Though 2020 overall held more dramatic surprises, I can’t imagine I’m alone in the feeling that 2021 was not the year I thought it would be. Many large-scale hopes—like forgiven student loans or confidently executed travel plans—went unmet, but the year was peppered, at least for my small corner of existence, with sweet surprises. Though it seems a little simplistic to sum them up with a list, I’ve been doing it for a while, so I’ll continue here.
- Poetry: I discovered and wrote more poetry than ever this year. While my drawing friends challenged themselves with daily sketches, I managed to type a poem, however small, each day in April for National Poetry Writing Month. Also inspiring were Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration in January, and Padraig O’Touma’s delightful “Poetry Unbound” podcast, in which the Irish poet reads and discusses a single contemporary poem.
- The Library: We returned to the Seattle Public Library this year, a steep hill climb that for months became a delightful ritual for my girls and me, passing various landmarks and ending in a line, at the end of which we were free to pick up a bundle of five children’s books handpicked by the librarians. As these civil servants have worked hard to serve in the midst of often impossible circumstances, I’m thankful for the creative lengths to which they’ve gone to give access to great books.
- Favorite Fiction: Anxious People, Frederick Backman; The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
- Favorite Non-Fiction: The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson; Wintering, Katherine May
- Local History: It’s taken more than half the year t work up to putting this on the list, but in retrospect I’m ready to say that my long independent study of Pacific Northwest History (a requirement to renew the teaching certificate I’m not currently using) made this year better overall. If only for a deeper understanding and respect of the places we call home, especially as regards the natural and indigenous history of the region, I’ve come to believe that we should all be studying local history much more than we do.
- Wool: I began 2021 by wearing a single brown wool dress for 100 days, an experiment in extreme simplicity that ultimately produced revelations regarding embodiment and self-care, important habits of thought that I’ll carry onward. And while I’ve gone back to wearing multiple items of clothing, the practicality of wool—particularly its breathability and not-having-to-wash-it-much—has continued to make my life better. Less laundry, these days, is always a good thing.
- Running: I ran my first half marathon in September, a “summit day” that came at the end of a long summer of running, accumulating mile on mile around the edges of Green Lake in Seattle, just blocks from my home. I’ve loved returning to running, like rekindling an old friendship in a new season of life.
- Teachers: It’s strange and wonderful for me to be on the parent side of schools these days, and having mostly not participated in early childhood education myself, I’m regularly inspired and encouraged by my daughters’ teachers, both Kindergarten and preschool. Watching them learn and seeing the way they are developing relationships to school, learning and teachers is truly a delight.
- Duckie: I have never considered myself a “dog person,” and it took Timmy nearly eight years of marriage to convince me that another living thing to care for would add more joy than work to our lives. I’m happy to say I was wrong, and that having our little corgi puppy, Duckie, has made life ever so much sweeter, bringing laughter and warmth to a season that was otherwise on the stressful side.
- Vaccines: From Timmy’s first dose in January to Luci’s last in December, this has been a year filled with the elation of participating in ending this pandemic. Even though it hasn’t wrapped up like I’d hoped it would by now, I’m so thankful for the meaningful regathering, whether at church or school or with distant friends, that we were able to do this year as a result of these vaccines.
- Friendship: Sitting in a friend’s backyard a few weeks ago, with temperatures in the low 30s and early winter dusk filtering through the trees, our kids played in masks and I felt thankful. Thankful for friendships that have been made and flourished in this season, despite the fact that everything takes so much more effort than it used to. It’s been another year of outdoor movies, backyard playdates, and patio tea and conversation, and I’m overwhelmed with thankfulness for the encouragement that these dear ones have been in the midst of it all.
As with every year, I’m thankful for this supportive little community who shows up to read what I’ve written here. I hope that your years are ending well, with space for reflection and hope for the future. Happy New Year!