2021: A Year In Review

2021 you were a year. Filled with the happy, the sad and all the real stuff.

First the easy, I learned how to cook for a reestablished family of four. I watched a lot of content from Tik Tok to whatever I could – some of it educational and some of it not so much. I’ve watched so much HGTV I’ve started to know interior decorating terminology. Ship Lap, you’re so 2019 and every room is made better with a crown molding, right?

I learned how to live with my sister as a grown woman and she with me which was fun, amazing but sometimes also not so great for either of us, but who knew that the wonder of being a sister to someone who is so truly special and good at caring for people in her social work would change everything between us. I am proud of being related to her. The post script is I hope she knows all the times I was really a-crappy-poking-at-her-like-baby-child 50-year old can be mitigated. The world is better because she’s out there and in it, fighting for it like the warrior she is and was born to be.

With her here, I also gained a nephew-son, as that’s what I am calling her son, known also as the cub, who is now mine for 12-24-48 hour periods as she keeps her heroic day job alive. I love him more than I ever knew was possible watching him grow from a kid to a man, even if he’s a weeny tweeny child sometimes. He’s a funny, quirky, special soul. I am pretty honored he’s going to have a little bit of my stamp on him now, even if he’s picked up my snarky one liners. Goodness it makes me laugh to have my own humor made over to his brand. Is this what motherhood feels like? I get it now. I get it just the way I always thought I was supposed to, not 100% my kid, but I guess I am influencer after all.

I got a lot of time with my mother, as I watched and held the hands of too many friends who lost their own parents this year. I know this is more precious than I even know yet. Some day, never if I could ask for that really, when she’s not here with me, I will have these memories of the last 18 months of weirdness and our voluntary house arrest to avoid this dumb plague and they will comfort me like a blast of warmth from her soul. I am not being sad, she’s ninety one, I face this truth a bit afraid, but certainly with an attempt not to be wasteful. It helps that she may be legally blind and arthritis has twisted her spine, still making new art, kayaking all the while being both hilarious and maddening. She’s amazing.

And on that topic, I was present and beside my friends as they suffered some impossible hurts. It’s been indeed a year of painful endings, cruel reality and loss. I won’t dwell on it – you know who you are – but this crazy time touched and changed so many of my dearest ones. There’s been a lot of emotional Band-Aids and glue required. Mended well but with some cracks.

Just in case, you’re feeling this is trending the wrong way for a sum of up of a terrible but also not so terrible year, here’s the gravy of the year. If you don’t like gravy, think of it instead as the cream. If you don’t drink dairy or eat animal fat, good news, 2021 made oat milk go mainstream, there’s something in this for you still.

That’s your humor intermission, ready to move on?

I triumphantly turned 50 – and guess what, it’s not the new goddamn 30. It’s FIFTY and that’s amazing, stop with this it’s what it isn’t. It’s a lot of years and a lot of events, MORE than enough on it’s own. It does not need to be recast as all the lost youth and missed things that cannot be gotten back. That’s just depressing and well gross. I don’t even want to be me at 30, she was annoying and needed more life lessons, so thanks for that universe, I persevered and I do feel rewarded.

I traveled to Iceland again and finally saw my family in Miami. I needed to remember airports, planes, being weightless in the sky and just being other places. I love the Berkshires but I needed time out. My battery was at it’s lowest travel setting after all – factory reset required.

Mostly this year, I worked and worked some more and it was booking, rebooking, booking again, talking about booking and then rebooking again. Travel work wasn’t so much fun but I have a bunch of the best work brothers, sisters, children and people that anyone could ask for in a work place. Forged in fire, we faced daily, hourly sometimes, chaos and change, the kind of adversity together, laughing, fighting, crying all the while, that bonds forever.

I interrupt this post to state don’t fool yourself into thinking drinking the right amount of water, sleeping, makeup and a good style of your hair, hair cut or dye job doesn’t make the difference on zoom. It does. There’s no filter that fixes mental and physical health. You look better when you take care of yourself, that’s a warning, not a reminder.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do some really important things this year. I didn’t write more than paragraph long texts and endless emails. Sitting in front of this keyboard was somehow attached to drudgery and so it didn’t happen, but I did try. I found a life coach, I thought about what the next five – ten years could be. I loved but moved on from some relationships which I am usually too nostalgic to do. Some of us found our way back to each other which was some midnight hour magic this past month. Some of us won’t and that’s ok too.

In summary, I learned I passionately love my family, I do not hate my job, and a lot more about what I need to fix to keep loving and doing that but guess what, it’s a brand new year… and well, it was the darkest time of our collective lives, not to be dramatic, but to be dramatic, I did ok after all is said and done, looking back.

