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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07


I couldn’t sleep last night. I tried, gave up and then snuck downstairs. Sometimes, it helps to make a cozy beverage and to empty your head of thoughts onto paper. One thing I particularly like about this house is how our bedroom is on the third floor – converted from what was once an attic. This allows me to creep downstairs and make myself a cup of decaf with my Nespresso machine – undetected. Coffee is easily coaxed out of the aging machine in spite of its groans of protest.

For a few months, my sleep troubles seemed to have abated only to resurface but not quite with the same vengeance I was dealing with before. I’m dreaming muddled dreams with plot twists. Often, I dream of moving – likely induced by the move from Hudson, MA to Forest, VA to Richmond, VA – all within a relatively short span of time. In my dreams, the moving truck rolls up just as I discover an entire room, filled and unpacked, and I panic, “Where will we fit all of this at the new place?!”

I’m off today, which, given my inability to sleep last night is a good thing. Andrea’s working today but it’s slow – people have slipped into holiday mode. She drove us to get an iced coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts while I pressed to reflect on the past year – something I feel I enjoy doing whereas I think, perhaps, Andrea just humors me. At this time of year, the Zora Neale Hurston quote comes to mind, unbidden: “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Andrea and I agreed that 2021 was a year that answered questions about where we wanted to live, whom we wanted to live with (thank you for the clarity, March 2021 marriage hiccup), where and how we wanted to work. I learned a lot in 2021 – which reminds me of another quote: Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. – Soren Kierkegaard

I've just come to realize why I did some things that I did in 2020 - things like attend classes to learn to coach. It's funny how you can think you're doing something for one reason only to later admit you had entirely different motivations.

2021 was a heavy year for many. Job Loss. A cancer diagnosis. Death of a loved one.

I marveled at the strength of people dealing with these blows while simultaneously thinking, “What choice did they have but to carry that load that was dropped onto them?” I felt helpless to help lighten their load.

One benefit to not sleeping is that I’ve been awake when late night texts have rolled in. I hope that responding to those maybe made the burden seem a little less heavy and the night a little less dark and lonely.

When I was unpacking my home this summer I thought, “Geez. Look at all these extra masks I won’t need.” Joke’s on me since we’re back to that with renewed, 3-ply vigor. At times, the enduring pandemic has made it difficult to recall precisely when something occurred. At least there is toilet paper, disinfecting wipes and, of course, vaccines and boosters now. The latter part being why I’m inclined to leave my home. I’d rather venture out and take my chances then stay within a 4-wall radius. Andrea and I have begun researching taking a trip to Germany in 2022. We’ve downloaded Duolingo which is easing us in with “Milk”, or “Milch” as they say. I’ve yet to request milk much in the U.S. so I don’t think it’s a key vocabulary word I’m going to need in Germany. I’m patiently waiting to learn the important words like, “bathroom” (which is “bad” – that seems wrong but what do I know?).

Aside from attempting to get a basic handle on German, 2022 looks like it will be a robust year. Presently, I’m halfway through a 4-class certificate program on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with eCornell. Each class is 2-weeks in length which means it moves very quickly and usually, inevitably involves me yelling, “Oh shit! I have an assignment due tonight!” I don’t understand why I can barely wrap my head around the syllabus – it’s not as if I’m unaccustomed to taking classes or even taking them online. Certainly, 2-weeks in length is new. My 3rd class in the program begins next week. I’m hoping that the third time is indeed the charm and I’ll be aware of when assignments are due prior to 7 PM the night I’m required to turn them in. Fortunately, I have until 11:59 PM to submit my assignment but I could do without the jolt at the end of a long day.

Over the summer, I attended a writing workshop presented by author Cheryl Strayed. Strayed addressed a lot of questions which were variations of the question, “What if telling my story hurts someone’s feelings? Or makes them mad at me?” I thought, “Oh who cares. This isn’t my problem.” Only to later realize that maybe it was, in a way, my problem after all. So I’ve signed up for a writing course at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The class begins at the end of January and is called, “Writing the Shadow.”

Like Strayed, Anne Lamott also speaks of writing your story – whatever the light it puts others in: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

All of this is to say that some of you guys are totally fucked. Kidding. Sort of.

What I’m not kidding about is the list of 22 things I want to focus on in 2022. Here’s the secret: You can’t do everything which means letting go of the things that take you off track from where you want to go.

Let's be honest. Hanging out on social media will not move me closer to my goals so check in here (subscribe if you would like) to see how I'm doing with that 22 in 2022 list and if I'm writing shit about you Lamott style.

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