2021 Year End Reflections

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2021-12-29

I started doing this 9 years ago. I enjoy how the practice helps me hold onto the important memories. Being able to read through my reflections from the past 9 years brings it all back! This practice also gives me a chance to be honest about what I’ve struggled with and confront unhealthy patterns I want to change.

If you want to do this also, please refer to my Guide for Year End Reflections!

LANTERN FESTIVAL 2021

LIFTING UP OUR HOPES FOR THE NEW YEAR

10 Highlights

In no particular order, here are the top 10 things I want to remember for the good-feels they brought this year.

  1. My first authenticity review! I was contacted by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, to do an authenticity review for a young adult fiction novel coming out in 2022. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope I get more opportunities for this kind of work in the future.
  2. Two trips to Atlanta! I got to be a part of some cool projects that made me feel more important than I consider myself to be. So I’m not ashamed to say I’m relishing the good memories of these trips. During one trip I got to record a podcast in person with Latasha Morrison and that was amazing.

  3. Seeing my first family. My younger brother got married this year and I was able to attend the wedding. Spending time with him and our mom was really important to me. And of course getting to meet his amazing wife!

  4. Family & Friend Vacations. During the summer, the Henness family came to visit. There was epic water balloon fights and seeing my kids get to play with their cousins was beautiful. Then, right after that I was able to head to North Carolina for a friend vacation to meet so many of the ladies I’ve gotten to know via Be the Bridge work.

  5. DEI & Community Service. I got my DEI in the Workplace Certificate and was appointed to the DEI Advisory Committee for our city. I also volunteered with voting and recall efforts and got to know my neighbors better this year.

  6. Six Speaking Engagements & Six Podcasts! This amazed me because I’ve never thought of myself as a speaker. However, in 2021 I spoke at two, local in-person events (local AAPI Heritage Month + The Voices Project) and four virtual ones (Someday Is Here, Lenses Institute formerly ran by CRU, Identity Learning Community, and a LIVE Panel discussion series for Be the Bridge on Colin in Black & White. I was also on (or at least recorded for) six different podcasts.

  7. Chinese geneology progress. Last year I hired a researcher to help me find my ancestral hometown in Taishan. This year I finally got a report back with a promising lead. I’ll need to get more information for the researcher to go further.
  8. Publishing Journeying Home: Advent Readings for Adoptees. The best part of this was collaborating with other adoptees and getting to hear their perspectives on advent. I’m so thankful for the conversations that were started because of it as well.
  9. Home & property upgrades! The best purchase I made in 2021 was an automated irrigation system for our sustenance garden. This is the first year I felt like a real gardener (some have called me a farmer, ha!) and feel like I’m able to really grow foods we need! We also added a wood-burning stove, a live-edge dining table and a closet system for our bedroom to our home this year.

  10. Increased BIPOC community. This year I got to meet many BIPOC I’ve worked or conversed with virtually in real life! But also we had two local AAPI meet-up events and I met some new friends! One new friend is a Black woman farmer who owns Atypical Roots and I’ve been able to help her get her products listed online.

5 Disappointments

I used to write out 10 disappointments, which was challenging. It helped me dive into the smaller things that I regretted. But I really struggled to come up with a full 10. So I started focusing on the 5 biggest disappointments and what I could learn from them.

