2021 Moving Forward With Homework and Hope

As a teacher I often give assignments that come in the form of reflections about what was learned, read, experienced in class. I guess this is my homework for an end of the year post. I also think that these questions, after thoughtful moments, open paths to what is to come and what is desired in the coming year. It helps me process what I am working towards.

End your year intentionally (from Nosidebar.com) with these basic questions I found on Facebook. You don’t have to take them too seriously, but they can be a pivot point of conversation with yourself or someone you’d like to share with.

  1. What made this year unforgettable?
  2. What did you enjoy doing this year?
  3. What/who is the one thing/person you were grateful for?
  4. What was your biggest win this year?
  5. What did you read/watch/listen to that made the most impact this year?
  6. What did you worry about most and how did it turn out?
  7. What was your biggest regret and why?
  8. What’s one thing that changed about yourself?
  9. What surprised you the most this year?
  10. If you could go back to last January 1, what suggestions would you give your past self?

My answers

As far as unforgettable years go we often think of those intensely outstanding years where we did amazing things: climbed mountains, swam with whales, saw the Mona Lisa. I agree. When we do cool shit those experience are marked and unforgettable but unforgettable years also come in the form of simple moments moving my soul. Driving through the mountains and taking in the sunset or the sunrise, sending the manuscript of the fourth book to the editor, the coo of a new baby in the family, an evening with siblings. That’s unforgettable.

Enjoyment came in checking off somethings from my most basic bucket list: a river float and a soak in natural hot springs that I had been trying to get to for about two years now. Vacations in a beautiful ‘cabin’ in the mountains that was so much more than a cabin thanks to generous people I had not even met yet. Runs every morning in those mountains. A decade ago a singular bucket list item was to simply run in the mountains because it had never happened. Things keep improving and I am very aware of the trajectory of my blessings. I explored the Okanagan with a human that made the trip easy and fun, full of laughs, relaxation and beer. It was the most Greece I have seen in Canada. I was amazed and grateful.

And with that deep gratitude goes to the people in my life who have committed to sticking with me, supporting me, helping me and loving me no matter how much or little I give them. They are with me because of me, not what I have to offer. I am finally attracting the right people. I am also incredibly grateful for my health. In this pandemic world I have dodged several medical bullets. Amen.

After grappling with Shepherd’s Call for a couple of years I am proud that David and I finally finished it! Some creative endeavors are like a walk in the park. Others are like scaling a mountain. The big win was finishing Shepherd’s Call. We proved that we keep going even when we want to quit because we have committed to the story and we have, as a team, carried each other.

In spite of the restrictions in my world I didn’t really do a lot of sitting still. Reading, watching and listening were second to fresh air, exploring and creativity. However Cold White Sun was a compelling young adult novel that I read for adjudication for the High Planes Book Awards. So. Very. Good. I’m having my freshman read it as a class novel. I binge watched The Handmaid’s Tale. I read the book when I was in University almost three decades ago. The series was disturbing, shocking, frustrating. On the softer side of things Sweetness In the Belly was a beautifully quiet film that surprised me with its understated but engaging story telling. Mighty Oaks and Hollow Coves sang to me.

My worries fell around teaching in a weird and wacky pandemic world. There’s a certain finesse for standing in front of a group of teens and pitching lessons to them. After 24 years it’s one of the things I am pretty good at. Unfortunately this past year was an on again, off again, alternate day, work from home, work from school dodge ball match of education. I didn’t always know where the ball was coming from and sometimes it felt like it hit me straight in the noodle. However, in the end it was okay. Not great, but okay. This experience gave me gratitude for how things used to be.

Big regrets. Je ne regrette rien…

One thing that I changed about myself was committing to a daily list. During the initial lock down in 2020 I made a short list to keep some semblance of sanity while I stayed in my house or walked around the block over and over again. I realized that the boxes I checked, I would do so with a happy task oriented heart. The list has grown. If I were to look back a decade ago I’d find myself floundering to get things done. It’s not like that anymore. Lists are a system I love and a system of love for me.

Big surprises this year came in the addition of a little one to our family. This precious thing is so loveable and has soften each of us incredibly. The optimism of an infant, the hope of a new little human is something pretty precious.

Advice I’d give myself if I went back to January 1, 2021 I’d kindly remind myself that it all matters, big and small. Simultaneously, none of it matters, big or small. Each year holds challenges and gifts. Each year, as long as we get the gift of one more year, is an opportunity to lean into something: learning, compassion, forgiveness, life. Advice: remember that.

We are already a week and a bit into 2022. A bit of a slow roll but no apologies. Just doing my best.

Cheers.

*I found this chair and book in the photo on a walk. Pleasant surprise. It spoke to me.

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