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YAY THE -EMBER MONTHS HAVE BEGUN!

This is my favorite third of the year. Soon, it will be sweater and boot weather. Well, not SOON soon – this is Texas, after all – but relatively so. I wore layers today anyway. I will usher in fall through sheer force of will. I already have half my costume ready for Halloween. I. Am. Ready.

This is also about when I start thinking about goals for the upcoming year. My favorite planner is going to launch this month, and I think I already know what my theme word for next year is going to be (Maybe. There are a few contenders, but one has a sizable lead). But before that happens, I have some goals to finish up this year. I’m posting a series about what I’m learning about living a lush life in October, and I really want to finish most of my reading challenges. So here we go!

Book Clubs

A couple of my book clubs are starting spooky season early, and I approve. Actually, a couple of my book clubs lean toward spooky almost perpetually, so really, this is not a big shift.

Reading Challenges

  • Modern Mrs. Darcy’s (Summer) Reading Challenge
  • The 52 Book Club
    • Book with an alternate title – The Golden Compass (or, as it was originally published in the UK, Northern Lights) by Philip Pullman 
    • Author published in more than one genre – I’ve enjoyed her adult novels (romance? Chick lit? Anyway, steamy stories I really enjoyed), and now I’m going to try her YA sci-fi. When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry
    • Book longer than 500 pages – The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
    • A book picked based on its spine – The Saturday Book: 26, edited by John Hadfield. See the book next to the bottom of the stack in the picture above, and if you think the spine is something, you should click on the link and see the cover. This may be the acquisition from Booked Up (RIP?) of which I am the proudest. 
    • Job title in title – Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
  • Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge
    • An award-winning book from the year I was born – Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
    • The book that’s been on my TBR list the longest (and still is there….even though I meant to read this back in January…) – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
    • A book whose movie or TV adaptation you’ve seen – Good Omens by Neil Gaiman
    • Winner of the Women’s Prize – The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
  • GirlXOXO Keyword Challenge
    • Keyword: Salt – Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
    • Literally any of the ones I haven’t finished yet from previous months.
  • POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
    • Social horror book – Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
    • Sapphic book – Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
    • Book title that starts with the last letter of the last book read (a somewhat difficult category when you read several books at the same time – also possible/probable that I’m overthinking it) – Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (cross-post from Read Harder – starting after The Final Girl Support Group)
    • #booktoc rec – Happy Hour by Marlow Granados
    • Two books set in twin cities – the Tokyo book complementing my earlier NYC read (The Personal Librarian) –  Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

What are you reading this month?

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August TBR

Last month’s reading plan got a little off the rails. Some of the library selections that I’ve been waiting on for a while became available, so I jumped at the chance to read them and get them back for the next person waiting in line. 

I’ve started this month with a few books I am finishing from July (The Lonely City, The Maid – which is really for book club this month anyway – and A Field Guide to Getting Lost), but then I’m diving right into this list. As I’ve been transferring my massive TBR to a spreadsheet, I realized I needed a whole tab that’s just various series I am reading/want to read. I read something on it every month anyway, so I’m just adding it as a section here this time.

This month comes with a lot of audio selections, too. August is typically a busy month at both jobs, leaving less time at home to wind down enough to sit still and read, so audio will be helpful. Also, I’m visiting my parents later in the month, so I’ll have several hours of listening time in the car.

Book Clubs

Reading Challenges

Series

Lush

Still summer. Still hot. You know what’s fun to do in the summer that I always forget to add to my summer bucket list? Read. Especially when the alternative is leaving home to do literally anything else. So I’m going to bask in the last books in Ali Smith’s seasons collection and a book about more books I will inevitably need to read.

Excellent. Now all I have to do is finish a book a day. That’s doable, right?

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July TBR

Welp. Definitely summer. July is here, and I want nothing more than to stay inside and not be out in all that nonsense. It’s a good thing I have plenty to read.

There are a lot of books this month, but some I have started already and many of them are pretty short, so hope springs eternal. 

