Pressing On: 2021 Year in Review

2021 was a rumbling, steaming, forceful train that sped towards us and collided into 2022. As a healthcare worker family, we battled burnout, lack of childcare, and chronic sleep deprivation, but sought joy in the small, seemingly mundane moments. Let’s recap!

My top 3 nursing stories

  1. Despised, Despair, Depletion – holding on, but burning out
  2. The Crushing Weight – the burdens we carry
  3. The Nights That Haunt Me – what keeps us up at night

Top 3 characteristics I learned about God:

  1. God is faithful – It’s been a tough year for us, but God remains faithful.
  2. God hears our cries – Whenever I was trudging through a valley, God heard and sustained me.
  3. God has plans for us and they are good – My kids smile and their eyes light up as they recite: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good. So good! So good!” – Jeremiah 29:11

Random 3 photos of treasured memories:

A burning red sun amidst a hazy gray sky: the remnants of West Coast wildfires.
Purple Wisteria in the most unexpected of places: Hope in bloom.
A glowing Nine Tailed Fox at the zoo?
Pleasantly surprised to see representation of Asian folklore!

Top 3 personal stories:

  1. Educating and administering the COVID vaccine– By giving vaccinations, I know the vaccine will save lives and prevent severe disease. I’m grateful to help combat the pandemic in this way.
  2. Cherishing the return of the grandparents– My kids squealed and hugged my parents after not seeing them for almost 2 years since the pandemic. It was just a few short weeks, but it provided the respite we desperately needed.
  3. Sharing my story on my friend’s podcast– I shudder from “being in the spotlight” but realize it’s important for our voices to be heard. Especially true for Khmer-Americans, because our stories are often invisible. (If you’re a friend/long time follower and would like to listen, comment with your email and I might share the podcast link. ^_^)

Top 3 films/dramas/shows (not new films, just ones I watched this year):

  1. The Farewell -This was the one film I watched this year. It challenged me to think about how we handle grief, and ask, why do we handle grief the way we do? Do we respond based on our own individual personalities? Or is there a collective and cultural expression in how we carry our grief?

3 books I read:

Food was how my mother expressed her love.

No matter how critical or cruel she could seem—

constantly pushing me to meet her intractable expectations—

I could always feel her affection radiating from the lunches she packed

and the meals she prepared for me

just the way I liked them.”

― Michelle Zauner, Crying in H Mart
  1. Crying in H-Mart by M. Zauner- Food is not just love, but has its own identity and language. The challenges and special moments of being a caregiver, grief, and dying are beautifully written.
  2. Voices of a New Generation: Cambodian Americans in the Creative Arts by C. Su.- a compilation of Cambodian American artists and their inspiring lives and stories. Phenomenal.
  3. Last Boat Out of Shanghai by H. Zia- Suspenseful and significant; the plight of Chinese refugees escaping China during WW2 and during the Cultural Revolution. Highly recommend.

3 new things I did in 2021…

So juicy! But watch out for the bees & wasps!
  1. Picked Asian pears- We went Asian Pear picking for the first time! My kids slurped and grinned with each crisp and juicy bite. I really enjoyed seeing them savor fresh fruit, right off the tree.
  2. Hiked more than half way up a steep hill. The first time, I felt short of breath because I forgot my inhaler. The next time, with warm weather and my inhaler, I made it 3/4 of the way! One day, I’ll reach the top.
  3. My writing… in print! One of my short stories was compiled in a zine, featuring other Cambodian-American writers and artists, printed, and on sale at a local bookstore. I know I keep saying it, but I do hope to write a book some day.

3 random awesome memories:

  1. Watching my student’s parents smile & connect with their kids on a deeper level. I taught a special Mother’s Day class for my Khmer School students. The kids wrote phrases of gratitude in Khmer and their moms beamed in awe. I don’t have the bandwidth to teach language anymore, but I miss my students and families so much.
  2. Reunited with my highschool classmate. She and her husband flew into Boston for a short trip and it was so great to see her in person after so many years. My girls loved giggling and galloping with their A-Yi (Auntie) in Harvard Yard.
  3. After the Taliban took over Afghanistan, we prayed and advocated for my friend’s family’s safety. We contacted our politicians nonstop; it was such a dangerous and scary time. But thank God, they survived & escaped!! We were overjoyed and now await their family reunification.. hopefully soon.
Admiring the flourishing friendship between my daughters:
the crunch of leaves as they chase each other on the grass, the pitter patter of small feet across hard wood floors, their trilingual conversations, nonstop chuckles,
and hearing them call each other 姐姐 (jèhjèh) and 妹妹 (mùihmúi)

3 things I hope to do in …

  1. Less social media- I am thankful to have connected with some really amazing people online this year, but also want to be mindful of aimless scrolling that serves no purpose.
  2. Read 15 books- my goal was 10 books last year and I only read 9 books. I didn’t make my goal, but learned and grew so much from the books that I did finish.
  3. Finish a scrapbook – I didn’t journal much last year, but I did start and nearly finished a scrapbook! I am learning to be less perfectionist with art/journaling/stationary; have to learn to let go and just enjoy the process of creating.

If you’ve read this far, you’re awesome. (Check out my 2020, 2019, 2018 year-in-reviews.)

Thanks for coming along for the ride, and let’s embrace 2022…. with courage and conviction. =)

One thought on “Pressing On: 2021 Year in Review

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