Despite being largely canceled, 2020 was a two planner year. For us, this rather unprecedented year actually began in December 2019 when I finally accepted that I had reached a level of burnout and exhaustion I had not seen since I quit driving six hours one way to graduate school. I realized I had a terrible boss (spoiler alert: it was me!) and that if I’m going to give my life to this writing thing I might need to also try some living while I’m at it.
So last December I accepted that I was going to have to go through recovery and then, just when I sorta got comfortable with the idea, our beloved Basch Foo began (what we did not yet realize was) the final stage of cancer. We thought he was simply struggling with some gastrointestinal issues and we treated him for those. For 9 weeks there was no recovery for me, and almost no sleep for me and Basch and Bridgette. We finally accepted the inevitable in early March and made that painful, final decision.
The rest of March I turned my care over to (a far too happy to be an only dog) Bridgette. We slept a lot. Like…weeks of it. I honestly don’t remember much. I bought a new planner because so much of the first was filled with Basch’s rigorous daily care and meds. Bridgette began truly living her best life. Shane and I celebrated TWENTY years of being smooching buddies. (we have a solid three before that for which we’re also pretty darn grateful, but 2000 was The Kiss™ so we mark it. :D).
In April, I stopped sleeping 12 hours a day and I started redecorating. We’ve been here for a crazy long time, but we’re not ready to leave so it was time. I painted the living and dining room and bought a new area rug. We rearranged every single room. Bridgette basked in her only dogness to quite frankly an embarrassing degree. We bought her memory foam mattresses for her arthritis. She also now spends more time in our bed than out, though after one night of trying to sleep with us she realized that was terrible and thankfully still insists on her kennel at night.
A great friend gave me a Masterclass membership in May. I spent the entire summer listening to writers and working on short stories and remembering I’m terrible at short. I managed one at 5.5k but then my second attempt became a full-fledged novella (still in progress). I followed that with a Secret Garden reimagining at 15k; my Halloween short story reached an entirely unapologetic 10k words. I am, of course, always looking for readers so if you missed some of these and want a link, let me know. You can find the Halloween short here.
I also revamped the website this summer when I finally, FINALLY, chose the name I want to publish under. Hooray!
I usually travel a lot but that was the 2nd biggest change to my year. My first trip of 2020 was not until September, delivering a pair of diamondback terrapins to the rehabilitation program at the Charleston Aquarium. It was a single day, rushed (12 hours in the car), and exhausting but I did get the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life from Brown Dog Deli and most importantly the turtles will finally get the proper care they need. Sidebar: leave wild animals in the wild, people. They are not pets.
Autumn brought my and Bridgette’s favorite season: PUMPKIN! We decorated and celebrated like no year before. With everything going on across the US (and the world) there’s been so much negativity and darkness (and honestly pure evil) and I won’t get into those things here but I will say that while fighting what fights we could from home, we were also largely insulated from it. And I know what a privilege that is.
Shane’s job didn’t change much beyond some increased overtime. He was still on site, which meant, my and Bridgette’s days only changed in that whole having to be home all the time. In late October, I attended my favorite conference virtually. That helped but I am still very angry at so much of our country for how this whole pandemic has been handled/treated. I don’t want to talk or think in terms of forgiveness but I can say without question that my opinions of people (collectively and individually) have been irrevocably changed by their actions.
November was NaNoWriMo and getting back to drafting a new novel. Thanksgiving was spent at home, decorating for our second favorite season and then, in a blink, December was upon us. We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary (which still feels so weird to say) on the 10th and pretty much baked and watched holiday movies and snuggled until…well now.
If you made it through the year then you won 2020, but I also think that if you look back upon the year, you will—like me—find growth or success in unexpected places. Tiny shoots of green, flashes of crocus petals pushing through the snow. For me it was breaking bad emotional and work habits. It was reading 66 books. Writing 125k words and finding joy in them. Painting again. Crafting again. Baking bread. Loving and caring for my pack. Letting them love and care for me. Giving myself permission to fail and be afraid and be angry. Finding that I would not, in fact, burn to cinders in those flames.
I’ll spare you the phoenix imagery. I’m honestly not much on the rebirth thing (for me personally) as I remain—moles, wrinkles, cackles and all—rather fond of my marsh witch, swamp witch self. There’s still work to do. Work on myself that I hope to see the proof of. Work that we must do to improve our world, seeds to be planted and ideas tended, the harvest of which we may not see in our lifetimes.