I’m 37 today. My 37th year was… interesting, to say the least.

I think we’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t at least find 2020 notable. It was a year that became a meme, the embodiment of that supposed curse “may you live in interesting times”. It brought chaos and calamity, and a roller-coaster news cycle.

The strange thing about last year for me was that, despite being forced to take a step back and slow down, everything still felt like it was tilt-a-whirl fast (I’ve said to my friends and family, “I want off this ride” at least a dozen times).

For me, 2020 began as a continuation of an already pretty tough 2019. With Nocturne’s release in 2018, we sold our home so my husband could launch his big dream of building a house for us (an ambitious undertaking. He’s building it himself almost entirely), I quit a day job that was an excellent opportunity in many ways but a bad fit in many others, began a new career and secured a contract in that field, and began what I’d describe as a “nomad-light” lifestyle of surfing between my mother’s home and my in-law’s (my husband and I are grateful to our families being so open and welcoming to us, but very ready to move into our own space again).

2020 started off on a positive note. I managed to– for the first time in my life– start a workout routine that I enjoyed and kept up consistently. I was doing well with my new career and enjoyed my work. My husband was able to truly pursue his dream, and watching his passion for building our new home has been wonderful.

Then the pandemic hit. Work from home became mandatory. My routine shattered, and working out suddenly stopped happening (I kept it up until about May pretty consistently, then it fell to pieces. Too much bouncing around.) The state of the world consistently stressed me out. Flexibility became the name of the game with work and home tasks, and self-care was in short supply. We were (and are) careful about distancing, but experienced our share of COVID-19 scares and the resulting self-isolation. I’m introverted, but I began to struggle with feelings of loneliness and missing people.

But it wasn’t all bad. Due to the shelter-in-place orders, my husband was able to progress further on our home than he would’ve otherwise, and we rounded the corner and have actually moved in as of this week. I have been blessed with the time and inspiration to write more this year than I have since the early drafts of Rhapsody. I was given the opportunity to spend time with my 3-year-old daughter and watched her learn and grow and blossom in new ways. And while I can’t say I don’t wish things would return to normal, there were bright spots to a hard year that I can’t deny.

I am fortunate that I didn’t lose anyone close to me in 2020. I had to make the hard choice to forgo weddings I’d have otherwise attended, and holidays have certainly looked a little different this year, but I didn’t have to watch a live streamed memorial service or say goodbye over a telephone. I recognize and am grateful for that especially, as I know so many were not so lucky.

On this birthday, my usual plans (typically a road trip/game session over a long weekend with friends) have been waylaid in the 2020 hangover. So far it looks like 2021 will probably be a little different, too, but maybe– like last year– there will be bright spots to a difficult, “interesting” year.

I have 3 main, writing-related goals for 2021:

  1. Release Vow
  2. Do at least one virtual reading
  3. Get a large section of work done on a new, Rhapsody-related story that I am so, so excited to share.

Otherwise, I hope to be gentle with myself and others. I hope to create new art and dance with my daughter and kiss my husband. I hope the world, interesting or not, begins to heal and life finds its way back to normal one of these days. But even if it gets back to normal, I hope I still make time to look at the stars, and time to write, and time to dream.

Happy 2021, my dear friends. Stay magical.

-A.M. Hodgson