2021: The Good, The Bad, and The Other

When I started writing this blog post on New Year’s Eve, I was not at all excited to remember most of 2021. 

Last year, it was easy (and helpful) to believe that most of the clusterfuckery of 2020 would pass at some point during 2021. I ended the year with some small hope that things would change in the near future. That the world would return to some small semblance of normal even if that was a little different than what we now wistfully call the “before-times”. But now, thinking about the past year, for the most part, just makes me sad. Maybe I’m just cynical or negative or bitter… but it’s been really hard not to feel that way. 

But that, I suppose, is the whole point of these annual posts. To remember that it hasn’t all been bad. There were many good things and a whole lot of other things in 2021, too. Our lives are made up of all of these things and it is important to honor the entirety of our experience as living, breathing, thinking, feeling human beings.

We recently started a ritual of listening to John Green’s Anthropocene Reviewed essay, Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve. The overall mood of his essay is somewhat melancholy, but this year managed to bring me hope and a sense of perspective. After listening again to his words, I started to think differently about last year. 

“We’re here because we’re here because we’re here…” Being here, together, alive is no small miracle. As John Green says, “We are part of a vast and interconnected US. And we are HERE, if only for a little while.” If nothing else, I am so (SO) incredibly glad to be alive on this planet. I can celebrate having spent the last year with Walker, with Finn, on this strange and beautiful planet full of strangers and friends and family and awe and wonder. 

“How many times in a lifetime do I get to look at a tree… anything less than infinite seems insufficient.” I sometimes feel like all the little good things cannot outweigh the overwhelming and trauma-filled time we all live in right now. But when I think about all the small, lovely things as limited, as finite, as fleeting, it makes me appreciate them more. These moments are our whole lives.

On that note, here is my pile of good things, bad things, and other things from 2021! 

(Buckle up! It seems I’m feeling very wordy this year since I haven’t written on my blog in a year… )

  • We are pregnant!  This deserves the first spot on the list because it is so life-changingly huge… baby is due to join us in May 2022! We started trying to get pregnant at the beginning of 2019, and started fertility treatments in June 2021, so this has been a long time coming. Pregnancy has been exciting, (sometimes) nauseating, and (often) existentially scary. It’s hard to imagine what life will be like after this, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
  • At some point in 2021, I reread all of my journals. I have 16 in total, starting in the year 2000. when I was in 6th grade! It was an interesting, enlightening, and sometimes painful experience. All I can really say is that I’m so grateful to all the people I’ve been to become who I am today.
  • I quit my job in June! When I reread my journals from the past five years, I realized I have disliked my job as a school psychologist almost from the very beginning. I tried changing schools, changing districts, and changing roles… and none of those things made much difference. So I decided it was time to quit. I still don’t have a plan for where my career will go next (which is scary). I was about to start looking for jobs (or at least potential next steps) in September…. buuut then we found out I was pregnant. We are fortunate enough to not need my salary and it turns out that being a pregnant Type 1 Diabetic is a lot of work, so I’m putting off career decisions for a while.
  • I can’t (honestly) write about 2021, without writing about COVID. The experience of living during a pandemic over the past two years has really damaged my faith in humanity. This could have been a moment for the world to really come together. To make decisions based on mutual respect and love and care for one another. Instead we’re drowning in greed and misinformation and general exhaustion.

    Two years ago, I wrote about “my childhood friend and your relative and that one guy from my college classes and your neighbor down the street (and… and… and… and… ) disregarding science and perpetuating conspiracies and misinformation in order to prioritize their “freedom” over the survival of their friends and families and neighbors.” It is exhausting to know that this hasn’t changed after witnessing two years of suffering and death. The biggest difference now is that I have seen many of those same people refusing vaccines and dying. Or spreading the virus to their own vulnerable loved ones and then watching them die. It’s heartbreaking.

    I am just so (SO) tired of COVID. I wish more than anything that I could just carry on with my life, you know? But I can’t ignore reality and I refuse to be irresponsible. The longer we’re in it, the harder it is for me to feel hopeful. It’s painful to live in the world as it is today.

