Someone asked me in November if I was still writing my blog. It took me a minute. Then I was able to verbalize something that I had known but had yet to admit. After losing our dog, Gus, I didn’t want to write anymore. Writing had been fun, therapeutic, and I loved the process of publishing something once a week with Gus at my side. He would sit with me, allow me to write, and it was something that he and I did together. When we lost him in August, I lost my routine, and part of my routine was publishing something every Monday. As we lean into a new year, I figured that I could try to implement writing back into my weekly routine, and this year, I will try to publish something every Monday. It’s the first Monday of 2022, so it’s a good a time as any to give this writing thing another go.
The week between Christmas and New Years is always my favorite time to reflect on accomplishments, set new goals, and figure out how to improve my life and the lives around me, but as I contemplated my 2021, I realized that I had not really grown or improved. I had to go back through pictures to see what the hell I have done over the past 365 days. In doing so, I realized that I had some fun, helped a few people, took care of myself, and didn’t progress or regress. Some years, maintenance is good enough. I picked a few highlights from the year. I hope that when I write again this time next year, I am able to see some positive changes. I hope to see some semblance of growth.
January 2021: We started off the year on Izena. Izena is a small island north of Okinawa. We went with friends and their dogs, and had a fabulous time. The friends who went with us are no longer living on Okinawa, so it was very special to have been given this gift of time with them.
February 2021: I spent a lot of time and energy on the two beings I love most – my guy and my dog. Relationships take time and energy, and I re-learned that the more you make them a priority, the better they become. We loved exploring different parts of the island, and we loved staying in different AirBnB’s so that we could feel like we were on vacation, even if we were not able to leave Okinawa.
March 2021: Our very small volunteer team did something pretty impressive. The Okinawa Leadership Seminar volunteer team was able to successfully execute a hybrid leadership seminar for spouses on the island. We prerecorded segments, had small groups in volunteers’ homes, and we were able to finally have a seminar, despite our Covid-related restrictions.
April 2021: Although it was 22 hours, 11 minutes, and 36 seconds, the ability to move our bodies for 70 miles without taking a break was the outcome of months of training. My friend, Kellie, and I started at the southern most tip of Okinawa, and we made it 70 miles up the island. We did not finish on this day, but our accomplishment was one that I am really proud that we were able to do. She is the only running buddy that I have had since moving here.
May 2021: We finished what we started. We began this 21 mile run at the place where we were picked up back in April. We worked out way to Cape Hedo, got some amazing sunset view, and made it from point to point.
June 2021: In looking back at pictures from June, I think all I did was read books and play on my paddleboard. I was determined to get more comfortable on my board, and with the practice, I did get better. We said, “see you later” to a lot of good friends last summer, so that meant spending as much time with friends as we could.
July 2021: After almost 550 days, I finally got to see my family in real life. Getting to Hawaii during a pandemic was the most challenging trip I have ever planned, and it was amazing to spend time with them. I wish I would have woken up earlier, stayed awake a little later, and had more conversations with them, but we packed in as much fun as we could in a short week.
August 2021: My heart was broken into a million tiny pieces when we unexpectedly lost our dog, Gus. He taught me how to be loved and to give love unlike any other being on this planet ever could. The next week, I climbed Mt Fuji.
September 2021: We were able to escape the island again, and we traveled to Hokkaido to go fly-fishing. It was some of the most beautiful country-side that I have ever seen. We also adopted Suijin. Like all puppies, he was a handful and the perfect distraction for me. As I started writing today, he was laying as close as one could get.
October 2021: The Okinawa Leadership Seminar Team put on an impactful event for spouse leaders within our community. The event was beautiful and inspiring.
November 2021: I tried to keep this blog succinct so didn’t want to add too many events per month, but November gets 2 sets of pictures. The first one is the Marine Corps Marathon Trifecta. Within 5 weeks, I finished the 3 events. I did the 10K in mid-October; the next week did the marathon, and 2 weeks later, on the first weekend of November, I completed the 50K. The summer training was brutal, so finishing these 3 events felt like an accomplishment. Then, at the end of November, we flew back out to Hawaii to see our family. Getting there wasn’t as challenging as it had been in July, but getting back was frustrating, expensive, and upsetting. Once again, traveling in a pandemic is not easy, but totally worth it!
December 2021: We celebrated. I went to brunches, hosted brunches, went to parties, and joined a lot of friends on Christmas Eve for a beach-side Christmas potluck. Christmas day was spent with the family who has become “framily” to us out here. Leading up to Christmas Eve, Nick and I, with a little help from our neighbors, made over 100 tamales to enjoy and share.
We finished the year back where we started. We made the trip back to Izena Island. We went with different friends, a different dog, and we stayed on a different beach.
Reflection can be a good thing. It can remind you of things you did right, things that could improve, things that made you smile, and things that made you cry. Those “things” are also good launch-pads to help guide you into a new year.
Happy New Year!!!
May 2022 be filled with adventures, blessings, and good health. May we also get the opportunity to be near family and friends.