Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 A year to remember…it is what it is!

Election day!
To our friends and family,

How to think about this year and how to remember it? We both thought it worthwhile to capture our thoughts so in years ahead, we can come back to this blog post and remember what we learned from this year of “stay at home”!

First of all, what does stay at home mean to people like us who have not had a specific place to call “home” over the last 10 years. Yes, we do own a house that has been rented out but that did not feel like home to us. We have stayed in over 30 different homes during the 10 years of living mostly in Mexico but also other countries for months at a time. If “home” is a geographical place, then San Miguel de Allende and San Cristobal de las Casas felt like home. Actually, Carrboro, NC also felt like home and that’s why we decided to return here in mid-March 2020 when my knee was really bothering me and there were early indications in Australia that there was a virus hitting different places in the world and maybe we should choose a place that would feel like home for a while.

Our yard in springtime
Now, nine months later we look back and realize that we could not have made a better decision. We feel comfortable and safe in this little apartment that we have rented from friends Susan and Pat and we reconnected with all the great friends that we have kept up with all these years. Here we have a community. Don’t get me wrong – there are things we miss terribly like travel and visits with friends and family all over the world. Our life as we knew it came to a halt and we are still in that mode.

I needn’t remind anyone that this was an exceedingly difficult year for so many in this country as around the world. For health and economic reasons, many have suffered and still do. We are both so grateful to be healthy and able to live comfortably with no worries. I am also glad to be retired during this time as the worries are so much less for us than the many folks still working. We have had a few health issues but thankfully mostly resolved and being in this area of North Carolina gives us excellent access to medical care when necessary.

Forest mushrooms

There is no one in this country who is not aware of the very volatile political situation that has been going on for a long time and culminated with this election year. Normally I do not get so involved but with time on my hands this as well as a desire for change and the hope that we would wake up as a nation, I took to reading and learning about what was going on in a more in-depth manner. Yes, I am thrilled that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election, but I was less than thrilled to realize that a large percentage of people in “my” country feel completely opposite on so many principles and values that I hold dear. I do know that it is not true of everyone, however there is a great number of people who still do not believe that ALL people are created equally and should have rights to the same education, home ownership, healthcare, etc. I spent time reading much about the systemic racism that exists in this country and has for 400 years and I am afraid that it will take years to change. I feel sad for the generations ahead. I think that I came to realize more about the world history and the connections between what has (and is still) happening in this country. I am a first generation American as both my parents were born in Germany and were immigrants to the USA to escape Nazi Germany. As the hatred for Jews was overpowering in Germany and the system and people stood by to watch – we are doing the same and have been for centuries. I never realized till recently how the seeds of hatred are planted and grow to justify one person feeling “better than” another. As a spiritual believer I strongly hold the belief that we are all one and I do have hope that one day this will come to pass. This year, however, it was hard to hold on to that hope.

We love our walks in the woods  
Staying in place for us means doing only distance socializing, and only in outside settings. Wearing masks became the norm (though I don’t like it any more than anyone else) for myself and to protect others. Now, nine months later we find that life is simpler, but we are grateful for our health and the time to learn new things and contemplate the bigger questions in life.

Here are some of the lessons we learned:

  • UNC campus walks
    Maintaining friendships and community is one of the most important activities I have accomplished in my life and it gives me great joy to be part of the lives of so many people that have been kind and good to us over the years. Maintaining friendship does require time and you might say “work”, but it is work well worth investing in for it is fruitful when you least expect it. Our friends were gracious to take us in when we first arrived from our long 2-day flight from Australia. We have stayed connected over the last ten years to many of our community here in NC and now continue to maintain our friendships on many continents of the world.   
  •       Using this time for learning and study has been important. I attended a month-long workshop (on zoom, of course) on the topic of racial equality and I am now reading “Caste - The Origins of our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson. I would recommend this well written book as it is easy to read with lots to think about regarding the system of caste that we have, and have had, in this country.
  •       Having a creative endeavor is important for me. I returned and still haven’t picked up my drawing habit, but I have been reunited with my fabric and my joy of sewing. I have completed two quilts and working on a third – all are made of small scraps that were stored here in NC for a year like this. I used to pray for a “snow” day to stay home and play with my fabric and now I have had more than my share of these days.
  •       I wondered over the last 10 years what I would do with myself if I were back here in NC and now, I know – everyday is filled with things to do and usually I cannot fit all that I want to do into my day. Here are our daily activities (besides eating and sleeping!): meditating, a form of chi gong called Shibachi 18, reading, yoga, walking outside in the neighborhoods or the beautiful forest walks we have within walking distance of where we live, sewing, study, watching Netflix, keeping up with our program in Mexico – Libros para Todos and the general everyday activities that are just life in general. We have decided to take back our house in Carrboro when our renters leave and call it “home”. From there we will continue to travel but perhaps not as long as 10 years!

·       We miss our family and friends. Thanks to technology our family has a weekly zoom call on Sundays, and we have kept up with most of you who are reading this post in one way or another but we all know it is not the same as a visit in person.

·       Except for maybe 2-3 days we have eaten at home every day – I have never cooked so many days in a row in my whole life. I have enjoyed it, but it has also led to a few extra pounds for each of us!

Well, I went on a bit longer than I intended but now you know some of what I have been thinking about this year.

We both wish you all a healthy and happy transition into 2021 and hope that we see each other this coming year to share our thoughts and love IN PERSON.

Sending love from Susan

A short trip to
Carolina Beach

And now from Ricardo…

In this holiday greeting I am writing about my thoughts and observations of the year 2020.  I can’t write about this year without mentioning the elephants in the room … the virus and the election which were huge, and I felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride as it’s still not over while we go into a new year. One day at a time.  No matter what anyone’s politics or beliefs are, we were all affected in ways that have changed us and I hope that we have learned from this, so it’s not in vain. This all shall be revealed as we move forward into the new year.

We started the year 2020 in Barcelona with very dear friends from Buxton, England and Asheville, NC; Dan, Fi, Aiden, Will, Amy and Sophie. I only wish that it lasted longer because several months later we would all be restricted in all our day-to-day lives. This began for us on March 13 leaving Australia to the sanctuary of Rosey and Allan and then Ruth and Dave's in Chapel Hill, NC.  It is hard to put into words how thankful we are and will always be to these special friends.

In February we were traveling in a motorhome in New Zealand with my cousin Susie and our good buddy from Chiapas, MX, Tom. We had a full country experience and too much to tell in this short newsletter. I would like to say that if I were younger, I think that I would be able to live happily in this island kingdom. Then we went to Australia for two weeks with more friends Anne & Michael and Ron & Lauren and their children in the beautiful city of Melbourne. We ended our time in Sydney on March 13 with the realization that we should find a place to wait out the virus, so we headed to Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC where we still have a strong feeling of community.

Back tracking a bit, in January my sweetie and I spent a month together in Valencia, Spain. This is a place that we hope we will return to again someday. As this year ends, we are living in a cozy apartment in Carrboro owned by friends Susan and Pat and we are staying put until who knows when, though I am hoping that it will be very soon. When we can travel again, Mexico is probably where we are headed. We miss our friends there and the culture and Latin atmosphere as well.

Sending love and a happy New Year.


Best wishes for a 
healthy 2021

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