Joyful Living

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Bonjour!

Happy New Year from Joie de Vivre! I can’t believe 2020 is over and we have a fresh start, a blank slate in front of us. I haven’t felt the turnover of the year this keenly since the 1999-2000 calendar flip, another unique moment in my lifetime.

Only now, the stakes feel much higher: The hope of a new U.S. presidency, the fight to dismantle systematic racism and white supremacy, the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic through vaccinations. What will the future America, and world, look like? What kind of nation do we want to be? And what is my place in it? What kind of person do I want to be?

And wow. What a day. January 6, 2021, the day armed insurrectionists (mostly white men) stormed the U.S. Capitol and breached the Rotunda and chamber of the House (quoth Trump: “We love you”). If we wondered what kind of country we lived in, as if suffering under the Trump machine for the last four years did not show us, now we know: We live in a country where sitting presidents encourage and incite violence on the federal government and people take up the call. So there’s that.

Originally, before a technical snafu (read: I poked the wrong button and sent this post before it was done; le sigh), today’s post was going to share some reflections on things I learned in 2020 and goals for 2021. It still will, though I am actually thankful for the setback of my own design. My perspective has changed after what soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called another day that will live in infamy, adding to Roosevelt’s list.

Looking Back

At the beginning of 2020, I was focused on preparing for and passing the Vermont bar exam and finding a house that was not ridiculous expensive and had central air conditioning (both real challenges in Vermont). I actually sat for the bar in a hotel ballroom with 100 other people during the last week of February, which still boggles my mind. And then it became March.

Being thoughtful (pensive) and reflective (dwelling) are two of my more consuming hobbies, so, naturally, I have some thoughts What Happened and What I Learned:

  • As spring wore on, cases spread, and lockdowns ensued, I learned how to sit with uncertainty and irrational fears, and finally started to make peace with my crippling nostalgia and melancholy that plagued me lo these recent years.
  • Setting boundaries and managing expectations are essential. As I love to say, if we can’t honor our needs during a global crisis like a pandemic (and a demagogic presidency), we never will. With practice, it gets easier.
  • Working from home is the best. I love it and hope I never have to go back. I’m lucky and grateful to have a position teaching online graduate courses at a university in Illinois, a job I would not have were it not remote.
  • I don’t miss restaurants or movie theaters or crowds of people (or people) in general. I do miss massages, and may get a haircut after I get vaccinated.
  • I love being at home with Le Chien all day. As charming, outgoing, and loveable as I am, I am actually an introvert.
  • I love being at home with Mon Cheri all day. It feels like olden times; we are medieval artisans toiling in our cottage industry, we are pioneers homesteading alone on the range.
  • I can do my own waxing.

Looking Ahead

If I’ve learned anything during the pandemic and our leaders’ responses to it, life is unpredictable and tenuous, and we have little to no control over it. (Is this why the French embrace the pleasure principle?)

This year will offer its own historic moments, and already has: The COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out; the Georgia runoff flipped the U.S. Senate blue; Kimye is getting divorced. My thoughts and goals:

  • I have gone few places and seen few people since last March. I relish brief interactions with neighbors and cherish family time. I no longer take time with my loved ones for granted.
  • My job is good enough. After getting sworn in as a Vermont attorney, I thought I would launch an illustrious legal career, proving I am smart and good enough once and for all. Turns out, I already am, and following my own path is more illustrious than marching in lockstep to society’s expectations. I have embraced my choices and will continue to seek opportunities.
  • I started reading more in 2020. Instead of dithering, I will make more time for old interests (art, decorating, baking, baths) and new (puzzles!). My pursuits are largely solitary. That’s okay. I am cultivating a rich inner life.
  • Just because Trump will be out of the White House (jubilation!) does not mean Trumpism and the Trump effect will magically disappear (if only). If anything, we will have to be even more diligent, more aware, more en garde than ever before. We must keep resisting and fighting the good fight one day at a time.

Over the celebration of the new year, I hunkered down with my CDC-sanctioned bubble: Mon Chéri, Mes Parents, and, bien sûr, Le Chien. If someone tripped over their own feet, or misspoke, or ate too many cookies (all me?), we quipped, “Is this really how we’re starting things off?” We were giggling, giddy with excitement for 2021, a fresh start, for change. After the events of January 6 (yay, Georgia; boo, terrorist mob), I have to ask again, only partly in jest… Is this really how we’re starting things off?

What are your plans for 2021?

Merci for reading and please subscribe and share!

À votre santé,

Katie

4 thoughts on “Looking Back, Looking Ahead”

  1. I sincerely hope this year will be better and brighter for the USA. Although these past years it was more the DSA: Divided States of America. I’ve looked with disbelief at what happened on January 6, and feel stupid that it was disbelief, since I should know by now you can expect anything from an angry white man with a toddler’s brain. Great blog Katie and I recognized even more similarities in our characters than I already had.

    Liked by 1 person

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