Book Clubs

Reading Challenges

Lush

The selections this month focus on finding lush moments in daily life. They’re also research for my 31 Days series coming in October (specific topic TBA).

La Dolce Vita Weekend(s)

Speaking of living lush, I have a stockpile of books from multiple genres about the sweet life in Italy. I’m going to take at least one weekend this month to binge and cook out of them. Right now, I’m planning on that weekend being July 22-23, as I will be participating in Dewey’s Reverse Readathon that Friday and Saturday, but don’t be surprised if I block off the weekends before and after it as well. After a trip to our new-ish Italian market, first, of course.

General

These are a few just-because books I’ve been wanting to read for a few months, so here we go.

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This post is for the schedule nerds. Those who mark “set up new planner” as the last thing on the to-do list in the old planner. Those who put the release date for next year’s edition of their favorite planner on their calendars as an actual event.Those who send out the office invitations for fun events that everyone else misses because they’re buried in a mass email that no one else reads.

My people.

It’s also for people who are curious about what reading for 24 hours in three days looks like. Spoiler alert – it involves way more sitting than you imagine. Plan active breaks and audiobooks you can take on walks or listen to while cleaning. All types of reading count. Not all my 2-hour blocks of reading will be done sitting down.

This is the tentative schedule for my retreat this weekend. I say “tentative” for two reasons. First, I find that I follow a schedule more easily when I give myself permission to veer from it (i.e., don’t view it as set in stone or something I have to do). Having to do things is a lot of pressure for a weekend that’s supposed to be fun, and if I need a more extended break, there are several things that I may decide to do that aren’t on the schedule. Also, my focus has been shit lately, so a certain degree of playing it by ear may be necessary. Shorter, more frequent breaks may become the rule.

Second, individual pockets of activity may be shifted depending on how much of my to-do list I get done before the weekend officially starts. For example, ideally, I will have time to make the Earl Grey shortbread dough tonight so that all I have to do tomorrow afternoon is bake and box the cookies for cookbook club. If that doesn’t happen, though, I have allowed space for this task to cut into Friday’s proposed reading time without derailing the whole read-24-hours plan just as it’s getting started.

I started planning my schedule by putting specific activities during the breaks, but I think breaks will work better if I leave them flexible. So just know that a break without a specific activity listed next to it may involve one or more of these things:

  • Dancing
  • Doing Pilates
  • Switching out/folding loads of laundry
  • Washing dishes
  • Tidying something that’s been visually harassing me out of the corner of my eye while I’m trying to focus on what I’m reading
  • Journaling (writing or art)
  • Taking a walk
  • Eating a snack

I also have potential reading times that I’m not including in my planned hour count. This gives me even more flexibility just in case I go rogue (a very real possibility). Additionally, I have planned 26 instead of 24 reading hours, just in case. So there’s a lot of wiggle room.

Friday, April 29 (8.5 hours)

12a-2a – Going to get it started at midnight, per my usual habit (2 hours)

10-11:30 – Leisurely wake up/scroll social media/have breakfast/watch an episode of Boston Legal or Arrested Development

11:30-2 – Read (2.5 hours)

2-2:30 – Make shortbread dough (or another break activity if that’s already done)

2:30-5 – Read  (2.5 hours)

5-5:15 – Check personal email/social media

5:15-6:45 – Bake/box shortbread for cookbook club. Listen to audiobook while baking (1.5 hours)

7-? – Cookbook club

?-bedtime – Potential reading time (or just go to bed early because carbs and wine)

Saturday, April 30 (10 hours)

10-11:30 – Leisurely wake up/scroll social media/have breakfast/watch an episode of Boston Legal or Arrested Development

11:30-1:30 – Read (2 hours)

1:30-2 – Put lasagna in slow cooker for evening

2-4 – Independent Bookstore Day Festivities at Patchouli Joe’s or read (potential 1.5 hours + break)

4-6 – Read (2 hours)

