I’m so late in posting this. But then again, they don’t call me Charlate for nothing.
I’m trying to think of the proper metaphor for 2021. A rollercoaster? One step forward, three (or ten or twenty) steps back? That hand reaching up from a grave in a horror movie and pulling you under just when you thought you were safe? That plot twist that you really should have seen coming if you were paying attention because there really was so much foreshadowing? Damn. It was a lot. A. LOT.
Life was starting to look normal again. Or at least normalish. I started going to concerts again. I got a promotion at work. I lost the COVID weight. Dave and I went on vacation. (Our first weeklong vacation with just the two of us in over 20 years.) I went inside people’s houses. I celebrated important milestones of friends and family members – a graduation, a retirement, my daughter’s 21st birthday. I resumed traveling for work. Overall, it’s been a pretty good year.
It’s also been an awful, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year as my niece Amanda was diagnosed with a rare, incurable cancer and someone else I love very much has been diagnosed with cancer as well. And that plot twist – Omicron, threatening to bring it all to a halt again.
And it is for this reason that I keep a happiness journal – so I can remember the little moments every day that make me happy even on the worst of days. Every morning I sit down and take a couple of moments to reflect upon the day before and what made me happy that day – the little things. My daily dog walk, a funny text chain with friends, a coworker sharing some gossip with me (when you work remotely “office” gossip is a rare and treasured thing), the explosion of fall colors in mid-December, time spent with my kids.
At the beginning of each year I sit down with a cup of coffee or glass of wine (depending on the time of day), read over my journal, remember the year that has just passed, and try to set an intention for the year to come.
This year my intention is that actual word: intention. I intend to live a life with intention. To focus on the present. To make time to connect with friends and family. To try my hardest to not let one day blur into the next. To laugh and love and be grateful even on the shittiest of days. Especially on the shittiest of days.
Here are some of the moments that made me happy last year.
January 1st – We hiked Pt. Dume – Dave, Chandler, Sami, Rita and I. It was an amazingly beautiful Top 10 Beach Day. Perfect weather. Perfect hike. Perfect people. I only wish Marley had come. (She hates the Pt. Dume hike.) We even saw a wedding on the beach. What a perfect way to start the year!
January 20th – I cried legit tears when Kamala Harris was sworn in. We have a woman vice president!
February 4th – My dad visited me last night in my dream. I don’t remember much. We were in our Garden Grove house and he was changing the ink on our printer. Marley was looking for our cat. (We don’t have a cat.) I wish I could remember more but I’m so grateful for his visit.
March 5th – Chandler got vaccinated and Rhiannon got vaccinated and I am full of hope.
March 6th – Picnic at Balboa Lake Park with Rita, Arlyne, and Shelley. It was so good to be with them. The weather was cool and crisp and there were people and families everywhere. It felt normal.
April 10th – We had dinner at my mom’s and it was the first time in a year without a mask. John and Tracie were there and my mom’s home is so lovely and it was great to celebrate Bill’s birthday and feel happy and normal.
April 21st – My friend Maureen at work gifted me with a beautiful Shephard Fairey print. It’s amazing and I’m touched by her generosity.
April 23rd – It’s Rita’s birthday and just knowing that she is on this earth makes me happy. Also, Rhiannon texted me an old picture of all of us at the beach. Tammy was in it. And Dad. It was the last picture of all of us. Bittersweet. But a good day.
May 21st – I was walking Geordie in the park at night and there were so many families at the park. A little toddler was running down the hill and squealing that toddler squeal and it was so delightful. Is there any better sound than a child’s laughter?
May 26th – Chandler was up early and asked if he could join me on my morning walk. Yay! The clock is ticking – he’s moving to San Diego soon. I’ll take every moment I can with him.
June 14th – I spent the day with the kids. We went to sushi for lunch and then thrift shopping in Ventura. Both kids gave me birthday cards with the nicest notes – heartfelt. And that is everything.
June 21st – It’s Marley’s golden birthday! She’s 21. We had fun celebrating and she likes margaritas (just like her mama). Hooray!
June 28th – Rhiannon and I went to the Dodger game and she just loves the Dodgers so freaking much. It makes me happy to watch her enjoy the game so much.