  1. Running out of time/resources. I started the year pouring a lot into the Adoptee Influencer Network’s behind-the-scenes stuff and had big plans for that. In the end, lack of collaborative support and needing to prioritize my own mental health and family transitions meant letting all those plans go. I struggled feeling like a failure because this but am coming to a place of accepting this isn’t the season and that’s ok.
  2. Not taking care of my body. It’s pretty embarrassing to recall how I used to be known as a marathon runner and personal trainer. But yes…I’m about 30lbs over my previous normal weight range. I’ve given myself grace. I don’t expect this to last forever. I’m not concerned about how I look. However, taking better care of my body will translate to having more mental and emotional health and stamina. And that is the truly important part to me.
  3. All the books I haven’t read. But I own. And they sit on the shelves. I have so many good books. I didn’t find the time to read hardly any this year. Again, I try to think of this as a seasonal thing with young kids who don’t allow me to focus or have a quiet moment. But I do really, truly, want to prioritize reading in 2022.
  4. Difficulties in key relationships. Vague on purpose for the blog post, but some of my key or core relationships aren’t what I wish they were. There is some personal responsibility I take on that and I want to reflect on what I could do better going forward.
  5. Circumstantial let-downs. Several times this year I have identified an obstacle, created a plan to overcome it, and then had my plans fail because of outside circumstances. Specifically, I’m referring to things like finding childcare or high-speed internet so I can work or exercise or have my therapy appointments. But then the people or places I was relying on make some kind of change and those options are no longer available. And I’m thrust back into the struggle bus that makes self-care and chasing dreams feel like a cruel joke.

3 Game Changers

HE LOOKS SO BIG!

  1. My oldest started Kindergarten. This shifted my husband’s work schedule and our daily life and “routines” in a big way. It’s impacted when and how our toddler gets a nap. It’s impacted when and if I’m able to get work done or run errands. It’s forced us to take more intentional time to check in on our oldest and help him make this big transition. It’s increased my sense of risk related to who and what my child is exposed to at a school that I can’t visit (COVID precautions) and has exceedingly poor communication on all fronts.
  2. We have housemates! In the middle of summer, two friends, plus their dog and bearded dragon, moved in. It’s definitely been an adjustment in terms of sharing space and resources. It’s been nice to have shared pizza nights or nights when they cook a meal for everyone. Our kids certainly love having other people to show off and talk to.
  3. Becoming a TRA Educator with Be the Bridge. While I started out as a volunteer with Be the Bridge, it became contract work in 2020. This year the contract was expanded with this additional role. It’s a game-changer because, for the first time, the amount I’m paid is over and above my cost of childcare, so it has a positive impact on our family’s budget. Also, it’s forcing me to consider how I will spend my time and energy going forward. I have some decisions to make.

3 Things I Focused On

  1. Micro-blogging. A few years ago I transitioned to using Instagram and Facebook to micro-blog more about adoption, race and faith. I’ve kept that up with few breaks, and it’s had it’s rewards. That being said, I feel it’s time to transition out of that. I’ve been thinking how best to use social media going forward and will be making some changes.
  2. My needs. I gave myself permission to do things that were solely focused on me or my interests. I spent a lot of time growing food in my garden and identifying the plants on our property. I also spent my income from speaking engagements on upgrading my phone and laptop. I bought new clothes that fit. I stressed less about how much things cost and focused more on making sure I have what I need. It’s been freeing to operate this way.
  3. Saying yes. A little bit contradictory to meeting my needs, but I said yes to a lot of un-looked for opportunities in 2021. The authenticity review, most of the travel, the speaking engagements. I’m so very thankful for all I got to do this year and yet, I’m realizing that I need to be better at saying no.

PLENARY SPEAKER

THIS WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE.

3 Things I Forgot

  1. Nature Journaling. I learned about it this year and realized it’s right up my ally. I bought some supplies thinking I’d start nature journaling around our forest. Never happened. I still like the idea but, this may have to stay on the back burner until a future season of my life.
  2. Choosing a new name. I’ve known I wanted to do this for a while. I just haven’t taken the time to research and really consider what name I’d like to choose. I think I’m nervous about not being able to find the “perfect” name and also putting too much pressure on myself.
  3. One-sided relationships. Vague on purpose, again, but there were people I’d invested some time into. In 2020 it was very difficult to see how few of those relationships really showed up for allyship on race or community responsibility for the pandemic. This year, I released myself of any sense of obligation to invest in those relationships any further.

2021 Reflection Summary

To start with, I am super proud of the things I accomplished in 2021. It was a pretty big year in many ways. I challenged myself and took on some things that really stretched me. I recognized some of my self-sabotage patterns and was able to push through them and succeed on some things. I can see growth in my life and I can see healing happening. So I want to celebrate that.

