I think it goes without saying that 2020 had a lot of tough moments-hours-days-months. My family has been extraordinarily lucky in that we all still have our jobs and have been Covid-free (as far as we know), and that in itself is a huge win. The start of the school year was the roughest one I’ve ever had (and I’m not even a classroom teacher anymore, so go figure THAT) and while I still love my job, it’s more exhausting than usual and harder to step back, even when that is exactly what I need to do sometimes. The plus side, though, is I work with a great team. On occasion I wonder how I would do if I were still teaching vs. doing tech support and I think I’d be okay. I have a wealth of varying educational experiences in my background (including online teaching) which would help ease some of the continual changes and transitions this school year continues to bring.
Personally, I cycle through the pockets of joy and pits of despair a little quicker than I used to, but the key has been to remind myself the cycle will continue. I try to focus on the wins: I finished another manuscript this past year. I have ideas for another. We have new, better leadership ahead. Great books continue to get published and I get to read them. 😀 We have a vaccine.
My one-word resolution last year was FLOW. On retrospect, what a prescient choice it was! I wrote last year, “I’m leaning into my personal motto of “It’ll all work out” and allowing myself the slower transition to some professional changes and taking deep breaths as I prepare to query my latest novel.” As the year turned into something few of us could have predicted, I know I made conscious choices to truly let myself flow with it all. It’s not like it was always easy, but I think I did well with it. This year I considered “resilience”, but I think a more accurate resolution is ELASTICITY. On the one hand, one definition is the ability to resume an original shape after being stretched, but the second definition given is the one I most want to zero in on: “ability to change and adapt”. Honestly, I pride myself on already being able to do this, but as I look ahead at some personal challenges I have for myself, I foresee needing an elasticity beyond what I’ve had. Bring it, 2021.
What would my first post of the calendar year be if I didn’t reflect upon my reading goals? And no, I don’t set a number of books to read as a goal because A) stressful and B) I don’t need a goal to keep me reading. (No criticism of those who have a goal of # of books! It’s just not for me!) Instead, I’ve been continually trying to increase the percentage of books I read to be from #ownvoices – ie: authors from underrepresented populations and writing of their own lived experiences.
2018: 45% of books I read were #ownvoices
2019: 46% of books I read were #ownvoices
2020: 57% of books I read were #ownvoices
I’m really proud of my progress. I don’t really have a goal percentage, but higher is always better! The best part, though, is I read so many truly great books, which is really the whole point, of course.
Here are some of my top reads of 2020:
On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
Loathe at First Sight – Suzanne Park
Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid
Love Lettering – Kate Clayborn
The Mountains Sing – Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
Salvage the Bones – Jesmyn Ward
The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett
All the Devils Are Here – Louise Penny
You Had Me at Hola – Alexis Daria
Get a Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert
The City We Became – N.K. Jemison
Like a Love Story – Abdi Nazemian
Picture Us in the Light – Kelly Loy Gilbert
Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
A Good Kind of Trouble – Lisa Moore Ramée
If you are active on Instagram, or would like to be, I have some recommendations!
For racial and social justice, I have found great value in the following accounts. They tell it straight and keep me on top of news and awareness:
I tried to get into yoga, but wasn’t successful. I did, however, hang onto this great account. She posts like crazy, but also, the posts are super body-affirming:
Writers! These particular ones are delving into some great IGTV series about writing, books, and motivation:
Currently Reading (print): A Thousand Questions (MG)– Saadia Faruqi
Currently Reading (audio): When Dimple Met Rishi (YA)– Sandhya Menon
Song of the Week:
It’s a new year, hopefully a better one. Let’s go with “Good Things” by the Bodeans