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Light in the Darkness 

The holiday season has always been a time of joy for me. My family is close, and my parents always gave me and my brothers these epic Christmases. We all have holiday traditions; some of the traditions in my family include watching our favorite holiday classics like Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life, going to see The Nutcracker, going to look at Christmas lights, and baking sugar cookies and then switching the tops on my mother’s holiday cookie jars when she’s not looking.

This is not the case for so many, though. For many, the holidays can be a time of stress. Some people feel inundated with obligations. Whether it’s a holiday work party, a family gathering, or even something that’s supposed to be festive and fun, some people get stressed simply by looking at their calendars. Others feel bombarded by the commercialism of the holidays with the pressure to buy so many presents. 

The holidays can also be a time of sorrow for many. It may be the first year without a loved one at the table, the first holiday season after a divorce, or a season that brings feelings of isolation for those who live alone. Even simply turning on the news and hearing about everything happening in the world can have some people wondering why they should even bother celebrating at all. We all know those who would do anything to sleep through the holidays and come back to the world in January.

A Time of Grief

My partner and I recently drove from Georgia to Florida to visit his parents for Thanksgiving. When we got home from a long day of driving, my cat, Julian, was lying in the hallway in obvious pain. We rushed her to the emergency vet, and we ended up having to put her to sleep. 

When Sean and I met in 2019, we had four cats between the two of us. Both of our boy cats passed around the same time in 2021, and by the time he moved in earlier this year, we only had Julian and Maddux. Maddux had just passed in October so we were still getting used to having just one cat, and now, we had lost Julian too. 

One of the things that initially made me fall in love with Sean was how he loved cats as much as I did. The last time we had both lived in houses with no cats was essentially two decades ago. So needless to say, we were both devastated.

The Service of Remembrance

They recently had a service of remembrance at Unity North Atlanta for everyone to remember their loved ones and after, we all went outside where they unveiled all the Christmas lights they had put up on the trees, throughout the parking lot, and on the building. There were reindeer and angels made of lights, and they let people adopt the trees in dedication to their loved ones. 

The tree I adopted for Julian & Frank and Charlie & Maddux

The service was beautiful. The prayer chaplains all said prayers for our lost loved ones—those who had lost spouses and parents, those who lost family due to violence or global conflicts, and those who had lost children. Mostly, though, we all sat in silence, holding the space for each other to grieve and honor our loved ones. During the prayer for people who had lost their pets, tears flowed down my face. It was a sad, beautiful release. 

But as I sat there listening to the prayers and thinking about everyone who has lost someone they loved, I started to understand the urge to turn the calendar to January. In my own grief, I couldn’t think of possibly watching Elf or messing with my mother’s cookie jars.

A Spark of Joy

My therapist said something recently about the holiday season being a time for “light in the darkness” and it shifted something in me. The holiday season is the darkest time of the year, and yet, it’s all about light. Whether it’s the light of the Hannukah menorah, the Kwanza kinara, or lights on the Christmas tree, this time of year is filled with light. 

And when I thought about the Christmas lights outside Unity North Atlanta after the service of remembrance, I thought about how the lights represented the Divine. Because ultimately, we know that we are all connected, we all have that inner divinity, and those we love are still with us. 


Then I thought about how the holiday season is all about creating moments of joy—even in a world with so much darkness. The holidays are about gathering with those you love—whether it’s biological family, chosen family, a spiritual community, a group of close friends, or even fur babies. It’s a time to show appreciation and gratitude for the people in your life, a time to help and serve those who are in need, and a time for compassion.

I started to realize how all the stress and sadness so many feel around the holidays can be a gift. I may be feeling sorrow now about Julian, but if she hadn’t given me 17 years of joy—if I hadn’t loved her as much, would I be feeling this depth of sorrow? Or if I turn on the news and I feel despair for everything going on in the world, can I appreciate the fact that I have empathy and compassion? If I get stressed about gift giving, can I not find appreciation for the act of crocheting a blanket as a Christmas gift or taking the time to wrap a present in beautiful paper? If I get overwhelmed about commitments, can I not feel grateful that I have so many people in my life that I’m able to have those commitments?

The holiday season is not easy for everyone, and treating anyone you encounter with kindness and compassion is so important for this reason. But if you are one of those people who find this season to be a challenge, try to find a spark of joy—whether it’s lighting a candle or going to see The Nutcracker or switching the tops on your mother’s cookie jars.