Some good friends.

Being honest, though, it has still been a really hard year. I’ve felt spread thin and exhausted. I made some progress in 2021 toward slowing down and doing less. But not enough. I still spent a lot of time and energy reacting to opportunities; taking them because I was worried I’d become irrelevant if I didn’t. I still lived under a sense that I have to be toiling and striving in the work I’m passionate about in order to be worthy and make my life count.

Many things I’ve said were “important” to me have kept getting pushed to the back. I don’t want to live my life saying “someday I’ll do that”. I don’t want to be reactive but proactive. I don’t want to resent doing for others because I did it at the expense of taking care of my own needs or interests.

My sense going into 2022 is that I’ll continue to let go of more self-imposed obligations. That I’ll learn to leave lots more room for cultivating joy and hope. For reading my books and taking better care of my body. My sense is that in 2022 I’ll be more selective and proactive about what I give my time and energy too.

PEACE OUT, 2021!

2020 Year End Reflections

by , on
2020-12-29

Since 2012 I’ve gone through some specific reflections questions at the end of each year. I don’t set resolutions for the new year, but these reflections do help me recalculate and decide what I want to continue on with and what I don’t.

However, 2020 was not like any other year.

It was a year I merely wanted to survive. So I resisted any expectations for myself. Still, I did things I was proud of and took opportunities when I could. So I took a minute to list out significant things I did in 2020 before I went through my reflection questions. In a way, these could be considered my highlights.

In 2020, I was able to:

  • Lead a local Be the Bridge book club online
  • Attend my first Asian American Christian Women’s Conference!
  • Start a local BIPOC connection group
  • Facilitate an 8 week BIPOC group discussion on racial healing
  • Start the Adoptee Influencer Network (AIN)
  • Host 3 live informative events related to adoption
  • Gather over 200 adoptees in our AIN group
  • Connected with them on 8 zoom meetings
  • Gain 1,500+ followers on our AIN Instagram
  • Reach over 30,000k via our AIN Facebook page
  • Have two articles published on Christian digital media outlets
  • Give two presentations; one on adoption and one on civic engagement
  • Be a guest on 7 podcast episodes!!!
  • Discovered more about my Chinese ancestors.

But even if I hadn’t….

Even if I had accomplished nothing other than the basics, that still would have been amazing to me. Because “the basics” with a baby, a toddler and a teen are challenging enough as it.

Yet 2020, brought additional challenges, like:

  • Keeping three boys occupied through COVID social isolation
  • Supporting the teenager through distance learning
  • Navigating estrangement from my adoptive family
  • Having my first anxiety attack & beginning therapy
  • Leaving a harmful church community

These could be considered my 5 disappointments. But they aren’t necessarily things I had control over.

As far as game changers?

I think the pandemic and racial justice uprisings go without saying. Also, having my adoptive parent tell me anti-Asian hate wasn’t a real issue and didn’t really effect me was a game changer.

Areas of Focus?

Mental and emotional survival. Community work. Taking care of my family. That pretty much sums it up.

Things I Forgot?

Typically I think of things I wanted to do but didn’t, which would include my own physical health and fitness. Again. But maybe I should also include things that were good for me to forget. For example, at the top of the year I quit my remaining volunteer roles as the church we’d been attending. I knew my work was going to be in the community but not through that particular church.

2020 Reflection

I could write a novel. We all could. But really, I’m ending 2020 with a sense that I don’t want to go back to the old normal. Not if that means being back into a fake community with people who aren’t willing to speak up against racial harm and violence or wear a mask to help prevent unnecessary deaths.

I look back at this year and I think it’s clear that I have way more trauma than I previously realized. I have a lot of inner work and healing to do. I need to prioritize that if I’m going to be a healthy parent to my kids and a helpful community leader.

So that is how I’m approaching 2021. With an increased commitment to deconstructing and reforming my faith, my identity, my community and relationships. I’ll continue therapy and working through better coping mechanisms.

All I can do is take what I’ve got and do my best with it.