Oh, Hey, It's a New Year
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Our Christmas break is finally over. This was not a holiday; we didn't celebrate anything in particular except being at home. This was not a vacation, obviously; we didn't go anywhere. This was not necessarily refreshing or motivating or energising. But it was a break, and now the break is over.
The kids have an inset day today, and tomorrow they resume... home learning. As I watched all the people on Twitter being excited about saying goodbye to 2020, I wondered, does anyone actually think that tomorrow our problems will go away just because we're using a fresh calendar? The virus, the racism, the climate crisis, all still here, how surprising. (Where is my sarcasm font? I was promised a sarcasm font.)
Anyway, being also very attuned to the school year, I prefer setting goals and such in September, when the clean notebooks still hold the promise that maybe this year I'll be the kind of student who takes neat notes instead of the kind who doodles in the margins. For me, it's usually the other way around: the clean notebooks hold the promise that this year I'll let go of the obsession with neat notes in favour of something a little less boring, a little more creative. I'm trying.
I've started working with The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. There's a bunch in there that is cringeworthy for me, especially the talk about God. I also have apparently all kinds of misunderstandings about what meditation is. But, despite my resistance and annoyance, I think it's actually working. I've been doing the morning pages for a couple of weeks now, and it feels like it's helping, I feel better afterwards, more energised. I haven't been writing throughout these weeks, so now the test begins. Will the morning pages help me leverage my writing? I don't know.
I've been thinking about last year and the coming year and how setting goals feels so pointless. If I haven't worked hard enough to achieve my goal, that's one thing. If a pandemic has thwarted my goals, that's a whole other level of failure. Julia talks about synchronicity, about answered prayers, serendipity. And I can't help but think that this pandemic, then, is perhaps a message from the universe that I should stop writing and focus on something else. It could be, of course, a message for me to keep writing. That's kind of the problem I have with messages from the universe. They're a bit ambiguous. Yes, that was sarcasm.
Anyway, I thought a summary of 2020 is still due, so here goes.
I'm still here, and so are the kids. No one has been thrown out the window, which this year is a fantastic accomplishment. Also, I wrote some stuff, so bonus points.
My depression has been my biggest challenge this year. It's the first time I've called it that, and it didn't like it much. It hasn't been easier just because I knew what it was and when it was coming. Also, ambiguity makes my anxiety soar, and we've had a lot of that last year. On the other hand, I also felt like, at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone else kind of joined me in being anxious and depressed, and I was able to be like "hey, welcome, have a seat, here's a glass of wine." So that helped a bit.
Time Well Spent
Dog walking. This year, I spent quite a while doing that, seeing as we got us a puppy early on. He is not a pandemic puppy. I feel I must emphasise that. We wanted a puppy before this whole mess started and puppies became the thing you get to ease your boredom and loneliness of being stuck at home. We got him to ease our boredom and loneliness of just being. I like walking him because I get to talk with family or listen to a podcast or think, and it's nice.
At some point in the fall, I realised that I'm miserable when I'm not learning. I also realised that the Lit Salon is one of those rare opportunities to learn without feeling like it's hard work. I promptly signed up to a study of Middlemarch (a post is coming, I promise), and I'm starting a study of Ulysses next week, another classic I would never read without the amazing Toby Brothers.
This has been tough this year, as my often-bragged-about morning routine has gone to hell. My routines had to change, but I made sure I still meditated, practised my yoga, and went out for a run. I also sat down to write every weekday. I hadn't produced much, but I was there. And I feel like it's been paying off. I'm starting a new morning routine, trying to incorporate the dog walking and everything else. So far it's going ok.
Out of my Comfort Zone
This. Entire. Year. Making plans and then cancelling, not knowing if the store you're going to is even opened, not knowing when, if ever, the kids go back to school. It's been a hell of a year for someone who has flexibility issues. On the other hand, my theme for 2020 was flexibility, and boy did I get a good practice. I guess the universe was trying to help me out with learning how to be flexible. Sorry about the pandemic, everyone.
Theme for 2021
Creativity. I'm opening up my creativity to include cooking without a recipe, making pretty dishes, experimenting with different writing forms, photography, coming up with home learning projects, whatever. Let's see how this one goes.
This year I want to balance working on my first novel with writing new things (perhaps a new novel). I have loads of ideas which might start as short stories. I also want to be reading the whole time, plus taking care of myself and my kids. It's going to be a busy year. And it's starting... now.
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