The Words of My Life
I love these words.
They were my anchor, my center, my guiding thoughts in each of 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Leading up to January 2019, I knew some things were changing in me and my life but the word change was not enough to describe it.
I meditated upon that time of my life, entering my final semester of seminary, in the middle of an important stage of denominational ministry, in the second year of a public theology and racial justice cohort, and in a vocational wondering.
to move or transfer from one person, place, or position to another. - Webster's New Word College Dictionary, fourth edition, 2012.
That aptly described that year.
Little did I know how much life would change from January 2019 to January 2020.
In 2019, my husband was President of a University in Missouri, my daughter was doing college searches, my youngest son was preparing his vocal Master's thesis, and we thought the world would move with the movements we understood to be so. Missouri was going to be our center.
Then, 2020 happened.
That is a story of itself, for everyone.
January 2020, it was my sorority's centennial and I opted not to go to DC for the epic celebration, choosing instead to wait until July 2020, so I could go with the soror who took this journey of sisterhood with me. We had plans. It was to be my daughter's trip with us, we were waiting.
That was my 2020 word.
Renewal and re-envisioning my life after an intense three years of study, in my husband's role at the university and his announcement that he was a candidate for several other presidencies. We were going to be changing something and in doing that, also reclaiming parts of dreams.
It was the year my oldest daughter was in her writing prime, participating in the St. Louis presidential rally as a news reporter in March, just after I returned from a February trip to Las Vegas to engage in faith and political thought for the 2020 election. We heard rumors about a ship, but nothing close to us.
Then it all seemed to come crashing down.
Yet, my word was still reclaim.
To demand the return of, to try to get back. - Webster's New Word College Dictionary, fourth edition, 2012.
We lost some precious moments in 2020, indeed, yet we also gained.
For me, my eldest sister was a deep loss in March 2020 to this virus we were barely hearing about.
My daughter lost her senior year plans from cotillion to college visits where she was accepted to prom to graduation to life as she thought it would be hanging out with her friends.
The world stopped.
My oldest son almost lost his life on St. Patrick's Day 2020 just before his city and my city shut everything down. I barely saw him and once he was out-of-death's-door, the hospital shut down, no more visitors. He was there alone.
What was being reclaimed, I wondered?
2020 and two of my children had very different graduations - the youngest son's was virtual for his second master's, the oldest daughter's was first a drive through car parade on what was supposed to be her graduation day that eventually became a very masked, very distance, very hot, graduation ceremony on the football field in July.
By then, we had reclaimed family dinners, family games, movie nights, pajamas all day, the joy of remote work that I had already been doing for years, and simply being present with each other.
Life was the precious thing.
We also moved.
My husband took one of those executive education positions he was offered and we spent April and May flying to our new state to house hunt. He started on July 1 and by mid-August, the family was calling New England our new home.
My daughter went to college, without the HBCU fanfare that is the usual freshman welcoming, but she went and we knew, somehow, that we were reclaiming parts of ourselves.
yes, 2020 was a crazy year with the elections and all the shenanigans, yet, it was also a year we became to see some things.
So, 2021, my word is Become.
That seems like an odd word.
Wasn't I already who I was?
Yes, and yet.
I was in a new state. My husband told me before we moved, "what if you are in New York writing?"
We are an hour away and have spent many day-trips either there or to Boston or Rhode Island.
The lines began to be less blurry.
To come to be
To grow to be; change or develop into by growth - Webster's New Word College Dictionary, fourth edition, 2012.
I've been enamored by that all year. How must changes when you develop or grow, how you see things differently or clearly, how you alter plans.
My oldest daughter is preparing to return to college, she worked all summer as an art teacher. My youngest is preparing for her senior year of college and they are both amazing young women.
My children are all in great places in their lives and with their families.
We are vaccinated and while we still mask when we go out, we were able to breathe a bit that we took a step to save our lives.
I moved my company from Missouri to Connecticut, changed it's designation, scored some unsolicited press, twice, and while still virtual with the teens we read with, still celebrated being virtual for two years. We have an unnamed benefactor who "as a man of my means, this is the least I can do" who believes in the power of literature.
Growing can be painful.
I remember when my middle son was in a growth spurt. He is very tall, 6'6" and when he was a preteen, it seemed like his legs and feet would not stop stretching. The doctor told me it was painful what he was experiencing.
Becoming you, becoming new, becoming can be a bit like that.
I've heard it described like the caterpillar shifting to the butterfly. That cocoon period, maybe that was parts of 2020-2021 when we were at home, not going out, being reminded of self.
It can't be seen, that thing called growth. Not until it is done, or significant enough to be noticed.
That is where I am as I am seeing change.
Becoming who I will be when. my youngest daughter and last child will be in her senior year.
I am seeing what is possible in new places and new stages of life.
The thing about Shifting, Reclaiming, and Becoming is it is a process. A noticing, an understanding and a gaining.
We may not know what lies ahead, we may not know what the Delta Variant is going to alter in our 2021-2022 year, we may not know if vocation will be the same or if the pen will find a home, but what we do know is that living fully and completely is amazing.