Dear 2021

Photo by Polina Kovaleva 

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to express this week. Some weeks I have many ideas, and I have trouble deciding what to write. At other times, the words flow as I sit to write. This week I decided to do something a little different. I love to reflect on the year as it is closing. In fact, it takes me a few weeks into the new year to fully absorb the year that has closed and be ready for goal setting. I take time to appreciate, embrace, and reflect on the past twelve months. This week, I will share my letter to 2021. (Well, most of it.) 

Before jumping into 2022 with both feet, I encourage you to reflect on 2021. There are lessons, successes, and milestones you don’t want to sweep under the rug. Things to celebrate and things to learn about ourselves. I hope that my letter will inspire you to write one of your own. You may be surprised by what you discover.

Dear 2021,

I was apprehensive when you started. California continued to be on lockdown. Emily was still at home and had zero access to outside services. The fallout from 2020 continued. Many thought the new year would bring some normalcy, but my intuition told me 2021 was going to be challenging for our family.

As the vaccine became more available and the case numbers decreased, Todd was able to go back into the office daily. Things began to loosen up around March, but Emily was still home full-time. Caring for Emily took a majority of my time and energy. I worked hard to make time for myself and devote myself to self-care. I was not always successful, but I never quit trying.

My foot continued to cause me grief. I had multiple visits with two podiatrists. I was also referred to a neurologist to get some clarity on my damn foot. I got fitted for custom orthotics. Doctors told me I could get the same results from over-the-counter options. They were wrong. Trusting my gut and investing in custom orthotics is definitely one of my biggest wins. While I still have pain and issues, my foot is  50% better than in 2020. 

My self-care was mostly “boring”. It consisted of doctor’s appointments, acupuncture, and physical therapy. I did not have a single spa day and only a handful of massages all year. I am happy to say I have two massages scheduled for January and am planning more “me time” and self-care. My caregiver network was slim in 2021, and I am working on improving that in 2022.

April was a turning point in the year. Fully vaccinated and restless, Todd and I made plans to go places and see things. We started with a short trip to Las Vegas. We met my friend Koko for dinner one night. She asked if we knew anyone interested in purchasing a toy hauler her mom was selling. A toy hauler is exactly what we wanted. In fact, on our drive to Vegas, Todd and I discussed getting a toy hauler “someday”. Because they have the ramp in the back, we could easily wheel Emily in and out without lifting her. They also have ample floor space that would allow Emily to crawl and play. Although our plan was not to buy one right then, the opportunity was there. It was perfect.

Todd and I took a long road trip with Emily in July. I wrote about this in a prior post. It was challenging but rewarding. It is said that things that require the most effort are the most rewarding. I would definitely agree. Todd and I ended up visiting 17 states and driving over 5,000 miles. The memories we made were many. The trip was an opportunity to meet many of my accountability partners. Some for the first time. Emily thrived on the road. Her ability to adapt and adjust to a different hotel each night delighted me and exceeded my expectations.

I also decided this was the year I was going to speak up. I was going to use my voice. I stepped out of my comfort zone and started posting more on social media. I shared how changes I made to improve my health and well-being have made me a better caregiver. A weekly blog soon followed. I was coaching clients regularly. I sent my first pitch to be on a podcast in 2021. That was scary! The result was I made another connection that opened my world to a group of amazing people impacted by genetic disorders. I also decided to put myself out there and interview to be a support facilitator for We Are Brave Together. Again, expanding my connections and finding ways to support caregivers. My focus evolved as 2021 progressed. My goals shifted more than once this year.

I successfully reached my financial goals. I continued to work on self-development and self-love. I had to pivot often this year. I did not accomplish everything I desired. I am disappointed. I will decide if I will work toward those things in 2022. I will evaluate if I will add to my 2022 goals or not. My main focus will be on my health. As I assessed 2021, while I did a great job maintaining my health, I did not experience growth in this area. It was more of a status quote. 

There were some low points in 2021. Remaining objective and curious was not always easy. I caught myself fighting against reality more than a few times this year. That never works out well. I know this work is life-long. It is a marathon. I will continue to show up less than my best at times, and that is okay.

I was successful at connecting this year. I met and connected with so many people this year. Whether through Zoom, Discord, Clubhouse, or real life, I made time to connect. I am proud of that. I traveled to meet and see people. I made time to camp with the family and spend quality time with Justin this year. I worked on my relationships. I value my friends and family. I exerted the effort to let them know. Connection is something I desire above anything else. I enjoy learning about others and growing my relationships beyond the surface.

In closing 2021, you were a mixed bag. You offered more challenges than I was prepared to face, but I handled them like a boss (most of the time). You offered unexpected gifts, joy, and love. You brought new people into my life that are such a blessing. You reminded me often that I am not in control of much. You gifted me lessons that are helping me visualize my course for 2022. 

Thank you for another year. I do not take the gift for granted and am grateful to have another to learn and grow.

Published by bshort1968

I am a self-described caregiver. I love to help and care for others. I have learned the value of caring for myself as well. Now I want to live my life helping others learn to care for others and take care of themselves as well.

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