2021: A Reflection

As this year comes to a close and we all begin looking forward to what 2022 holds for us, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the many changes 2021 introduced into my life, largely in a positive way.

2021 started off with some trepidation given the ongoing COVID outbreak and subsequent social and economical roller coasters. Luckily for me, I had already started the process of getting Book 2 in my The Ascension Legacy series published. COVID had certainly caused some delays in the process but by December 2020, things were getting close to being ready for release. All there was to do was wait, which left time to focus on other things.

In January 2021, I underwent a successful and minor surgery to repair some damage I had done to my shoulder a few months earlier. There was some concern by the doctor that I might have ripped my bicep off the bone to the point it would require substantial anchoring to repair but once inside, he found the damage to my bicep was not a severe as he had suspected. I spent a few weeks in a sling sitting on the couch unable to work or type but thanks to things being less damaged than originally feared, I recovered somewhat quickly and was able to being physical therapy shortly after the surgery had been performed.

PT lasted for several weeks (a few of months, whatever). During the months I spent doing PT, we celebrated my wife's birthday, our youngest son's 16th birthday, a few birthdays for other friends and family, and I celebrated just the fact that I could return to work and use my arm again without excruciating pain.

Things really got busy for us in May. We welcomed a great niece, my physical therapist cleared my arm for normal use (minus sports), and more birthdays. Not only that but May also signified another year my wife and I could celebrate being together. For those who know us and our history, our anniversaries here lately have been something special for us. And on May 7, 2021, The Ascension Legacy - Book 2: A Legend Confirmed was officially released.

It had been almost a year since Book 1's release in June of 2020 and I had hoped to see Book 2 released sooner but thanks to COVID and my picky nature, it released not when I wanted it to but when I finally felt it was ready. Sometimes you have a choice, do it quick or do it right. When it comes to my books, I try to choose to do it right. If something is going to be distributed with my name on it, I want it to be as good as it can be, even if I'm not the best writer and don't always follow the proper rules for grammar or punctuation.

June would prove to be equally busy. A number of family members celebrate birthdays in June, myself included. June was also the beginning of my return to the gym after many, many years of avoiding workout equipment like the plague.

My nephew is very fit-focused and agreed to help me in the gym as a trainer, motivator, and workout partner. They were all things I needed and the two of us enjoyed hitting the gym together. I didn't get "swole". I didn't even really lose weight. We worked out 2 days a week, mainly just to continue the rehab on my shoulder and to get my old body use to moving like that again. It was also in June that I started the process of getting Book 3 in the series published, though the first step is submitting it to a publisher for their agreement to bring it to market.

July brought about 2 things. The first was July 4th. Our family really loves this holiday and throws an annual celebration at house with a big fireworks show. This year we had over $2000 worth of fireworks in our display that lasted for roughly an hour. Thanks to COVID, we had less than the 100-150 people that we've hosted in years past but it was still a nice turn out, including our son and daughter-in-law who snuck in from CA for a few days to surprise the rest of the family.

The other thing in July was that same son's 21st birthday. When asked what he wanted for his birthday, he asked us to come visit them in CA for his birthday. My wife and I jumped on a plane a few days after the 4th and celebrated our son's birthday with him and his very pregnant wife. It was a quick weekend celebration but one that we all very much enjoyed. We had been told that they would be deployed to Japan, our daughter-in-law is in the Navy, but when she turned up pregnant a few months earlier those plans changed and they were sent to CA. That worked out well for us because we would not have been as able to just hop on a plane to go celebrate his birthday as we did.

After that, the summer continued on, mostly as usual. Our youngest son had gotten his first job now that he was 16 so he was gone a lot. There were no soccer teams, baseball teams, tennis tournaments, or any other sports that dominated our nights and weekends for the first summer in ages. It was kind of nice but at the same time a stark reminder of just how old we were getting.

As the year rolled on, Book 3 was accepted by my publisher, Newman Springs Publishing, and we started the process of getting that book ready. It would take months of work that would last until sometime in 2022 but you have to start somewhere, right?

August held a bit of a sad spot for me. My nephew who was going to the gym with me had decided the best thing for his family was for him to join the Army. He had bounced around to a few different jobs in a short period of time, never finding a job that left him fulfilled or as having a purpose, something he wanted from a job. Longing for a purpose and the means to provide for his young family, the Army called out to him and he enlisted. We had expected him to ship out to boot camp in August but thanks to the Army's notoriously slow decision making, some aspects of his enlistment were not completed in time and his departure was delayed until September.

Being a fellow nerd like myself, I had planned to throw my nephew a going away DnD campaign. We had the date all set. I had the campaign plotted out. And then my youngest son came home with COVID. The entire house was in quarantine and nobody was allowed over. My nephew left for boot camp and all we could do was text him to wish him luck and say farewell. We agreed that the DnD campaign would be just delayed and that we would do it when he came home on leave after boot camp. Luckily, our son did not get very sick with the 'VID. He ran a good fever for a few days, slept a lot for a few days, and didn't each much during that time but that was it. His O2 levels remained high and healthy. He didn't experience any nausea or vomiting. He just slept for a few days but because he had tested positive, the school mandated he stay home for at least 10 days.