6-7 – Dinner/break/TV/social media

7-9 – Read (2 hours)

9-9:30 – Break

9:30-11:30 – Read (2 hours)

11:30-12 – Break

12-2 – Read (2 hours)

Sunday, May 1 (7.5 hours)

10-11:30 – Leisurely wake up/scroll social media/have breakfast/watch an episode of Boston Legal or Arrested Development

11:30-2 – Read (2.5 hours)

2-2:30 – Break

2:30-5 – Read (2.5 hours)

5-5:30 – Eat sandwich or salad

5:30-? – Attend private concert event to which I will definitely take a book and sneak in at least an hour of reading (1 hour)

?-bedtime – Read (1.5 hours, or however many are left at this point)

It’s likely that I’ll post updates on Instagram or maybe here (if I have actual commentary about how it’s going) throughout the readathon. Whether you are reading or spending time with family or working or doing a little bit of everything this weekend, I hope you have a good one!

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I love my book club selections this month!

I have a slightly bigger reading goal this year (150), so I’m starting out ambitious. Some of these books are ones I started in December and hope to finish up this month, and some of them are books that I’m starting but know they will take longer than the month to finish. At any rate, I hope to get a good start on the 12.5 books a month needed to meet my year’s goal!

Book Clubs

I am a member of six book clubs (not counting the library club, where we talk genre instead of a specific book we’re reading together). Three meet at a specific time (in-person or Zoom, depending on various factors), and three are ongoing discussions online. All add fascinating reads to my TBR list.

  • Dial “A” for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto – We discussed this one on Tuesday, so I’ve already finished it. It was a wild ride. I listened to the audiobook. Highly enjoyable.
  • The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich – I love this author, and I’m looking forward to reading and discussing it over beer with the church folk.
  • I Forced a Bot To Write This Book by Keaton Patti – We were going to read this last month in Follow the Reader, but several had a hard time finding a copy so we pushed it to January. I’ve read some of it already, and it’s pretty entertaining. This is the sort of thing I’d enjoy reading aloud to party guests when I’m schnockered (aw, remember when I had parties? I…don’t miss it. But also I do. It’s complicated).
  • Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon – Happy Endings selection that sounds fun.
  • The Maid by Nita Prose – I’ve had this on my list since it was announced, and I’m so happy that it’s finally out and it’s our Fantastic Strangelings pick for the month. It sounds like a great read for fans of Clue, cozy mysteries, and charming characters. 
  • Noor by Nnedi Okorafor – My Christmas present to myself was a Literati subscription so I can just have Roxane Gay’s book picks mailed directly to me. I don’t choose a lot of science fiction on my own, but I think I’ll like this one.

Reading Challenges

In addition to my book club selections, I want to be more intentional about keeping up with the two reading challenges I’m doing this year. 

Lush Reads

Committing to my word for the year through reading/study/reflection worked really well in 2021, so I’m going to continue the practice. Part of this is to get back in the habit of journaling, so I’ve chosen four books that help me explore topics on well-being-esque topics with daily or weekly prompts. Real talk – I’ve already gone off the rails and completed several “days” in one sitting for at least two of these books, so I’m not sure it’s going to take me all year to finish them as designed, but at least they will get me back into the habit of daily journaling, which is my purpose in reading them in the first place.

I also am finishing up/starting three books that talk about living abundantly and seeking delight and remaining healthy and sane in the process, all of which go along nicely with “lush.”

  • The Book of Delights by Ross Gay – If being utterly charmed is something you’re into, just go ahead and keep this one by your nightstand.
  • Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel – Practical advice from Modern Mrs. Darcy.
  • The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell – I ran into this one as I was going down a hygge rabbit hole after seriously cozying up my bed linens. Intrigued.

Other Selections

December was one of those months I couldn’t settle on just a few books. So I have a couple of books I’ve read a few chapters of and want to finish up. Also, I have quite a few books that I need to return to friends or the library soon, so they’re on the list, too.

