It can’t just be me

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Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

At least in my corner of it, which is admittedly a deep-blue pocket in a majority blue state, where most of us were mightily relieved once the Inauguration was finally fait accompli. But even scanning a cross-section of news media (leaving out the vitriolic fringe) and scrolling my Twitter feed, I notice a generalized head-cooling.

It’s not like everything is tickety-boo, of course. The flags at the middle school where I work were, like most places in the country, at half-mast this week in solemn acknowledgment of a heart-breaking milestone: over a half-million of our fellow citizens lost to COVID-19…


The unasked-for gift of the empty mind

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Practitioners of mindfulness — and I can claim only a guest membership in that serene population — will tell you that the goal of meditation is to slow the random traffic of thoughts that normally clog the brain’s thoroughfares. Doing so allows for some space on your internal roadways. It allows you to make a considered choice as to which of those passing mental conveyances you want to travel in. With practice, you have the option to sit back and simply watch the thought-vehicles come and go, without being carried away by any of them.

Easing the congestion in your…


And discovering you don’t want her back

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Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

You had a friend. At one point in your life, this person was a dear friend, someone with whom you felt an enduring connection, someone who made good times better by sharing them with you and whom you could count on when times were tough. Circumstances might keep the two of you apart for years at a stretch, but when you reunited it was as though no time had passed. That kind of friend.

But then life took a series of hairpin turns, and the two of you drifted apart. Lost touch. It happened gradually, the spaces between meetups growing…


There wouldn’t be those moments that haunt me still

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Photo by Alex Guillaume on Unsplash

Some of my favorite books play with time as though it were elastic — from Madeleine L’Engle’s enchanting A Wrinkle In Time to Audrey Niffenegger’s poignant The Time Traveler’s Wife to Octavia Butler’s brilliant, harrowing Kindred, for example. Same with movies, including lighthearted adventures like Time Bandits, the Back to the Future films, and Groundhog Day as well as grittier fare like 12 Monkeys or the Terminator series.

The concept of time as something that one could mold or shift or fold or move through in more than one direction is immensely appealing to me, and I suspect to most…


And my husband, while you’re at it

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Image by Rocco Stoppoloni from Pixabay

We are battle-weary. We’ve suffered monumental losses, more deaths than in World War II. Our daily lives have contracted and changed shape in ways we would hardly have believed bearable a year ago. We’ve made personal and communal sacrifices in an effort to hold the enemy at bay. We’ve railed against those who refuse to do their share or deny the enemy even exists. It has been, no pun intended, a strain.

But the tide is turning. We have new leadership, with an invigorated commitment to enacting the measures we know can hold stave off enemy incursions — masks, social…


Ask if they’re useful

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Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

If for no other reason than they’re a lot easier to be around when they’re happy. When our kids are joyful, they’re adorable again. We feel good about ourselves as parents. We remember why we wanted children in the first place.

But be honest: if you have more than one child at home under the age of 18 (or possibly 32), how many times in any given day are all of your spawn happy at the same time? And no, being zonked out in front of a screen doesn’t count.

That’s what I thought. Don’t beat yourself up. After all…


Are you feeling the Post-Inaugural Letdown Effect too?

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Image by joduma from Pixabay

I mean, how could I? There was just so much going on. Every single day since at least Halloween has been a white-knuckler: the run-up to the presidential election, with all the hysteria over mail-in ballots and the sudden, engineered unreliability of the Postal Service adding to the angst; the election itself and the whipsaw days following until the results were announced; every single day after that in which those results were denied and disputed; the minute-by-minute suspense of the Georgia runoff elections; and the gut-wrenching spectacle of the Capitol swarmed by hate-crazed, heavily armed domestic terrorists.

By the time…


If you haven’t before, this is the year to step up

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Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash

Not a white supremacist, mind you, nor an active racist — though as Isabel Wilkerson points out in her life-changing book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, no one who’s grown up in America has escaped some level of exposure to the toxins of racism. I have been one of those pleasant white ladies who means well, deplores overt bigotry, and lives her life within a protective shield of white privilege. Like most white people, that shield was largely invisible to me: I only caught glimpses of it from the corner of my eye, under certain circumstances.

Like the time…


2021 means we have to be able to look in both directions

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Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

Or maybe not: Wikipedia points out that while “conventional belief” holds that the first month of the year is named after Janus, ancient Roman farmer’s almanacs said it was named in honor of Juno. But with one face looking to the future and one to the past, and being the god of “beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, frames, and endings,” Janus seems the clear choice for January’s Spirit of the Month. Anyway, who reads ancient Roman farmer’s almanacs?

The first week of January 2021 set many of us to whipping our heads back and forth with such velocity…

Jan M Flynn

Writer & educator. The Startup, Writing Cooperative, P.S. I Love You, The Ascent, more. Award-winning short fiction. Visit me at www.JanMFlynn.net.

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