October rolled around but this October was different from previous years. Like the 4th of July, we typically celebrate Halloween. We find a weekend around the end of the month and have a big party with numerous friends and family. We sit around our barn, dubbed The Party Barn, where we eat, visit, play games, carve pumpkins, and just in general spend time together. This year though, the party wasn't the same. I wasn't feeling well so I didn't go to the barn with the others. Our kids weren't there. One was in CA and the other two were working. My brother-in-law's kids were largely absent too. My nephew, his oldest son, was still at boot camp. His youngest son was working. And I don't think his step-kids were there either, maybe 1 of them but certainly not all 3 of them were there.

But moreover, the attention at the party was less about the pumpkins and more about the impending nuptials. With child #3 of 4 already married and living in CA, child #2 was getting married at the end of the month. My wife, my soon-to-be-daughter-in-law, her mother, and others were seemingly always running about working to get things for the wedding ready. Decorations bought and prepared. Food ordered and coordinated. Rehearsals. Fittings. All the usual chaos and joy that surrounds such an event leading up to the big day.

Their big day came and everything went fine. There were hiccups but those are the things that make the day that much more memorable. There were no disasters or soap opera dramas that overshadowed their moment or anything of the like. The ceremony was wonderful and their small selection of family and friends celebrated with them before they ditched us for their honeymoon.

November was no less busy than the rest of the year when it soon followed hot on the heels of October. Our oldest son was born in November and we always try to celebrate with him. He is special needs and loves birthday celebrations so we try to give him a party every year. This year would prove more stressful though. Our pregnant daughter-in-law was scheduled to be induced on the same day as our son's birthday. We had already made arrangements to be in CA immediately following the birth of our first grandson but the idea of the two of them sharing a birthday caused something of a dilemma for us. As it would turn out, the delivery of our grandson would take a while and not be born for a couple of days later, leaving us to celebrate with our son before hopping on a plane to go meet our grandson.

We spent a few days in CA. Our grandson was perfect and healthy. Mamma made it through the delivery with no issues too and everybody was good. We were ecstatic beyond belief. During our brief visit we decided to do a mini-Thanksgiving with them since they would not be able to come home for the holidays so soon after giving birth. Somehow a full Thanksgiving dinner for 5 people was prepared in their small apartment kitchen but it was wonderful.

Less than a week after returning from CA, we were off to OK to watch our nephew's boot camp graduation. Now, don't ask me why but the Army decided to hold the ceremony the day before Thanksgiving. Traffic was a bit bad on the drive up to OK the night before graduation but it was nothing like the traffic on the way home the next night. It was to be expected but none of us were going to miss his graduation. There were probably a dozen of us there just for him that day. After the graduation ceremony ended, we got to spend about 3 hours with him before we had to leave to return home but it was some of the happiest 3 hours we had all had together for a while. He was so pumped to see all of us that he talked for 3 hours straight telling stories about boot camp and the people he'd met. It was sad when we left to head home but we left knowing that he would be home for the holidays the next month.

The next day, Thanksgiving, my wife and I hosted both our families for Thanksgiving dinner. We had roughly 15 people in our house watching football, eating, visiting, celebrating, and being everything that my wife and I were thankful for. It was a whirlwind day though. We came home late the night before from OK just to wake up the next morning to start a rushed pace of cleaning and cooking to get the house and food ready for when everyone else started to arrive later that afternoon. I still don't know how we pulled it off but somehow my wife managed to get everything perfect (aside from a turkey that was a bit dry for my taste) and it was a wonderful meal and an even better day. All that we were missing was the family members who couldn't be there.

Now as we are in December and the year draws to a close, our lives are still equally busy but no less blessed. Our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson have come in from CA and are staying with us for the holidays. We get to soak in the fun of being first-time grandparents daily right now. We have the house decorated and the presents all wrapped under the tree. We knew the month would be busy so we wasted no time getting things as ready as we could for the holidays before everyone arrived. The big holiday is still a few days away and we know that with each day that passes between now and then will only make things busier. Stockings will need filling. Special gifts will need tending. And then the day itself will see people moving from house to house to visit different families. We will have a lot of it at our house again meaning that we will celebrate with our kids at one time, my wife's family a few hours later, and finally my family a few hours after that. We will go to bed that night absolutely exhausted but filled with joy from spending the day with our families and watching our growing family enjoy the day together.

And this year, we plan to close out the year/kick off the new year with that DnD campaign for our nephew. He is a MASSIVE Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel fan so I have dubbed his special campaign DnDiesel. Everything in it, or just about everything in it, has been inspired by numerous Vin Diesel movies. I know he is excited about it but I think I am excited more. Not only have I been looking forward to this campaign for a while, but it will be nice to nerd-out with my son and nephew again. This may be the last time for a couple of years that they will both be here to play and that fact is not lost on me. It will be a bittersweet day for sure knowing that they both will leave soon after its done but it damn sure beats not having them here at all.

2022 looks stoked to be another interesting year. A lot of talks of plans from others leaves me curious to see what comes about. And while most things in 2022 are unknown or unconfirmed, the only guarantee I can make right now is that Book 3 will release in 2022 and Book 4 will be underway for its future release. I remain committed to bring The Ascension Legacy series in its entirety to market and that goal remains unwavering. I set out with the plan of putting 1 book out a year. So far, I've managed to meet that goal and I don't see next year being the year to break it. I can only hope that as the days, weeks, months, and years pass that I can continue to see my work released.

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