One Word – 2021

Remember the beginning of 2020, full of hope and plans?

For 2020, my word was Explore. The year was ahead of me, with many possibilities. It was my first year of full retirement and I was ready to make the most of it. I jumped right in with exploring.

I had a blast trying new things. I started painting with watercolors, renewed my interest in photography, auditioned for a play, took classes in pottery and writing, and signed up for an acting class. I was a regular at the Shenandoah Valley Watercolor Society and the Rocktown Camera Club. I was on a roll.

Then came Covid-19, which brought the in-person meetings and events to a halt. My acting class was cancelled. I continued to do some painting and some photography, though even those dwindled. It’s harder to be motivated without my communities of writing, painting, and photography.

Much of the year was spent packing and moving, as well as working on multiple houses. We moved, within our city, in June and again in September. We spent the summer and some of the fall in Maine, where most of my time was used working on our house there. I painted, but on walls, not watercolor paper!

I could say that those things kept me from art and writing, but the truth is that I struggle with making time for things I enjoy, though I truthfully have the time to do so. I’m retired and am subbing very little. I have an office to myself in my new home. I have fast internet for online classes and tutorials.

My word for 2021 is a result of 2020. Last year I explored. This year I want to make time for what I ultimately enjoy or want to improve. I need to FOCUS. I am easily distracted. I tend to bounce from one thing to another. I am stressed by clutter and that makes it hard to focus. Self-doubt also creeps in to creative endeavors, creating a wall that takes will power to scale. Without focus, many things fall by the wayside.

I plan to make a loose schedule for myself, to give myself both permission and commitment to those things I deem important. Here are those things:

  • painting
  • writing
  • typewriter reconditioning (I have many that need cleaning and/or repair)
  • continued decluttering (to aid in focus, not to avoid)
  • exercise (looking different in a pandemic)
  • reading (Bible, novels, books on writing, growth, etc.)
  • processing/mindfulness

How about you? Are there things in your life that you want to intentionally include this year?

Javan Leffel: May 2006 – December 13, 2020

I often called Javan my “birthday present from God” after rescuing him from the road, three days before my birthday. It was pouring rain that night, and the little kitten was soaked and sick. I took him home, dried him with a towel, then hair dryer, and took him to the vet. He bonded with me immediately, trying to get back to me even as the vet treated him.

I named him Javan, a character from a novel I’d read. I later found the name in the Bible (a grandson of Noah) and discovered that it meant “effervescent and lively.” It fit perfectly. He was unique and funny, starting with his “thumbs” on his front feet. He did forward rolls on the floor, front hip circles on the ladder to my loft, and played fetch. He liked to play in water. It was often hard for me to vacuum, as he loved to BE vacuumed. He would repeatedly lie down in front of the vacuum so that I would stop and vacuum him. Going for a ride in the car was a treat for him.

He was smart, and a smarty pants. I taught him that he could only have his front feet on the table, so he would stretch as far across the table as possible, while keeping his back feet on the chair or a lap. Before he went deaf, he would come when his name was called. If I asked him, “do you want to go out?” he ran to the back door. I taught him to “sit up” for treats. He would then sit up if he thought we had food to share with him.

Javan’s favorite thing of all was cuddling, especially with me. He would have been happy to be carried around the house or draped across my back, all day long. If I was busy, or he was otherwise inclined, he was happy to hang out with his other humans or his dog friends. He took good care of anyone who was sick. At night, he often slept under the covers with me, “back sleeping” or curling up in front of me. He liked tucking his head under his humans’ chins.

Diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 6, Javan lived well, with his changed diet, until early 2020, when he began to decline. He got slower and lighter, but still loved going outside and cuddling with his humans. He was always quick to purr when I walked into the room. He rallied in June and enjoyed his summer in Maine.

As anyone who has loved a pet knows, he will be greatly missed. If you ever met him, you understand how much I loved him and how special he was. I really hope we can get our beloved pets back, in Heaven.