Featured

Three Lessons for the New Year

The End of 2020

The days and hours of 2020 are coming to an end. But, before you get on your knees to welcome 2021, remember it isn’t over. The horrors of this year aren’t going to evaporate at the stroke of midnight. The virus will still be with us even while the vaccine gives us hope. Fake news profiteers and science deniers will still be among us. Racism and its kin will still be lurking in the shadows seizing on the opportunities to raise their heads and tiki-torches.

But we know better and it is time that we start doing better.

Seriously, if you learned something in 2020 carry that knowledge into the New Year and act on it. Here are a few things, I learned.

Be a Better Friend

Earlier this month, I learned that one of my best friends was in the hospital on a ventilator. Not from COVID, but pneumonia which isn’t much better. Since moving to Virginia, we haven’t been in contact and truthfully, that started before the move.

One of my worst habits is failing to keep in touch with people that I love; friends and family included. This habit has meant finding out about the loss of someone months after they passed away and not spending precious time with them. It has meant people not knowing how much I love them and disappearing from my life.

In October, a week before my birthday I fell ill with COVID-19. My friends and family made sure that my needs were taken care of and that I didn’t feel alone. Cards and care packages, phones calls and instant messages, there was a lot of love directed my way.

So finding out that S. was in the hospital and I couldn’t get in my car and go see her; broke something deep inside. I couldn’t be there to hold her hand or support her family. All I could do was wait, pray and hope that she would recover. As of today, she is off the ventilator.

I started my efforts to be a better friend through the sending of Yule cards this because I knew before hearing about S that I wanted to be a better friend. I made a few ornaments for people and have tried to be better, which in the end is all you can do. How can you be a better friend?

Health before Work

I come from a long line of workaholics who have passed along a host of bad habits. You might recognize some of your own habits here as well. Over the summer, I planned for the upcoming school year, attended professional development and attended meetings. Most of this time was unpaid or as one of my former admins called it “volunteering”. Many teachers will tell you that it is often easier to come to work sick that write sub plans and I can tell you this is true. I have been my own sub many times.

The only day I was planning to take off was my birthday and that I was told the week of that I couldn’t take off because the sub had cancelled. Strangely, since I had COVID at the time, they graciously let me have that day. They did however call me every couple of days to see when I would be returning. Not to check on my health, but to when I could come back to work.

Did I meant that I worked with pneumonia in Florida because it was the end of the school year and I was out of sick leave? To be fair, I didn’t know it was pneumonia until after the school year was over. The first two weeks of that summer were spending confined to the sofa where I tried not to die and lived in a semi-lucid state thanks to codeine.

What did all of that pulling off my own needs for the needs of my employer? Pretty much nothing except higher medical bills.

One way, I’m fixing this is by making doctors appointments sooner than later, not waiting until the summer when it is convenient for the school and leaving work on time twice a week to go to the gym. (If you have ever known a teacher, leaving work on time is a big deal.) What do you need to do take better care of yourself? People are like cars, we don’t work so good when we avoid regular maintenance.

Don’t Wait for the Perfect Time

Because there is no such time. Waiting for the perfect time is a waste of time. If you want to go to Italy, which I do, then go to Italy. If you want to write a book, get typing. Want to start a You-tube channel, do it. Do it sooner than later or better yet now.

I keep waiting to do things like visit friends and work on photography. Then came 2020 and I couldn’t see friends and family. I could work on photography but I was stopped from going places much of the time. I told myself that I need to get a better camera or take a class. All of which produced no art on my end and only increase my anxiety.

Even before 2020’s series of foreseen catastrophes (every since one was predictable including the pandemic), I had been working on ridding myself of the perfect time excuse. 2020 just added some more fuel to its pyre. And while you’re at it, add the need to be perfect to the fire as well. Perfection is an ideal and when it does occur it doesn’t happen without a whole lot of practice.

What lesson did you learn this year? How are you going to do better in the coming year?