I'm so grateful that it's Rosh Hashanah, marking a new year in Jewish time. This past year has been, well, a lot to navigate. Every day has been a lot to navigate. I learned about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing while in a virtual Rosh Hashanah service Friday evening. This has been a year of grief, of fighting always for what's right, for unpacking all the unexamined things we carry with us, and for contemplating what it means to be given another year of life. Yesterday, I dwelt on the idea of my name being written in the book of life -- exploring the idea of what truly desiring to stay alive means and what it feels like.
One of the most important factor in me claiming the effervescence of life is acknowledging the sweetness in it. Today, I'm filled with gratitude for nourishing friendships. There are so many things in my life worthy of cultivating, and I wrote them on a list in my phone in case I forget as this new year unfolds.
Hindsight is 2020, right? Reflecting on the year past is a pretty great gift. What ways have I missed the mark, and how am I growing from the experience? What behaviors or beliefs do I want to cast off into the stream of time, and not carry forward with me into the new year? And how do I celebrate this process?
I've been wanting to write a blog post for a while, send a little New Years update to those who are curious or care. I haven't blogged since the Pandemic was still quite new. It's a changed world since then.
Update #1: school
The biggest, most FUN and EXCITING update started early this spring. I applied to Bay Path University, and was accepted for the 2020 Fall semester! Bay Path is a women's university located on the East Coast. They have robust online degree programs designed with working, professional women in mind. It's regionally accredited (essential), and a wildly supportive environment.
I've been thinking about going back to school for the last five years. This past year, I better realized that life is waiting for me to claim and that I'm more than capable of doing so. I'm studying Business with a major in Accounting. It will only help me in my current work life, and gives me a world of options if I should ever need or want them. I think that the CPA track is absolutely fascinating (because I'm absolutely a nerd)! ;)
Each online semester is split into three accelerated sessions. Each session is 6 weeks long, and every student has the option of enrolling in one or two courses per session. I'm considered full time, enrolling in two courses per session, and will be taking 18 credits total per overall semester. I have just finished my first session, and am beginning my next set of classes. I waited till the completing the first session to definitively explore a) is this possible? and b) is this something I definitely want to pursue? With six weeks behind me, I can absolutely say YES to both of those questions!
I just met with my academic advisor and I should be graduating the spring of 2022.
Prepare for more blog posts in the future about being a full-time working student (refining time management skills and early bedtimes).
My first two courses were an Excel class (! :D) and a required BPU course in a series called Women Empowered as Learners and Leaders (WEL). The WEL courses focus on navigating the world as a professional woman, covering topics that range from imposter syndrome, salary negotiation, to leadership on non-profit boards. It was an excellent way to start back off in college, after so many years away. The work was deep, deeply personal, and illuminating.
My next two courses, which I'm working on today, are Principles of Marketing and Economics. My professor in Economics was a senior auditor for a large, community bank. Maybe this blog post title really should have just been Nerd Alert, for all the things I'm terribly excited about?
It's 2020, though, and obviously, it's not all been good things since applying to school in the spring.
Update #2: loss and change
The very start of June, my direct supervisor left work to focus on some medical needs. It was cancer-related, and she ended up unexpectedly passing away in July. How do you articulate that kind of sadness? She had been heading towards retirement, cut down on her hours, and had been training me for the last year and a half to some day take over for her when she was ready. We try to plan out our lives. This year has been the biggest lesson in how planning cannot rule the day.
Brenda passed away two days after my cousin Estrella's birthday. Estrella died when I was 17, and she was 19. She was the first person I ever came out to, and is someone whose memory will forever live buried and breathing in my heart. Grief, this year, has come in strange wave. I know I'm not the only one.
I take lessons with me. In my new position at work, I promise myself to let every day be a learning opportunity -- and not take things so seriously. I promise myself to show the people I love that I love them. Every day. And I promise not to sacrifice the most important things in my life (see Update #4), and not to put them off for a "someday."
What a gift we are given in breathing today.
Update #3: COVID hits our house
Late this summer, Janet was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID. She ended up testing positive with no symptoms. I tested negative (twice, because we know I'm paranoid like that). Because she was positive, but I was negative with no symptoms, this is is had to happen:
-Janet was isolated in her own room and bathroom for 10 days from the date she got tested. I left her meals outside her door, and felt horribly stressed and paranoid for ten days. I had allergies, and it was a million degrees outside that week. What does normal feel like? I kept asking myself, absolutely not sure of the answer.
-I was quarantined for 14 days from the day I got tested. You never realize what you need till you can't leave your house! We had an emergency store of groceries in case this ever happened, but I hadn't thought of everything. Our friends were incredible, running errands and dropping off yummy surprises.
