A Year in Review

Photo by u5f20u6210 on Pexels.com

Two days until we put to rest 2022, and I’m currently engaged in a battle with myself, whether or not this was a year of positive net.

It certainly was one of the most interesting ones I’ve survived.

On the bright and beautiful side, I pushed myself farther and to greater heights with my writing than I ever had before. I took chances and got out of my comfort zone, and thank goddess for that. Because those investments in myself and explorations into new experiences led me to some of the best connections I’ve made, the dearest of friends, more published pieces I’ve had in the last five years combined, and a publishing contract with a company I believe in. https://www.5princebooks.com/sarahreichert.html

Not only that, but when I put my fear of rejection aside, and made a deal with my writing bestie (Rebecca Cuthbert) I succeeded in my goal of 100 rejections for the year (along with about 15 acceptances that I’m so grateful for). My work was featured in awesome and quirky journals and sites and some even were accepted in more traditional venues. I co-wrote my first romance with my wonderful friend and mentor Kerrie Flanagan . I learned a lot about myself as a writer, how to manage my time in a busy world, how to write in different genres and formats, and how to shrug off the worry of failure. I learned that I can do things. Hard things. New things. Interesting things. Things I never even imagined. I learned that I can do whatever. I. Set. My. Mind. To.

On the darker side of things, I was, and still am engaging in a battle with my daughter’s worsening OCD. It is a constant in our lives and I am in a cyclical ride of refilling and emptying out my patience levels, trying to find and give to her compassion on the daily, reassurances to the virulent voices in her head that tell her on repeat horrible things will happen if she doesn’t follow its asinine rules. (More Info Here) I have to put aside my own anxieties and depression, I have to square my shoulders and tuck away my own mental strains so that I can be a solid rock for her during this ongoing storm. In turn, these pressures have left me very little space for other people’s bullshit, and maybe that’s a good thing.

I’ve become aware that I no longer tolerate the levels of injustice I used to. I no longer tolerate the levels of disrespect and flagrant wasting of my time that some people think is acceptable. That I’m not going to let assholes go on being assholes without telling them they’re being assholes. And I’ve come across some doozies in the last few months.

Not for the first time, I got a taste of gender imbalance and misogyny in my outside-of-writing-profession. It’s disheartening, especially, when it comes from men in a position of trust who have been my supposed ‘family’ for so long. It reminded me that the imbalance of power in our culture is always in play, no matter how safe you think a business or place is. I watched as a world that was once my sanctuary turned into a dark place where people I once trusted, threw dirt on the grave of my autonomy and denied my worth as a human being.

I’m still battling with if I should stay at my instructor position for the sake of the children and other females in the school. Is their instruction and safety worth more than having to put up with the culture that would allow and overlook frightening behavior and disrespect? Still battling over that one, and I guess if I give myself time to think (as I’m doing this week from social media) I will arrive at the solution that is the best for myself and the people I care about most.

But I have my writing, and I have my friends, and I have people who have stood by me and loved me and shook their fists for me when I just wanted to curl up and die. And that’s not nothing. Years like this teach you who your allies are. And who you should not put your faith or your respect in. They teach you who will stand by your side, and who will throw you under the bus, for their own personal gain. And that knowledge is not nothing either.

So as you look into the new year, I urge you to not forget the lessons you’ve learned. I urge you to write your own story. One worthy of you. I ask that you take leaps of faith, and do things outside of your comfort zone. I ask that you let yourself get rejected and keep moving forward. I ask that you let loose your imposter syndrome and know that you and your art are more than enough to be shared.

In this new year, surround yourself with people who put your safety in mind and value your worth. I urge you to stand up for the friend in need of some fist shaking. I urge you to not put up with anymore bullshit, especially the hateful, uneducated, dehumanizing kind. Use your heads, use your hearts. Build this year, 365 single days at a time, and find something at the end of it that has made you outgrow a little more of the old you.

Choose what to carry, and what to let go. Some things are too heavy, but more than their weight, they don’t belong to you. They are not yours; they serve no purpose to you or to the greater good of the world. They are merely weights that keep you from getting to where you’re meant to be. So know when to let them go, and don’t berate yourself for leaving them behind. Sometimes the absolutely strongest thing we can do, isn’t to keep holding on. It’s in the letting go. So you will have both hands open for the next, better opportunity.

Advertisement

In Honor of Rebellion

I wrote this blog a year ago, before COVID-19, before the Black Lives Matter movement gained ground, before the staggering abuse of power from one of the most self-interested presidents we have had went full on “tear gas peaceful protesters so they don’t get in the shot of my photo op” crazy.

In the original version I was careful to try and not alienate readers with use of politics. Re-reading it now, after what we’ve all been through this year, I’m resubmitting it with more balls. (I never understood why “having balls” was equated with being tough. We all know those things can’t even withstand a little nut tap without shriveling into a vomit inducing pity party. They should really say “grow a vagina” or “have a uterus” those things can, as Betty White once said, “take a pounding”. Anyway—on to the point.)

