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  • Writer's pictureDrew Dotson

A smidgen

As I sat down to write this post, I thought I’d start by saying, "I woke up to a text from Ramón’s brother-in-law, Steve." Then I remembered I’m awful at understanding how familial relationships work after marriage, so I started to Google, "Is my spouse’s sibling’s spouse my brother-in-law?" As I began typing, it hit me that maybe I should first Google, "Are in-laws your in-laws if your spouse dies?" And, in the end, I decided we’ll just call him Steve.

I woke up to a text from Steve this morning reminding me that three years ago today, Ramón was sworn in as a judge. His parents and sister, YuSun, flew in from Michigan to attend the ceremony, which was partly funny and fully inspiring. We celebrated with loved ones at a restaurant after, enjoying the fact that Ramón’s dream was now our reality. At home that night, Ramón proclaimed it was one of the best days of his life.

When Ramón and I first met in 2011, he told me that his ultimate career goal was to become a judge. It sounded extravagant to me — so important and uncommon that it might not be realistic. Very soon after meeting Ramón, I realized how wrong I was. When he declared something, it became reality through a combination of stubbornness and work ethic.

Ramón was the type of person that took today’s necessary steps rather than allowing himself to be overwhelmed by the unknown future. As I thought about the year 2021, I recalled hopes I had in years past. Every year, no matter the circumstances, one of my goals was to write a book. But, when it came down to it, the concept of "writing a book" was too overwhelming. It wasn’t until I strung together enough days of "write 30 minutes" that I found myself looking at a complete manuscript. I realized that, from a mental standpoint, I’d always been trying to complete hundreds of days of writing 30 minutes in a single moment, which is actually impossible.

Goals feel unattainable until we do a little today, then the next today, then the next today. For example, one of my goals for this year is to have more self-compassion, so I’ve started by reading a book about it to better understand what self-compassion is. One afternoon this week, I spent some time reading and, soon after, realized that I’d somehow forgotten to brush my teeth that morning. I immediately felt the need to belittle myself as dirty, lazy, or any of the various insults I toss at myself with no awareness. However, I caught what I was doing and changed my thought into, "Whoops. I’ll brush them now." It's a smidgen of progress. (Ah! I've landed on a blog title. The word "smidgen" deserves some attention.)

The new year has always been a little hard for me because of the pressure I put on myself — and I imagine it’s the same for many. I think about the past year, focusing on what I didn’t accomplish rather than what I did. To my recollection, this is the first time I’m reflecting on a year with deep-down, soul-level satisfaction.

And I can thank Your Honor for that.

(And thanks to Wesley Person for the amazing photos of that day. I can just hear Ramón in my head, "Does that picture make me look bald?")

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