In many ways, 2021 was a wild year! For me, it marked poignant milestones, incredible accomplishments, bittersweet endings, and exciting new beginnings. This was a year when we got vaccinated, reunited with long lost friends, and truly realized the value of having meaningful connection in our lives.
Every year, I aim to accomplish bigger and better things in my creative life. In 2021, it was the amazing people (you!) who made it happen. Thank you to everyone who was part of this epic year! I wish you all an inspiring and rewarding year to come!
Now, I give you my Year in Review!
Perceiving a need for a new community, I created a welcoming group to bring together people who chase the Northern Lights across the state of Michigan. On January 20, 2021, I founded the Michigan Aurora Chasers, a Facebook Group that climbed to over 34,000 members in the first year.
Links to Come!
Early in the year, I performed fiction in a virtual event with the REO Town Reading Series called “Planting in the Ashes,” which was actually held in late January. I also read a new piece of flash fiction entitled “1,000 Lights” at Fiction 440’s event at Zoobie’s Old Town Grille in June, and I attended the first in-person session of The Poetry Room called “Hot Glow Summer” on the Grand River in August.
Meeting up with a few devoted Aurora Chasers, I chased the Aurora in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. During the spring equinox, capturing an all-night display of the Northern Lights on Lake Superior’s shore from Au Train and Munising. This marked the inaugural trip over the Mackinac Bridge in Sunspot, the Subie, and I brought my amazing Aussie known as Little Bear along for the ride. Among the highlights, we hiked at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
A Note of Gratitude: I’m thankful beyond words to my talented friend and fellow Aurora Chaser Bonnie Tiedt for taking the featured photo of me celebrating under the Northern Lights.
In March, I also finally received my specialty license plates for Sunspot!
On the 10-year anniversary of the car crash that killed four of my family members, I visited the tombstones of my mother, Paula Bunsey, my stepfather, Tom Bunsey, and my late twin brothers, Thomas and Lawrence. It was an emotional trip, but this was an important milestone in my life to overcome.
Teaming up with my sister, I took my nieces camping in tents for the first time in their lives at Sleepy Hollow State Park. Our glorious weekend was all about celebrating strong women, and we brought the pups along for the fun at the campsite and on the beach.
On a sunny afternoon, I gathered with the authors and artists of the Social Gap Experiment Anthology for a Summer Book Launch in Moore’s Park, in Lansing. Our launch party gave us a chance to reconnect in person, and our work was featured in the Lansing State Journal, the City Pulse, and on FOX TV News.
After my efforts to create the Social Gap Experiment, I was invited to be featured on video at the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts in East Lansing, Michigan. Contributing to their series “Wharton Wednesday,” I shared the inspiration for the book and a behind-the-scenes look at how the project came together.
On Walloon Lake, I met up with a fellow adventure to interview her for a nonfiction book project with the working title “The Aurora Chasing Chronicles.” We shared intimate memories, awe-inspiring stories and our fascination with the Northern Lights over great food and coffee. This winter, I’ll be writing and developing a book proposal to showcase many of our friends’ most memorable Aurora stories, so I can pitch this idea to the publishing industry.
Traveling to the tip of the mitten, I hosted the first meet-up of the Michigan Aurora Chasers at the outdoor amphitheater in Headlands International Dark Sky Park. The Northern Lights didn’t dance at our latitude that night, but it was a gorgeous night of stargazing and telescope viewing. This was a great opportunity to meet some of our incredible Aurora Chasers!
After being recruited to run social media for an internationally-renowned arts academy, I changed direction in a real-life plot twist, setting my sights on western Michigan. With everything that happened, the summer amounted to one wild ride, but I spent much of October attending job interviews for open positions. Now, I’m looking forward to a rewarding role at a new university.
One year after it was postponed in 2020 due to the global pandemic, we held the 4th Annual Aurora Summit in Washburn, Wisconsin from Nov. 5-7, 2021. Our event attracted guests from the most states ever represented at the conference, bringing in Aurora Chasers from Ohio to California, and from Arkansas to Alaska.
Craving deep constructive criticism on my fiction writing, I was inspired to revamp my writers group, which reads fiction in advance of each meeting in order to give insightful critiques. In December, I launched the Grand River Writers Guild in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and scheduled our first meeting for later in the month.