Thank You 2022

It’s that time of the year again. We’re winding down to the end of the year waiting to welcome in 2023. That means new year resolutions are made, you’re scrambling to clean your house, while simultaneously trying to process the last year that just happened.

I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to reflect on the last year and trying to find the lesson when the new year is approaching. It’s okay if there isn’t an “obvious lesson” to be learned. Very often, some time needs to pass for you to see the significance of a certain year, and the role it played in the bigger picture. I feel like 2022 was that kind of year – I was coasting in the sense where I wasn’t really trippin’ on what was to come, just taking life as it was. 2021 was one of those drastic years that changed a lot, and 2022 was the grace period of trying to re-evaluate life and process 2021.

If I really had to narrow it down, the overall theme of 2022 for me was slowing down and just taking it all in. My personality type is traditionally very uptight when it comes to plans. I’m either stressing out about what’s to come, or planning for the next step. I don’t know if anyone else felt this way, but I started 2022 tired as hell. Of course I had some new year’s resolutions – like writing more, start this or that project, save money, and so forth, but in terms of big life changing goals, I can’t say I had any. 2021 was such a year of change and grief that I just wanted to be a neutral “okay” for 2022. I literally wanted to be left as is and process what happened the year before. I wanted to be right in the moment, not stressing out about anything to come, and just exist without complaint. It seems like a simple task, but I find it hard to just let myself breathe. And in 2022, I did just that to the best of my ability.

I’ve always been pretty safe with the pandemic going on – wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, limiting my outings, taking takeout instead of dining in, not traveling, etc. But in doing so, I became anti-social and even more of a homebody than I already was. I went into the pandemic as a freshly turned 25 year old, and now 2 plus years in, I feel way older than 27. I was past the point of feeling like the pandemic had stolen 2 plus years of my youth and counting. I was so over the pandemic and knew it was time to start living again. We are coming up on 3 years of Covid being a thing, and even though on paper that is a relatively short period of time in the grander scheme of things, when you’re living this type of life day to day, it takes its toll.

It took a while for me to ease up on Covid protocols even after the city / state lifted many restrictions. After wearing a mask for so long, it felt illegal not to have one on. I really had to come to terms with the state of the world’s reality. Covid isn’t going anywhere, and I can’t waste my youth and great years depriving myself of living because I’m afraid. In no way am I denying the severity of the virus and the affect it can have on high risk individuals – which is why I still take precautions for myself and those around me – but it came to a point where I was aware that getting Covid was pretty much inevitable, and all I can do is try my best to keep myself and others healthy with continued precautions. It took a lot for me to go somewhere maskless, eat out at a restaurant, and get back to a semi-normal life like pre-Covid.

Since I came to the realization that Covid is something we have to adjust to and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, 2022 was a year where I decided to treat myself more than usual. I don’t know if it was me filling a void left from 2021, but I found myself more willing to do things. 2021 brought a lot of tears and frustrations, but through the grief, the one thing I took away was that time is priceless. You can always make more money, but you can’t buy back time. I felt deprived of life experiences and making fun memories with those I love for over 2.5 years, so I found myself saying yes to things I would’ve said no to in the past. I was down for the dinner, down for the road trip, down to experience life again.

I feel as though 2022 was my “rest” year. I wasn’t acting on anything, I just sat and observed, taking note of what’s going on around me. I guess my instinct to plot my next moves weren’t completely dormant after all, just remaining attentive to every aspect of my life. I wrote about it in many different ways in my blog posts, but they all point to the same message – not everything needs a reaction, sometimes you just need to observe and take mental notes on what’s happening, then you wait for the right moment to act on whatever the situation may be. And I mean that from a responsible and patient stand point, not a malicious one where you’re plotting on some antagonist shit. When I say plotting, I mean it from a place of listening to your intuition, trying to see the bigger picture, and making sure you have all the facts and information before making big decisions.

I’d be lying if I said I felt energized for 2023. However, I am ready for it. A part of my role in the preschool is teaching kids from all over the country virtually online. Before the winter break, I was demonstrating a project to the class – trying to show them how to get the shaving cream nice and smooth so we could make our own New Year’s Eve fireworks. One thing about teaching online is you never know when you’re going to mess up yourself, but you have no choice but to keep going because you’re live. I kept instructing the kids to use their cardboard piece to smooth out the shaving cream on their tray, but I kept going over the same area where the shaving cream sinkhole was. Every time I fixed it, the perfectionist in me kept trying to make the whole thing even smoother, causing me to reopen the gap maybe 5 times at that point.

“Okay, see, Teacher Marinelle keeps making that hole, but I want to have it smooth. Justtt…. likeee….. thisss…” I said trying to buy myself time being live on air.

Since I can have up to 9 kids at a time, all of their microphones are muted until I call on them, this is to avoid all the kids talking at once. But just then, a microphone turned on, I didn’t quite hear what was said, but I could tell who said it because of their voice. I’ve been working with some of these kids for over a year, so I was confident who turned on their microphone to say something quickly. I looked up from what I was doing and looked at the computer screen, “What was that, _____?” I said with a smile.

They turned on their microphone again, as they worked on their project alongside me, “It doesn’t have to be perfect, remember Teacher Marinelle? It’s okay if it’s not perfect, remember that’s what you told me,” they said sounding so wise and happy.

