In the middle of 2020, I somewhat lamented not having selected a One Little Word for the year. Choosing one word seems so overwhelming to me, so I began choosing monthly words to support my goals and my learning. For this year, I’ve chosen ONE overarching word (connection) along with FOUR supporting words for particular seasons I anticipated would mark 2021. Today, I’d like to reflect on how my overarching and first supporting word are holding up so far.
What I thought I was looking for
With intentional as my supporting word for the months of January-April (our lives change in May with the arrival of our second son, so this seemed appropriate), I anticipated seeking ways of connecting with communities, people, and myself. Last year required us to connect in new and innovative ways, but it often felt volatile. It wasn’t by choice, it wasn’t physical – we were seeking digital ways to connect, and even socially distanced ways to connect. As my blog name and identifiers suggest, I associate with five main roles in my life in which I work out my thoughts and beliefs and values. Within each, how was I going to experience connection?
Mija – In a post expanding on this role, I discuss what it means for me to be a daughter to my mother, my ancestors, my God. For 2021, I hoped to intentionally connect as a niña who receives wisdom and strengthens relationships, as well as faith.
Married – This one is more obvious, but in terms of connection, Kyle and I have probably never spent so much time together being quarantined and working from home for nearly seven months last year. It’s interesting, though, how living under the same roof and parenting the same child does not necessarily mean connection. In 2021, I hoped to intentionally connect as a friend and confidante to my husband; to learn him, to love him well.
Mami – COVID has been hell. Globally. But I would be lying if I didn’t say quarantine time with my baby boy while also having a full-time job has been an unimaginable blessing. Even after returning physically back to work. This year, my intentions for connection as a mom centered around mom community despite this global crisis.
Maestra – In this post about my role as a teacher, I focus on the importance of mentorship, teenage turbulence, and reading communities. I have felt pretty defeated in connecting with students and cultivating a dynamic that works for us. My intent for 2021 was to connect with other teachers in a way I have been resistant to in the past.
Mujer – The last post in my identities blog series had more questions than proclamations of what this role means to me. I didn’t make concrete intentions for 2021 except to continue figuring this one out. What in heaven’s name does it mean to be a woman?
What didn’t work/isn’t working
Many of my intentions didn’t play out; however, much of 2021 as viewed through these five roles have actually turned out better than I could have planned. For example, one thing I attempted was beginning an Instagram social media account associated with this blog in order to connect with other Latina writers who also may identify as teachers or wives. While I do love Instagram, it bordered too much with self-promotion and “look at me, look at me” instead of valuable connection. I kept up a consistent routine for two months, but I realized I was trying to do too much at once. Why was I seeking out yet another platform to connect when I already have a community of teacher writers who I’ve come to trust and to share and to celebrate with?
While still in the thick of COVID quarantine and navigating various learning models at school, cultivating community with anyone beyond immediate household family is nearly impossible. Unfortunately, I really haven’t intimately connected with a mom community – yet. Am I alone or lonely? Goodness no. Do I have a village of family members who support me? Yes! Is my son well-loved beyond belief? Just look at the way he lights up, yelps, and RUNS to the front door when his grandma rings the doorbell. Do I soak in the wisdom and encouragement from my writer friends and their writing/comments? You are all amazing! I am confident good things are coming; I’m simultaneously thankful good things are happening. Right now. In ways I could not have conceived.
What is working
I have connected with myself through writing and the writing community like never before. When I consider the five lenses, I have connected and grown so much in these last three months alone by simply engaging with other writers; specifically, teacher writers. As a mija, I’m working out misconceptions and things I’m wrestling with through writing. As a wife, I’m more keenly recognizing what a gift it is to be married to Kyle and the ways I have allowed my pride to withhold the opportunity to love him well through writing. As a mami, I have laid down my worries and anxieties and simply celebrated toddlerhood through writing. As a maestra, I brainstorm endless possibilities and reflect on my practices and plan grand experiences through writing. As a mujer, I’m trying to figure the dang thing out every day through writing.
The main reason I often feel overwhelmed with a year long commitment like One Little Word is because I fear failure. In this case, I shy away from even committing to a concept or idea because if I fail early, then I will give up and regret it the rest of the year. In 2021, I’m choosing to connect with the possibility that my OLW may look different than what I anticipated in December of 2020. And that’s okay.