Unedited Optimism: 2022

2022 Year in Review, The Real Deal


This has been a year of great triumphs and deep, penetrating stresses. It’s not critical that you know any of my details, but I do find it important that we acknowledge our unedited lives so we can find solace and realness with each other. I would love to let you in, and if you’re keen on it, read on. This is not completely unedited, of course. I did try to make it interesting. wink And I know I inevitably left important things out. I’ve kept it personal, instead of going into the larger political world, which has been  . . . a year, let’s just say. I’m interested in your unedited life, too, and would love to hear about yours in the comments.


The year began in shades of bliss. I was quietly editing my second novel in the windowed room overlooking the water where the swans and mergansers kept me company. My paying job was still on the Absent Train because of the pandemic residual–the core of which was 1000 times more difficult for my would-be clients than for me.

As spring in upstate New York broke, I finished editing and my beta readers all found the book worthy. One even called it “important.” I was on a magic carpet ride high.

My brilliant and talented mom, Barbara Sotcan, went above and beyond in her editorial help and patted my metaphorical back through the whole production process. One might not think one needs one’s mommy in one’s 50s. I’ve never thought that, but if I ever did need her, this was the year, and she was inexhaustibly there for me every day.

Daily Contact

I began Marco Polo-ing daily with my don’t-even-know-how-to-describe-how-much-I-love-her friend, Melinda Mortensen. Being up on the dailies of a best friend is something I nearly forgot about, and after a year of daily contact, I still get a little blip of ? when I see she’s left a Polo for me!


One of my life-long, dearest and bestest friends, Annette Van, moved to my little postage-stamp sized town in the spring and her presence made me remember what it’s like to have a girlfriend on-the-ground to go to lunch with, go to art shows, plan (and execute) creative ventures together like painting, writing, card making, movie watching with Red Vines. *Swoon* on all of it. In my virtual life where my girls are spread all over the world, having on-the-ground contact nourishes my soul.

I devoted my year to respecting my Projector need for quiet and rest and rejuvenation. I played a lot during the summer. Poked sticks in our campfire, sang till I was hoarse in my loft, cuddled into Disney+ Sundays (where Trooper made me gourmet coffee and cinnamon rolls while we watched old classics and new favorites) and Plimpton Monday Artist Dates (where I pranced around and thought my own thoughts).

The summer’s work was producing the book, which I will not dwell on, but was measuring cups and bowls full of ????????. Frustrating and discouraging and exhausting is putting it lightly. Even Dennis Benjamin, who has nerves of steel, was shook by the experience.


Fall came and I launched World on Fire while in the throes of Covid (preceded by the wickedest case of poison ivy ?). It was my first time getting the Vid, and it was relatively mild, so I consider that a win. My Covid brain was ?‍? and my summer of “learning how to market a book” had been absorbed with production woes, but I considered it a great success anyway. I FELT successful and, as a Projector, that’s what counted.

I also launched my mobile attorney service and expanded my client base into neighboring counties and my practice started to come back online. After practicing law for more than 20 years, I am finally doing work that is gratifying and sustainable. I look forward to it every day. Happy Law, we call it here at Benjamin & James. Representing Foster Care families who are adopting kids into their forever homes is work I was put here to do. I’m grateful it returned to me after a two-year near-complete hiatus.

I sold A BUNCH of books and got a prominent display in Wegmans, our local grocery store. I cannot confirm nor deny that I squeeled like my tween self did when our Japanese exchange student, Nana, gave me Thriller as a present–I will confirm that I was a squeeler, very enthusiastic tween Susie, was I ?.

I snuck away for a solo writer’s retreat in the magical Octagon House and started Book 3 in earnest. ? 2023 will be dedicated to laying down the words of this next story, which is so incredibly important to my soul’s purpose.

And because life is never only one thing, autumn also brought up some residual trauma to deal with, which I did. EMDR is no joke, y’all. Lookitup.

As the snow is starting to fall, I just had a minor surgery, which laid me up and prevented me from dancing at the Trooper Christmas party, which I LOVE because I have one of the few Troopers who will actually dance the night away with me (and we’d already missed the last two years! ?) Next year I shall wear red! ??

We saw a phenomenal Chicago tribute band, Keith Urban in the flesh, the divine Patti LaBelle, and the Little River Band. Music was a major theme of this year.

It was a year of soul friends coming to the shores of our river to visit us (Becky and David Lyons and Rich and Eva Pawlak-MacConnachie) and the loss of a dear Trooper far too soon. I have the world’s best neighbors, Ben and Kacey Thomas (sorry everyone else’s neighbors. Mine are the best), and spending time with them continues to be a genuine highlight in my life.

My child has a great new job and has found someone lovely to couple up with, which makes me so happy. Every day, I have counted my blessings to be partnered with the sexiest, steadiest, heartthrob of a man who talks with me deeply and daily and cuddles with me nightly, and is the only person on this planet who can and does take every piece of me, as I am, with no editing or filter, and loves it all, and maybe even more important, likes it all.

As the year closes, and having just turned 56, I am feeling happy and blessed and able. Able to take on what 2023 brings. Able to wrestle with what needs wrestling. Able to enjoy what needs enjoying, without adding unnecessary dust ups! But I’m ready for the unedited version.

No Christmas cards sent (I meant to), No big New Year’s party planned (thing of the past), no loungingly browsing for perfect Christmas presents (note minor surgery above). Simple plans with my deepest loves. That is my holiday season.



SUCCESS is my Word of the Year for 2023. FREEDOM was my Word of the Year for 2022. I think I gained mental freedom in several areas. I went through instead of around. It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops, but my natural Sagittarius optimism skews me that way no matter what.


Thank you, 2022. Let’s do this, 2023!


Gentle Forward Movement,

? Susan James

Article © April 25, 2024 Susan James, All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. This article and many others are available at https://sunshinestudiosfl.com