Janet and I finally got to be back together for four days, the last of my quarantine, and everything felt so much better. My allergies were also better and I got that second negative test result back, so that made a huge difference. PLUS! Janet, my personal chef, was back in action ;)
I never really worried too much about how COVID-19 could affect me and Janet if either of us got it, but I'm always worried about how I could pass it on to someone more vulnerable. However, there was one allergies night, contemplating my breathing, where I wondered what would I regret leaving undone if I didn't make it to see next week?
Update #4: The Power of Writing
This brings me to my most important update! I did these updates chronologically, or else I definitely would have put this one first.
As I lay in bed, pondering my life and the life yet-lived, I came to one resounding conclusion. The single thing I'd feel terrible about leaving undone is a workable draft of my first novel! Does that sound crazy? I'm okay with it :)
I'm working on better developing Magic Ungrounded's scaffolding, from characters to plot to place. I'm going slowly, finding inspiration in things like the first bite of juicy mango and the delight of ancient rituals. My goal is to have the scaffolding in place by mid December 2020, then to NaNoWriMo-esque a month of ferocious re-writing during my winter break.
Where will it lead? I'm incredibly excited to find out!
The other big update is that I've started an online Writing Circle for women and non-binary folks. A little encouragement, accountability, and sharing can go a very long way.
Heading into 5781
Well, this blog post is a whole book -- isn't it? Guess I'm good now! ;) Just kidding. Janet, whose entire IT department at Lands' End got outsourced due to the pandemic, discovered the wonders of gardening this summer. She amazed me with her careful and excited cultivation, beautiful life blooming in pots on our driveway and back patio.
I want more of this, moving forward. I want to yearn for life, to reach for the sun, and to claim my place in the world. Even if it's a little pot on a slab of cement, a little studying before work, a little more unpacking my own biases and misunderstandings, a little more creating meaning out of fictional worlds, a little more dedication to sinking into sacred time. I want all of it. I want another year of life. And I want to sweep you up in sunbeam, you reader, reading this whole darned book.
Love you! <3
While many of my friends have been posting about being cooped up at home, I've been heading in to work every day. Not this Monday! As COVID-19 numbers rise and scares get closer to home, my workplace has decided to split our branch into two teams. My neighbor Deb's credit union has been doing this since about early/mid March. Team 1 works a week, then stays home a week. It protects the whole branch from having to close up shop if someone on the team gets sick, allowing the other team to step up and handle business as needed.
I'm on Team 1. The bank decided midweek last week to do the rotating teams thing, and my team finished off working the week. Now, this week lays before me like one of our incredible great lakes. I know there's an end to it, but right now it feels stunningly infinite. I couldn't be more grateful.
I'm an introvert. I recharge by being alone, by being home, by being cozy and safe. Even if work wasn't more hectic than usual (it is!), all of this emotional chaos of life unfolding right now would leave me still craving the sanctuary of my own home. If the solution to everything was not social distancing, and instead was required socializing? I would not fare nearly as well.
I have three plans for this gift of a week:
How are you faring with social distancing? How long have you been either working from home, laid off, or just not going out the way you normally do? What are some things you've discovered help you sink into this moment without losing pieces of your joy?
My habit or intention this month is to Cultivate Richness. It moves beyond my gratitude practice in February, but also includes it. Cultivating Richness means noticing the ordinary things that bring inner peace and gratitude, while also pursuing the things that help grow these feelings.
Cultivating Richness is keeping my home tidy, going on walks with Chester, feeling the sunshine on my skin, moving my body, snapping and messaging my friends, refining my skills, eating home cooked meals, taking spontaneous naps, crafting interesting cocktails, diving into fictional worlds, snuggling Chester and Peppermint, recognizing the future I want, spending quality laughter time with Janet, checking in on my family, and so much more.
I am not grateful for COVID-19. But I'm incredibly grateful for this opportunity to slow down, to check in with my heart, and to name the puzzle pieces of reality that help me feel the most full-filled.
I hope you are staying well and I hope you are discovering little pieces of happiness poking up through the spring soil of your days. Bring on the rain, bring on the sunshine, bring on the early flowers. April is here!
I'm someone working in an industry considered "essential." Banking might sound boring to a lot of people, but I know how important money is right now during this unfolding crisis. People want to make sure their funds are available to buy groceries. They want to make sure they are getting the best interest rates, gearing up to tackle this impact on our economy. Our economy isn't this ethereal, metaphoric thing. It's our every-day ability to meet our own needs; it's the way we keep money circulating through our communities so that everyone else can also meet their own needs.
What does this have to do with creating space? Obviously, Wisconsin is experiencing the effects of social distancing right now. But that's not the kind of space I'm talking about.