At the end of every year I pause to harvest the blessings, learnings, challenges and losses of the outgoing year. I give myself space to honor and celebrate my life, to learn from the past, clean my slate, replenish, and prepare to set a new vision for the year to come.
Here are the highlights of my harvest.
Crisis leads to opportunity
2020 was a heck of a year, with the pandemic shutting down so much of our activities and economies and claiming so many lives. In the United States, the year was dominated by a volatile election coupled with horrifying racial injustice on the streets and at our border with Mexico, and a subsequent remarkable uprising of the Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movements.
So many deep losses occurred and so much stress. We were cut off from so much of what and whom we love, so much of what gives our lives rich meaning and joy. The loss to the arts, especially performing artists, and our enjoyment of them was devastating.
Continued ecological disasters and climate crisis rocked our world. 2020 tied with 2016 for the hottest year on record. Close to my home, the worst wildfires in history happened throughout the West Coast, blanketing us in choking smoke, destroying homes and businesses, charring acres of land.
I believe 2020 was a pivotal year, in which many things were being torn down or slowed to a halt, so that we can reckon with all that is unsustainable in our ways of living. Not just ecologically, but socially and politically, as well.
We are being given an invitation to change our ways fundamentally, in order for human life on planet Earth to continue. In order for more fairness, equity, justice, kindness and truth to prevail.
Huge milestones reached
For me personally, 2020 was both intensely challenging because of the global and national crises and a banner year for me. I was blessed with long-awaited and hard-won turning points in both my creative life and at Brilliant Playground.
My first book, Fierce Aria, was published! Ten years in the making, it is amazing to be able to hold my beautiful book in my hands. Even with the book coming out during a pandemic—or perhaps because people are reading more than ever (sales of print books were the highest in a decade) and poetry readings moved online—my book of poems brought a sea change to my creative life both internally and externally.
Recognition for my writing grew, even though by most standards it is still so small. For me, it was huge, opening doors for me and bolstering my confidence. The inner work I had to do to promote my book brought about major positive internal shifts. And I finally launched a gorgeous author website.
My virtual book launch party was thrilling with over 85 people attending and wonderful guest artists joining me. I gave six more readings last year plus a podcast interview and met with a book club that read my book, and I have as many events already lined to start this year. These performances have introduced me to poets all over the world and brought a much greater sense of creative community to me. Because all literary events were virtual, I was also able to attend readings and workshops with so many great writers.
More writing and publishing!
In the midst of a demanding flurry of activity to promote my book, I wrote 50 new poems, 32 blog posts, and posted more than weekly on Patreon, sharing my work-in-progress, newly published work, updates on my creative life, creative ideas to try and other rewards.
I also sent poems and essays out to 97 literary journals or awards, got 6 pieces accepted so far and am still waiting to hear from about half of those places.
Even though I discovered that earning income from writing on Medium was not going to be viable for me after all, I still had over 3000 views (and growing) for my essays there!
Brilliant Playground thrives
The other extraordinary thing about 2020 for me was what happened at Brilliant Playground, the home of my teaching work. With the onset of the pandemic, like many people, I worried what would happen to my income. But my classes filled easefully and abundantly with wonderful students, and they provided a refuge of creativity and connection, week after week.
This was the first year in 17 years of teaching that I achieved true sustainability in my work financially and energetically. There was a feeling of ease, trust and flow, partnering with the soul of my business and my spirit guides in a deep way. So beautiful.
Disappointments and challenges
Yes, there were disappointments. The biggest being zero growth in my Patreon. With income from Medium also not working out, I am still woefully lacking in adequate support for my creativity. I had too many other irons in the fire to be able to work on this area.
Sales of Fierce Aria started out amazing but were disappointing after the pre-sale period. Not getting to dance most of the year was deeply painful and sad. Music didn’t happen either much at all either. I aimed to complete a rough draft of my book on creativity, but did not, though I made some good progress.
In mid-November my husband Don broke his leg and couldn’t walk for six weeks. This presented a huge challenge and re-set. Good in some ways, hard in others. It decimated my creative life for that period. But it gave us time and energy for some longer-range visioning and other projects.
Now it’s your turn
I hope your year brought blessings amidst the challenges and that you take time to celebrate, release and learn from what you can.
To your inspired year,