Twenty Surprises and Successes in 2020

I have joined the 12 Days of Christmas with Julie Hedlund Facebook group for writers, and on Day 2 of the 12-day challenge we were asked to share 2020 surprises with the group, and on Day 3 to post our 2020 successes on our blogs.  I decided to combine the two and post both on my blog – it is a list that includes a combination of personal and professional surprises and successes, and isn’t in chronological (or alphabetical) order. 

  1. When my youngest child turned 18 in February, I became the proud mama of four young adults.  It is surprising how fast 18 years flies by – my sweet little baby became a beautiful young woman in the blink of an eye – just as her three older siblings before her (well, my two baby boys became handsome young men).
  2. I was invited to join the Board of Trustees of the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County. I am very excited to be part of this wonderful group that supports the good work of our public library system.
  3. I am on the planning committee of the Gaithersburg Book Festival, and coordinate the workshops for children and teens. We successfully converted our amazing one-day hometown festival into a month-long virtual event.
  4. I was able to invest in several professional development opportunities throughout the year: ALA eCourse Leading from the Library, Maryland State Department of Education’s Teaching Online in Maryland, shadow facilitator for another MSDE course, and trained to teach literacy using the Orton-Gillingham multisensory method.
  5. In August I decided to take the plunge and invest in my dream of becoming a children’s author and joined Storyteller Academy.  The courses and instructors have been so informative, helpful, and inspiring!  I am thankful for Kathy Halsey, a fellow school librarian, and my critique group, too. 
  6. I have also joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and am excited for their upcoming Winter Conference!
  7. I have written five picture book manuscripts and started submitting to agents and publishers.
  8. I have participated in one pitch party #PitMad and got a couple of hearts.
  9. I presented Leading from the Library at the Montgomery County Public School – School Library Media Program annual professional day and at the Maryland Association of School Librarians annual conference.
  10. I am the lead teacher for our school’s CARES Enrichment Program, which provides free tutoring for students who need a little help building their confidence with reading.
  11. Despite the pandemic, I was able to get to the beach twice this summer – Old Orchard Beach in Maine and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. Putting my feet into the sand and feeling the power of the ocean revives my soul. While in Maine, I got to lie down on the beach, listening to the roar of the ocean waves, as I watched the Perseids meteor shower. Magical!
  12. I was again able to be a mentor for the NEED Project / Exelon STEM Innovation + Leadership Academy for teen girls, and helped create a series of professional skills workshops.
  13. In addition to my library media lessons, I have hosted monthly Zoom bedtime read alouds for my students. I strive to build a community of readers and dreamers!
  14. I have been able to participate in three Zoom meetings at once – using three different emails and devices.  Wouldn’t have been able to do this in person!
  15. I have attended virtual workshops and conferences that I wouldn’t have been able to attend during a typical school year.  Notables were KidLit Rally 4 Black Lives, Empowering Educators Conference with Jason Reynolds and the Mazza Weekend Conference.
  16. I have lost track of how many children’s books I have read this year, but because of the pandemic and distance learning, I have been able to spend more time walking my dog and listening to adult fiction and nonfiction as well as middle grade novels. I am constantly in awe of the amazing new books that are published each year.
  17. I have been able to spend more time taking care of myself – eating healthy and exercising – and finally taking care of some medical issues that I had been putting off for a very long time.
  18. My flower beds (wildflowers, daisies, and peonies) were just beautiful this year, and my mammoth sunflowers grew to 12-14 feet tall in my little backyard sunflower patch!
  19. I have had more time to build and nurture relationships with my friends and colleagues.
  20. My family and I were able to stay connected via video chat, text, and Zoom calls.  And the occasional socially-distant face-to-face visits.

My goals this year are to continue helping others, continue letting my creativity flow, continue challenging myself, and continue spending time with friends and family. Here I come, 2021!

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