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I have been slowly reading this one for about three months now. The story and characters and language are all wonderful. 
  • How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith – I started listening to this on the way home for Christmas and the chapter on Angola Prison made me madder than it’s responsible to be while driving. So I’m only a little bit into it, but it’s a fantastic tour of several monuments and landmarks and their significance. Highly recommend. Check your blood pressure beforehand.
  • Role Models by John Waters – I borrowed this from Sarah 14,000 years ago, and I found it while dusting shelves last week. Past time to read and return it!
  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro – This has been on my TBR list a long time and is due at the library this week, so I want to hurry and finish it so the person waiting for it can get to read it. It’s so lovely.
  • Music on the Brain by Arlene R. Taylor, PhD & Michael R. Hudson – I received several copies of this from my friend Matthew (thank you!), who works across the hall from Dr. Taylor, so I have a couple left to loan if you’re local. Great read so far!
  • Blood Hollow by William Kent Krueger – Gosh, I love mystery series. And I want to get this one back to Lois so someone else can enjoy it. 

So the list may look a little daunting, and I’m not expecting to actually finish everything this month, but this is what’s on my current pile.

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UGH HOW CUTE IS MY NEW PLANNER

In addition to focusing on LUSH as my word of the year and continuing my work with Sarah on our album, I am also setting a few tangible personal goals. Most of my resolutions this year are measurable, longer-term versions of some of the habits I am already tracking. Having a specific, larger goal in mind is useful for days when I’m like, “Hmm…maybe I just watch another episode…”

So here are some things I’m going to keep doing and the in-about-a-year goal that goes with them.

Read 150 books – Given that I almost read this many books in 2021, I feel like this is a gentle reach. It’s still challenging but perfectly attainable, even when my schedule stays busy. In addition to reading for book clubs, I’m participating in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge because I particularly like the prompts for 2022. Girlxoxo’s Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge looks interesting, too (and some of the books I’m reading in January already fit).

Write 5 short stories – My first instinct was “write a short story every month!” but since I finished a whole two stories in 2021, that high of an expectation might sabotage me before I even get started. Specifically, I want to practice writing dialogue. Fishbowl rewrites have been dry lately, and I think this will help me practice my skills for that long-term project as well.

Finish expanded rough drafts of Feast and Epic Meal Planning – My 31 Days series in October 2021 about books was challenging but also exciting. I forgot how much I enjoy writing essays. Over the past few years, I have started drafting two different essay collections (some of you may remember the epic meal planning series), and I want to finish the expanded drafts this year. I’ve already kinda planned the menu for the celebratory gatherings when each one is complete. Because priorities.

Earn $7500 with copywriting job – Last year, I set a word count goal for this job to write more articles. But what’s better than more work? More money. I’ve stayed within the $6500-$7000 range the last few years, but I want to give it a little boost in 2022. Depending on what is available on my teams, this can either mean adding an article or two to each pay period or focusing on articles that pay more per word. My preference heavily leans to the latter, so this will be my focus whenever such things are in my control. Is this what they mean by working smarter, not harder?

Build a consistent practice of an average of 30 minutes/day of movement – I have added activity to my life this past year, but the draw to sit for long spells is strong. As I continue to get older, I want to make sure I don’t lapse into a sedentary state and lose more agility/balance/etc, than necessary. So I want to be more intentional about making sure I keep and expand good habits. Also, some performances this year may include a little dancey action, so I want to be ready for that.

This is a solid list to start with. I’m sure I’ll amend them as needed, but I feel pretty good about these goals.

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Lush

My word for 2022 is LUSH. It’s the sort of word I feel compelled to type in all caps and use italics for emphasis. I like that. This is gonna be fun. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the word LUSH means…

  1. “…having a lot of full and healthy growth”

I often come to the new year feeling as if I haven’t quite finished exploring the word for the previous one. In a way, this makes sense. Growth is continual, lifelong, etc. I wanted my word for 2022 to acknowledge that. My first thought was “nourish.” I wanted to look forward and continue to grow in all the things I have learned these past few years. I want to continue to have experiences and read books that explore joy, but also that feature hope, wild, alive, lucky, fun, true, and other core values.

