It’s New Year’s Eve Day, and I’m doing what others around the world are doing – pondering where I will party tonight. Yeah right, in my dreams.
I’m sicker than a dog. My children managed to bring me the gift of a Christmas plague, and I’m suffering. Matter of fact, I’ve completely lost my voice. Never in my history have I not been able to speak for days. I know it was wished for by many a lawyer back in the day, but they were out of luck. And because my life is always full of irony and great fortune, the lab lost my Covid and Influenza swabs. For right now, let’s assume I’m sick, but not enough that you need to send an ambulance. I’m sure I’ll be fine.
Back to my good fortune. I’ve had a fabulous history with predicting the next year. For instance, in 2017, after I had the year from hell, on New Year’s Eve (partying with my husband, by ourselves, because we have small children) we clinked our champagne glasses to the noise of me saying, “Goodbye 2017, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!”
And just today, I saw a beautiful poem from The New Yorker that I shared on the eve of 2019:
things got terribly ugly incredibly quickly
regularly truly quickly things got really incredibly
ugly things will get less ugly inevitably hopefully
And I so sillily followed it up by saying, “2020 is going to be great!” (*Please, follow me for more tips on the state of the world and future.)
So let’s recap: In 2017, in the first few weeks of January, I got influenza, and then an ice jam broke on the roof of our office building and flooded my (only one in the building) office; and truly, the year got worse after that.
In 2018, AE. Need I say more.
In 2019, the surprise of a lifetime, a baby post-AE and all of the high stress because of my high risks.
In 2020, need I say more.
20 -- 20 (say it slowly and remember how awful it feels coming out of your mouth).
I’ve been trying to silently reflect upon 2021 today, and I’ve nearly given myself anxiety over “goals,” for 2022. I couldn’t figure out why I was so wound up about it. And then I saw @thesimplestself, a trauma informed coach whom I follow on Instagram and cling to her every word, say:
“The New Year signals time for intentions, hope & “better” days ahead.
If u don’t feel like that for 2022, I get it. If it feels like the anxiety of, ‘can we do this another full year?’ overshadows the hope of what could be.”
I’m no Debbie Downer, and you’re all familiar with my mantra of, #BetterDaysAhead, which I fervently believe in, but man, I haven’t been the best at setting myself up for the next year. Maybe I’m afraid to think of 2022, for fear I’ll jinx me and the world.
2021 brought me a finalized memoir sent to a publisher, my essay in a national publication, and a date for an interview with Brain on Fire’s Susannah Cahalan. It brought four out of our five family members VACCINES!! and NO HOME SCHOOL!! It also brought me to the realization that AE and its aftermath (and Covid isolation) seriously tweaked my mental health, and I have to learn how to deal with it.
2021 was another year of highs and lows. But you know what, I think that’s life for all of us. I’m not unique in feeling up and down. And I don’t think anyone is irrational to ponder their personal peaks, against what seems like a lot of valleys in America and the world.
I want to look ahead. I want to hold all hope. I want to believe that the planet is going to straighten itself out a little bit more.
Here’s how I plan to start 2022 ~ A lot of gratefulness for:
-Daily pick up and drop off of my kids at school, because it’s a wonderful place and was dearly missed when we couldn’t go;
-Activities like swimming, gymnastics, and indoor soccer, because I love to see my kids out having fun again;
-Any time I have with friends;
-New activities and groups I have joined;
-Lessons in learning how to develop a hidden talent I didn’t know I had;
-My routine mornings and evenings with my books;
-Loud and busy dinners with my husband;
-Every time I’m in the pool;
-Writing blogs, because it’s fun, and by the grace of God, AE didn’t take the ability from me.
If I continue to enjoy all the little things, I can’t feel like the year is betraying me. If I only concentrate on the good, I can try to compartmentalize the bad. If I keep my expectations reasonable for a woman who lost her place in the world to a devastating disease, and had to fight to get back on her feet, I won’t be set-up for disappointment. If I continue to believe that life doesn’t always go my way, but that my power lies in how I react to the situation, then I’ll still wield all the power of my life.
And for the love of God, I need to start the year with my voice back. I’m just not cut out for laryngitis.
AE didn’t make me clairvoyant; I wish it did. So 2022 … I throw my hands up at you!
But Covid be damned, I am going to enjoy all the year’s moments, masked or not!
There are always better days ahead. Let’s just work on being patient and flexible, and open to a broad definition of better. You never know, sometimes a rare disease you’ve never heard of can strike you, but maybe you can even come back “better” from it.
Happy New Year? I think.
(The next morning, on New Year’s Day, I saw another one of my Nostradamus-like predictions from January 1, 2011: “Happy New Year – I always love even numbered years better!” Once again for those in the back: 2018 - - 2020. I cringed, and then I kind of smiled. For better or worse, it is 20-22 now. And a few minutes later, we watched the final recorded 30 minutes of the ball dropping in NYC, a city that my children are as fascinated with as I am. As the big kids started loudly counting back from 10, I felt my eyes absolutely swell, and my chest pound. I was so moved, that it didn’t even matter that I couldn’t speak. Life right there, around those four people, in my living room, felt not only hopeful, but perfect.
Better days ahead? I think.)
“If you wake up and don’t want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You’ll see things in a different way
Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone
Don’t you look back (Ohhhhhh)
Don’t you look back
Don’t you look back” ~ Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Fleetwood Mac