Sunday, January 10, 2021

2020 - The Year of Climbing Mountains.


Mount Shasta, California
Climbing mountains is the best description of 2020 I can devise. Leaving New York, finding a job, driving across the country, the death of my older sister, the COVID 19 pandemic, teaching remotely, social distancing, the death of my favorite cat, forest fires, and an imploding president are some of the mountains I climbed this past year.  

Some 'climbing' was physical. I drove through the Appalachians, Smokeys, Rockies, Sierra Nevada and the Cascades to get back to my old school district in Washington to fill a need as a long term substitute teacher for the school I had lived near for 14 years.  Working with people I knew, my daughter's previous teachers and in my old neighborhood? How could I say no that?

Some 'climbing' was emotional. I hadn't planned on ever moving back to Washington and was so content on the east coast, but to continue my career, Washington was my best bet. New York would only allow me to teach Earth Science and I wanted the option of teaching biology, chemistry and math. It was hard at first, but people welcomed me 'home' with open arms. I am back working with students, families and friends that I love. The pandemic has made things difficult, but not insurmountable.

Doing the best thing, the right thing, is not most often easy. It is, in fact, most often difficult. But after I climb that difficult mountain, I relish the view and the pride I feel in my accomplishment. And I learned to find joy in the journey. I visited a younger sister in Virginia and went to plop my feet into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in my life. I drove to the Raleigh, North Carolina, to the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and observed the temple work of my father, brother, grandfather and great grandfather. I was sealed to my parents for time and all eternity, and participated in the sealing of my parents to each other, my brother to my parents, my grandparents together, my father to his parents (my grandparents) and my grandfather to his parents. 4 generations of Soutars sealed. A mountain peak of peace and gratitude, 41 years in the making.

I drove to Myrtle Beach and saw a friend from home whom I had not seen since graduation in 1979. I saw my older sister a mere few weeks before she passed away. I saw my daughter before the pandemic kept us two highly-infected states apart. I drove through new states! Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. All along my two, well-traveled kitties in the car who kept me deliciously cuddled in Motel 6 beds across America. I Facebook haikued my way across the mild, southern, February landscape and up the west coast back to Bothell where I was embraced with love and bids to 'come see us.'

And here I sit hoping for fewer mountains to climb this year, but the nation in crisis after the attack on the Nation's Capitol January 6, the constant change of growing older and the hope for a COVID vaccine sooner rather than later are my first hurtles. There will be more...and I must patiently remember: JOY IN THE JOURNEY.