Happy New Year!
I hope your holidays were special and comforting.
My son was home for two weeks from Hawaii and it was so wonderful to be with him again.
We picked him up at the Philadelphia airport and the line of cars to get in to the pick-up line was bumper to bumper. A total standstill. Yet, I could see him there, just up ahead! I couldn’t bear one more moment of waiting and dashed out of the car toward him. He turned. Saw me and smiled then ran for me. We collided in one giant hug of laughter and tears. We hugged and hugged and couldn’t let go.
Yes, it was just like a Hallmark card commercial you cry over (because we writers always see ourselves in a story 😊).
We had a fun vacation. Went hiking, to the theater, to Longwood Gardens, the movies on Christmas Day, and just hung out.
While it was wonderful to have to him here it was also hard. It struck me with his being here for a short while, trying to pack in every moment with us and his friends, that this is not his home anymore. It never would be again. He belonged somewhere else. He’d created another home. And our lives as a family of three would never be immersed together once more every day. I am not a mom anymore on a daily basis. Fully understanding that was rough—as well as saying goodbye. And having to grief his leaving all over again.
But I am hopeful that in 2022 I can let go of my grief and loss and get to know him, and myself, in knew ways. Different ways—but good ways.
December was also the month I moved my dad into assisted living in North Carolina. A large adjustment for him, and me. I’m taking on many tasks he can no longer do with vision and hearing problems. Handling finances, investments, healthcare, daily monitoring. And all while he’s a ten-hour drive away.
As you can see, 2021 was a year of upheaval for me. I moved to a new area and home. I moved my son 5,000 miles away. I moved my dad into a new living situation. All of this, during the added stress of the Pandemic. And in doing all this, I left a parenting role behind with my son and yet took on a new kind of parenting role with my dad. It’s been freeing and burdening all at once with complicated emotions tangled up in both. With all this, there has not been much writing going on. At. All. LOL.
But with the start of 2022, I feel a sense of peace. This is a winter of necessary hibernation. I cant wait to see what wonderful things come of it! And I’ve embraced three inspirational words for this year: Belonging—Exploration—Transformation.
- Belonging through discovering where it is I want to relocate to on a permanent basis—and who I want to belong with through a community—as I sit in this transitional waiting place.
- Exploration with learning new skills and ideas.
- Transformation with seeing the world—and myself—in a new perspective.
Here’s my wish list of things to explore this year—and feel free to add mine to your own list:
- How to juggle (and let me tell you, it’s hard! Still mastering the one-ball 😊)
- Play the harmonica
- Balloon twisting
- Sword fighting
- Cheese making (signing up for a local creamery class this spring!)
- Cook one new meal a week
- Classical music form and history
Here I am trying to master the one-ball juggling technique first. Star is my captive audience!
Are you looking to belong, explore, and transform in 2022?
Here are tools I bring from past years into this New Year that have helped me find peace, release anxiety, and become more self-aware on a daily basis.
Transcendental Meditation (TM):
This is a technique for promoting a state of relaxed awareness, derived from an ancient tradition in India. TM has so many benefits like enhanced focus, heart health, anxiety relief, and stress management. It’s taught through a one-time fee TM program that you can find in your area. TM offers scholarships, too, and I received one in 2019. TM provides me with a great sense of peace and calm.
When I feel lost, in need of answers, or just trying to grasp understanding, I look to write down my thoughts and feelings about specific topics. Writing my jumbled thoughts down brings clarity and a welcome break from confusion. It helps guide me in the right direction of where I seek to go.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT):
This has the root of ancient forms of relief through tapping of pressure points. And tapping these points, led through a guided mind-body integrated process, sends calming signals to the brain to release overwhelm and anxiety. I began with the free app Tapping Solution, and have since upgraded to an annual subscription.
Denise Austin Workouts:
This can be any free or subscription-based exercise program to do at home, but I love love love Denise! She’s been around for decades and is still peppy and fun. I find myself smiling along with her. She also has such a variety of workouts, many of them low-impact with hand held weights which I love. It’s a real release on a cold, winter day when going out for a hike is not appealing in 25 degree weather!
Master Class Subscription:
I purchased this online subscription this year to soak up knowledge and inspiration from influential people. My goal: less television, more growing 😊. And I’m loving it… from leaders to musicians to writers to conservationists. It’s a window into people who’ve made a difference.
With all this discovery, mental and physical, sometimes we just need to escape! And that can mean escaping into books. Yay! So, this month I’m giving away three hardcover middle grade books to indulge in this winter.
A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON by Kate Albus
It is 1940 and William, 12, Edmund, 11, and Anna, 9, aren’t terribly upset by the death of the not-so-grandmotherly grandmother who has taken care of them since their parents died.
But the children do need a guardian, and in the dark days of World War II London, those are in short supply, especially if they hope to stay together. Could the mass wartime evacuation of children from London to the countryside be the answer?
It’s a preposterous plan, but off they go– keeping their predicament a secret, and hoping to be placed in a temporary home that ends up lasting forever. Moving from one billet to another, the children suffer the cruel trickery of foster brothers, the cold realities of outdoor toilets and the hollowness of empty stomachs.
They find comfort in the village lending library, whose kind librarian, Nora Müller, seems an excellent choice of billet, except that her German husband’s whereabouts are currently unknown, and some of the villagers consider her unsuitable.
THE NEWSPAPER CLUB by Beth Vrabel
Nellie Murrow — the daughter of two (former) newspaper reporters — was named after one of the fiercest journalists who ever lived. When she moves to sleepy Bear Creek, Maine, rumors of vandalism and attacks at the only park in town are keeping her saddled to the house.
Some townspeople say the attacks are gang recruitments. Others blame a vagrant spotted on the hiking trails around town. But when Nellie thinks like a reporter, none of those explanations make sense. Something is happening at the park, but what? All of the fake online news and rumors are clouding the truth.
Nellie wants to break the story — and break free from the front yard — but she can’t do it alone. She needs a whole club if she’s going to start the Cub Report, the town’s first independent newspaper. Creating a newspaper from scratch is going to be tough; but for Nellie, making friends is even harder.
JOURNEY BEYOND THE BURROW by Rina Heisel
There are rules every mouse must follow if they’re to survive in the forest.
Tobin knows these guidelines by heart. After all, with one younger sibling, another on the way, and a best friend with a penchant for trouble-making, he needs to be prepared for anything.
But one stormy night, Tobin’s safe burrow is invaded by monstrous arachnids, and his baby brother stolen away. To save him, Tobin will have to do something he’s never done before: break the rules.
A reminder that SECRET BENEATH THE SAND is almost here!
Yes! Volume 2 of Unicorn Island, Secret Beneath the Sand, releases March 8th in hardcover! AND you can pre-order Secret Beneath the Sand now. If you do, I’d love to send you a bookmark and autographed book plate label for you—or another special reader. Just email me your address and who you’d like the book personalized for at firstname.lastname@example.org.