    I know there are so many good people doing so much good in the world. I know healthcare workers who have been traumatized over and over again who still show up and still care. I know so many who have made sacrifices in order to help limit the spread. I know there are scientists who have done incredible things to create vaccines and treatments to make this pandemic more survivable. I take some small hope in knowing the world is not without really (REALLY) good people. 
  • In February, we got snowed in on a weekend getaway to a cabin on the Olympic Peninsula. Finn absolutely loved frolicking in the snow and I loved being in a cozy cabin. It felt super idyllic (even though I was stressed the whole time about whether or not our car would be able to handle the snow when it was time to leave… thanks, anxiety!)
  • I experimented more with writing poetry and wrote a handful of poems. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of my poems end up being melancholy (a throwback to my teenage poetry, maybe???) I really enjoy writing haikus – it’s fun to see what you can conjure with only a few words.
  • In 2021, I set a goal to walk an average of two miles every day. I kept track of how far I walk every day on a spreadsheet and at the end of the year clocked in at an average of 1.77 miles/day and 645 miles total this year. Even though I didn’t quite reach my goal, I’m really proud of myself for adding more movement into my day. Bonus: I got to spend LOTS of quality time with Finn!
  • At the end of May, we were able to visit my entire family in Utah for the first time since December 2018. It surprised me how emotional it felt to hug my parents. We got to meet my brother’s fiancee (she’s lovely!) and had lots of fun outings. I somehow always forget just how beautiful Utah is. I’m so grateful that all of us were able to get vaccinated and navigate that trip safely and with confidence. Yay science!
  • On a related note, my brother and my sister got engaged this year! I’m so excited to welcome new siblings-in-law to our family. They will both be getting married in Fall 2022, just a few months after our baby is born. 2022 will be a busy year for the Snow Family!
  • In July, we went on a trip to the Oregon Coast with three of our close friends. Our Airbnb rental overlooked a bay, had a luxurious hot tub, and an incredible view of the stars at night. We played lots of board games, took turns cooking delicious food, and generally lazed about and enjoyed the view. It was absolutely lovely and so nice to spend time with friends who really have brought us through the last few years.
  • I started acting as Game Master for a group of friends playing the Kids on Brooms RPG! I haven’t been in any RPG groups since last year and I really missed it, so I decided to give it a try! Kids on Brooms is set in sort of an off-brand Harry Potter world, but we really have made it our own world. It has been exceedingly silly and fun.
Finn usually made a guest appearance at our Kids on Brooms RPG!
  • Inspired by Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, Walker and I started watching Star Trek TNG on date nights and discussing the episode using sacred practices to see what we can get out of it. We’ve been recording our conversations with the thought of maybe making something out of it someday. Even though it feels like we are playing pretend at podcasting, I’ve really enjoyed our Sacred TNG conversations and it’s made me love TNG even more. We’ll probably never do much with the recordings, but I like the idea of having them around. 🖖
  • At the end of October, Walker’s stepfather, Perry passed away. Though his death was not unexpected (he had been in a memory care facility for a little over a year with dementia), it was still a huge loss. Perry was diagnosed with early-onset dementia not long before Walker and I met, so I never really got to know him before his memory loss. At his funeral in Oklahoma so many people told stories about his life and what an incredible man he was. I wish I could have known him before dementia. My heart breaks for Walker’s mom. Losing someone is never easy and it’s never fair. 
  • We returned a second time to Oklahoma to celebrate Thanksgiving with Walker’s family. It had been almost two years since we had seen many of them in person, so it felt quite lovely to be together again. Highlights included  a trip to Walker’s granddad’s home and farm in Altus, early morning walks with Walker’s dad (who very generously loaned me several warm layers since I foolishly didn’t bring my coat!), Walker and his nephew sword fighting and wrestling, and playing board games with everyone.
  • We had to cancel our New Year’s trip to Utah because of the surge in COVID cases. Since I’m both pregnant and Type 1, my doctor recommended we postpone our travel. We were so excited to see my family all in one place again and were so disappointed to have to cancel. I’ll say it again… this pandemic sucks.
  • This year, I read 47 books! Not quite the feat of last year, but still pretty good! My favorites?  The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, and Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I’ve already started reading the Anthropocene Reviewed a second time. 🤓
  • [Still] no shame:  We watched a lot more tv this year. Highlights include a lot of Critical Role (yes, I’m a fully qualified nerd), She-Ra, Clone Wars, Rebels, Ted Lasso, Steven Universe (again), alllll the Marvel shows, and (the best show of the year, imho) Only Murders in the Building. 
  • All the small (but not unimportant!) things: Chopped off my hair and dyed it red, new plants, Walker’s new dice-making hobby, several organization projects, braved the movie theater twice for Marvel movies, learned how to play the ukulele, learned to crochet, baking projects, coffee walks with friends, refinished backyard, virtual Harry Potter and the Sacred Text classes, better exercise habits, and lots of board game nights with friends.

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