This morning, I emerged from the fog of 2020 into the promise of 2021 and found myself here, back on my blog. After quite a long hiatus (let’s say… 7 months?).
I just said “Happy New Year” to E and he said, “Yay!” then “Well, not exactly yay.” And I know what he means, even though he was distracted and couldn’t elaborate on what he meant by that. Kids are good at boiling things down and not even knowing why.
While I do not mean for this to be a retrospective (because who wants to relive 2020), it was pretty uniquely terrible. Living through a time of so much suffering, so much loss, so much dangerous and distressing political drama… A time of little to no child care while work doesn’t stop. A time of fear and guilt and blame over whom we see and don’t see. And all of this while we are relatively fine, in our safe bubble of privilege, ability to work and do school from home, good health care, etc.
The “not exactly yay” part comes from the fact that we’re still in the middle of it.
And here’s a big giant however: HOWEVER, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it makes a huge mf-ing difference.
My kids recently went back to listening to Circle Round, a charming WBEZ storytelling podcast. They listened to it constantly last March/April/May, which, for me, was the worst part of 2020. There was so much we didn’t know and it felt like it could be YEARS of lockdown. Plus work got really busy, my kids had almost nothing to do, and every day was a marathon of competing needs.
Now, when the sweet theme song of Circle Round comes on, I have mild to moderate PTSD.
Back then, we didn’t know much about the disease, we didn’t know if Trump would be re-elected (and/or stage a coup or some other alarming nonsense), we didn’t know how long the vaccine would take.
Now a new presidential administration is coming in (not a minute too soon), people are already getting vaccinated, and masks work. We have every right to be hopeful about the coming year! (and yes I intentionally wrote this before getting hit with a ‘2021 already sucks’ post somewhere online this morning)
We have so much grieving to do. 300k+ people didn’t survive, more are still sick or long-haulers. The pandemic has more fully exposed so many weaknesses in our society, primarily the racism embedded in our systems of education, healthcare, criminal “justice,” extreme poverty… there’s so much work to be done.
But, if you’re reading this, you did survive, and we can look ahead. And get to work on healing.
We learned a lot in survival mode. I know that the minute I have full-time child care again and/or both kids out of the house for any length of time, I can move mountains. I can accomplish great things. I can be incredibly focused and productive and still have time leftover for dishes and meditation and a run. And we’re getting closer to that moment, but we’re not there yet.
As the clock struck midnight, I’d been asleep for two hours already. But I did some chicken scratches earlier in the day about my intentions for the coming year. And I have too many. I’m craving newness like never before. It’s a lot of typical stuff about exercise and drinking water and reading audiobooks.
But the main one that is relevant here is that I wrote down something like “free my voice.” During this time of not seeing people, and not finding much time to talk on the phone, my main social outlet has been social media. And I have kind of a constrained voice on social media. I appreciate it very much as a passive consumer as I keep updated on other people’s news. But my shares are limited and don’t contain much content. In short, for the first time in my adult life, I haven’t been writing.
I’m also an extrovert. Fortunately, I have two little humans who give me lots of interpersonal connection and bodily contact. I also am on the phone all day with talented and smart co-workers. And we Facetime a lot with family. But I MISS MY FRIENDS. I miss making new friends. I miss developing friendships. All my friend timelines of who called last and how long ago are broken. I’m out of touch with everyone–and I’m never out of touch with everyone.
Which is why I’m back here, freeing my voice again, which is a much friendlier way of saying, “I should really be writing” (which was the title of the first blog I ever started and then never did anything with). Writing is my path. And it’s a way I connect with people. I put it out there, and sometimes things come back. Both the act of putting it out there and the connections that bounce back are nourishing. I don’t know where it will take me, but at least I’m on the path. (Oh, and I recommend watching the new Pixar movie, “Soul,”–the meaning of life IS the path, living life on the path–never the destination.)
I’m also starting a journal again. Man, I have boxes and shelves of filled-up journals but haven’t journaled since the babies came along (and E is now 6.5). In the end, it helps me know what I think and get out of the whirlwind of thoughts.
“Freeing my voice” also pairs nicely with a past New Year’s blog topic I wrote about, maybe just a year ago?, titled “New Year, More Me,” because you never have to make yourself new. You don’t need to be like someone else. You just do you, and that’s it. You’re the one who will be the best at this. Unharness the you-ness.
To make time for this, I’m going to stop putting away toys. (Just kidding, I’m literally going to publish this post and then try to unscramble a few puzzles that are intermixed across the living room floor).
I wish you and your families a hopeful 2021 and send you lots of love! xo