What I Learned from 2021

What I Learned from 2021

When I think about the last year the only way I could describe it is as a growth year. Getting through the end of 2020 and the entirety of 2021 has felt a lot like getting pulled through a car wash. There were things to be addressed this year, feelings to be felt, and experiences to face, all of them demanding their turn to be acknowledged – whether I felt ready or not. And I took it – I didn’t have a choice. I let the universe serve me a year of cleansing and growth that could not be avoided any longer. I was pulled through that metaphorical soul-cleansing car wash and took it. 2020 did not leave me with the strength to fight back necessary change any more.

For me, this past year looked like accepting things I could not change. Trusting the universe would send its blessings at the right time, even if it wasn’t on my time. And letting go of relationships, activities, and perceived obligations that didn’t feel genuine or purposeful anymore. I went to bed earlier. I scrolled less. I picked up a few new hobbies and read more books than I had the year before.

In 2021 I learned that it was okay to both binge-watch 5 seasons of Outlander to soften some of my sadness about things I could not control – as well as go to regular talk therapy in order to learn to accept and deal with those same things.

I found the guts to let go of familial relationships that were no longer healthy – a decision that was years in the making. I walk away with no regrets.

I’ve spent a lot of this year and my time in therapy thinking about my childhood, and about being a parent myself. As my daughter gets older and I prepare to welcome my son in a few short months, the weight of the responsibility of motherhood is heavier than ever. Not necessarily in the sense of necessary tasks but of impact. I’ve spent a lot of time this last year thinking about how to be the best guide or mentor for my children.
I’ve learned this year just how much our children trigger our own childhood wounds. And how it is up to us to decide if we are going to break a cycle or continue it. A lot of my energy in 2021 has been focused on this journey of healing myself in order to be able to be the best mom possible for my children. For me, this has meant educating myself on parenting ideologies that not only feel right to me but also have science to back them up. In our home, we practice gentle/responsive parenting. And while I am not perfect, I am learning. Our Mama Village, High Impact Club, and The Whole Brain Child have been great resources for me.

Lastly, in 2021, I learned to try new things and complete them.

In 2020, I challenged myself to start writing a book. The very act of starting the book was incredibly difficult for me. There were mountains of self-doubt to climb before I even reached writing my first word. But I did it. I started. And while I have not finished it yet, I have completed a large portion of my novel in the last year and a half.

Starting my book, gave me the confidence to start other things too. This summer I tried my hand at gardening for the first time. I made a tiny flower garden in our backyard and by a total chance picked just the right flowers to plant in our porch planter to create a beautiful display that lasted all summer. I also began sewing this year. And while it may have taken me six months to start and successfully complete a project – I did it.

Goals are personal to the individual of course, but for me, for most of my life, I’ve lacked the self-belief to try new things and see them through. So for me, the very fact that I started writing fiction in 2020, and completed gardening and sewing projects in 2021 is an accomplishment that I am proud of! I feel confident that I may be able to finish my novel in 2022, too.

I’ll end this with one of my favorite things about 2021…

Although this year was not the easiest for me, there were scattered symbols of goodness and hope all throughout it. What I mean, is that there quite literally were signs all around me this year. Over the spring and summer, as I was hoping to become pregnant again, I would see a monarch butterfly, without fail, every single day. I barely even had to look for it as it would show up at the most random of times; getting the mail, coming home from an errand, or playing in the yard with Julia. I read once that seeing a butterfly is a visit from a loved one who has passed on, and I always interpreted this butterfly to be River, the baby I lost in 2020, reminding me to stay hopeful, that my wish for a baby would be granted. And almost as soon as I became pregnant again, the visits from this butterfly ceased but the signs did not. Since becoming pregnant I have been seeing angel numbers nearly every single day. For me, these little reminders have helped me hold on to hope.

One of my original focus words for 2021 was gratitude. I would say that I felt the deepest gratitude this year while out in nature. We went on a lot of hikes in the spring and summer of 2021. Being out in the middle of a trail, where all you see and hear is the untouched beauty of our Earth is such an incredibly grounding feeling. Julia had so much fun running through trails, jumping in puddles, and being as loud as she wanted during these hikes. It became one of our favorite family activities.

As the summer progressed and the risk of ticks increased, we hiked the trails a little less and went to the beach more. We made a habit of going to the beach a few evenings a week to decompress and watch Julia throw rocks into the water. A couple of times we even let her push back bedtime so we could stay and watch the sunset. These are some of my most treasured memories of 2021.

I am cautiously optimistic going into 2022. I’ll admit I am nervous about Covid still, especially being pregnant, but I am hoping that we can get through the winter remaining healthy. I am really excited to welcome my baby boy this spring – I know he will change our lives in the most incredible way, just like his sister did. I am mostly looking forward to trying to remain present-minded and make more memories with my little family.

As for my focus words for 2022…I’m still thinking about that. But I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon.

Until next time, thank you for reading and I hope that the new year is off to a great start for us all!

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