Picture me taking a deep breath before going through this year. Its a bit of a doozy and I will try not to be a bummer because some parts of it, were much harder than others but I don’t entirely want to pretend like they weren’t. There were some good things. I do want to focus on those, but I feel the need to validate that this was just a really hard year for me and it’s going to take a lot of introspective and trial and error in 2022 to find that spark in me again. I feel like I lost it this year but, that happens sometimes and that’s okay.

I feel like I struggled a lot this year personally with admitting my limits. With putting my personal well being at the risk of bending over for people. It was… really hard to find that balance this year. I don’t think I’m the only one who struggled and I want to be there for everyone the best that I can be. But I think I lost myself a little bit along the way. I forget that even though I can tough out a lot of things in the moment, the weight they leave behind can really add up. I leave this year feeling like I’ve failed a lot of people, both friends and family, despite my attempts to be there for them all. Its a lot to balance. But who is going to do it if not me?

(Um… pro-tip the world still continues to turn even if I cant fix everything right away. I am… learning that very slowly. But we’re getting there).

I am honestly extremely lucky to have a rock in my partner to keep me anchored through it all.

But Ouf. Here we go.

January — We spend the first month of the New Year in isolation, wrapping up a small project we decided to start on a whim in December last year. It’s hard but we expected it this year. Its weird typing this now, realising we were likely under curfew then and hoping numbers settled into some semblance of normalcy. I have a call with my publisher… this isn’t the start to a new year I was expecting.

February — We wrapped up Myth Retold’s Kickstarter this month. I have three brand new books and I am emotional about them and the quality they bring. I am honoured by the folks who read them and tell me great things about them. It’s a while before things like curfew and numbers slow down on the pandemic side of things. But that’s okay, we’ll get through it and we’ll have a whole lot to show for it. We pass the year mark for Paint The Town Red here and feel… extremely guilty about it but its fine, its fine, we are almost there!!

March — We celebrate a small birthday for Tas, things start looking up, pandemic numbers are dropping, there is news now about vaccines, there is a lot more hope here for a more normal summer but we’re not betting too greatly on it in the fear of being disappointed.

April — We wrap up another Kickstarter: the Underworld Myths Collection and it goes relatively smoothly. Our business is re-organized we are keeping up with things better than we ever have been. Our numbers are doing pretty good for sales, the future does look brighter and we are eager for it. Eager for something a bit more normal.

May — The last of our heavy burdens is lifted when we finally finish Paint The Town Red V2 in time for TCAF’s online show. At the end of this month we are all emotional, both our families receive their first dose of the vaccine against COVID. We’re extremely hopeful, extremely grateful and looking far more optimistically towards a summer with friends. That Tas might be able to finally travel back home to visit family.

June — We launch a Kickstarter for Prism Knights. The last two books of this series put it to rest after I started it in 2017. Its bittersweet. The campaign does tremendously well. I am elated and floored by the reception of this little book series and have high hopes for future crowdfunding campaigns of the same vein. We end this month off on a high note, we get vaccinated with our second dose!! We have an outdoor gathering with family for the first time in just about two years. We celebrate my grandmother’s 80th and try to catch up on everything we’ve missed. It feels great to see people again.

August — Is by far the most exciting month. The one with the highest ups, the lowest downs. Ouf. It is a lot. We start off by tabling at our first Pride. We are safe, wearing masks, pre-packaging all of our goods for any sales made and we are well over two weeks after receiving our second dose of the vaccination. We don’t sell great but getting out there again is fantastic.

My partner and I get engaged!! I personally still can’t believe I plucked up the courage to ask her but it happened! Its an extremely hot month and this day is no exception. We are both elated and share this moment with eager friends.

This moment is overshadowed by a few things. Family drama, funerals (honestly just poorly timed on my part I was too eager to have something happy to share in light of a lot of the negatives from the beginning of this year and the end of the last). The family drama persists and eats away at me personally for the rest of the year.

I turn 29 and we are finally comfortable enough to start regularly going to the gym again (not related really but I am determined to get rIPPED this year).

