Ghost Year

2021

 

 

 

 

 

Oh my, just like that it is 2022. I find that hard to accept. Although I have done a bit more social, a bit more live things, it has fundamentally been almost two years. Two years of masking, of distancing, of staying home, of busy work and isolation. Two years of cooking for myself with the occasional pickup or delivery to break the monotony. Two years of home repairs and reorganization. Two years of loneliness and zooming.

It feels like 2021 was a ghost year. A year that didn’t really happen. Except I feel my age at least a year more, I see my body changing. I feel myself falling into ruts and routines because there is little to break them. Some are healthy, some very much not so. I feel old because the things I used to do that felt young aren’t happening all that much. The apathy of isolation makes motivation toward self-care an often fleeting thing. Perhaps saying so will help.

I am hoping that this new year will allow me to release those things I have been struggling with and to be open to whatever my new reality is. I know that I have no emotional or real time for resentment, envy, negativity, self-pity. But they seem to keep creeping back.

So what is the path to releasing those things that no longer serve me? Letting go of dreams that will never come true and allowing new ones to take their place. What is the way to allow love and happiness to be the guiding principle of my life? I think just keep talking to the people that understand, letting people love me despite myself and accepting that my life is so much better than it could have been or be. Keep writing, keep making music, keep cooking, keep reading.

I am resolved that I will not have another ghost year. I will make memories. With any luck, some dreams will come true. I will love the people in my life. With a little luck, maybe I will travel again. I will try to face every day with gratitude and a little bit of resolve to do better than the day before.

Here’s to 2022.

Small Change

There is a certain beauty in small changes. When we think of change we often think of the great changes of habit or behavior; dieting, quitting smoking, stopping buying too much on Amazon. But life is full of the opportunity for small changes. And they can be very satisfying.

During this pandemic time, I looked around my house and thought about what I had been wanting to change. What I could afford to do. I didn’t know at the beginning how long I would be mostly restricted to my home.

The walls, I was tired of the beigeness, the tan. The entire interior common spaces of my home are connected so changing the walls is a big job. I had previously painted the bedrooms and bathrooms; but now the sheer size of the job was intimidating. And then I said to myself “self, you don’t have to do it all at once.” There’s an epiphany.

And so, I vowed to do only what I could at any one time. At first I thought a wall at a time, but it became clear that I could do a room at a time. Enlisting the help of my tall son to paint above tall kitchen cabinets for instance, I finished the entire house.

Starting is the hard part. But then watching the color change, section by section, is inspiring and wonderful. The satisfaction of completing a room is visceral for me, I love my home. Once you start it is easy to keep going, swish of brush, smush of roller and stroke by stroke change happens.

As part of the process I overcame my fear of the tall ladder (I have tall ceilings), learned the limits of my shoulders and didn’t spill any paint on rugs or valuables.

Small changes. I re-covered my dining room chairs with something colorful and far less formal. I hung curtains where there were vertical blinds (ask me about the very cool hack.)

And then I started on organizing, making small changes in closets and drawers and cabinets; projects I have put off forever. And in the process have donated bags and bags of things I don’t need but others might be able to use.

And then I thought about my habits, my routines. I started yoga online maybe three times a week. I started piano lessons twice a month. I added regular zoom contact with people I love and respect. I made a few financial changes to make life a little simpler. I bought a lawnmower.

The ultimate beauty of small changes is that they add up to something important. A beautiful and satisfying home, new routines, doing good for the community, the possibilities are pretty endless. So don’t think that small changes are small change, they add up, they matter.