In so many ways, 2021 was a year not much different than 2020. Knocking on our doors once more was illness, violence, workplace burnout, fatigue, increased parenting demands, and the like. A lesser acknowledged and underappreciated component of 2021: Resilience. Resilience is often defined as one’s ability to “bounce back,” but we cannot neglect the fact that it also involves using our adverse experiences to develop and adapt to a new normal.
For me, developing that “new normal” involved reflecting on my values and making life-changing decisions accordingly. When it came to my own sense of happiness, I had to decide, am I going to Chase it or Choose it? 2020 made me realize how easy it can become, especially in the absence of intentionality, to chase happiness and live in an illusioned reality. My priority through 2021: Choose happiness through the means of self-prioritization. Reflecting day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month on the decisions I consciously and actively made to value my own sense of happiness has provided me with a renewed sense of hope, optimism, and readiness for 2022.
2021 at a Glance
-Read A Dog’s Purpose
-Rocked the work from home life for a little while longer
-Started the third course in my Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy certification program
-Read Chalked Up
-Celebrated Alex’s birthday together “pandemic style” with tacos and books of course!
-Traveled to a nearby town to alleviate the pandemic-induced feeling of cabin fever and to appreciate some ice sculptures
-Read The New Normal: A Roadmap to Resilience in the Pandemic Era and Blackout Girl
-Began a new workout program that I successfully committed to four to five days a week through the entire year!
-Read Still Me
-Applied for, interviewed for, and accepted a dream job offer
-Solidified my decision to leave my job and felt a peace, lightness, and clarity upon doing so
-Wrote a children’s book about dog bite prevention
-Successfully finished the second semester of my doctorate program, which involved one of three research courses
-Completed my licensure requirements to become a Licensed Professional Counselor and officially submitted my application
-Was honored to make my niece’s first birthday cakes
-Finally exchanged 2020 Christmas gifts with my siblings
-Took time away from work to celebrate my birthday introvert style (AKA jigsaw puzzles, some catchy tunes, and a good book)
-Went on a relaxing (albeit rainy) trip with Alex and Pinella to Staten Island, New York, drove through New York City, and visited Hoboken and Liberty State Park!
-Read From Baghdad, With Love and On Talking Terms with Dogs
-Wrote and delivered the resignation letter for my first “real” job out of graduate school
-Wasted zero time preparing for my new career opportunity by revamping our home office and creating my own version of a workplace sanctuary
-Witnessed my brother graduate from high school (Congrats, B!)
-Spent time outdoors to feed my soul and harness some feelings of gratitude
-Read Fast Girl
-Witnessed my best friend become a first-time momma
-Was given incredible help from Jes at Lean Ladies Coaching to more clearly target my nutrition and fitness goals
-Had fun watching the Olympics together
-Read What is a Girl Worth? and Who Said I was up for Adoption
-Completed the third semester of my doctorate program, including the third of three research courses
-Wished my brother well as he went off to basic training
-Was issued my Licensed Professional Counselor license (after a three-month wait) and received an unexpected congratulatory flower delivery (Thank you, Kory)
-Transitioned out of a job that I had long ago burnt out from
-Said some painful, yet fulfilling “see ya laters” to a few amazing mentors/colleagues and became the proud owner of my new friendship plant (Thank you again, Kory)
-Traveled to a new destination in the Carolinas with Pinella and Alex, made some unforgettable memories together, and ate Crumble Cookies for the first time (Yum)!
-Read Every Breath and September 11: An Oral History
-Spent September 11th with Alex and Pinella at a local memorial honoring victims, their families, and service members
-Celebrated seven strong years in my relationship with Alex and wished Pinella well on her sixth birthday
-Made a fun cake for my niece’s fourth birthday
-Thoroughly enjoyed the first of what would be three months off from full-time work!
-Read On Being a Therapist and Reaching the Animal Mind
-Pinella was featured on @RufflePup’s Sticker Sunday segment
-I experienced the death of a childhood friend but strengthened my connection with another friend by offering mutual support
-Started a fun, exciting, and creative project and present for my nieces
-Embraced the opportunity to take nature walks with Pinella during my time off from full-time employment
-Began experiencing feelings of excitement for the career opportunity that laid ahead of me in November
-Began working at my dream job and learned what it means to love what I do and find happiness in my career
-Assisted in a fundraiser for Susquehanna Service Dogs that raised close to $15,000 (Thank you, incredible community of donors!)
-Felt an amazing sense of gratitude to witness the six-month growth of a succulent that was gifted to me by a dear friend
-Was asked to be in my childhood best friend’s wedding (So happy for you, Hannah!)
-Began reading The Body Keeps the Score
-Completed my 2021 Goodreads challenge (16/10 books)
-Finished my fourth semester of my doctorate program and turned a new leaf toward the dissertation process
-Got to see my brother for the first time since leaving for basic training in August 2021
-Chose my own happiness by celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve with my family of creation (Fun times, Alex and P)!
Until next time,
-T & Pinella