September — We celebrate my mom’s birthday together! Family drama persists and grows. There is talk of a fourth wave with a variant we call Delta at this time. Tas is too nervous to travel and postpones her trip home. I get an agent which is exciting! My book deal falls through though and I am personally ridden with guilt and frustration. I hate myself for this for months later. My tattoo appointment falls through, one I’ve been looking forward to for weeks.

We launch a Kickstarter for a new product we’ve never attempted before with the help of our friends and find that it does insanely well. Money is a little less tight, we breathe a lot easier for a little while longer.

October — This month is a little bit easier. We get enveloped in the spooky season. We take more walks and enjoy the scenery more. We entrench ourselves in our work and in watching spooky things to get into the mood. I struggle with the fog that’s overcome me. I feel like everything is a little bit further away but its okay. I’ll get through it. I chalk it up to a funk. I limit my time on social media hoping this will cut me a break and it does help in part.

November — Tas is finally able to visit home. Its a weird time this whole week is strange, the two cats are not sure what to feel about it (happy 2nd birthday to them)! I attempt NaNo and don’t quite succeed at the full-throttle sprint BUT I do get an insane amount of writing done (far more than I have previously). The fog & feeling persists. I get a new tattoo (finally). The end of the month brings word of a new variant (omicron..)…. this one seems to spread despite the two doses of vaccine we’ve gotten so far…

We do a couple small conventions and they are both like a breath of fresh air. To see people reacting to your work, to see a new table filled with different works we haven’t had the chance to display before… its just really nice.

December — ….. ugh. The fog gets worse. Kickstarter shits the bricks with a new blockchain reveal, this will set our company back by the thousands if people keep to their word against pledging to projects on the platform. We aren’t making usual sales, on Etsy, on our shop. I melt down. I’m fine. I’m fine.

The familial pressure starts to sink its teeth into my skin. I feel like I’m suffocating. I’m having terrible conversations and can’t seem to get across that I’m drowning even though it feels so obvious. I’m pushed into being placid and placating. I don’t know how to build boundaries without hurting feelings so I pull away. I don’t know how to tell people to stop without worrying I will push them away permanently.

Breathe. This is hard for me to write because its the first time I’m acknowledging this openly. I don’t want to make enemies I just want to disappear for a while and breathe and breathe and breathe.

I promise to make next year better for myself.

I’m typing this and its nearly 2am and I don’t know who might see this, who might be hurt by it. I’m hurt. I’m hurting and I’m bleeding. This year I’ve struggled, placatingly through mis-gendering and inexcusable dead-naming. I am patient, I am so extremely patient. I let people sweep my engagement under mountains of pettiness and pain. I tell myself too often to shut up shut up. I can’t do this to myself anymore.

2022 is going to be hard. But I need to make room for myself and learn what my limits are. I can’t be everyone’s rock no matter how hard I try. I still want to be there for everyone the best I can, but I need to learn how to make my own space to breathe and step back.

I feel like I’ve lost a lot of friends in this pandemic through stress and miscommunication. But I’ve gained many more. Its hard for me not to second guess my worth, my opinions, my presence in bigger groups. I’m working on it, I’m working on it.

Deep breath.

It’s going to be alright. I’m picking up pieces and I’m shaping them back together and sometimes they break apart again but I breathe and I am patient and I put them back together again. It’s going to be okay. I need to learn some things along the way. I need to learn how to be kinder to myself. How to be stronger for myself.

So maybe you will see some of this develop. Maybe you wont. I don’t know what kind of process I will share with you. I know I’ve been distant but this year broke parts of me I am trying to figure out how to put back together again. I’ll be fine. Just give me time.

Hoping for better, and hoping anyone reading this has a better year too.


2 thoughts on “2021 Year Retrospective

  1. I’m so sorry that 2021 was a rough one for you Winter (and I commiserate <3)

    I hope 2022 sees you happier and shouldering less stress. I really am looking forward to what you (and Tas) create in this new year, especially for fun!

    1. We have a lot of fun things planned for work and only a few things planned for fun so we can enjoy a bit more spontaneity too hehe <3 I look forward to seeing everything you have in store too ;;A;;
      I really am willing positive vibes for everyone to have a much better 2022 <3 We got this!

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