AF’s Best of 2019

Header photo by Prawny, from The links in this post are not affiliate links, and are for informational purposes only; I do not benefit in any way from sharing these links.

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.

Approximately 20 people stand in three rows, posing and smiling for the picture. In the lower right corner of the photo, two women sit on the ground and look at the camera.
A portion of the Artist INC. Lawrence 2019 cohort

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.

A white woman stands in the middle of a stage. She has shoulder-length reddish-blonde hair, swept to one side of her face in curls. She's wearing a sleeveless, long, blue dress, with a yellow flower print on it. To her right (photo left), there is a stand with a mannequin hand on it. She is flanked on both sides by red curtains that hang from a bar several feet above her head and fall all the way to the stage. The backs of several audience members' heads are visible at the bottom of the photo.
Me, reading, “Amy F. and the Engagement Ring,” at “Shelf Life: The Rock Show”.

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 theĀ 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.

In the Camp Cheerio dining hall, Amy, left, transliterates announcements into Cued American English, while Taylor, right, interprets into American Sign Language. The dining hall structure is honey-colored wood all around There are several families in the background at the bottom of the picture. Amy and Taylor are standing on stools, so they are elevated above the crowd for easier viewing. Amy is a white female with chin-length reddish-blonde hair. She is wearing light denim jeans, a jewel-blue shirt, and a black long-sleeved jacket. Taylor is a white female, with shoulder-length, brown, curly hair. She is wearing black jeans and a three-quarter sleeve dark purple shirt.
Amy, left, transliterates announcements into Cued American English, while Taylor, right, interprets into American Sign Language.
Two white women, standing in front of windows in a classroom, smile at the camera. The woman on the left has gray hair, parted down the middle and swept back into a ponytail. She's wearing clear-framed glasses, a pink "Cue Camp Virginia" polo shirt, and a black name tag lanyard. The woman on the right has chin-length blond hair, parted on the photo right side. Her mouth is open in a smile. She is wearing a flowery top and a purple cardigan sweater over it. Her arms are outstretched to take the selfie.
Donna Morere, parent of a deaf adult cuer, and Amy fun around during a class break at Camp Chi-Cue-Sign-Go.
Several people sit around a table that is outside on a deck. The deck overlooks trees and a lake in the background. A blond woman in a dark, long-sleeved shirt sits, facing the camera, with her right hand in the number five shape, at the side position. Across from her, a woman with short red hair, wearing a grey hoodie, sits with her back to the camera. Next to her, a man with dark hair stands, wearing blue jeans, a dark, long-sleeved shirt, and a naseball cap. Next to him, a woman sits. Shes got long, dark hair, swept into a ponytail. She's wearing a grey t-shirt. At the end of the table, in profile view, sits a man with dark hair and a beard. He is wearing a dark pullover top and blue jeans.
Stephanie Payonk leads the beginner Cued American English class at Camp Discover.

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.

In the lower left corner is a man's face. He is white, with a brown goatee. He is wearing a baseball cap with a grey bill. Black sunglasses are perched atop the hat bill. Next to him, a little boy stands. He has black hair and brown skin. He is wearing a short-sleeved, blue, Dri Fit t-shirt that says, "Reebok" in white text, then, "Fast as lightning" below, in black text. The shirt has white stitching at the seams. His face is covered with a slanted smile emoji, to protect his identity. Next to him, a girl leans on the table. She has brown hair and brown skin. She is wearing a white t-shirt with a pink cardigan over it. Her face is covered with a smiling sunglasses emoji, to protect her identity. In the back ground, there are some people standing in the top right of the photo. They are only visible from the waist down.
Stacy plays hand games with Bubs and LaLa at the Native American Cultural Celebration at a local museum. Our kids are proud of their heritage.

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.

In the left side of the screen, a white woman is partially visible. she has blonde, chin-length hair, and is wearing mirrored silver sunglasses. Her mouth is open in a smile. She is wearing a blue, sleeveless t-shirt. Next to her is a little girl with brown, chin-length hair and brown skin. She is wearing a pink t-shirt with a colorful design on it. Her head rests on her shoulder as she sleeps. Her face is covered with a Zzz sleeping emoji to protect her identity. She is strapped into her seat with a black seat belt that goes across her body from her shoulder to her waist. They are in a travel bus.
In the Disney bus, Amy and LaLa are excited to arrive at the WDW hotel!
On the left side of the photo, three-quarters of the front of a man is visible. He is white, with a brown goatee. He is wearing a baseball cap and a blue t-shirt with a logo on the left (photo right) front of the chest. To the right, a little boy leans on him, sleeping. He has black hair and brown skin, and is wearing an orange sleeveless t-shirt with blue trim. His face is covered with a Zzz sleeping emoji to protect his identity. They are sitting in a travel bus.
Stacy and Bubs are also excited to arrive at the WDW hotel!

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.

At the left bottom of the picture, a man's smiling face is partially visible. He has brown hair and is wearing a KU baseball cap and black sunglasses. At the lower right of the picture, a woman's face is visible. She is wearing a tan hiking hat and pink sunglasses with black lenses. Behind them, two children stand facing the camera with their heads together. The child on the left has brown hair and brown skin, and is wearing a teal t-shirt with the word "BE" in hot pink print. The child on the right has black hair and brown skin, and is wearing a long-sleeved green t-shirt with white print on it (the words can't be made out). The kids' faces are covered with half-smile emojis to protect their identities. Behind them all is a forest of tall pine trees.
Our family at Wild Basin, in Meeker Park, CO.

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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.

In the background is a black and red plaid pillow. In the bottom left corner, a bit of a yellow, white, and blue baby blanket peeks into the picture. Most of the picture is taken up by Beans the dog's face. He is a black and white Boston Terrier with a mostly white face. His left eye (photo right) is open and his left eye is closed. He has a big, black nose, and his mouth is slightly open, revealing a little of his pink tongue and white lower teeth. It almost appears as though he is smiling for the camera.
Beans the one-eyed wonder smiles for the camera.

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.

The face of a black and tan doberman takes up most of the left side of the photo. The dog's mouth is open with pink tongue hanging out some. He stands on a tan tile floor. There is a wooden cabinet with two doors behind him. A person's white hand with a grey jacket sleeve hold the dog by the collar. In the bottom right of the photo, there is the leg of the person, clad in dark blue jeans.
Uzi gets a check up at the vet.

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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.

A man stands next to a Clydesdale horse in a paved lot. There is a blue sky and couple of bare trees in the background, as it is winter. The horse is mostly brown, with a white face stripe between the eyes, from the forelock to the muzzle, and white "socks". The man is tall, and wears blue jeans and a red, tan, and blue long-sleeved pullover. He has on hiking shoes, sunglasses, and a
Ret. PD Lieutenant and mounted unit founder R. L. Clark stands beside the unit’s newest recruit.

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.

Best regards,

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.