Break-Up Letter to 2020

Dear 2020,

I am thankful we made it this far, but I am going to say goodbye today. We are finished.

Thankfully,

Denise

When I chose my one word for 2020, time, it was partly because I never had enough. I was never able to accomplish everything (hardly anything it seemed) on my to-do list. I think it had more to do with the fact that I am a teacher than that I was lazy or unproductive.

Ironically, though, early in the year I had more time than I needed. We were sent home from school on February 26, 2020. Learning online continued, and it was stressful at times, but time became much more plentiful. I did manage to achieve some of my hopes for 2020–like doing the NYT mini puzzle each day and taking a one-second video each day. (OK, I know!) But a big hope for me was to be more intentional about building relationships and leadership in those I work with. And, thankfully, this has been a definite highlight.

There were other hopes I did not reach. For instance, I haven’t finished my TESOL certificate or read 40 books in 2020. Why was it that 2020 was not a good reading year? I wondered quite often.

However, I spent some of my 2020 time on things that were not even on my list from last year, ideas that pre-covid were unheard of and/or long-neglected in my life.

  • I learned to cook with spices.
  • I have been exercising and lost 30 extra pounds that did not need to be on my body.
  • I took better care of my mental health.
  • I edited the videos for 40 online worship services for church.
  • I wrote more than 75 poems and more than 150 blog posts.
  • I have not gotten covid-19.

For all these things I am grateful. Since I’ve been practicing thankfulness when I wrote some gratiku and a poem about gratitude in November, I thought giving thanks is a worthy yearlong plan (or longer).

So, for 2021, I am choosing to be thankful, to say thank you every day to my God and to the people around me and in my life. Life is short, and I can’t always be productive. I’m going to embrace life and say thank you for it, even while I keep working for love, peace, change, and justice. While I work, and even when I’m unproductive, my one word for 2021 is Gratitude.

One word for 2021 --gratitude written on a canvas setting on a small easel
My one word for 2021

Images: Hour glass timer by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Thank you blocks by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

Other one word posts
Voice
Fit
Serenity
Hope
Sow
Time

The Isolation Journals Prompt 122 by Ezra Bookman
Choose one bit of gunk you want to get rid of, something you don’t want to carry with you into 2021. A negative thought you use to put yourself down, a limiting belief or bad habit. Some idol in your inner temple that’s holding your light back from the world. Write it a goodbye letter, as if you’re breaking up with it.

Thinking about Possible One Little Words and Teeth

A day late for Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

Gratitude, connection, creation, and change. These are in my future for 2021, at least that’s what I heard from Instagram. I like those words, actually, and perhaps they will spark an idea for my one little word for 2021.

Today I’m grateful. Yesterday I was eating a piece of white bread toast, not that toasty. I took a bite and bit on something very hard. I spit it out, wondering what in the heck happened.

My husband took it and determined it was  a fingernail. I thought I would never look the same at my favorite grocer with freshly baked bread. I threw away the rest of the toast.

Then I went into the other room, and quickly came running back to tell my husband, “It was my tooth!” I had run my tongue along a part of my mouth and realized my crown had broken.

Then I walked over to the dentist, in the next building. I went right in to see the doctor. He assessed the situation, and made an appointment for 3:15, a few hours later.

So, today, I’m grateful for my teeth and the dentist who was available and fixed my crown, helping keep me healthy.

Time Well-Spent

My one little word painting and my first entry for #100DaysofNotebooking

My one word for 2020 is TIME. Though I can’t buy it, own it or keep it, I can spend time well. That’s my intention in 2020 and beyond.

This year I am giving up on time-sucking activities and going for activities that offer a more valuable contribution to myself and the world. Here are a few things I’ll be doing.

  1. Finish my TESOL certificate
  2. Build relationships with people
  3. Build leaders at school and church
  4. Find or create ways to bring justice, and use my time doing so
  5. Read and write about what I’m learning spiritually
  6. Read 40 or more books
  7. Do occasional writing challenges, like the #100DaysofNotebooking challenge that’s going on right now on Twitter
  8. Take a 1-second video every day (App: 1 Second Everyday)
  9. Solve the NYT daily mini puzzle (It takes just two minutes and then I have to wait until the next day!)
My 2020 journal

 

One Word for 2019 Poem

I was inspired yet again by my friend Sheri Edwards. She recently created a great post, “Blog Images,” about making and finding images to enliven your blog posts. As photo resources have continually changed over the past decade, I learned some tips that were new to me. I made the above layered images on Google Slides from this video I found on Richard Byrne’s post that Sheri had shared.

This month, my students are doing a collaborative project with art, computer, and English about their #OneLittleWords. They are writing a paragraph, poem, and slide show video, along with a piece of art they did in art class. We are learning together and growing as we get to know and help each other with the challenges before us in 2019.

Sow in 2019

It’s a new year and time for a new little word. I’ve been thinking about my word for 2019, and I think I’ve found it.

Sow. Not the four-legged kind, but the verb.

Sow…grow…seed…plant…develop…propagate…strew…broadcast…scatter… Hmmm… Yikes! Whoa, there. Don’t be scattered, Denise! That’s been your problem. Breathe. Now focus.

OK, back to my one little word. I choose simply SOW for 2019. Just planting seeds. Let’s see where that takes me.

“Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows.” Galatians 6:7 (New English Translation)

I have spent too many hours watching and reading political discourse over the past three years. What do I reap? Stress. So I’ve decided in 2019 I will start spending my precious extra minutes doing something productive, fruit-bearing, work that will reap rewards. 

First, a bit of history: In 2016, I chose the word FIT. I thought I could not only be fit, but also that I could fit everything into my schedule, including watching the trumpster fire that was the 2016 election.