Independence in our country used to mean the freedom to pursue our dreams. But now we’re finally opening our eyes to the fact that not everyone has the same opportunities for this pursuit. Discrimination based on race, the disparity between economic status, and various other homophobic, misogynistic, and white-power-driven stereotypes were collars that kept a majority of this nation underfoot and away from an “American Dream” that was really just a concept reserved for the continuation of power for those already in possession of it.

This week, “Hamilton” will be available for the general public’s viewing and I hope you and everyone you love has a chance to watch it. Here’s what I had to say last year, adapted to call out the injustice I should have been brave enough to speak against before.

“Independence”

For the last few weeks I’ve been listening to the “Hamilton” soundtrack, catering to my daughters’ obsession of the rhythmic and addictive lyrics. I realize there’s some language in it that many would deem inappropriate. But being a lover of all language and knowing my kids’ ability to differentiate between words used for flavoring and appropriate alternatives for mixed company, I don’t shy away from it. Because more important than a few f-bombs is the fact that they love it, and by loving it are learning from it.

I love it too. I love that this amazingly talented writer and performer (hats off to you, Lin-Manuel Miranda), took an overlooked story and breathed life and passion into for a new generation with quick-witted writing that tied the past with present day issues including but not limited to the fact that this country wasn’t built by white landowners but on the backs of the slaves they held captive for generations.

Suddenly, not just my family but the entire country will be witness to this snapshot of history and remember the grit it took for our country to break free of tyranny. If ever there was a time to break free of the tyranny in our government and economic systems, this is it.

We should all strive to remember the past. When we don’t, we stop being on guard for the behaviors and situations that can lead to tragic ends in our own country.

For the last three years we’ve been idle as a nation, allowing forgiveness for “jokes” that weren’t funny, policies that bullied our allies, and the practice of placating dictators who held their own people beneath their boots.

Some of you rolled our eyes. Some of you applauded. Some of you tried to justify his inability to understand complex foreign policy and economic issues by saying he was an outsider. (That’s like saying the intern you hired was given a roomful of mentors and material to study up on for the job and then shrugging when he runs the skid steer into a pile of propane tanks while smoking and jerking off, sans a mask while he’s at it, and shouting “I don’t need you idiots! I know exactly what I’m doing!”)

We are living beneath a dissonant administration that has sought to divide us as a nation. and WE NEED TO REALIZE THAT WHEN ONE PERSON IN POWER DISENFRANCHISES ENTIRE GROUPS BASED ON THEIR GENDER, RACE, RELIGION, OR ECONOMIC STATUS IT SETS US BACK AS A NATION AND BURNS TO THE GROUND ANY FALSE CLAIM WE HOLD THAT ALL PEOPLE ARE CREATED EQUAL IN OUR ‘GREAT’ NATION.

On this day, I want you to consider what it means to you to have independence.

Look to the people standing six feet away at the grocery story, in the parking lot, grabbing food to go. Look at them, their skin, their difference, SEE RACE AND UNDERSTAND THAT IT HAS KEPT YOUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS FROM BEING TREATED FAIRLY AND OWN THAT YOU’VE NOT HAD TO SUFFER THE SAME FATE BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN WITH DIFFERENT SKIN COLOR.

There are cries from the opposing side that all lives matter, failing to grasp the concept that if all lives truly mattered you’d stop imprisoning, persecuting, discriminating against, and killing people of color and see that its an unbalanced scale. It’s like having two kids; one you’ve put in the best schools, fed nutritious meals, spent quality time with, and gave adequate medical care to, the other you’ve neglected, forced into hard labor for no pay, sent to an over-taxed inner city school, given no medical care, and barely fed. Can you truly claim that they both matter equally to you? Actions and results of where we are on the path towards the American Dream speak louder than those words. So until balance is achieved, their lives matter more.

Watch “Hamilton” if you can. Think about this country. Think about what makes you proud of it (if there’s anything anymore.)

We were a bunch of ragtag rebels once. Who burned things and refused to be taxed without representation. Who stood up to an upper ruling class who didn’t give two shits about us. Our country was built on the riots of people who had had enough of injustice. That’s why the FIRST amendment of our constitution guarantees the right to protest. Because for all the stupid ways those first founders screwed up, at least they recognized that a country full of free and empowered people is stronger than those kept under the shiny shoe of a narcissistic dictator.

Revolutions rarely take a day. They are years in the making, with sacrifices of blood and lives. Revolutions are not free. There is a cost to rise up against the powers that seek to tie us, bind us, use our one precious lifetime for their own gain.

I could tell you to sit back, relax, enjoy the barbecues and hot dogs, slather your standard American body down with potato salad and jump into a kiddie pool filled with Bud Light while waving sparklers from every available appendage…but I won’t.

Today I’m going to tell you to remember the past, remember the fight. Remember there are things worth standing up for and things don’t change unless you rise up and change them.

Free yourself from the fear, trepidation, and self-doubt that keeps you from standing up for the rights of every man, woman, non-binary, and child in this country. We are Americans and we stand together against the forces that seek to keep any one of us down.

Rise up.

Don’t give away your shot.

Be young, scrappy, and hungry, and take back your life, your country, and the principles that sparked revolution and never give up the fight to win freedom for all of us to pursue happiness.

Photo by Sides Imagery on Pexels.com