What a year! Like many of you, I’ve been reflecting on 2021 and my first thought is that it FLEW by so FAST. And with each month, it seemed to go faster. It’s practically a blur, but so much has happened. Also, it’s been a doozy, FOR SURE. I’ve experienced so many emotions this year from joy and excitement to pain and sorrow. This pandemic has been mind boggling and ever changing. I’ve been doing my best to keep myself and my family safe and healthy.
I know many people are ready for it to end, but I’m learning that there is no sense in rushing it because it will end eventually. I recall a colleague saying to me in 2017 that it was a rough year and she couldn’t wait for it to end. That year my mom passed away and I’m not sure what the year ending sooner would have accomplished because she’s still not here 4 years later. I’m learning that each year is intertwined with many emotions and experiences because it’s called LIFE. Before you know it, it will be gone. There is beauty all around us and we have to choose to keep our eyes on it.
To keep this post light at a time when I know many are suffering and/or want this freaking year to end, I will share the many first time experiences I’ve had in 2021. It’s amazing to me how just when you think you’ve experienced a whole lot, God let’s you know there is a whole lot more for you to learn and do. Here’s my list of 12 things, in somewhat chronological order, 2021 had me out here doing and/or experiencing:
- No electricity and water for days – You might have heard of SNOVID (SNOW during COVID), no??? Well, here in Texas in February of 2021, it snowed, the temps fell below 10 degrees, and the power went out. I had no idea that we would be living like it was the 1800s just because it got cold. This is ludicrous coming from a person who grew up in Chicago where it would need to be a blizzard before the city shuts down. People in Texas were literally freezing in their homes and sadly, some people died. I wrote a series of blog posts about the experience starting with Is this Texas? and then Is this Texas Part Deux?. The stockpiling I learned about earlier in the pandemic came in handy because we had plenty of food and water for drinking.
- Pooped in a plastic bag- This is a continuation of #1. I had to get REALLY creative once the water went out a few days after the electricity did. I think when you are in dire straights, your instincts kick in, which is the only way I can explain why I would get the idea to poop in a bag. Since there was no water to flush the toilets, this made the best sense to me. I passed this nugget on to my husband and kids. We did what we had to do, but I hope to not experience that again. I might be ready to go camping next summer though. (Is that what it’s like? I’ve never been camping.)
- Boiled snow- This is another continuation of #1. Again, we were being creative in the face of a dire situation. We had no running water for washing our hands, face, body, cooking, cleaning, flushing the toilet, etc. And as the freak situation would have it, when our electricity finally came back on, the water stopped. We were able to boil the snow to wash the few dishes we had and fill buckets to flush down the toilet. This experience showed me we could survive anything and we gained some survival techniques in the process. I learned to keep a supply of paper products, plastic cutlery, and aluminum pans/containers on hand because you don’t want a sink of dirty dishes when you have no water. I also believe the experience further bonded our family.
- Colonoscopy- Aside from the horrendous preparation for the procedure, my first actual colonoscopy went fine. Previous medical advise was for adults to get their first colonoscopy at 50 years old, but my doctor told me the guidelines have changed to 45 years old. Therefore, I was scheduled for my first colonoscopy a few months before my 48th birthday. The preparation entails taking medication that will clean your bowels completely out. It will clean you out to the point of feeling like you’re peeing from your butt. I vividly recall telling my husband I wasn’t going to make it (a little dramatic). He told me I would make it and he was right. I’ll move on now.
- Bought a new home and moved out of Austin- In the 20+ years of living in Texas, we’ve always lived in Austin. I never thought we would live outside of Austin, but we fell in love with our dream home, which was to be built in a small town about 10 minutes away from where we had lived for 14 years. The town of Buda is very quaint and growing very rapidly. We’re so close to Austin, we still do our shopping and other activities as we normally would. Although this is our second time having a home built, it is our first home in a single story and we absolutely love it.
