I feel all of this, written by Rachel Hackenberg for the United Church of Christ’s daily devotional on 12/28/21:
“If you are eager to throw your 2021 calendar in the trash, and you have all of your incense and candles and rituals prepared to sweep out 2021 and bless 2022, remember that even when the year is new: there is still rage and death and dreadful absence that haunts our collective spirit and needs to be healed.
Make room for the rage.
Welcome it like a weary traveler who can’t find a room in the inn.
Give it space where it can cry and groan.
Light a candle if it labors through the night.
Do not be quick to console it, only keep it company to be sure it doesn’t harm others.
Amplify its voice.
Let it be messy and imperfect”
I appreciate this devotional because 2021 threw me for a loop (especially that last month or so). The events in my personal orbit as well as events in this country and world in 2021 have left me feeling older, feistier, and tired.
I don’t know of a better way of putting it, but I feel messy. I need time to process it all because of the emotional whiplash. I need time to recuperate.
There were happy moments for me, however. Photographic evidence:
A truly inspiring and prolific blogger who I follow, Jenny, of Jenny’s Lark, asked a question on her blog recently. I have been pondering it ever since.
Here is my paraphrased version of it: if there is ONE lesson you learned in 2021 that you can keep for yourself, while all of the other lessons disappear into thin air, what would it be?
A tough, yet interesting question to consider, don’t you think?
I’m going to make a list of the lessons I’ve learned in 2021 right now. I will edit this down to just one however.
I realized in 2021 that my life was out of balance: too much working in all it’s forms and not enough writing and publishing.
And this is exactly why, for me, 2022 is going to be all about one word.
Here’s the song of the year for me. I’m pretty sure you all will appreciate it, going into the new year.
Don’t get me wrong-I wish Covid-19 and the stay-at-home order that resulted from it didn’t exist.
However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit having my life slow down as a result didn’t have its benefits.
I’d also be lying if I told you I didn’t miss getting a massage every couple of weeks (my shoulders and my right hip are killing me, people!). I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t miss going to church every Sunday and embracing my friends there. I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t miss jumping into the car with Hubs and the kiddo to enjoy a cold brew amongst our neighbors at one of our local brew pubs.
I’d really be lying to you if I said I was not speaking from a place of privilege. My lamentations are merely temporary inconveniences.
So on that note, I’d like to share what I believe have been the positive results of the “stay at home” order since it began, what, 6 weeks ago?
I have a much deeper appreciation for going into the office Mon-Fri.
I ended up being quarantined at home for 2 full weeks which I wrote about here, due to a possibility that I had contracted Covid-19 from an individual that was present in the same facility as I was who tested positive. I never became symptomatic, thank God.
Because of this, my role at the agency changed essentially overnight. I was tasked to begin a new program, which we had recently acquired grant money for. It involves calling our clients to check in as a “friendly visitor”. Now, making these phone calls was quite enjoyable for me. And with Hubs working from home (until the end of the year actually) and the kiddo for the most part doing their own thing and working part time, the environment in this house was quite conducive for it.
OMG, you guys, I sooo missed seeing the faces of my co-workers. I missed organizing the food bank. Receiving donations. Handing out food (via curb side pick up) to our hungry clients. The damn Keurig machine. I missed dressing in my work clothes, especially as I had gone out clothes shopping prior to everything getting shut down. I had nowhere to wear my new frocks!
I made my triumphant return to the office last Monday. Woo-hoo! Fortunately, things were not in disarray when I returned. My co-workers and our lovely volunteers got the job done in my absence. And while I continued my new work project, I also was able to help with managing the food bank and procuring more food donations. While wearing my new duds and enjoying myself a cup here and there of dark roasted coffee courtesy of our beloved Keurig machine.
I have embraced my homebody tendencies.
I mentioned in a recent post how I had been getting re-acquainted with my kitchen. That has continued. The jury is out with the Instant Pot, but that is a whole nother story. With the temps increasing, the grill is starting to get more use as is our dear Crockpot. And Sundays have now been declared “Dessert Day” because it gives me something enjoyable to do while I jam out to my Google playlists and well…dessert.
