Warning – extreme honesty ahead!
I don’t want to talk about how terrible or wonderful 2020 was. We were all there, feeling it together – the extreme highs and the heavy lows. Ending the year feeling a little broken, drained, anxious, afraid. And hopeful – so many of us had this belief that if 2020 ended, we could leave all of that behind and move forward.
I have a hard time with that. My hyperactive, realist brain couldn’t shut down, and as the years’ end crept closer, the stress and anxiety consumed me more and more.
Every year feels like this. Christmas feels less like Christmas, and the New Year is just another day, except that it marks another year where I can hilariously fall on my bum.
Then January comes, and it’s just hard. I’m always grieving something, struggling with another. I don’t want this to come out as a “woe is me” moment, but rather just as context. I accept the weird balance of negativity and optimism that live inside my mind, only sometimes the negativity wins.
Needless to say, this transition carried the repetitive nature of previous years, and then some.
Christmas was a chore. I urgently scribbled in my journal because I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t be where I really wanted to be, and I couldn’t figure out what that was either. I was instead left with the stark juxtaposition of my memories; Big family gatherings at my grandma’s house, surrounded by cousins, aunts, and uncles. An endless amount of rooms to play hide and seek in, and my grandma’s sugar cookies (which she can no longer make, as she is going blind and deaf). Now nobody ever comes home anymore (regardless of you know what).
All of this to say, I’ve been holding on to this glum, icky energy for so long, and just need to learn to let it go. This energy always leaks into January, and puts a gray colored haze over everything so thick – like having a heavy chain smoker following you around all day, everywhere you go.
It was the end of November, and I was already anticipating all of this and getting ready to shut down, as I often do. Then Erin (E.L.Dan) connected with me, for a collaboration.
Truth be told, I forgot that we set up a writing session in early December until it was the day of the call. That morning I had been working on a song – “January”. I had written an earlier version of January back in 2016.
I was on January 2.5 when Erin came, and I’m so happy she came! I instantly felt like I could connect with her. Like she could see and feel the turmoil in my soul and understand it. We had a long and extensive conversation on anxiety, the different forms it takes, and specifically how this time in particular is really messing with the delicate ecosystem of our emotions. Three, maybe four hours later, the right version of January was born.
We set an action plan to produce and release, and I went to Mexico. As expected, I spent a lot of time alone, which allowed me to work on production. Then Erin did something delightful – she wrote another poem! I loved the poem, and asked her to make another – one to serve as a prologue to January, and another as an epilogue. These poems are so beautiful.
While working on the three tracks, I felt inspired to write something hopeful. Although I am negative and moody at times, I continue to try to be optimistic. This lead me to writing a little lullaby – Dream A Little. This song feels a little melancholic to me, but also feels hopeful, which is a much better place to be than anxious.
January is almost over, and I’m slowly waking up. I don’t feel ready for what’s next, but who ever is? One thing is certain – this is not a year that will be forgotten.
About The Poems & Songs
Year Ahead: “In this poem I imagine hope as a winged creature, after Emily Dickinson who said “hope is the thing with feathers.” I also imagine hope as an animal who may have been previously injured, panting and fighting for their life, but is still here, still breathing. The final lines of the poem describe the audacity of hope to continue to be here, in all of its beauty, despite the hardship.” – E.L.Dan
January: “January is a glum time of year for me, and has been so repeatedly for what feels like forever. There’s a grim disillusionment period where people take down the Christmas lights, families depart, and people return to their day to day lives, and it makes me sad to see the magic end. I leave my lights up as long as I can – I want that fairy dust to last a bit longer. Inspired by this mood, January explores the anxieties that accompany the ending of the season – the questions about tomorrow, the stress with experiencing a financial low after spending too much on presents, and in particular, this past year – 2020, being so traumatic. How do you move on from a year like this one? How do you greet a new year that may or may not be a rerun of the past?” – Sunflower Summit
Sacred heart: “I wrote this poem after going through an intense few weeks of anxiety. It was difficult to recognize myself and I wasn’t sure when it would get better. Then there was a morning I rose up out of bed, the sun was shining, and there was a stillness that wasn’t there before. I wanted to highlight both of these moments, knowing that through every season of your life, your sacred heart loves you through all of it.” – E.L.Dan
Dream A Little: “A completely different feel, featuring ukulele and raw vocals, Dream A Little is a hopeful little lullaby to contrast and icy feelings from the first three songs. Dream a little is a reminder to look ahead and be optimistic, while remaining rooted in realism.” – Sunflower Summit
Erin (E.L.Dan) is a poet, reiki practitioner, and activist who currently resides in Athens, GA with her girlfriend and their rambunctious dog. Erin has been writing poetry as a way to connect to their feelings and reclaim their power for the past decade, and hopes to inspire others to do the same. She started a small business, Rooted In Courage, that combines energy work and poetry, and hopes to publish her first book of poetry this year. The goal of Erin’s work is to remind people they are never alone in what they feel, and remind them of their inherent worthiness and ability to connect to their true selves.