The cookie jars in my parents' kitchen

Life Update! New(ish) job, fiction work in progress, and some random recommendations! 

A beautiful bouquet of red roses sits beside a book, pen, and coffee cup on a white surface.

So I've been trying to make my website more accessible, and I'm slowly adding image descriptions to the alt tags in all the images. But when I saw my last blog post was called “Six Things I Learned in 2021," I thought, “oh, maybe I should write a blog post.” 

I sort of disappeared last year because I was unemployed and depressed for the last half of it. Just when I learned to accept the fact that having a day job didn't make me any less of a writer, my contract at AT&T ended two years earlier than it was supposed to. I got through the rest of the year by freelancing and borrowing money from my parents or my boyfriend. 

But then! In December, I got seriously the best job I could ever even imagine. 

I've been a member of Unity North Atlanta Church since January 2013, and the Unity movement is something I'm deeply passionate about. I've volunteered at my church as a worship team/ensemble/choir singer, I edited an anthology of poems and short stories about Unity North by the congregation, I've performed in several plays, I've done some random things like helping out with painting the Holy Grounds Cafe, and most recently, I've been volunteering in the booth to run the cameras for the stream. So it's safe to say I'm on board with Unity.

So one day, I was on Indeed, browsing the digital content/copywriting jobs, and I saw that Unity World Headquarters up in Unity Village, Missouri is hiring a remote digital content writing specialist. I made a loud, excited sound and scared my cat, Julian. I ended up getting the job. I've been working for Unity World Headquarters for just over three months, and it is (no joke) hands down the best job I've ever had. I get to spend my days creating positive content including a piece about some amazing women writers in the Unity movement as well as the spiritual meaning of tattoos and helping to “transform the world, one heart at a time” (as we would say at Unity North). 

(Yes, I also think it's kind of hilarious that I just stumbled on this job on Indeed.)

Next week, I'm going up to Unity Village for the first time for some onsite training, which I'm excited about!

As far as the writing goes, it may seem like I haven't had any news since I published my three books of poems in March 2021. (And that's… well, true.) But that's not because I haven't been writing. I just haven't been publishing. 

I've been working on an adult contemporary novel about my disability, SCA (and really, just disability in general), for what seems like forever although I am actually almost done. (I have about 85k words--I think it will end up being 95k or 100k words, maybe less?). I am going to pursue the traditional publishing route for this (I'm not so great with indie author marketing--especially for a book that's general fiction as opposed to a fantasy or science fiction novel) so who knows how long it will take me to get it out there in the world, but eventually, it should be out there. And maybe I'll get back to my vampires after that? 

I am no longer doing the Find Creative Expression podcast (which is still available on Spotify, Apple, YouTube, and other podcasting platforms although the actual site is no more) but I do really miss talking about art I like so I'm going to close out with some recommendations for you!

Movie: This is old news at this point but if any of you have not seen Everything Everywhere All At Once, GO SEE IT. What are you waiting for?? It won seven Oscars (including three acting categories, Best Director, and Best Picture. I'm not always a fan of movies that win a lot of Oscars, but this one definitely deserved all of those. It was just a heartwarming film.

Music: If you never heard Once Twice Melody by Beach House (which came out last year), WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE? Okay, well, Beach House is not for everyone. So if you're not into super mellow melodic dream pop with a lot of organs, guitars, and layers of sound, here's a Spotify playlist I recently made that's completely upbeat. (On the other hand, if you want to hear me obsess about Beach House and describe them with the perfect made-up word--mellow + emotional=mellotional--check out this old classic.)

TV: Lately, I've really been enjoying Poker Face on Peacock. The premise is basically a woman who has a supernatural ability to always know when someone is lying, and throughout the show, she has to solve many murders. But it's a fun spin on the murder mystery, the acting is really good, and it's just a fun show. Check it out!

Other: Anyone who knows me knows I love Beauty and the Beast. So naturally, I was pretty excited to check out the 30th-anniversary special. The whole program was pretty cool, but this performance of “Evermore” by Josh Groban is amazing, y'all. (Ironically, it's the only song they did that wasn't in the original animated movie but in the 2017 live-action remake.) I legit gave him a standing ovation in my living room (again scaring Julian).