don’t trip on what’s already behind you – author unknown
community project – thankfulness jar. grab around christmas, prep for new year, do it weekly at least
see that up there?
probably doesn’t mean much to most folks. a quick note about future plans, something you’d see on a post-it. (it originally was.)
that’s how i started this blog entry, back in october.
it isn’t how i ended it, or 2020.
i ended 2020 with tenuous hope, frenetic energy and a general sense of baseline accomplishment that i was able to stay free from covid, & that i wasn’t an unwitting spreader, & that bigger, better things are always on the horizon.
as far as this blog post – a bit of backstory.
i once suffered from a nine-year writer’s block, to the point of wondering if i would ever actually enjoy it at any level ever again. all i had to go on was a dim but persistent desire and the willingness to wait as long as it took once that desire bloomed anew. in the beginning it was a slow, painful process; one full of loathing everything that i put down because it sounded every bit as weary and fragile as i felt the process was at that point. while i knew it wouldn’t always be that way, it didn’t stop me from feeling like it would change anytime soon. i had to be okay with this current existence, for the sake of my future self and the words i had yet to speak.
for now, this is how i’m apparently working best with inspiration: when i get the itch to write/blog, i tend to do one of two things – write the entry & wait for inspiration for a title, or vice versa. so, this title and those notes sat in drafts for a little over 2 months before i peeked in on it again – and suddenly a vague direction and a title intended to draw attention jotted down semi-presently weeks ago finally made sense once i realized i had something to write about.
so, i don’t know if anyone else makes it a point to pause and reflect on the passage of time periodically, but i’ve been making an effort to do so more often. not only does it uplift and humble me to think fondly on the love and support received and the connections made and/or deepened over that time, but it also gives me a chance to catch up on how much i’ve actually managed to accomplish while i was busy keeping my head down and ironically feeling like constantly having to do more to feel productive and accomplished. 🙂
amidst self-reflection a couple of weeks ago i’d looked at that draft and laughed, because in those two months between initially writing those notes and feeling ready to flesh it out i had developed and was nearly ready to announce and launch a series that i felt needed to happen with the coming of the new year. even more amazing was that for many i would tap to be involved in this, all i had needed to mention aloud to confirm interest was that i was working on “a project having to do with mental health” and i wanted their help with it. the more i thought about what i could help accomplish, the more i thought about how far my community, social circles and i had progressed that pulling together a conceptual community think tank centered around openly sharing feelings, ideas, honest encouragement and frank discussion felt was a breeze. the hardest part of this so far was coming up with a name. it was surreal to me that this had come together so quickly – in real time, it seemed like it had been in the making for much longer.
maybe it was.
a facet i also had to stop to acknowledge was more personal – i had to give myself a little credit for my own growth and ability to soften my heart further, and to open up more despite the horrors, stresses, and general emotional drain of adjusting to life in 2020.
i had managed to shape my social voice a bit better – first from the confidence generated from my achievements while at mixer, and then from the burning messages and essays made in passionate discussions that either deepened or ended friendships in june and thereafter. the views i have now are fairly different from where i thought i would have been a year ago, though my goals and intent remained the same throughout. it seems like ages ago that i was heading into january of 2020 and being ever so excited to meet up with friends and finally enjoying some coma-inducing barbecue at pax south. i couldn’t imagine not recognizing most of those people scant months later through either from refusal to acknowledge very real issues, abject downplaying of everything not related to very limited worldviews, or shockingly low amounts of compassion and understanding – on top of losing an entire platform and with it potential opportunities, spotlights and support that so many of us badly needed to continue to achieve on the same level as we were working toward. i personally lost a lot of the momentum generated from nearly eleven thousand followers, a hard-fought achievement of partnership through genuine community building, and most of the comfort i admittedly took for granted as i continued to figure out exactly how i wanted to be seen as a representative of the possibilities available to those who didn’t quite feel like they belonged, or perhaps wanted to achieve differently from others. as a woman of color, it was even more of a mark of pride to know that representation could be amplified through my views and choices, on my time, in my way.
losing all of that was hard – but knowing that i hadn’t lost the work done, the time invested and the rest of my notable achievements amassed. though the time since mixer’s closing hasn’t been easy, as productive or comforting/familiar, i’m so damn thankful for the community that’s been building around me – and i’m careful to say that it’s been building around me, and not that i built it. sure, people come to the streams and join the discord and engage on socials, but wanting to become part of a community is an elevated step, to me. becoming a contributory member is something i strive not to take for granted – it means time, energy and support given on an even higher level than what i already heartily welcome. i’m honored and excited when people hop in, look around for a bit, and decide to settle – and this is not only for those who make it a point to interact regularly, but to every person sending or emanating a thought, good vibe, or smile to our space. different amounts of time, energy and involvement; every person, every word, every feeling could be elsewhere; to share it with me and mine is an honor i hope never to undervalue or underappreciate.
a few last things:
i’m a devout lover of serendipitous events.
