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  • Writer's pictureErika Nichols-Frazer

So long, 2019, and thanks for all the fish!

Happy New Year from this adorable asshole.

What a year - wildfires! Hurricanes! Scandals! Impeachment! But 2019 has been a pretty good year for me, even a pretty great year (as years go). 2018 was my year of mental health, refocusing myself, starting new treatments, trying my best to be more accepting and forgiving of myself (and continuing to fail miserably). 2019 was a year of bravery, of not being afraid to try and fail and try again, of (sort of?) actually believing in myself.

This past year, I graduated with my MFA in Fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars. I began talking openly and publicly about my bipolar disorder and struggles with mental health. I put myself out there a lot, even when it was scary (it was). I submitted 125 times (stories, essays, poems, three manuscripts) and got five yes'es. I started this blog and have written on it (almost) every week (with a few vacation-related exceptions). I spoke out about my life-threatening ectopic pregnancy and got so much positive feedback and messages from strangers saying they'd gone through something similar and thanking me for writing about it. I got similar messages about my writing on mental health. I started freelance editing. I volunteered teaching at Central Vermont Basic Education and got to know a pretty interesting young person. I taught classes at Burr and Burton Academy and the Governor's Institutes of Vermont (where I used to work). I started reading for a literary magazine.

My husband and I went to Greece for two weeks. We hiked the longest gorge in Europe. We lounged on beaches and floated in the sea and ate and drank delicious things. My friend Saiward and I hiked Mad River Glen ("Ski it if you can") a lot this summer and had wonderful conversations that stay with me. My oldest friends and I, with our partners, started a monthly potluck (or "supper club," which I think makes us sound fancy.). I had lunch with my grandmother a lot. I went to two weddings, which could not have been more different and both were beautiful.

I wrote. A lot. As Cheryl Strayed would say, "like a motherfucker." People asked me how it felt to be done with school and I was like, "Oh, am I done? Cause I seem to be writing more than ever." It may not have been every day, but it was most days, and then there was that two-week stretch in November when I wrote 120 pages of my memoir. I now have drafts of two books (2020 goals: sell 2 books.)! I came to terms with what it means to feel like "a real writer."

It feels like a good time to recognize all the positive things I did and that happened this year, but I also want to honor the struggles, the days that just felt too hard, the funerals, the fights. Those things happened, too. They're part of my history now. And I recognize and move past them, onto better things.

In 2020, I will strive to be more patient, yet tenacious. I will try to be kinder to myself. For, as the mole said in this gorgeous book I recently reviewed, "Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses."

Wishing you kindness, peace, and love for the new year.

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