May 5th - my birthday -the far side of fifty...

Today I reflect on another Cinco de Mayo birthday, after over a year of pandemic lockdown. What did I find by diving deep into isolation?  The disappointments were great. Canceled art and poetry events, canceled birthdays, canceled restaurant meetings, canceled holiday-after-holiday. Coping with change, loss, and grief. Remembering friends and relatives that did not make it to see 2021.  There were lots of things out of my control. I chose to be in a group that isolated, to protect myself and others, and to find out more about myself. Life did not go on as "normal" and will never go back to pre-pandemic "normal."


I'm also grateful. This last year has brought me many gifts:

            Time to finish a couple of new books (Sestina Playbook and Atomic Paradise)

            Teaching a Zoom sestina class (and Sestina Troubadours anthology)

            Knowing my coworkers at Minneapolis-based Capella U better with every-other-day  

                              Zoom check-ins, happy hours, and team huddle breaks, fun things to save our      

                     sanity, vulnerability....

            Weekly (almost) Zoom happy hours with our Old Town neighbor group

            Cooking:  a dutch oven and immersion blender were two splurges that I enjoy. Many meals on our patio over the summer.

            Picnics: John and I did a few hiking day trips and packed a picnic lunch. The solitude of  

                            being usually the only ones in a park and enjoying our beautiful New Mexico.

            Finished my labyrinth to walk the circle of reflection.

            Wildlife in our backyard: the horned lizard, rabbits, many birds, including quail, an       

                            occasional snake and our visiting bobcats.

            Inviting friends into our backyard for some socially distanced hangouts.

            Staying in touch with some old-fashioned cards, postcards, and phone calls.

            Making more art: collage and cards, filling the studio for the Placitas Studio Tour in                                   August (after two cancellations from last year)

            Poems, of course. The writing practice and journaling. Stay curious.

            Leading a poetry escape time at my workplace.

            Zooming with the Kaktus poetry series hosted by John and continuing the readings.

            The world through the online matrix, music, and words of friends to sustain us.

            Walks and runs around our neighborhood and I now have an exercise bike. :)


The bucket-list item I've jumped into since October is starting my Ph.D. program online. Post Secondary and Adult Education at Capella U, where I work.  A scary leap into a world that I'm gradually becoming more familiar with. It's never too late to try new things. Research ideas for how creative writing and play can help with coping in the pandemic or post-pandemic era. Will see where that ends up into a focused, narrowed question.


Today I'm looking forward to getting my haircut after almost a year and patio dining at el Pinto with John. I savor simple things, once taken for granted. I take another batch of boxes to the recycling bin from online ordering.  We're both vaccinated and look forward to venturing out as things open up again. The underlying grief is still there.  I look forward to brunches with girlfriends. I'm hoping for international travel (maybe in a year?) and realize the logistics just to book something for a weekend can be a bit daunting.  I'm looking forward to a bit more authentic living.  More caring about others, more healing and less division. Less planning and more living in the moment.  My dear John brought me roses and chocolates. Cheers to another year, to making it real. 


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