I started the year by watching a TV show that made something click for me. I decided I wanted to be a confident woman like the one I saw on my screen. Realizing how few examples I regularly see of confident women in pop culture, I decided to seek them out. I listened to Solange. I searched for feminist podcasts and listened to every episode of Unf*ck Your Brain and Another Round. I watched the first season of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel again. I spent a lot of time thinking about my grandmother in her beige slacks and soft blouses.
I thought about what truly makes me happy and prioritized those things. I watched less TV. I stopped curating and documenting my life as much as I used to.
I helped throw my mom the surprise party of her dreams!
I realized that there are only 24 hours in a day and that I can’t do it all and that it’s OK (it’s really OK!). I learned to say “I’m sorry. I can’t” and “I need help” and “I’d love to, but I really need to sleep tonight.” I left lots of texts and emails unanswered so that I could be with the people around me. I learned to make (short) realistic to-do lists and check everything off instead of making (impossibly long) optimistic to-do lists and feeling defeated. I took care of myself when I got sick. I went to therapy. I went to church.
I wrote a thank-you note to my third-grade teacher. I had soft pink hair and an easy birthday party. I hung my laundry to dry in the sun, and when my neighbors thought it was a yard sale, I gave some of my clothes away. I cooked in a crockpot and exercised to feel good. I felt good. I went to bed early and let the sun wake me up instead of an alarm. I saw my family as much as I could.
My mom told me, “It’s not your job to fix the world,” and I realized she’s right. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I took comfort in how small I am and how limited my sphere of influence is. I only have so much energy, so much power, so much time. I tried to use those resources carefully to help build the world I want. I took courage in knowing that we’re building it together. I tried to learn from my sobrin@s.
Instead of comparing myself to people who have more and feeling inferior, I thought about how lucky I am. I dreamed about a world where everyone has what I have: a loving community, a sense of purpose, a warm home, food in the kitchen, and comfortable shoes. I tried to act in line with my values. I forgave myself when I messed up.
If I counted up the bad things that happened this year, the problems I faced that I couldn’t, and may never, solve, I could say it was a hard year. Or I could count all the ways I learned to navigate problems and give thanks for my resourcefulness and my people. I have a feeling that years from now I’ll remember my friends showing up on my doorstep with dinner every time I remember the problems. Life is like that. Good things happen even in hard times. And if we have friends willing to make us food and bring it over on a cold, rainy night, our problems seem smaller than they did before dinner.
I ended the year with wind in my hair and nopales in my teeth, and for the first time in my life, when it was time to eat 12 grapes, I knew exactly what to wish for.