In 2017, I chose SERENITY. I had tried the year before, and I knew I couldn’t fit it all in. I tried to find peace in the chaos.

In 2018, I chose HOPE. I knew our country would come back to its senses and trump’s presidency would end soon. I still have hope; it’s just taking longer than I thought it would.

Thank you, Sarah Landis, for sharing the One Little Word hyperdoc and this template.

Now, in 2019, I can be confident to SOW. I can make good choices and plant seeds of important work because I do have work to do:

As you can see, I have important work for 2019. There are seeds to plant so that in 2020 I can benefit from the harvest.

At the same time, I can leave trump to wrap up his sinister sowing, knowing that he will soon be reaping justice. I will trust Mueller, the 116th U.S. Congress, and the American people to do their work. I also trust God, who is not deceived; a person like trump will definitely reap what he has spent a lifetime sowing.

Since I have one more week in 2018, I thought I would test drive my new one little word. I’ve created a spreadsheet to check off each task I work on for any amount of time each day. I hope it will help me stay focused on tasks that will lead to a good harvest. I’m praying my one word will take hold of me this year!

What is your one little word for 2019?

Serenity

My one word for 2017

Serenity.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

This is my third blog post this year about my one little word–serenity. I introduced my word in January, and shared an update here this summer.

Today I feel encouraged because I chose to be committed to a couple of small things this summer, and those commitments are adding to my well being, my sense of serenity.

I decided to choose two goals that would possibly help me have more peace about the things I cannot change–particularly the politics of the United States at this time in our history. My goals:

  1. Take a challenge to read 40 books during the school year.
  2. Write 750Words at the start of each new day.

They seem fairly unrelated to our political climate. However, in 2016 and half of 2017, I was spending way too much time watching and reading political news. Instead I decided to read and write.

Recently, on 750Words, I broke my previous record of 62 days in a row, set in 2011. Today, I was up to 74 straight days.

It’s interesting how some outside lead measures have helped me to find serenity the second half of this year. Instead of searching for serenity, though, I write in the mornings, often praying for others and counting my blessings–10,000 reasons to say thank you.

In addition, I’ve read 7 books since school started, almost on par for my 40-book challenge. The frozen sea within me is getting chipped away.

I don’t have as much time for the news nowadays. Perfect. Instead of trying to say no to the drama and toxicity of our politics, as I had for so many months. I have said yes to writing, reading, praising, and reflecting. As a result I have more serenity.

 

Stones Like Hope

Today my friend, Lisa, posted a quote on Facebook. It was from the book Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller:

“I think every conscious person, every person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality, has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group think, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself. I hate this more than anything. This is the hardest principle within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest.”

It was good for me to read. I have been quite vocal on Facebook and Twitter and this blog about my disdain for the man residing in the White House right now. When I’m reminded of my own responsibility in the matter (that ‘needy beast of a thing’ inside me) it’s good. It’s good to be reminded. I am not without sin, so I shouldn’t throw stones. (John 8:1-11)

I wrote this response to Lisa on Facebook:

Wow, that is a powerful quote, Lisa. It’s good for me to remember. I’ve been complaining a lot about the past election. It, and the months following, have been a mirror for our country to see what we have become.

However, as Donald Miller reminds us, real change is when each of us deals with “the needy beast of a thing” within ourselves.

It’s the reason I won’t ever leave Jesus, even when people were walking away from Jesus’ tough words in John 6. He asked his disciples if they wanted to leave too. Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

Precisely! To whom shall I go? except to this one who not only convicts me of sin, but saves me from it. I’m the bigot, the fearful, the arrogant, the rich person trying to squeeze into the needle’s eye, the one who shouts at students and the one who ignores the needy. And that was just today.

I am a sinner through and through, and that should not be forgotten as I resist this president.

Since that comment, I have thought more about that inner beast. God save me if I had to start recapping all the crap that has shaped who I am over the past five decades. I’m ashamed of what I was, and I’m thankful to God for helping me to be better.

I have hope. Hope in God. Hope that people on both sides can face their demons. Hope in the Constitution. Hope.

I’ll try to throw more stones like hope.

God help me.

Going on From Here

Each step along the way during this presidential election has been painful. Unless he does something crazy (crazier) before Inauguration Day, he’ll be inaugurated president in a little over a week. The summer of 2015, I began watching open-mouthed as he sucked up all the attention of the press because of his asinine actions and comments. Then he ousted his competitors, and went after Hillary with a no-holds-barred campaign from hell, complete with help from the Russians.

I knew if he won we would not be the country we thought we were.

Yes, I’m sorry for all my friends and fellow citizens. I’m sorry to those around the world who look to us to be role models of democracy. I’m sorry they have to be disappointed in us, and we can never take it back because we really did elect him.

One Word for 2016

My word for last year was FIT. It was a good word, but ended up not the right word for 2016.  Things didn’t fit so well last year. The word might have fit better had I not spent scores of hours watching and listening open-mouthed as our country went crazy. I spent too long watching him make an ass of himself, and later when he was nominated and elected, an ass out of our country.

This year my word is serenity because I have to find peace in the insanity. Everything doesn’t fit, but in the midst of the chaos we can have peace.

One Word for 2017

God is in control, and God has much to teach us in the U.S. We have painful lessons we need to learn. Lessons that we’ve been trying to learn for centuries. Lessons on systemic racism, fear, greed, ignorance, partisanship, the Constitution, lack of critical thinking, and, oh, so much more.

While we learn, God save us. I believe you can give us peace instead of fear as you teach us the lessons we need. Amen.

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”