New Year and a happy, productive semester. Take care of yourselves!
Photos courtesy of Jackson Eaves (top photo) and Amanda Frank (bottom photo) via unsplash.