Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Season’s Greetings whatever holiday you celebrate and where! 2020 has been quite a year. I would say my proudest work accomplishment this year as a Middle School English teacher was putting a focus on Socio-Emotional Learning in my classroom by trying to learn what personally motivates my students with various learning abilities from standard, advanced, to gifted learners. I’m working on building community. One personal achievement I reached this year was maintaining a connection with my students during COVID lockdown in Florida from March to June. I would say that it was really rewarding during a time of uncertainty.
This year, I published one book titled Malachi, Ruse Master. It is not specifically sci-fi, but focuses on a character that connects to characters and events in my Detours in Time series. I really enjoyed writing this one, getting into my character’s head and writing about the struggles of finding your identity when you are a young adult. He works in an unusual job that serves to help him discover many things about himself and his own ethics. If interested, it is on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086VYJYZX
In 2020, I suffered a frozen shoulder and recieved physical therapy for it. I’d been through PT at the end of 2019 for my back and still use some of the principles and exercises I learned. The shoulder recovered, I’m glad to report. In the process, I read and discovered a lot about how our mindset contributes to pain. Some of it is automatic and takes much work to change, but I am working on the mindset constantly. There are many people who helped me and worked to understand me this year, and I am filled with gratitude. I am trying constantly to extend my circle of gratitude for every little thing someone does for me or every attempt at understanding me. It makes me smile more, which makes people respond more positively to me. It seems to pay off for everyone.
COVID anxiety has been a struggle for me, but I’d say it comes and goes, and staying busy or exercising seems to really help. I struggled with anxiety and was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder even before COVID became a concern for the United States this year, so fortunately, I was already working on the problem before lockdown occurred and cases skyrocketed. It’s odd to say, but the diagnosis came right on time. I’ve read and studied many books on the subject and took an online CBT course this year. I feel that knowledge and acceptance of our own flaws are both very important. One thing I do regret is my lack of focus, which really got worsened from COVID lockdown. I am able to focus on my work but cannot seem to focus also on writing a book. Never fear! I have an idea in the works, but it will take longer than my former books.
My social life has suffered probably as much as anyone else’s. I have a writer friend I would invite to the house a few times over the summer for coffee and a chat, distanced, of course. My boyfriend and I maintain contact and even went to socialize with some of his friends outdoors on their patio this summer. I had two Zoom meetings with some of the ‘gals’ from work, one of which carried on into a FB group video chat and included some fun app affects!
At least I have my family, I have an understanding significant other, and I have some longtime, trustworthy friends. My mother has had an extended stay at my brother’s house due to COVID concerns, but I am getting her this week. My 24-year-old son and I have been co-existing gracefully, and he is becoming such a generous soul. I remember his teen years, ugh. He certainly has had his own struggles and still has some effects from them. Still, he is finally growing into the person I’ve been trying to teach him to be in the most important ways: gentle, generous, kind to his family members and not so self-centered.
My biggest lesson learned this year is that our mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. It immensely helps a person’s mental health to tell someone about what is bothering them. I have a stressful job, and just discussing with my boss some of the things I have to go through to get organized and handle certain situations provided such a relief. My anxiety, especially in the holiday season, hits at unexpected times, and I’ve even explained to some of my classes that I feel claustrophobic if too many of them come up to my desk. It has helped. I also cannot concentrate if two people ask me a question at the same time. In my everyday life, I’ve been practicing not keeping things in and speaking my mind in a calm manner.
I also asked for help, unashamed, from a good work friend before taking the drive to South Carolina. When asked if she’d ride along with me and maybe take turns driving, she said yes without hesitation, looking forward to time away from ‘mom’ duties. I am so thankful! Having her to talk to on the way up was great and kept me calm when I went 20 minutes past the exit for I-95. We laughed it off and kept on going. When traffic was congested in South Carolina, as usual, I said, “I hate this road,” and she said, “It’s okay, we’ve got this.” It was very helpful, as congested traffic makes me feel boxed in, a result of a car accident I had in 2016. Why am I not over that? Why ask why, just make adjustments as needed.
I know there is a little risk involved there. So, appropriately, my favorite song of the year has been Caution by The Killers. Okay, it’s a love song, but I want to love my life and ponder predominantly on the positives, so it works! The beat and the lyrics are so inspiring!
So, I say, speak your mind, throw caution to the wind! Take a risk. The worst that could happen is that you may not feel accepted by that person, in which case, they don’t deserve your openness. Talk to someone else, then. You will soon find someone who has felt the way you do at some point in their lives. So, I have learned to own my life, my personality, and not be ashamed to share what it means to be me. I may not be able to travel right now, and life and activities may be COVID limited, but I am still going to grow.
This Best of the Year tradition was first brought to my attention by my global blogger friend Beaton. You may visit his blog at becomingthemuse.net and his Best of the Year at https://becomingthemuse.net/2020/12/17/what-2020-taught-me/ You are invited to share your own, and use the hashtag, #BOTY2020.
In my tradition, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and Best wishes for 2021!
Pamela Schloesser Canepa