Thursday, December 31, 2020

I Did It! 2020 (aka Apocalypse Year 1) Edition

For the past six years, I've tracked my annual accomplishments via an annual I Did It! list, originally inspired by writer Lisa Romeo. Previous posts can be found here: 2019 (including decade-in-review), 201820172016201520142013

Let me just start this year's list by acknowledging that 2020 was a real sh*t-show of a year, and if all you managed to accomplish was doom-scrolling Twitter and binge-watching Tiger King, that's okay. I'm not here to judge or make anyone feel bad. In terms of hours devoted, streaming TV was probably my most productive activity of 2020. Nevertheless, traditions are traditions, and my tradition is to take a minute to celebrate my wins for the year, big and small.

Writing I-Did-Its!

My big win for the year is, of course, finding a publisher and signing a contract for my book. This was a four-year-plus-long process to get to this point, and I'm not going to let 2020 take that away from me.

My stats for this year:

  • Submissions: 16
  • Acceptances: 3
  • Rejections: 7
  • Withdrawals: 4
  • Radio Silence: 2
  • Publications: 4

"The QuiltWillows Wept Review, September 2020 

"A Review of The Beginning of Everything by Andrea J. BuchananLiterary Mama, May 2020 

"Faith in a Seed" Spire: The Maine Journal of Conservation and Sustainability, April 2020  

"Sled Dogs and Search and Rescue" Maine Wilderness Guide, Winter 2020  

As  was the case for the last few years, while I've been working on The Book, I haven't been producing as many shorter works for submission. Some day I'll have to figure out how to keep short pieces going on the side while working on longer works. 

Other writing accomplishments:
  • I re-reinvigorated my newsletter, moving to a monthly schedule and sending out 11 issues.
  • I only wrote 35 blog posts--my lowest number ever--but I didn't abandon the blog entirely.
  • I mostly finished drafting a second book and I did a fair amount of research on a third.
  • I started a novel and got pretty deep into characters and plot, but had to shelve it at the point when I needed to delve into historical research, just when all the libraries shut down for the pandemic.
  • I continued to edit for Literary Mama, both as a department editor in the Literary Reflections Department and as a Senior Editor (I suppose you could call another publication my letter from the editor in the July/August issue).
Travel and Adventure I Did Its!

Well, it wasn't much of a travel year for anyone, was it? Weeks went by in spring when I barely even left our property, let alone the county. What I did manage:
  • Several local kayak trips, including one night paddle among the bioluminescence. I had fun making journal pages for some of these trips
  • An overnight at a cottage on the beach, courtesy of a friend.
  • A November hike with my family (who are usually impossible to drag out of the house) up a mountain not too far from home.

Arts and Crafts I Did Its!

Likewise, this wasn't a very crafty year, although it seems like it should have been what with all the stay-home-ness. What I did do:

  • Made a cute little table topper thingy.
  • Made a table runner.
  • Made a billion face masks, starting with these.
  • Finished C's fair isle vest.
  • Remodeled my old dollhouse (phase 1, phase 2, phase 3).
  • I've been working on one, long, endless knitting project most of the pandemic. It's been a good TV-watching knit, since it doesn't require a lot of attention-paying, but I've fallen out of the habit the last few weeks. Time to pick it up again.
  • I did not do as much art as I would have liked, other than a little nature journaling and a couple of watercolor paintings. This is an area of my life I'd like to reinvigorate in 2021.
Household I Did Its!

2020 was the year of dealing with deferred maintenance, from repairing little things (bracelets and wind chimes that have been broken for years) to finally, finally repainting (most of) the house trim and the exterior doors. (See above. How much do you love that purple and green together?) Not that anyone other than the UPS man has seen the results, but it makes me smile every time I come home. I also:
  • Finally cleaned up and organized the basement, starting with the "jar room." Other areas that got tidied up were my arts and craft supplies, three big bins of hand-me-down clothes that are all now either in kids' drawers or at the thrift store (or waiting till spring to go to the consignment store). I would still like to do a better job of organizing the camping gear and my fabric stash (maybe either burn through or get rid of some of it), and I finally threw out stuff I was waiting for recycling opportunities to open up for--old floppy disks and vinyl bags, that sort of thing. What I'd really, really like is for C to finish off the corner of the basement where all this stuff is stored and put in better lighting and shelving so I have better space to work with. Maybe some day...
  • Expanded my Fiestaware a lot. I admit, I got a teensy bit carried away, but I'm pretty happy with my purchases (it all started with Goodwill but after the pandemic began, I turned into eBay, Replacements Ltd., and Fiesta Factory Direct for my fixes). Okay, so maybe buying stuff isn't exactly an accomplishment, but Fiestaware was invented during the Great Depression to cheer people up, so I feel like I'm carrying on that tradition--of cheering myself up with colorful dishes. All the new dishware necessitated reorganizing kitchen shelves and cabinets to create storage and display space where there was none before, so that's something
  • In this same vein, I continued on my never-ending (and vain) quest to get the house so clean it stays clean by reorganizing and decluttering various book cases, cabinets, closets, and rooms.
  • I spread topsoil and grass seed in front of our house, something we neglected to do after building, resulting in a bald, weedy lawn (don't get me wrong; I'm okay with "weeds" and even planted violets and bluets in the new lawn, but more green growing things than brown dirt was my goal).
  • And I planted a butterfly garden, where I long ago put in an herb garden and then neglected it.
Nature I Did Its!
  • I co-coordinated the Maine Master Naturalist training course for 2020, with three other terrific leaders. We pivoted and retooled with the pandemic, and were able to continue carrying out a complete and robust course using remote learning platforms, videos, do-it-yourself field trips, and socially distanced field days. The further I get from the elbow-deep, day-to-day operational logistics of this, the more I realize what an accomplishment it was. As a bonus, sitting through all of the lectures reinforced my own learning from the course (back in 2014-2015) and re-sparked my interest in several nature topics.
  • I took an online class in butterfly ID and ecology, and discovered 40+ species of butterfly on my property alone.
  • Most of my birding I did at home, yet I managed to log more checklists on eBird and more species than any previous year. I also had a couple of life birds and a few not-seen-in-a-long-time species, including two great sightings of sandhill cranes (not on my property), and I worked on my birding-while-kayaking skills. One of my big plans for 2021 is to get a lot better at birding.
  • All the kayaking reinvigorated my long-held but recently dormant interest in dragonflies, and I reacquainted myself with some of my favorite species and learned several new ones. I look forward to pursuing this more in 2021.

Not too shabby for an otherwise hellish year. Another goal for 2021 is to not try to wish time away--even pandemic time, even work time--but to appreciate each moment as it comes. I'll let you know how it goes in next year's I Did It! post.


  1. Wow, that's a lot of great, inspiring stuff! Thanks for the shout-out. I really love seeing all the *I Did It Lists* every year. Wishing you well in 2021!

  2. Love this! What a great year for you. Hope 2021 is even better!


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