- Bought a luxury car- A few months after we moved into our new home, wouldn’t you know our trusty Jeep Grand Cherokee stopped workingWe knew it waa coming though because we’ve had our vehicles for 10+years. Going down to one vehicle wasn’t a big deal to me because I’ve been teleworking since March 2020 so sharing a vehicle with my husband, Bryan, was fine. Plus, my son also has a car. I didn’t even get to see it one last time before it clunked out because Bryan left it at the car repair shop and arranged for the someone to take it to the junk yard. I didn’t care what our next vehicle would be, except I knew I wanted it to be an SUV. Bryan did all the research and a few months later, we brought home our beautiful preowned Audi. She rides smooth like butter and is so pretty.
- Wore shorts to gym class- I love Zumba fitness and from about the spring, I started attending my beautiful Z-sister’s class on a regular basis. She’s such a great instructor and exudes SEXINESS. She sometimes wears shorts and inspired me to wear shorts to class in public and I did it several times. I will devote a complete blog post to this because it taught me to accept my body. As long as I was comfortable and enjoyed my shorts, that’s what matters.
- Came down with pneumonia- Right after July 4th, I came down with a bad case of pneumonia, which took me out for about 2 weeks. I was tested for COVID twice during that time and tests came back negative. I’ve not been that sick since I had bronchitis for the first time in April 2020. My therapist believes it was the stress that caused it. The medical doctors don’t know why I got it. The whole experience changed my mind about returning to the office to work. I believed if the pneumonia was a taste of what it would be like to get COVID, then I needed to be extra careful. At the time, my leadership told us the staff had to work a hybrid work schedule. We’ve since been allowed to choose how we want to work and I chose to do 100% telework to minimize my exposure to the virus. Working from home has improved my quality of life immensely. This by far was one of the best decisions of 2021.
- Tried new foods- I’ve been on a mostly vegan/plant-based journey since June 2021. This is the longest I’ve ever done it. Considering that this is a lifestyle change, I decided to broaden my food palate, so for the first time, I made oyster mushrooms and tried some plant-based foods like beyond meat. I’ve even been eating and cooking tofu on a regular basis. All are delicious when prepared the way I like them. I changed my diet for mostly health reasons. You can read more about what I’ve learned about eating this way from this post: Vegan truths I can’t ignore
- Breast Cancer Awareness Walk – It’s been 5 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I don’t know why it’s taken me 5 years to actually participate in the Susan G. Komen More Than Pink Walk. And honestly, if Bryan hadn’t signed us up, I still wouldn’t have participated. It was Bryan, myself, and our 2 kids that did the walk and it was an amazing experience. I was so inspired by all the women who are trying to heal and get over this disease. It’s astounding how many people are affected. Not only did this activity bond our family, but they got to be in the company of so many other people affected by breast cancer. One of the most touching moments was me writing a note to my mom, who died from complications of a different cancer, in a booth devoted to those that passed on. I cried as a wrote the note thanking my mom for passing down her warrior genes to me.
- Rode in a Tesla- I’m not really into cars. I’ve always been the type of person who is practical and care more about the vehicle being dependable and a smooth ride. I mentioned in #6, Bryan picked out our new, preowned vehicle. I didn’t care too much about what it would be except I didn’t like this battery powered one we test drove earlier in the year. While in Chicago in November for my Uncle’s funeral, I stayed with my sister and my brother in law who have a Tesla. I never paid attention to Teslas even though we’ve known the headquarters and factory were moving to Austin. It definitely looks and feels like a futuristic car. It was fun to ride in.
- Two trips to Chicago in the same month- At the end of the summer, Bryan expressed he really wanted to see his mom and uncle since they’re getting older. He wanted us to plan a trip to Chicago for Thanksgiving. My general rule has been I don’t do Chicago when it’s cold. PERIOD. However, I was willing to go so we could see our family. Sadly, I learned my Uncle on my father’s side passed away at the beginning of November. Since he was a close part of my family, I flew solo for his funeral. That trip was a blessing in disguise because I didn’t realize how much I needed to get away from work and how much I missed my family. It was wonderful seeing them. On top of that, I got to see them again at the end of the month for Thanksgiving. It was one of the best highlights of 2021.
Enjoy the pictures!