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It seems as though I’ve written mostly serious posts this year. Those who know me well know that’s me: I’m mostly Serious, most of the time. Serious doesn’t have to be Negative, but I want to finish out this year on a more Positive note.
For all of the tough times I and my little family have faced this year, there’s been so much good. As important as I believe it is to talk about the rough stuff, I believe it’s just as important to talk about the things that went smoothly–the successes and the joys–so here is my “Best of 2019”.
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At the very beginning of this year, I continued my writing journey as a participant in the 2019 Artist INC Lawrence cohort. Artist INC is a program of the Mid-America Arts Alliance (MAAA), and, since its inception, has expanded to include several cities across the Midwest. During the program, I got to network with other local artists (who work in all types of media), attend informational sessions about the business of art, such as marketing, financial management, and income taxes for artists. Not only did I learn a lot, but through small-group, whole-group, and one-on-one meetings, I made several friends–a big win for this Serious Introvert. I’ve had several performance opportunities as a direct result of the connections I made during my time in Artist INC.
I had two pieces published in 2019, and continue to develop and submit pieces for consideration. I performed in Truth in Comedy in at The Break Room in Topeka, February of 2019, and Shelf Life at The Brick KC in August. I will again be a featured storyteller for Truth in Comedy in at Cider Gallery in Lawrence this coming February. Check out my landing page or “AF Speaks” for more info on performance dates.
As an offshoot to writing, Twitter became a Real Thing for me in 2019. I’ve made connections with a wide variety of people in the #WritingCommunity, and have a few cyber friendships. This is something I plan to continue in 2020.
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Career-wise, I have spent more than twenty years providing visual access to language for adults who are deaf or hard of hearing. It has been a pleasure to expand my practice to families, teaching them ways they can have better communication with their kiddos. Every time I get to attend a camp for families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing–whether to volunteer as a part of the Access Team or to teach a class–it’s a definite pleasure. In 2019, I got to attend three such camps. In May, I provided communication access at Spring Camp Cheerio at the beautiful YMCA Camp Cheerio in Glade Valley, NC, which is in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains. In July, I facilitated the advanced class at Camp Chi-Cue-Sign-Go (an opportunity provided by blending the support of Camp Chi-Cue-Go and CueSign, Inc.), which was held in the quaint town of Jacksonville, Ill.. And in October, I taught the intermediate class and provided communication access at Camp Discover (Cued Speech Association of Maine, in cooperation with Maine Hands & Voices), held at the gorgeous, and fully ADA accessible, Pine Tree Camp in Rome, ME.
This year, I’m looking forward to facilitating the advanced class at Spring Camp Cheerio, doing whatever the Head Unicorn In Charge needs me to do at Camp Discover, and producing and facilitating several workshops across the US as a member of the board of CueSign, Inc.
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The challenges we four parents have faced with our own Littles this school year have helped us focus on what, specifically, our children need to Be their Best Selves in school, and develop ways of promoting those things. It has been a tremendous fortune that they both have teachers who really know what they’re doing, and who truly care about the success of their students as whole persons, not just their academic performances. Brainstorming and problem-solving for our own household regarding the kids and their needs has helped Stacy and I hone in on our family values and become a better-functioning team–that’s always a win.
As LaLa and Bubs grow, Stacy and I continue to work for ways to help them develop their intellectual and physical abilities, as well as instill in them the love for travel that we have. In 2019, we were able to make a family trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. We are fortunate that Stacy’s dad and his wife live in the Orlando area, so they were able to visit us while we stayed at one of the Disney properties. That also means we will be able to make day trips to the Happiest Place On Earth when we visit them in the future.
We also got to take our Critters to Colorado for a week. It was a privilege for me to see them seeing the mountains for the first time. We happened to be there during July 4th, so we got to experience fireworks over Mary’s Lake, which, with the mountain backdrop, was breath-taking. We made this trip by car, splitting the 9-hour drive into two legs on the way there, and the kids did beautifully. We got lots of up-close time with hummingbirds and chipmunks, got a “hike” in, saw two bald eagles and several elk, and enjoyed a lot of outdoor time. As a present for the trip, we gave LaLa and Bubs small spiral-bound journals so they could draw pictures and take notes of their travels. We have all enjoyed looking back on their impressions.
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On the dog front, Beans became a one-eyed wonder, and we gained a pack member when my mom’s geriatric Doberman joined our pack. Uzi is very sweet, and very smart. He and my mom were a pair for ten years, and it shows. Sadly, at her new apartment (and her new, new apartment), she’s not allowed to have a dog as big as he is. He had already known Beans from visits over the years, so he fit right in. Uzi enjoys the big yard and having both four-footed and two-footed playmates.
Although we wouldn’t have it any other way, our home is definitely meant to be a two-dog household. When Uzi crosses the Rainbow Bridge, we won’t be looking for another furry friend to replace him. Even though I currently have Puppy Fever, because, hey, Boston Terrier puppies are so darn cute, two is our magic number.
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But wait, that’s not all! One of the most major things that happened this year was that I decided to get in touch with my dad. My dad and I hadn’t talked or seen each other regularly since I was about 14. My parents were divorced before my memory begins, and my mom remarried multiple times.
I got in on the Ancestry sale for St. Patrick’s Day, and by the middle of May, I knew, more or less, my ethnic makeup, based on what I’d won in the DNA lottery. I also knew that almost all of my dad’s family also had information on Ancestry. It was interesting to see my genetic background. It was more interesting to learn about my dad and his family from talking to him. For example, I’d known his mom had died when he was a teenager–but I hadn’t know what happened… I hadn’t even known her name.
I have truly enjoyed getting to know my dad now as an adult. I got to skip the Awkward Teenager stage with him, so we get to simply address each other as two fully formed people. Some of my friends have lost their parents over the past several years, and I know that I am very lucky to be able to have time with my dad now–what a gift.
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Thank you for sticking with me through 2019. I’m excited to blog my way through 2020.
What’s one of your “Best of 2019”? I’d like to see it! Please share in the Facebook comments or log into WordPress and leave a line or two.