I suspect when most people reflect on the year, the top of mind thought will be COVID and its impact, particularly if they or friends or loved ones fell victim to the virus. Fortunately, for my husband and me, that has not been the case.

We also haven’t experienced the heartache of not being able to see children or grandchildren, as we have only the four-legged variety. I count my blessings that I’m retired and no longer working.  I know if I were employed in corporate America as I was for over 30 years, I’d be worried sick about my job and whether I’d be able to hold on to it, much as I did every time we had a financial downturn during my career. Thankfully, that’s another worry I didn’t have.

Yes, my husband and I were disappointed we had to cancel a May trip to Santa Fe, but we survived. We made light of the fact it was the second time we’d canceled it, as we had to do the same in 2019 when he had a serious health scare. We hope to take another river cruise someday, or better yet, return to England for a visit, but we’ve managed to keep ourselves occupied in other ways this year.

We read, we put together jigsaw puzzles, and we’re addicted to BritBox and Amazon Prime for entertainment. We’ve visited a few restaurants for meals on their patios and have a few favorites for takeout.

 I’m still able to see my trainer for workout sessions by meeting him at a local park, and I meet my sister weekly to walk. What do I do with the rest of my time? I write and watch webinars. Mostly, I write, and it’s a joy to have more free time for that. 

Do I miss the coffee catchups and lunches with friends? Definitely, but rather than lament that loss, I fill the time with my passion—writing. Trust me, I realize how fortunate I am to have something I enjoy to fill my time.

That passion combined with unexpected amounts of extra time allowed me to publish three books this year and write a fourth to be released in early 2021. Now, I’ve started book five in my Dickens & Christie mystery series. Had we been traveling as much as we typically do, I doubt I would have been quite as prolific.

My goal is to publish “Collectors, Cats & Murder” in February and complete book five for a September release. For my series set in the Cotswolds, I rely heavily on the notes I took during the three-week trip we took to the UK in 2018. My fictional Cotswolds village derives from the heavenly week we spent in Cold Aston, a small village near Bourton-on-the Water.

Trust me. If the new normal rapidly reverts to the old ways, I will lay down my pen and once again enjoy meeting friends for coffee and lunch, taking girls trips, and traveling with my husband.  I won’t give up writing, but I won’t hold myself to as high a daily word count as I do now, and I’ll take a bit more time off between books.

We’ve all made adjustments this year, some more than others. Perhaps the word of the year should be resilience. Hopefully, the awful parts of the experience will fade from our memories and what we’ve learned from it will serve us well. Farewell to 2020!

Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” at the Enchanted Forest and on Amazon. Contact her at inkpenn119@gmail.com, follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/KathyManosPennAuthor/, and/or read her blogs at https://theinkpenn.blogspot.com.

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