2020 Year-end Reflection + 2021 Q1 Intentions

I’ve been using the month of January as a transition month, letting the seeds that were planted in various year-end reflections begin to grow tiny roots.

Now that there’s been some space, I’m placing a bookmark here today, so that future-me will have a place to turn back to.

Looking Back on 2020

I’ll start with a zoomed-out version of the year, looking at some of the bigger themes and happenings that arose in each of my personal seasons. If anyone’s new here and looking for a bit more context, here are my reflection posts from the past year:

2019 Year-End Reflection + 2020 Focuses
2020: Reflecting – Q1
2020: Reflecting – April
2020: Reflecting – Q2
2020: Reflecting – August
2020: Reflecting – Q3 Read more

2020: The Year in Books

Per usual, books provided great company for me this year. Below I’ve chosen some to recommend; my full Year in Books on Goodreads is here.

Shoutout to Bookshop.org

This past summer and fall, I found myself buying a lot more brand new books than my usual—which is all secondhand or library. Following the example of my friend Liz, I bought these all on bookshop.org and stopped buying books on Amazon. (My brother Luke has stopped using Amazon completely; I’m not quite there yet, but am close. PS—If you’re reading and wondering why should you stop shopping at Amazon?, here’s a quick starting place, found from a google.)

So anyway, Bookshop.org is neat in that your purchase is made from small, local bookstores. I bought most of mine from Semicolon, a Black- & woman-owned bookshop in Chicago (which I learned of again thanks to Liz). Read more

Outgoing Mail: December 2020

Here’s some of the mail I sent out in December:

The envelopes are made in this fashion, cut from old book pages and wall calendar images. I make these so often that I don’t trace a template anymore! Simply make a series of folds to get the basic shape, then cut away the parts I know need to be cut away.

Spread some love, send a letter!

“Anne” – Mary Oliver Poem Put to Music

Yesterday afternoon, I painted my 100th portrait (Beyoncé!), finishing my project that spanned over 3 years.

While reading in bed last night, that completion energy swept over me (nothing like a move in four days to spark getting things done, right?), and I was propelled to finish something else: a song I wrote this summer.

It’s Mary Oliver’s poem “Anne” put to music. I recorded a video of myself playing it back in September, added a few bars of vocal harmony a few weeks later, and there it sat for a month.

I’d wanted to add more—a shaker for some rhythm during the chorus, perhaps a bass line, layer on some oooos so it wouldn’t feel so empty—but being a newbie to Garage Band and this whole recording thing, that also felt a little overwhelming. (Maybe that’s why I hadn’t touched it in a month.)

So I added captions and published the song to YouTube last night:

(Volume needs to be loud to hear! I’ll do better with this on this on my next video creation…)

The message in this poem deeply resonates with me—that’s why I turned it into a song!—and that’s also why I wanted the words to appear on-screen.

I’ll also include the poem here, in writing:

Anne by Mary Oliver

The daughter is mad, and so
I wonder what she will do.
But she holds her saucer softly
And sips, as people do,
From moment to moment making
Comments of rain and sun,
Till I feel my own heart shaking–
Till I am the frightened one.
O Anne, sweet Anne, brave Anne,
What did I think to see?
The rumors of the village
Have painted you savagely.
I thought you would come in anger–
A knife beneath your skirt.
I did not think to see a face
So peaceful and so hurt.
I know the trouble is there,
Under your little frown;
But when you slowly lift your cup
And when you set it down,
I feel my heart go wild, Anne,
I feel my heart go wild.
I know a hundred children,
But never before a child
Hiding so deep a trouble
Or wanting so much to please,
Or tending so desperately all
The small civilities.


I’m grateful for our human ability to playfully make things, the joy of beginning something new, and for Mary Oliver’s words!

Reflecting: Q3 of 2020

Eleven days into October I had a 2-hour video call with Nicole Antoinette and my retreat group from January, to reflect on the past quarter and look ahead to the final months of 2020.

Afterwards, I spent an hour or two quietly working through Nicole’s Q3 reflection workbook, answering journal prompts freely, with only myself as witness.

Below is some of what arose from those reflections, but first, wtf happened in September? some space for September. Read more

Art Nights: Fall 2020

Three months into the season, I was lucky enough to meet a woman (my neighbor! Well, here’s how it happened: a man living on opposite coasts from his wife—because he firefights out West in the summers—hosts a neighborhood crawfish boil here on their anniversary, a Tuesday. I happen to go to this weeknight event, La Croix in hand, and end up sitting next to my neighbor. She’s hilarious and brilliant and kind, and why am I only now meeting you?) who a few days later invites me to a painting night with some other women nearby.

A few weeks later we do another. And another. Hosts change, materials change, the instructional YouTube videos change, but we always bring tea and laughter.

Here’s a roundup of the “Art Nights” we’ve had, should it inspire playful creation for you: Read more