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.
Our big road trip visiting family and friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin came to a close when we landed home last Monday evening. The trip had it’s share of ups and downs. The downs are why I have not posted anything on this blog since our return. I, for lack of a better term, needed a “vacation from my vacation”. I realize that is utterly a “first world problem” but given my emotional/mental state after this two week journey, it is 100% true. I assure you, however, that there were more ups than downs.
It is so absolutely flipping awesome to be back home again in my happy bubble in Colorado. Back to our own comfy cozy bed. Back to my wonderful microwave that pops my popcorn to perfection with one small tap on the “popcorn” button. Back to counting bunnies on my (mostly) daily strolls around our neighborhood. Back to my weekly volunteer gig at our local food bank, where I have the pleasure of directly helping those in need while not being responsible for navigating the day to day trials and tribulations of my clients’ lives (as I did as a social worker in Wisconsin for years). Best of all, I’m back to blogging.
Time spent in the car traveling through Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin provided me with ample opportunity to do some personal pondering. I took stock of the varied life experiences I’ve had and how they have informed who I am in the here and now. That said, here is a by no means comprehensive list of lessons learned during my life as a girl and a woman. These lessons, in small and sometimes big ways, led me to become the 50 year old creative writer/optimist/politically aware and engaged/spiritual/feminist/truth-telling broad/hot mess I am now.
First lesson learned: There are truly good guys out there-you just have to be patient. And I deserve respect, dammit!
Moment: I was the girl in college who, thank-the-good-lord, chose to not stay with and/or marry the boyfriend who referred to my breasts as “clangers” (as in “hey honey, your clangers are looking fine today”). I shit you not. I met Hubs in the nick of time.
Second lesson learned: It’s okay to look like a fool. And you feel better about yourself if you resist the impulse to run away, crying in shame. And it’s okay that you just gave your fellow Zumba pals a funny story to tell over margaritas later.
Spoiler Alert: I may have learned this lesson from a goofy lady who annoyed Bob Barker.
Moment: I was the woman who at 40-something decided on a lark to join a Zumba class. Probably 2 classes in, I tripped over my own feet while attempting to keep up with a fast paced number, landing ever so gracefully on the floor with a thud. Shortly thereafter, I popped back up to continue the dancing festivities. I think this was the moment I decided to stop caring if I looked like an idiot in public. I imagine I may have looked a little like this:
Third lesson learned: God is among us.
Moment: I was the UCC’er (United Church of Christ) who experienced the most spiritual moment of my life when, at Hub’s and my one and only year of attending Lay Academy, our group was re-baptized under a sunny blue October sky in Wisconsin while singing the hymn “Here I am Lord”. The connectedness to the spirit and humanity in that place was palpable. Growing up, and as a young adult, I could not have imagined myself in this scenario.
Third lesson learned: You can survive the ultimate embarrassment of your mother doing this:
As a pimple faced, awkward 14 year old with a bad perm, I miraculously survived this epic mortification. Even in spite of the knowledge that all of my high school classmates got to watch it when it aired during the school day (it was a moment of civic pride for our small Minnesota town), I managed to keep my head held (somewhat) high. Thankfully I got to stay home with my family for a private viewing. I am ever so grateful my mother’s 15 minutes of fame happened in ye olden times before the advent of social media.
Fourth lesson learned: At the core of true friendship is kindness.
Moment: I was the 13 year old girl who desperately wanted to follow her big sister’s footsteps and be a cheerleader (Go Agates! Yes, that was our sport teams’ name. You can only imagine how much crap we got for that). My best friend, Therese, was also trying out for cheerleading. When she was picked and I was not (mind you, I had the voice and enthusiasm but absolutely no other cheerleading skills such as doing the splits or a cartwheel, so this shouldn’t have come as a surprise), she offered to decline the position in order for me to snatch it and bask in the glory of the cheerleading life. I refused her offer. To this day, this may be the single most kind thing another human being has done for me. Did I mention that all of the girls trying out made the team but me? We had a small high school. Don’t judge.
Fifth lesson learned: Choose your friends wisely, and treasure them always. And cancer sucks the big one.
I was the bride who had the good sense to appoint the best possible personal attendant in my dear friend Gail. She arrived armed with necessities such as safety pins and kleenex. She was a skilled wedding dress hoister-upper while I peed and smoked a cigarette to calm my nerves in the bathroom at our wedding reception. She passed away from cancer 5 years ago and I think of her often and miss her so so much. Cancer is such a cruel fricking bastard. This is why I will support political candidates who believe in financially supporting medical research. I wish everyone could have a friend as special as Gail was to me.
How about you all? What moments in the timeline of your lives contributed to the life perspectives you have now?