The Annual New Beginning

The start of each new year coincides with me moving onboard Pandora for a winter of sailing in the Caribbean. We stayed home last year because of Covid. After following the mandates being enforced here and the level of infection in Antigua all year, Bob decided it was somewhat saferfor us to be in Antigua this winter than we’d be at home. (Of course, that didn’t include the absurd crowds we enccountered at JFK airport!–never again!) I was not as confident, but here we are! Happy New Year from English Harbour, Antigua.

I don’t know if we’ll get further down the island chain. Antigua seems to be the safest of the islands at this time.

What is on my mind every time I ring in a new year is how much I didn’t get done while I was home, how many projects on ‘my list’ remain just ideas. I spend some time each January grieving the things I didn’t accomplish because now I have four months with no looms, no sewing machine, no spinning wheel, no marudai and takadai, no lace pillow. Oh, I could on and on about this. I get rather morose at this time of year dwelling on what I’m giving up for the winter months. Those winter months are such a marvelous time to hunker down, almost hibernate, and just create. It used to be my most productive time of year, mingled with guild meetings, which no longer occur, that inspired me to do new and better things.

During the pandemic I have subscribed to a journaling newsletter called the “Isolation Journals,” written by Suleika Jaouad. She is a wonderful writer who inspires me to think differently and to record how my ideas and attitudes might change with her weekly prompts. Lately, I’ve been enthralled by her messages, in both good and sad ways. She is going through the recurrence of some serious medical issues, so her prompts about attitude have deeply affected me. At the end of last week she wrote a message about re-thinking the new year, and her ideas helped me to look at my accomplishments differently. For years she makes five lists around the new year. On the first list she records all the things she has accomplished. That’s what I did yesterday, and I feel a LOT better about the things that didn’t get done. Try it! We all do so much more than we think we do when we reflect on our time. It’s a great idea to list the things. It’s more than you remember until you force yourself to list them all.

I won’t go through the other four things that are helpful to list because you can read the message here. I hope you will.

My grief at leaving home has lessened. I don’t have quite the projects onboard that I had hoped to bring because Bob may not sail Pandora home this spring. After 10 years, he is getting tired of the long journey home each spring and the longer journey here every fall. We are considering leaving Pandora in Trinidad which is outside the hurricane zone. With that in mind, I had to choose carefully projects that are compact enough to make some kind of journey back to me, either by crate on a ship or in various suitcases (that we’ll have to buy!) to check on a flight home. It will certainly be a new hurdle for us, and I’m already worrying about it. I’m so good at that!

My year ended with some wonderful family time, in spite of the pandemic. We are a small family, although my older, married son sees far more people since his children are in nursery school and his wife has a large family. We visited them in Maryland the week before Christmas so that we went ahead of their visits with the distaff side of the family. But, nothing is completely safe these days. On the evening we arrived our son got a message from the nursery school that a teacher had tested positive for Covid and that the school was now closing until the new year. The families of the students were required to quarantine for at least 10 days. That included us since we were now in their house. All went well for us; no one got the virus, although we got a good dose of a different virus! Bob calls our grandchildren adorable virus vectors, and they are!

At Rob’s house, along with nine people, three of whom are still nursery school age, there were three dogs and two cats. Everyone got along well, and mostly the cats just hid somewhere safe from dogs!

Our younger son and his partner also joined us on this early Christmas weekend. It was the first time all our family was together in several years. That is because Chris (younger son) has been living on the West Coast for about seven years. He doesn’t make it home every year. Now he has moved back to Manhattan, and we’ll have more family gatherings as long as we are all well enough to do so safely. This is a wonderful gift for me.

This was a moment I won’t soon forget. Tori and I fell asleep on the couch together at her house. When I awoke she was still sleeping. Is there anything more angelic than a sleeping child? Yes, actually there is! Watching a sleeping angel cuddle the knitted toy sheep I made for her about three years ago.

For the Christmas weekend, Chris and Melody came to our house, along with a dear family friend who has been in our bubble for the entire pandemic. It was a quiet Christmas, but very moving for me.


It snowed on Christmas Eve this year, and Melody got up early Christmas morning to take photos.

When she sent me this photo of Mila from Christmas morning, she added the caption, “Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes!”

One more photo of our oldest grandog, who is only three. We have a family of young children, young dogs, and old cats!

I ended the year with a heart full of gratitude, and with help from the Isolation Journals I’m not beating myself up much about the things I didn’t accomplish this year. This new year feels like a positive new beginning, rather than a time for moping about lost opportunities. That is a huge difference for me. It’s time to knit!

I wish all of you health and safety in this brand new year.

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