We are also “family-ing” (a coin termed by my MIL) in a more intentional way these days. We have created some silly art:
We have spent time listening to music and strumming along with our guitar (Hubs) and ukulele (now mine). We have played games on the Jackbox TV app (Guesspionage was especially fun). We have played laser pointer games with our furry housemates. We have gotten outside with these darling creatures for neighborhood walks. We are having more meaningful conversations with each other. All things that may not have occurred had it not been for the Covid-19 stay-at-home order.
And seriously, thank the good Lord for the ability we have to video chat with our loved ones. Seeing their faces and hearing their laughter this mom/daughter-in-law/grandma is simply the best.
I am excited about the possibility that once summer is in full swing, we will be safe to venture out into the big wide world again (excuse me while I indulge my optimistic tendencies). But I do hope to maintain this mentally healthier balance between being busy (I dare you to recall the last time you heard anyone tell you how busy they are) and just being. Because this is the lesson I want to have learned from this.
I’ve been at my new job for almost three weeks now. It feels so good to be able to type that sentence. I am so very grateful.
I’d like to take a moment to share the perks, some unexpected and some not, of being gainfully employed after a year and four months of being unemployed.
My job is part time, at 25 hours per week. I was always secretly envious of those girlfriends I had back in Wisconsin that worked part time. They seemed to be more relaxed as they had more free time in their lives to pursue other interests, like travel, hosting parties, and book clubs. Meanwhile, for the better part of 20 years, I was working full-time. And still hosting parties and partaking in some travel. I never was able to make time to belong to a book club. But now, thanks to my sweet part time hours, I probably could if I wanted to. “Doing it all” was, well, exhausting. With my new part time gig, it’s much easier , not to mention more enjoyable because I am not exhausted, to plan and participate in these extra-curriculars.
I have absolutely no intention of ever working full time again in my life.
Hubs and I share our one vehicle. I very much appreciate the odd day when he’s chosen to work from home and I have the car all to myself. However, riding the bus or taking Uber to/from work has turned out to not be such a big deal. These modes of transportation involve a little bit of planning, hence, a bit of extra time; but it sure beats having two car payments, two cars to insure, and two cars to maintain. No need whatsoever to purchase a second vehicle, in my mind.
I am using my knowledge and experience from my former career as a social worker in my day to day work now. I really dig not feeling being responsible for almost every aspect of my clients’ lives-from finding them a new place to live because they (and in one case their dog as well) were evicted, to trying to convince a chronic alcoholic that sobriety was the way to go. In my new position, I help them through the food pantry, respond to calls for handyman referrals, and loan out medical equipment. It’s uncomplicated, straightforward, helping senior citizens and sending them on their way.
I’ve always enjoyed fashion. I have a pretty decent collection of pieces, many of which are mix and match, to wear for work. Only I wasn’t wearing any of them for one year and four months. I didn’t realize how much I missed this simple thing until I started working again. I’m having some real “girly girl” moments these days as I peruse my wardrobe, picking out new combinations of outfits to sport at the office. And I’m so grateful that I didn’t gain a bunch of weight during my “Gap Year” so everything still fits!
During my “Gap Year” (and four months), I found myself often recalling the enjoyable conversations I had with my co-workers at my social work job in Wisconsin. I found myself often missing the little things, like my next door cube mate singing along with her Ipod while she was doing paperwork. And the co-worker who occasionally would bring in delicious homemade cupcakes to share. And just chatting with my nearby cube mates about our caseloads or even what we did last weekend. Now I have that camaraderie back, just with different people. And lucky me, they are a very kind, sociable, and for the most part, cheery bunch of folks.
Lastly, and perhaps oddly, I love the feeling when I get home at the end of my no more than six hour work day and I can get on my favorite comfy clothes, grab a glass of wine or a bottle of beer and sink into the couch with Hubs. I feel relaxed, good about myself, and deserving of the coziness of home.