This week, I was planning to publish a December Potpourri post, featuring highlights from articles, blogs, images, books, or videos that I came across last month. However, saying goodbye to this calamitous year has redirected my energies somewhat. I’ve spent the week enjoying time with my family, reflecting on the insane and unexpected events from 2020, and contemplating my goals for 2021. What follows are bits from my intended Potpourri intermixed with a few of my year-end reflections.
I created this blog in 2015 but knew then that I wouldn’t have time to maintain it. Over the years, I had a couple of false starts. I’d write a few posts, then realize that I was far too busy to keep anything close to a reasonable pace of publication. When 2020 began, I had no ambitions to start blogging in earnest. I still had two kids at home, was devoting significant time to improving my French, worked out regularly, had numerous travel plans, had an active social life, and our family was hosting an exchange student from Turkey, sharing old and enjoying new experiences with this fun-loving new member of the household. Then COVID hit, our Turkish daughter was obliged to return to Istanbul, and many of my and my family’s activities ground to a halt.
I’d long made a habit of writing short book reviews that I’d put on Facebook and in April, a friend suggested I start posting them on my blog. I had the time, so I created a post for my review of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here after I had finished reading it. However, my blog is “supposed” to focus on subjects related to French culture. So, I immediately felt compelled to write at least a couple more posts that had a connection to France. What followed was my three-post summary of a wonderful online exhibition covering the history of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
I was thoroughly enjoying both the research and the writing so I set a goal to write one post a week for 3 months. Three months turned into 6 months and now this is my 40th post written in 2020 (published in 2021).
I’m not a fast reader or a fast writer and as the weeks have passed I’ve found myself spending more and more time reflecting on what to write next, looking for ways to improve my writing, and networking with and learning from other bloggers. My blog is taking on a life of its own, just as the software businesses did that I slaved over in the 80s and 90s.
In addition to maintaining my blog, my goals for 2021 fall into 4 distinct areas. First is reading. In 2020, I started following a number of different bloggers who read like fiends. They make my annual book challenge of reading 24 books look like the aspiration of a sluggard. I know I can’t possibly achieve the numbers that these ladies (they’re all female) kick out but I’ve decided to up my challenge to 30. This will only be possible if I start listening to more audiobooks. I recently installed Libby on my phone to make this easier.
Second is writing. Throughout my life, I’ve had to write a lot but I don’t actually know what I’m doing. Each time I post, I feel like a first-time skier who is happy she’s made it to the bottom of the hill and is still standing. Meanwhile, the pros are accomplishing unimaginable maneuvers on their black diamond runs. I’m not looking to match them, just would like to study the craft of writing a bit. I’m starting with a book I’ve owned since 2004, The Artist’s Way, and never cracked until a friend once again reminded me that I should undertake it’s 12-week writing program. Wish me luck.
Third is French. I continue to set goals for reading, listening to, and speaking French. It would be great if I could also find time to write in French but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. (As an aside, if you’re interested in such an undertaking, there is an excellent forum on Reddit where people will correct your French for free.)
Fourth is exercise. I am not very good at doing this at home. The gym I used to go to had loud music and upbeat instructors that were wonderfully motivating. I loved the place but I don’t plan to return until the pandemic is under control. Of all my goals, this is the one that is most likely to take a nose dive but a recent pinched nerve in my neck has forced me to at least give it serious consideration.
An End to the Pandemic
Strikingly absent from my 2021 goals are plans to gather with friends and plans to travel. These activities are usually on my list but for now, I’m not thinking that far ahead. The vaccine rollout is going incredibly slowly. Meanwhile, we see mutations of coronavirus springing up all over the world. Experts claim that many of these Coronavirus cousins spread even faster than the original. Unsettling is the fact that the efficacy of vaccines to combat them is not entirely clear.
Another glaring omission is any thought regarding what I’ll do to make the world a better place. My volunteer plans for 2020 were obliterated by the Coronavirus. Until the pandemic is passed, I may not have many options other than sending financial contributions and attending outdoor rallies (of which I hope there will be fewer).
As I look forward to 2021, there is much to contemplate. My life will undergo significant change as my daughters head off to college and my husband Andy and I become empty-nesters. I will miss them terribly but this blog is evidence that I’ve never been one to sit around and I know that I won’t be bored.
Reflections of a Francophile
Enough of my personal ramblings. In the true spirit of my blog, I leave you with this spectacular video, filmed last New Year’s Eve in Paris. In recent years, outdoor light shows have become popular across France. I marveled at the first of these productions that I encountered a few years back, projected onto the side of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg. In this case, the backdrop is the Arc de Triomphe.
Cheers to a 2021 that ends with similarly smiling faces, enjoying the good life along the Champs Élysées and elsewhere throughout the world.