“….you’re right… I’m so proud of you! I’m so happy that you remembered that!” I said wanting to cry. I always try to encourage my students to make their projects uniquely theirs, and that may mean that all of our projects look different, and that’s okay. I also think it’s important to let them know that it’s okay if their projects aren’t perfect – all that matters is that they tried and made it their own. Especially for the little ones that get frustrated when they want things to look a certain way or be exactly like mine, I encourage them to be different and tailor things to their style. This is also true for getting answers wrong, I applaud them for trying. I reassure them that if they ever need help, I will always help them out. It builds their confidence in themselves and allows them to create and answer freely without worrying about getting things “wrong.”

“I’m so proud that I could cry, but you guys aren’t here to watch Teacher Marinelle cry, you came here to learn!” I laughed trying to play it off. I was so moved that my student remembered my words from past classes. It reminded me that sometimes, we need to give ourselves the same love, compassion, and understanding that we give children. I preach to my kids that there is no such thing as perfect and their unique creativity and personalities is what makes them great. And I was reminded of that same lesson from one of my students.

It reminds me of what 2022 was like for me – it wasn’t perfect, but there’s no such thing as perfect. I made the year my own with no expectations, just allowing myself to grieve, heal, and just be. And since there’s no such thing as perfect, that means that there is no right or wrong way to do things – that’s just life. And everyone is just trying to figure it out. This was definitely the rest year, the “try to figure it out” year, the year where I really thought about what I want. That’s exactly the kind of year I needed. 2022 was the calm after the storm of 2021.

Wishing all my readers a very happy new year! May 2023 beat all of your expectations and then some!

Rafa’s 2019 Reflection

There was just a couple more days of 2019, and I got a message in my Instagram DM’s. It was from an old high school friend, Rafa. She told me that she wrote a reflection of her 2019 that really hit home for her, and wondered if I would be interested in reading it.

Rafa explained that this was her first time writing a reflection, and it was a therapeutic experience that brought her to tears at the end.

“I thought of you when I finished,” she said. “I was like ‘I know somebody that will like this.'”

It made me really happy. I’m always encouraging people to dig deep within themselves for some type of self-discovery moment – probably because I aspire to be Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender one day… still currently Zuko with my angry ass 🤷🏻‍♀️. I always try to leave the door open for anyone who wants to share their story with me, and I thank you, Rafa, for not only sharing with me, but agreeing to have it be posted on here.

I feel like Rafa and I are very alike. We make our stories of our struggles and insecurities public in hopes that it reaches someone who can relate. I admire her ability to open up about her struggles and reveal raw emotions.

Here is Rafa’ 2019 Reflection:

The year of 2019… What a year for me…

This year I embraced my art of seduction and it felt so good to feel wanted and desired as a woman. I was able to experience and feel what its like to feel wanted… As a woman I felt the need to have that experience. I was searching for other’s validation in me. I was desperate to be seen by others that made me feel like I was “the next Kim Kardashian” yet not satisfied by all the attention I was getting. On this journey I learned and gained a lot of experiences. I gave my time to the wrong people. I met amazing people. I struggled financially. I cried. I screamed. I gained weight. I lost weight. I had hair extensions. I took them out. I decided to live make up free. I decided to embrace and love my natural hair. I prayed. I danced. I got drunk….. A L O T!!!!!! I smoked weed for the first time. I went out partying A L O T. Partying was part of me “seeking other’s validation”. I traveled A L O T. I experienced the rich lifestyle. I met celebrities. My phone would blow up with so many messages, calls, voicemails, DM’s from guys I was never interested in. I became toxic to myself at some point. I felt like the shit. I went downhill again. I realized that money doesn’t make anyone happy. I decided to take a step forward into my future career. I took big steps backwards because I had bigger bills. I worked out. I was able to reunite with my auntie after 16 years. I fought depression and I won throughout the whole year. I was selfish. I learned how to say “NO!” I learned how to walk away without looking back! I learned how to not give people second chances to come back into my life. I trained my head to be stronger than my heart! I was emotionally unstable and unavailable for love! I lead people on. I hurt the ones I cared for. I hurt myself. I built boundaries. I irritated a lot of people. I was at some point heartless, cold, & careless. I was stubborn. I unfollowed a lot of people I didn’t feel like I needed on my social media account. Others I blocked. Best feeling in the world!!!!!! I would constantly ask myself why can’t I have what they have? I confess to God. I was always very transparent to God. I was very transparent to myself and others. I loved & lost the person I was madly in love with.. I learned how to value my inner self, my beauty, my body & mind. With everything that happened this year the most important task that I did not fail was being a mother to my little girl… Yes I left her with family to go out but I always and forever will come back to her. 6 years later and I still haven’t found ways to explain what it feels like to love a child. It’s crazy because she’s my weakness and my strength. She drives me crazy. She gets me big time mad but I can easily forgive her and move on with my day…. She doesn’t judge me regardless of what I say or do. She loves my imperfections and she still sees me as her role model. And that’s crazy to me because I have so many flaws… I love being her mother. It’s like she’s my best friend.. She is so incredible and it’s so real… I tell her weekly “I don’t know how to measure my love for you but I love you as big as the sky” she always has this big ass smile, it’s so priceless and I’m so blessed to be growing together. I lived a life I always wanted to experience.. so when I’m ready to settle down I know that I will not look back or have the urge to live this wild life…. and after all I am so grateful for all that’s happened, the good and bad.. Maybe I’ll be ready for love in 2020. Maybe not! But hey, look at me now: still standing, laughing, smiling, loving, forgiving, & living.. Still a few days to enjoy the rest of this beautiful year of 2019…..

Love, Rafa 💕