Goodbye 2020, Hello New Year

Every year, I try to reflect back on the past year and make some long range goals for the coming year. I know time is an illusion (and per Douglas Adams, lunchtime is doubly so) and a construct of our own making to a certain extent, but the dark of winter is an opportune time to ponder life and make plans.

Honestly, I have been battling a lot of impostor syndrome in the recent weeks. I have learned in life to separate myself from the roles I choose to take. It is what allows me to say yes to more opportunities and keep myself open to change. But lately, I have been so focused on my kids and feeling so cut off from both my creative life and from making deep connections with other people that I find myself feeling a bit of a fraud. I know I’m not, that I’m doing what I need to do at the moment, but December saw me at some low points.

And that, for so many of us, has been 2020. A rollercoaster of emotions. I know I have appreciated the slower pace, the time with my family, getting things done around the house that we never have had time for in our five years here. But also loneliness for adult company, feeling drained, needing a break from the kids with no opportunities to take one, mourning the loss of skipped trips and projects due to the pandemic. Concern for the growing divide in the United States. Seeing the eyes of so many opened to the racial inequities here and then seeing many close their eyes again. Seeing the hatred and selfishness of so many out in the open (but truly believing it’s better that way, for how can we fix a problem if it’s hidden?). I don’t know. I’m tired, but still doing what I can.

I started the year with two audacious goals for me. The first was a financial goal of being able to help one family at Thanksgiving, which we were able to do, and we also still adopted a family at Christmas. I was able to donate small amounts of money to various charitable organizations throughout the year as well, and we tried to support small businesses and always tipped big when we ordered takeout or delivery. I hope to grow this into the coming year, because there are so many in need out there, but with how uncertain the future is, I hope to at least maintain the giving at Thanksgiving and Christmas, helping two families locally.

My second audacious goal was to stop chasing the “elusive balance” between work and family and just allow the ebb and flow of life to take me along, and I think I was forced into this mindset fairly quickly in 2020. It was not an easy lesson, but I hope it is a lifelong one. I feel like the work towards having more fun in life was hit or miss, and I will continue to work towards that this year. If anything, I feel even more tired this year than last year, even though I technically worked less and was more financially secure.

So self-care and letting myself play are important this year. Filling myself with the energy to create, to help others, to have more pleasure out of the day-to-day moments consistently, to stress way less… these are what I have to work on this year.

Numbers are arbitrary, and we still have so much work to do as a species. I’m prepared to shoulder my load, but I will be taking care of myself along the way.

Happy New Year, and may 2021 provide us with a few less punches than 2020.

The 2020 Parental Whine, a song by Kat Micari

This song sums up what I’ve been feeling the past month and a half, but I feel much better now getting the whine out of my system and being silly while doing it! No joke, I was interrupted by my kids three times while trying to record this, even though I was letting them watch a show they wanted to watch.

These four chord pop songs are fun to play on the uke! It is much easier to focus on the singing when you aren’t fumbling around for the chords as much.

Tough Month

This has been a really tough month for me. Adjustments all over the place as my husband started a new job, I took over schooling for my kids (remote schooling for my 9yo and homeschool preK for the 4 yo) while simultaneously trying to get my sewing shop up and running and designing the one production job I have this fall. I’ve had to mourn the passing of a college friend and all the accompanying soul searching that goes with that, especially at a distance during a pandemic. I’ve dealt with a soul betrayal and am having to come to terms with a flaw in myself that I never viewed as a flaw before. My birthday was mediocre and my wedding anniversary almost ignored by both of us until we last minute rallied and made it a good night with fancy take out and such. All this while dealing with the unraveling of the nation and one thing piled on after another socially and collectively. I’ve been trying to participate on the larger stage of life without burning myself out, and I’m still creating where I can because I need to, but I also have had to take my moments to rest where I can as well.

I really still believe that this is a time where everything that was hidden away must come to light. We are balanced between evolution or destruction as a species. Maybe both needs to happen, but that option isn’t a pretty one. It’s really hard not to lose hope in these times, though.

I’m here though. I love. I create. I try every day to be a better person than the day I was before. I try to encourage others to do the same. Maybe that is enough.

New Year, New Decade

It’s time again for me to reflect back on the past year and choose one major goal to work toward this coming year. This year I have two goals, but one is a material one rather than a personal growth one.

This is the year I took the plunge to finally freelancing again, and it has been very successful despite some rocky moments. We are by no means on easy street financially yet, and I have been truly struggling at times balancing being the full-time stay-at-home parent with the shifting schedules of the gig economy (only a few hours for weeks at a time into madness for a few week). I feel drained, but also like this is really worthwhile for me. So, my big audacious financial goal for this year is to be stable enough come Thanksgiving to be able to adopt a local family and give them an entire Thanksgiving meal that they otherwise wouldn’t have. One of the office jobs I used to work did this every year for 5 or so families, and I loved it and want to be able to do it on my own and teach my kids more about giving to others. We did it a little this Christmas, choosing some new gifts for a boy through a local agency and then each of my kids selected one of their almost new toys to give to him as well. My 8 year old surprised me by selecting two actually and was asking questions that I tried to answer in age-appropriate ways. Selfishly, I want to be able to do more activity-wise with the family and not feel the pinch when it comes time to replacing things that we need, but I also really want to funds to support other creators and help in small ways for the needy in our community.

Creatively, I have felt all over the board this year. Sometimes the flow comes easy, sometimes it’s been a real struggle. And I feel like that with my physical and mental energy as well. A lot of that is the lack of sleep I’m still getting with my daughter, as well as finding some way to balance the chores and the here and now with my inner worlds. Actually, one of the truths I have learned this year is that there really is no balance without some kind of support structure in place, whether financial or physical (as in more hands willing to take over childcare or employees to do mundane tasks, etc). Every mom I know, whether working or stay-at-home, is always battling exhaustion, and the dads are frequently only a step or two more rested and that’s only because they tend to stress less about certain things once they are actually in bed. But I also know from experience that the toddler phase won’t last forever, that eventually I will have more time for myself.

So this year, my goal is to stop chasing that elusive balance and let things ebb and flow more. I need to continue my work in having fun, if that’s not an oxymoron, and just find joy in the messy process of creating and parenting and building things from the ground up. I need to feel like I’m really living and not being buried by obligations. In short, I’m tired of feeling tired, and I’m not going to put up with it anymore.  :-p

I have some audacious goals set, but I’m not going to share plans and deadlines here anymore. I’m accountable to myself, and I will continue working toward releasing works in various stages of completion when I feel like it. And as they are ready for release, I will share it here. If I feel like I have something to say socially or politically, then I will say it. But I won’t feel guilty anymore about self-imposed deadlines.

I hope 2020 is the start of some amazing times for everyone. I hope we can all start living to our fullest potentials and let ourselves shine. Happy New Year.