Pandemics are something!? Who knew? I am kidding, we all knew and now we really know again.

Perhaps, I should have asked my grandmother who was a young woman in 1918 many more questions. Mimi, what was it like to feel that doom every day and how did you get over it? what did it teach you?

She actually really did know all those answers and she also knew what finding your way out of that doom was really like and here’s why. The truth of my story is my sister and I, my cousins are forever tied to that flu pandemic and so 2021 and 1921… well, they are forever connected. We were all born because of some twists of fate and a river full of karma that followed those years.

By 1921, some of the seeds planted in the 1918 pandemic had taken root. By 1922, well, the rest is history, the wheel had turned and her future was set. The death of a beloved wife from that terrible flu, three lonely children, lead a heartbroken man, who lost his brother in the same flu outbreak, to an independent beautiful, spirited, headstrong woman who threw sense away, fell in love with his wit, his sparkle and had three more fierce and fiery children. That was my grandmother and one of those fierce and fiery children was my mother. A deep love forged in a time of uncertainty.

My grandfather wrote her love letters which we still have while she was courting him. I have decided to look at it that way. He begged her to reconsider, did she really want him? He didn’t believe he was enough but he was indeed the choice she wanted to make and made she did. She ruled his heart and his house through the depression, a world war, raising all six children as her own. No pandemic, no marriage. No marriage = no mother. No mother = no me.

From that pandemic to this one, hundred years on, here we are again. 2022. Perhaps like my grandmother, my own fate will be changed as well and perhaps like her, I kind of already know it has already started. Time will tell, like the butterfly wing that pushes air gently one place that swirls and twirls into a wave on the other side of the world, I have the map to this future. I just need to take all this new information, wisdom, knowledge and my amazing fellow explorers and together, all of us, we will find our way forward.

2022, let’s do this, but first, in pictures… here’s 2021.


COFFEE CUPS: 2021 THE BERKSHIRES, STILL

So close to what’s next I can see and feel it. I am four days from my second vaccine shot, I am then ten days to breaking out. I planned my first international trip in two years yesterday.

The waiting feeling has settled, the wanderlust waking up.

I know I will look back on this year of slower days, my close family 24/7 as a gift. My mother is 90 and my nephew is on the edge of childhood and tweendom.

The deep sadness, the disconnection is already fading and being replaced by a sense that, if I look deeply enough, I will see the good in the slow down – that elusive silver liner. Call this annoying, or call this surviving, but the ability to find the sparkle has seen me through 49 and 1/2 magical years. I lose it constantly but when I find it again, it’s even better for the discovery.

I have been trying to take time off from my day hustle, watch the birds at my feeder, just exhale for a moment. It’s a rare gift to have a open morning, a chance to appreciate the dawn and early spring in New England.

And so I did – and made myself a delicious coffee, of course.


2021: March, bringing back the wonder

March is a long month in New England, usually starts out in real winter and then a few starts and stops with false spring but then it really kicks off with a lot of mud, then finally a hint of REAL spring, the world waking back up from it’s winter nap (and then maybe a bit more mud).

The song birds wait for the sun and kick off the chorus that begins and ends each day. The light changes, it’s brighter and the trees get feathery at the end, leaves thinking about unfurling. Hope does actually spring eternal, everyone.

I took a walk yesterday, up a hill and along a river, in the pale sunshine and felt that little springtime lift people who live around here feel, the idea that maybe the hermit times are ending, that maybe windows cans stay open and jackets can be packed away. Just like the green shoots under the mulch, my soul stretched a bit and felt a flutter.

And with a smile on my face, as I stopped by the river, a tiny purple plastic egg caught my eye.

So many questions, where did this come from? who is it for? It looks fresh and not like an egg that had wintered in this log. I left it there and wished it well.

A tiny bit of wonder in the waking up world.


Coffee Cups: 2021 The Berkshires

I want more. I want moments on top of moments that don’t involve the inside of my house.

Soon right? Soon. Along with spring and the GD vaccine (anti-vaxers, please move along – this is a place for travel, thoughts dreams and science too).

A cafe coffee on the regular, too please. I broke out last weekend to celebrate my olden getting her vaccine. And this cup of magic goodness was all it could have been and more.

A window back to before times…


2021: missing the airport

Airports – magical doors that open and close a journey. Travels are bracketed by the halls of transportation – a start and an end, the in between home and place.

The hustle, the bustle, the beeping of electric carts, the smell of coffee and off food combos, strangers, stores selling things that are emergency needs like that missing cord on the bedside table, stores selling spangling silly things no one ever really needs. Duty free perfume counters and aisles of expensive whiskey, next to giant chocolate bars. I love it all.

