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Hello, 2021.

As 2019 drew to a close and 2020 approached, I sat down and did a 12-card tarot pull to forecast my coming year. My tarot predicted a year that began with ambitious future planning and a focus on establishing a schedule, followed by a year fraught with internal struggle and significant anxiety starting in March. The only potential bright spots were May - learning new ways to communicate - and October - potential pregnancy of twins. I typed out these predictions into a Google Doc and shelved it, hoping it was just my tarot being dramatic, and super crossing my fingers that it would be right about a pregnancy. It wasn't being dramatic, and it wasn't right about a pregnancy. Double poop.


In late December, Aaron and I were flattened by incredibly nasty colds that we now think may have been the coronavirus. When I did my tarot pull, I was still really sick.. It took me a while to recover, but I tried to stick to my goals regardless. I was doing a lot of trauma processing at the beginning of the year. I established a better routine of self-care and was regularly bullet journaling. In February, I was able to pull off a coordinated PDX weekend trip for the Art Club, complete with art walks in the Pearl and in the Allberta Arts district. I also got to squeeze in a beautiful birthday weekend at the tail end of February that involved pastrami, Powell's, donuts, and board games. All said, the first couple months of 2020 were actually pretty fantastic, in spite of the emotional turmoil wrought by my weekly trauma processing.


For those first couple months of 2020 I had a rigorous schedule for myself, but I tried to take the minor hiccups with stride and maintain focus on accomplishing my goals. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to take shape, I tried to take that in stride too; I prepared our house early, I prepared my work for reduced in-office hours, and I tried to set myself up as a potential remote worker for my second job. When things shut down for real, I was essentially fired from my second job. This wound up being a blessing, as it became significantly harder to balance my academic courses and my primary job while isolated with Aaron at home.


True to my tarot's prediction, my March ended with significant anxiety, nightmares, fear, and depression: My Dad nearly died, requiring emergency surgery and a multi-day hospital stay only a few days after the lockdown began. He came home during my final exams, worse for wear but alive. My professors gave me extensions and I managed to pull straight A's. Then my cousin's Grandma died - someone I grew up having in my life, indelibly tied to many childhood memories. My April card reminded me to be kind. I took a Death Companioning course and began to learn how to weave. In May, I was suffering in my courses; I decided to slow down my pace and postpone my graduation date until June of 2021. As my May card predicted, I learned new ways of communicating - virtual board games and movie parties with friends. Things to help keep me sane, supported, and connected in spite of isolation. At the end of May, I received an award for excellence in leadership for my role as president of Art Club.


And then George Floyd was murdered.


In June, Aaron and I protested. I didn't graduate as planned. I did begin the process of unlearning internalized white supremacy - a sentence of buzzwords that don't fully capture what that process has been like. Or how that experience pales in comparison to the lived trauma of BIPOC persons at the hands of said white supremacy. July was another painful month. Tarot indicated I should stop and rest, but the internal and external pressure to not stall out on anti-racism work was incredibly high. My August card said to be action-oriented. I missed one of my best friends and badly wanted a road trip, so I took action. Two of my siblings and I drove to Colorado, spent the weekend with my friend and her family, and then brought her back to Oregon with us. I spent the rest of August surrendering to the emotional consequences of everything I was grappling with. September cautioned to take extra care of myself. I opted out of a family trip and wound up getting whisked to the beach for an overnight trip with a lady friend instead. Opting out of the family trip meant I wasn't trapped in Idaho by the raging fires that spread across the West Coast, but Aaron was. Because of the pandemic and wildfires, I really couldn't spend Belly's deathiversary doing the rituals I'd have preferred. Instead, we substituted in apple picking with a close friend and a small family gathering for Mabon. October didn't come with a pregnancy, like my tarot intimated; however, I did chop all my hair off. The same card that indicated a potential pregnancy also urged a return to youthful joy. One of the things I desperately wanted to do when I was younger was shave my hair off. I was terrified of how I'd look, so I grew my hair out instead. This year, it was a way to take back some power and return to joy. I had a tendency to hide behind my hair, and I was also overwhelmed by the care of my thick, coarse curls. Even chin-length, my hair required a long and involved care process that often served as an obstacle to following through on my personal hygiene goals. So... Off with the hair! And then... off with my plans. Dad sold his house and began preparing to move to Oklahoma. My job with him was furloughed until further notice. I've never lived more than an hour away from both of my parents, so this change was a tough one to navigate.


November ("don't avoid conflict, just be yourself") came with the gradual decline in health of both of my rat boys. Mid-November, Wirt died; Greg then broke his foot and required twice-daily medications. I wound up bringing Greg with me to the beach for our holiday trip, which itself had been stressful due to some overall minor but consistent miscommunications. December's card instructed me to lean into my authority and stick to my plans until the very end. I passed my classes by the skin of my teeth. I celebrated Yule with Aaron. Greg died. We celebrated Christmas with my family. We Facetimed Dad, who couldn't make it back in time for the holidays. We made things work, even with the dregs of our energy. I scraped the bottom of the barrel for some joy and managed to find some. And finally, the year ended. White-knuckling it for so long has been exhausting, and 2021 isn't necessarily going to be better just by merit of it not being 2020. However... I have optimism again. At every turn, 2020 got worse instead of better. By the end of the year, there was simply no hope left in me for the year to make an upturn. 2021, though, has all its potential still.


If there's one thing I've learned in my grueling therapy and inner reflection practice over the past year, it's that hope is a vitally important thing. It can be the difference between simply surviving, or fully thriving. And despite the shitshow that was 2020, I still intend to thrive. So hope, as fragile as it is right now, is still forefront for me as we begin 2021. Here's to a year that will ideally hold more positive than negative for us all. XO, Cate PS: I didn't add lyrics throughout my blog this time around, because one song didn't sum up the entire year. However, the entire month of December involved a lot of Stereophonics on my playlists, and I've added one of my favorites. It's how I'm feeling as we start January - hope that Maybe Tomorrow, we'll find our way. Enjoy. :)


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