July 5th – I spent the day with Cheryl, Ginger, and Kim and it was sublime. (We all met writing for a now-defunct website called skirt!)
July 10th – Oh. My. GAWD! I went to a concert. A concert! Music. That was live. Surrounded by other people. And we snaked our way to the front(ish). It was sublime. I’m so glad to be back.
July 17th – Squee! My heart is filled with joy! I went to Arlyne’s to hang out with Rita and Lisa and Kate! Kate is just as I remember – so lovely and funny and kind. It was so wonderful to all be together again. (We all met none-of-your-business many years ago -okay, it was in the 80’s- working at a retail store called The Factory Fashion Works. Old friends are the best friends.)
July 20th – Vacation starts today! Lake Tahoe is spectacular. So beautiful! And Dave and I really do love long car rides. So happy to be on a true vacation.
August 19th – Watching kids walk to the elementary school filled my heart with so much joy. They are back to school! I hope these kids can stay there.
August 21st – What a day! Breakfast with Marisa and Rita. A beautiful bike ride. But you know my happy moment was when Old Dominion hit the stage. (And bonus – I wore the cutest red cowboy boots and they did not hurt my feet!) 🙂
September 1st – Writers’ group. I definitely ate too much but I didn’t drink too much and I left at 10:00 like a good girl. These ladies really do fill my heart with such joy.
September 9th – Seeing the Oscar Meyer Weiner truck parked outside of my hotel. It brought me as much joy as it did when I was a kid.
September 14th- Dale took Rita and me to see Hamilton. Oh, it’s so good! And spending time with these awesome women and seeing Dale so happy made me happy indeed.
October 1st – It’s Amanda’s 30th birthday and my heart is so happy that she is home from the hospital.
October 2nd – We threw a party for Kim’s 50th birthday and when she got home she texted me that it was her dream come true. I’m so glad it was everything she wanted.
October 23rd – Marley sent a picture from her camping trip with her geology class and she looked so happy. I’m so glad she’s found her place.
October 26th- Being in Texas is hard this time. I miss my dad. I feel lonely in his house without him. I guess my happy moment would be Mexican food with Susie and devouring the queso. That was nice.
November 14th – We got our kitchen island that Bill made us and it’s just beautiful. I am so touched that he built it for us.
November 17th – Rita and I saw Morgan Wade at this tiny synagogue turned into a performance space. It was her first time to California and I was there. Significant because she is going to be huge. Live music = happiness.
December 4th – Today I went to the Bluebird and it was everything it’s cracked up to be. And I met Al Gore! He was genuine and lovely. And the music – oh the music! The night made my heart so happy.
December 13th – Hugging Amanda. Oh what a hug.
December 23rd – Chandler is home and Dave and I are off work and the four of us sat around and talked for a long time this morning and it was so nice to be together and I felt an overwhelming feeling of love and happiness.
Whoo boy, this was a long one. If you’ve stuck with this to the end you must have a lot of extra time on your hands – LOL! But seriously, thank you for taking time out of your day to read my words. That’s all a writer ever really wants. Even one who doesn’t write much anymore. I hope you took some time last year and will take some time this year to focus on the things that make you happy both big and small.
6 thoughts on “2021: That’s a Wrap”
I love all of this. I love you.
Can’t wait to hug you in 2022.
Aww Charlene!!! Love this. Love all the things. Love reading all the words.
Beautifully said, Charlene! Loved it…. And love you. I believe Life is but a song, and the song this brought to my mind from many years ago is…..
I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner That is what I’d truly like to beee ‘Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner, Everyone would be in love with Me!
Oh, I’m GLAD I’m NOT an Oscar Meyer Weiner That is what I’d never want to beeee, “Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner Everyone would take a bite of ME!
Thanks Charlene for letting me sing to you 🥰 ♥️Aunt Debbie Sent from my iPad
That was so sweet. Your happiness journal made ME happy. Never too late.
Thank you for sharing this, Charlene!! Beautiful!
This is one of my favorite things to read every year. And I am always honored to be mentioned, this year even more so. So grateful for you!