it’s always something that has suffused me with all kinds of joy and happy and good feels, and i’d not stopped to really think about it until belatedly recently. once i was able to put some sort of fine point on it, i began to understand the patterns and could then further basking in those feelings in the moment in full recognition of what i’m experiencing. i’m not sure if there’s a term for it, but it seems to feel deeper, more complete, more whole, as if increasing its intensity. whatever it is – there are few things that can simultaneously put an instant smile on my face and in my heart. i think some of it comes from the surprise (because i like good surprises in the form of thoughtful presents, helpful information, complete security and comfort – typical capricorn) or the resultant “platinum plumbob” feeling (if i may borrow a term from the sims – generally speaking, when there’s a high level of aspiration progress achieved), i’m not sure. however – it serves a purpose to create bouts of joy, and i’m ridiculously grateful to be able to hold even small portions at a time.
for example – those italicized words at the beginning of this post – i’d been seeing my friend make a thankfulness jar for a couple of years now, and seeing her “year in review” posts gently but powerfully reminded me that not everything has to be earth-shattering or exclamatory in order to push you toward your version of happy. i was ready to start one of my own; i’d absentmindedly thought to finally put it to paper so i would remember it for longer than just the bits of time that it usually spent flitting through my mind.
and then, at christmas this year, the same friend gifted me my own thankfulness jar. in my favorite colors and glitter, complete with a gel pen.
she told me that she wasn’t sure about how i’d receive it, as she’d had some friends telling her that they liked the idea and she’d thought hard about what she could give to her friends that would help them through everything going on. she wasn’t sure about the colors, but thought of them and the theme when she thought of me. she may as well have been talking to me while she made it – the colors are my two favorite colors, i love glitter and gel pens (and have so ever since middle school), and the fact that she made something for me was already more than i was expecting. there’s a little note she put in the label – “enjoy the now.” something else i often catch myself not doing, too busy thinking about what’s next and how to prepare for it.
it was what i needed, as i needed it, teaching and reminding me as it just existed.
there was a larger swath of serendipity that happened toward the end of last year, carrying on into this one. i’d put it out on twitter that i was manifesting like mad for the month of december, and a few things happened. one – i was able to qualify for an interview for a position with TWLOHA based on the work i’d done as a content creator. this was huge as i’d been wanting to do something professionally with my passions for a while and previously didn’t believe that what i was doing in my free time wasn’t enough to warrant a career. that’s totally and definitely on me for not believing in myself – but it was the disproving of that belief that surprised and energized me into putting more faith in my work and potentially working with them in the future – i may not have gotten the job, but it marked the first time in a very long time that i could say that the process was actually enjoyable. i owed a few key people some serious thanks (it’s been given, don’t worry), and depending on what comes of things afterward, may be thanking them for a while yet. also – as i reminded myself above – looking back at what i’ve been able to do for them and their mission in the past year and a half has been amazing. from musing about possibly looking them up again in earlier 2019 to discovering they were moving into the gaming and streaming spaces that fall and joining their discord to help moderate, to raising the most money i’ve ever raised for anything ever on twitch’s frontpage last september during national suicide prevention week, to applying for a job with them this month…it’s quite a bit in such a short time, and i should be at least proud of myself for getting out and doing the work that amounts to aiding in making awareness and help become possible and tangible for someone else.
(also – i did land an opportunity with another company – not a nonprofit, but what is needed given the current environment and personal situation. it’s close to home, comparable pay, still remote through march, and there’s potential to learn and grow my skills portfolio even more – all while adding to and building upon the added confidence from others seeing a value and worth to my work that i still struggle to see, on occasion. i wouldn’t have even thought about entertaining an interview as it was sent via recruiter rather than a job search on my end, but i was feeling so pumped up from having gotten as far as i did with TWLOHA that i said “what the hell” and tried anyway. look what happened.)
and a nice little one to wrap up – as i was preparing to embark on a new journey (prior to not knowing which of the two jobs, if any, i would be offered), i decided to buy a few new things – to help organize for the coming position, and to give myself a kick in the ass to start reorganizing my stream room into the lounge i envision it becoming. it’s cute, gray with flowers and says fabulous bitch in cursive because brevity mixed with simple beauty or appreciation is always a winning combination for me. two days ago, i got it – and a surprise in the mail. my birthday’s next week, and my best friend of 25 years (this year!) sent me a hoop she stitched herself, with my name, some clouds, and the cutest little stitched rainbow ever. now, i have two apt, unique and beautiful pieces to hang up on my walls!
real quick, before i go though – here’s also a reminder to you, me and everyone else who needs it –
as a general rule of advice, take a breath.
slow down. process things, or seek encouragement and support as you process and endure today’s times. i know we’re already halfway into january (which seems like such an absurd thing to say, especially after 2020 largely felt like breathing molasses and now it’s feeling as though each day burns through just a little faster than the last) – but there’s nothing that says that you can’t start or advance into the new year on your own terms. your thoughts, dreams, passions, challenges or struggles don’t change or evaporate because of what day it happens to be. make sure you’re taking the steps for self-care, stability, comfort and support as best you can. try not to bring so much of what’s already happened latch onto your energy going forward. chances are, whatever it is that’s eating at you has already happened and doesn’t deserve more resources being diverted to it. let’s wipe our feet and shed our split, shrunken and hollowed husks before we truly enter the new year and phase of us.
idk all of what 2021 has in store for any of us, least of all me. but whatever comes, after surviving 2020 and the handful of events in the first two weeks of 2021…maybe we shouldn’t be so afraid of what we’re able to withstand. i have a few things in the works that i can’t wait to share with you as they debut and expand – stay tuned for more updates, coming soon. until then, i’ll leave you with my next topic – my mantra for 2021:
be a beacon.