Posted by: devonellington | January 3, 2022

Jan. 3, 2022: My Answers to the Questions

image courtesy of qimono via pixabay.com

I found these questions more difficult to answer than those in the previous years, which I guess is a good thing!

  1. What are the frustrations that have crept up over the past year? What steps can you take next year to alleviate them?

So many frustrations! Very frustrated with those who refuse the vaccine and refuse to mask. If they make that choice, they need to be refused entry to any public space. They do not have the right to be walking biological weapons. Frustrated that two corrupt Dem senators hold the entire country hostage. The Republicans were never going to act with ethics, but the Dem leadership needed the strength and the courage to use the stick, not pretending carrots would actually work, while Manchin and Sinema laugh all the way to the bank. Frustrated that there’s still no UBI, no universal healthcare, no voting rights, and student debt hasn’t been forgiven. Frustrated that the agencies on Cape who were supposed to help with services and resources did not. Frustrated that the move was so much more difficult than it needed to be.

  • What have you learned about trust since the start of the pandemic? What people or institutions do you feel have broken your trust? How can it be mended? How can you move forward without it being mended?

I always tried to believe that people are basically good, and most, given the chance between doing the right thing and the cruel thing, will do the right thing. I no longer believe that. People refuse to do something as simple as putting a piece of cloth over their faces. Or considering that they are not the center of the universe. We’d already cleared out supporters of the Narcissistic Sociopath out of our lives in 2015. This year, we’ve cleaned out anti-vaxxers. So many people say you “can’t” let “politics” get in the way of family and friendships. It’s not politics. That’s the veneer. These people have made it clear that they don’t care whether we live or die, if it means a little inconvenience from them or thoughtfulness. Yes, I can remove them from my life. And my life does not have any holes in it from those who were removed. In fact, it has improved. There’s plenty that can’t be mended, but I can go on without those people in my life. They weren’t just a drain during the pandemic. Having them out of my life showed what a drain they were even before.

  • What have you learned about your relationship to silence, solitude, and isolation? How did you make use of these three elements of life? Did you enjoy any portions of it? Feel frustrated, angry, or depressed by any of it? How did you handle those emotions? How will you incorporation silence and solitude into your life moving forward? What have you learned about personal flexibility?

I have always had a greater need for silence and solitude than most people I know. I have always craved a certain amount of it. Especially on Cape, I was constantly punished for wanting/needing solitude, and constantly pushed to pretend to be an extrovert when I am an introvert. The pandemic has revealed that I am happier standing firm as an introvert, and choosing my interactions more carefully. I like being able to hear what’s in my own head, and not constantly barraged by those around me who want validation for being their worst selves, or not following through with things, or hurting others. No. I will not give it to them. Sometimes, the isolation was frustrating, in that I do not feel safe going out to eat (even to a coffee shop to write), or write in the library, or go to a museum. Being in a new community, I would like to learn about it and meet people organically through shared interests, only I don’t feel it’s safe to attend events right now. Moving forward, though, I am determined to carve out the silence and solitude that best serves my health and my work. As far as personal flexibility goes, I am both more flexible and less flexible. I am more flexible in that, if something unexpected comes up and I have to rearrange my day, it’s not a big deal. I am less flexible about letting other people dictate my life, my work, my worth. I lost a lot in the past ten years, as far as self-confidence. I am working to get it back.

  • What have you learned about the frictions of the social contract? Where do you feel society, as a whole, has failed in keeping with it? What is one thing you can do in the coming year that serves you as an individual, while also serving the greater social contract?

Society has failed, on all levels. I am tired of anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, believing their right to kill people supersedes the right of the community to survive. I am tired of all the damn paperwork. Paperwork has nothing to do with efficiency, and everything to do with control. I am tired of a minority thinking they have the right to control and override the will of the majority, to coalesce their own power and money. What can I do? Continue letting my elected officials know where I stand on issues, so they can make decisions based on information. Vote in those who will actually listen and work for their constituents, not against them. I’m vaccinated and boosted; if we need more shots, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll keep masking as long as necessary, and not eat indoors or attend gatherings until I feel comfortable. I am stepping back from a lot of activism, because I’ve been active for about forty years at this point, and it’s time for me to step back and the younger generation to step up.

  • How have you redefined work? Instead of work/life balance, have you decided that work in one element of your life and you want a more holistic approach to your whole life? Have you changed jobs or careers? Are you thinking about such changes in the coming year?

I love being fully remote, and want to stay that way. I want to balance out the smorgasbord of my freelance work a little more. I like to have a variety of assignments, in a variety of fields. I am also re-integrating the fiction and plays back into the regular workday, so it’s a more holistic approach to work. I don’t write fiction “on the side.” It’s part of the whole picture of the different writing that I do.