For people who travel a lot, it’s the place of rituals, passing up that coffee because the best one comes from the kiosk down the 4th corridor, pass the shoe shine stand. The magazine only bought at the news shop with the packet of gum and tissues that are discovered on well into the journey, when they take on a miracle of planning moment and save the day. And the people watching. The people watching that soothes a noisy soul’s imagination. I miss them the random strangers and the stories I make up about their lives the most of all.

It’s my church, or one of my churches, where I go to worship what can be and what was – where I have nervously anticipated what’s next and cried tears of acceptance of what won’t be or people I am about to miss so much.

We all have the unofficial places we go to worship – would it be so wrong that mine is an airport? Because it is.


Coffee Cups – 2012 Heathrow

Terminal Five, Giraffe, early early morning on the way back from India, Fall 2012

Coffee. How I love it. Is it a genetic trait? I hope so. Where my Cuban battery can only be recharged by the jolt of caffeine and sugar?

After three weeks in India, this cup was part of the in between travel fogged transition from a new land to me, to the ritual of home.

I raced off the plane in dark dawn to find this magical cup. I still laugh at how my friend and I were navigating security and she was simply taking too long and after a trip in friend harmony, she snapped at me she could handle her own luggage. Girl, I thought, I am only moving that too stuffed bag so I can get myself past this screening to the terminal and real cow milk coffee. It’s barely to do with helping at all.

Next stop USA, I thought, next stop home. First, this magical coffee.


2020 The Year That Wasn’t

Not one shared word from me. Not one post. Here instead one month into the new year are the pictures. It was a lot of these beautiful moments and also a lot of unknowns, worry, tears, love, laughs and all the rainbow of feelings. Family and friendship.

I am ok. My family is ok. My friends are ok. There’s been a bit of collateral damage though and for that, well, sitting here in 2021, choosing to look forward and be here in the now. Much love to all.


2019: A year in pictures

I didn’t spend any time writing this year, except to friends and family which is really a tragic shame that I have to spend some time on to make sense of why that was so, not for you dear reader. Today, I was googling artists and writers that spend time doing what appeared to be nothing to give myself some comfort – most of the stories weren’t really so positive so I knocked that off and here I am. I can just say that sometimes all the stories in my head are so loud and twisted together, I can’t make just one stand alone – maybe this next year, I can get better at that? Here’s hoping.

Good news, while I have a boatload of cliches about this past twelve months, I am going to spare you all most of that and save them for my own time. I will just state clearly that the path to my next decade seems to have gone from rocky and directly uphill an endless trail in the dark woods, to a gradual climb above the tree line with a summit in sight, with amazing views and terrifying drop offs on the side of trail. I am almost there and the last ten years have for once, looking back, been more of the making of me than the breaking of me. I am braver, smarter, wiser than I was ten years ago. I am also more humble, more willing to laugh at myself and no longer trying to make sense immediately of all the lessons. I figure they’ll explain themselves in time. People have come, they have gone and come back and I expect they will all continue to do that. My constants are like redwoods, tall, strong, reliable and mostly indestructible.

I celebrate that more than you all could know and today, simply just enjoy a small glimpse into the past 12 magical months, before I start planning, sharing and WRITING more about 2020. Just breathing in what just happened. It was a year of so much – there was death, new beginnings, challenges, joy and a lot of love.

On this fourth day of the new year, wishing you all happy days on the trail of life, may the year be kind, joyful and if it sends you challenges, may you be brave, fearless and strong.


2019: Fall at rest

My favorite tree. In my favorite hometown spot.

Five years ago, she was on fire. Orange as ever. I felt like I was on fire too. About to head off to Nepal, I was ready for what was next. That fall was spectacular.

This fall, she’s not so orange. No so well. Maybe she’s older, maybe she’s too tired to glow but don’t give up on her yet. Tree, I feel the same some days.

Let’s look closer though. She’s still got some orange fire in her leaves. She’s still in the game. So am I tree. So am I.


2019: Florida

Time away is time to clear out the cobwebs and to put my house in order. Distance from the churn of life. If I haven’t spoken of it here before, I should have. Lots has happened this winter and early spring and also a lot of nothing has happened. Suddenly the nothing is something. Somehow I misplaced the goodness of the nothing. The comfort of same.

Same job, same house, same life but I forgot that’s not bad news. It’s ok to feel settled. My friends. My family. My small town. My cats even. I actually kept plants alive this winter for goodness sake.

My thirties were so restless. I get tired thinking of it. New places, new cultures, I got a little lost.

I don’t feel lost anymore. I can see the benefit of playing the long game. This is new, people, and we’re going to see where it goes.

For now, I am going to have some more seafood and look at this view and warm my winter filled bones in this glorious sun.