Saturday, January 2, 2021

Hello 2021!

How's everyone holding up? I hope the past year hasn't been too hard on you, but I know a lot of people have had very difficult times. I can't remember ever looking forward so much to starting a new year!

First I'd like to let you know that Copper, the second Glister Journals book, will be published sometime soon, hopefully February if I can stay focused enough. So I will be doing as many deals on Bronze as I can. This weekend (actually through Monday the 4th) it is FREE on Kindle through Amazon.

Bronze on an iPhone next to a coffee cup, outdoors
 

I am also resolved to post regularly this year and do as many giveaways as I can. But I'll confess, the blog/giveaway landscape seems to have changed in the past year or so, so I'll try to figure that out quickly. If you host giveaway hops, please let me know! (Is that even still a thing?)

Okay, let's back up a little bit. I barely posted in 2019 and not at all in 2020. Apologies! So much happened in 2019, I found it impossible to devote any time to anything beyond just coping every day. Here's a few of the things that kept me overwhelmed (very briefly, so you'll need to read between the lines):

My younger daughter moved into my one bedroom apartment, very closely followed (a couple of days!) by the birth of her first child.

Word that my aunt, one of my few remaining relatives and the only one in this country (besides my children), was extremely ill. This began a series of back and forth flights to Los Angeles from the Bay Area.

My younger daughter, the newborn, and myself moved into a slightly larger apartment.

The death of my aunt and dealing with all her stuff (formidable!) I was blessed that my older daughter was able to fly in from Minneapolis and be with me, but it was very difficult leaving the younger daughter to fend for herself with the baby.

This was all within two months, and all while continuing to teach full time!

That June I was still back and forth to Los Angeles, tying up my aunt's business matters and arranging a memorial for her friends.

Some good news through all this was gaining a couple of new friends (of my aunt's) and inheriting a car and some money . . .

. . . which got me thinking about the best way to invest it. So I began researching buying a house (I've never owned one) . . .

. . . which led to me flying back to Minnesota a few times (where my son and older daughter live) to look into buying a home to retire to.

That got expensive and difficult once school was back, so my daughter continued house hunting for me and found the perfect one. So my aunt's money was used as a nice down payment on a cute little house just outside of Minneapolis, and by December I was the thrilled owner of a house I had never actually seen in person! (Yes, I trust my daughter!)

Spent my first Christmas away from home. That shouldn't have been a big thing but it kind of was, especially as I found driving in snow (in Minnesota) stressful and had a little accident in a rental car (not related to the snow). Also, the baby contracted foot, hand, and mouth disease. I'd never even heard of it!

So that was 2019.

And you all know what happened in 2020. All of the things.

2020 started out with me catching the baby's infection and it was pretty horrible, much wore than it had been for him. It meant I had to stay home the first week back to school and not teach as it's highly infectious. I haven't realized before just now how prophetic that was!

March 13, about midday, we got word to leave school premises immediately and indefinitely. It happened right after one of my classes and I didn't have a chance to say goodbye to any of my students.

My daughter was furloughed indefinitely from her restaurant job that same week.

We (other teachers and myself) spent a week or two scrambling to figure out how to teach remotely. Teaching ANYTHING remotely is challenging. Teaching instrumental music to elementary school students is extremely challenging! I found some things that worked and others that didn't, but was able to keep most of my students involved and engaged, which was all we were really trying to do back then. What made it especially hard was teaching twenty separate Zoom classes from my home.

Summer was difficult and super stressful for all kinds of reasons I won't go into detail about, but in a nutshell: politics; Black Lives Matter; protests; mental health issues; fires and worst air quality for weeks and weeks; more politics; stuck in a small apartment and not being able to GO anywhere!

When school started back I was able to teach from a school site which has been great. Not so great was not being able to start new students. It's just not possible to teach classes of students who have never even held an instrument before. This is going to affect class size and playing levels next year, but there's nothing we can really do about it. What has surprised me is how well most (almost all) of my continuing students have been doing. My advanced strings and winds students are in about the same place we would be this time of year under normal circumstances. Not normal is the inability to truly play as ensembles, so we will be doing some projects and trying to do some virtual ensemble performances. I just have to figure out how to do it!

And almost a year after buying my house, I finally got to see inside, walk around, take pictures (to daydream about and plan), etc. There's a few things I'll need to do before moving in, and a LOT of work I'll want to do after, but I'm so pleased with it. I especially love the yard - it's huge!


The final major thing this year was receiving an invitation to a voluntary retirement incentive from my district. I wasn't planning on retiring until 2022 at the earliest, but this came at just the right time, for SO many reasons. So this will be my last year teaching in California. I will still need to teach or work somehow for quite a while, but I'm excited for this new start. I'm especially excited to be able to live closer to my son and older daughter, have more room, spend more time with my other grandchildren, and get to know them better!

So that's me up to date. If you've made it all the way to the end of this post, thank you and please leave a comment with one good thing that happened for you or your family in 2020. If you want to, tell me what what was the most difficult. If you've blogged about it, feel free to leave a link to the post and I'll come and read it.

Thanks so much for your continued support. I'm hoping and praying for a better, kinder year for us all in 2021.