Now that you’ve pondered on what you learned, think about how to apply that to the coming year.

  1.  Pick one new thing you want to try or learn in this coming year, and list three practical steps to make it happen.

I’d like to start learning Italian. So much of my research and writing takes place in Italy, and I’d like to be able to read and comprehend some of the material in its original language. I always felt I had to get my French back up to speed and beyond first, but why not try learning Italian, and letting them feed off each other? Steps to take to do it: Decide which program will help me learn it best; block out regular time to study; sit down and do the work.

  • Plan a trip, whether it’s a long vacation or a short day trip. Plan it so that you can implement it once it is safe so to do, but you are not locked in, should situations change. What kind of trip is it? Feel free to share as much or as little you wish. If it’s a trip you feel can’t happen for two or three years, it’s still fun to start planning now.

I hope to take two small trips in 2022. One to Ithaca, NY (specifically a pilgrimage to Moosewood Restaurant), and one to Montreal, provided that the borders don’t close again because of the pandemic. Only a couple of days for each, but that will get me in the spirit of travelling again. A bigger, longer trip I want to plan for 2023 or 2024 is a trip to Italy, focused on Venice and Bologna. If the pandemic is more under control, I will be teaching on Cape Cod at a conference next August for a few days, which will be. . .interesting.

  • What new type of social interaction will you try this year, once it’s safe to socialize? How will you make this happen?

I will go to more 1Berkshire events, to learn about the various businesses around here, once I feel comfortable attending in-person events. I would also like to participate in WordxWord, down at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s former home. I’m on both mailing lists, so I can see when events come up, look at the numbers, and decide when I feel it’s safe to go. I may also attend events at MassMOCA, and possibly get more involved in Assets4Artists.

  • How will you implement the changes you want in your work life? What three practical steps can you take over the course of the year to make it happen?

I will continue to build a list of contacts that hire for remote work, and keep in touch with them through my quarterly mailing, once I’ve sent the initial LOW. I will revise my brochure, and do a local mailing. I will research and pitch to some overseas companies, to get more international work. I have the new WRITERS MARKET. I will sit down with it, read it cover-to-cover, take notes, and start pitching to markets I might never have thought of otherwise.

  • What positive changes can you make to support your health, both mental and physical? What three practical steps can you take to make that happen?

I will continue to expand my yoga and meditation practices. I hope to do some at-home retreats several times in the coming year. When I feel comfortable, I will do some R&R days at Kripalu, and hopefully get to take one of Jeremy Rock Smith’s food courses.  For anything done at home, I will block out the time, meal prep ahead of time, and just do it. For anything that requires in-person interaction, it will all depend on the virus numbers. I hope to do at least one event with Be Well Be Here in Concord, in person, rather than just on Zoom.

  • It’s been a long time since we dared to dream. Start exploring your dreams again, slowly. You might not have formed new dreams by the beginning of the new year, but build in time every day and every week, to work on dreaming. Then, when you feel ready, you can start thinking about the practicalities of manifesting the dream. But give yourself room, this coming year, to dream without the pressure to go beyond the dream.

I came across an expression the other day that resonated with me. It was about being “the artist of your own life.” I like that. I also want to go back to being the “architect” of my own life, and blending the two. On some levels, the ability to do that is linked with privilege. When you’re just trying to survive and keep a roof over your head, there’s little room for being the artist and/or the architect of one’s own life. Too much control is in the hands of those who profit off your labor, and it is in their interests to keep you desperate. But if you can find powers in the cracks, and force change, you can start regaining control. You can build YOUR life, not a life of subservience to someone who doesn’t deserve your talent, your skill, and your time. This can take years, but it’s worth it. I’m dreaming of foreign travel, and increasing the amount of paid fiction I write in relation to the reviewing, coverage, and copyediting work. I dream of finding a place in which to put down roots where the atmosphere is one of support for working artists, not contempt.

  • What will you do for joy this year? So much joy has been drained out of our lives for the past two years. How will you bring joy back in?

I’ve been almost afraid to look forward to anything in the coming year, for fear another shoe will drop. And I feel as though quite enough shoes have dropped and landed on my head in 2021. I will take joy in the daily work. I will take joy in the small pleasures of life – where I live, the cats, the cooking, the plants. I will take joy in slowly learning my way in my new community. I will take joy in progress in living my path, not changing my path for someone else’s convenience.

Feel free to answer any questions you wish in the comments, or add your own pondering.

Peace and blessings to you, friends.


Responses

  1. […] answers to the GDR questions are posted here, if you’re interested, and if you want to post your […]


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