But LUSH encompasses my underlying goal better. There is an implied immoderate quality to this word. Not just growth but a lot of growth. An abundance of growth. A fullness. All the growth I can possibly squeeze into this little pocket of time and space. Maybe I should add “rest” to that list above so that I remember that it, too, is important. Overworked and stressed out does not fit in with a lush lifestyle. Healthy is a vital part of the definition.

  1. “…covered with healthy green plants”

I am currently looking for a place in my apartment to put a huge Poinsettia that I bought in honor of my MeMaws for the Christmas season at church and gazing fondly at my faux Christmas tree. I don’t even want to think about what’s happening in the office with The Little Juniper That Could (but if I did want to think of it, I might confess that I fear its days are numbered. RIP, probably). On the porch outside, my briefly successful tomato plant has long given up the ghost (but that’s not my fault – that’s just on account-a it being not summer), but the flowers that died when I was caring for them have resurrected now that I’ve stopped doing anything, which seems unnecessarily petty of them.

When it comes to plants, I have great plans and motivation but little success. I’m going to take this part of the definition literally. My goal? Have a live, thriving plant in each room. Also, flowers on the table make me happy, so I’m going to make more of an effort to do that more often.

Don’t think I didn’t notice that they snuck in “healthy” again. I see what you did there, M-W.

  1. “…having a pleasingly rich quality”

I love this turn of phrase. Yes, I would like this to describe my life. In many ways, it already does. But wouldn’t it be amazing if just about every aspect of my life had a pleasingly rich quality? I think so. Let’s delve deeper into how to make that happen this year.

  1. “…lavishly productive: such as…”

…fertile. NOPE. Unless we’re talking about a fertile bank account. Or garden. Or birthing a book and an album. Otherwise? Nope, nope, nope.

…thriving. That would be lovely. Not just to make it through but to flourish. 

…abundant/plentiful. Are we talking about books? Trips? Friends? Coffee? Peace? Love? Kindness? Cash? To all of the above I say yes.

…prosperous/profitable. I could definitely handle a little prosperity. Let me go submit some more applications and write some more articles. What I would really like? Get paid for the work I already do in my spare time (and that I actually enjoy) so that I can ultimately spend more time doing it and also still have a place to live. #CapitalismIsTrash

…savory/delicious. I’m not sure if this means enjoying more savory and delicious things or recognizing how savory and delicious I am. Either way, I’m on board.

…appealing to the senses. As a sensory sensitive person, this is a welcome goal. Too much of my time and energy are spent having my focus derailed by extraneous, irritating sounds or that smell that NO ONE ELSE CAN SMELL BUT IT’S THERE I’M NOT IMAGINING IT BECAUSE IMAGINARY THINGS DON’T MAKE ME SNEEZE. Finding ways to better navigate (escape?) consistently assaulting environments would be grand.

…exuberant/profuse. With vigor and vitality, and without restraint. There are some areas of my life that could definitely use this treatment.

…opulent/sumptuous. Oh, gosh I love these words. Also known as rich, luxurious, lavish. Splendid. And ostentatiously so. These words make me want to crawl right into a cozy bed with scandalously soft fabrics and pillows of the exact right firmness. Or a warm bubble bath with a glass of wine and some good cheese. 

And finally, speaking of wine…

  1. “…intoxicating liquor” or “…a habitual heavy drinker”

I mean, it’s not a goal, per se (although my limoncello, while mostly delicious, could use some tweaking). But if it happens, it happens. Here’s to enjoying life a little more and worrying about what all could go wrong a little less. Just as long as I remember to hydrate.

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This was not a Christmas Eve 2020 fire. I was definitely fantasizing about throwing parts of 2020 into a fire, though.

Today’s December Reflections prompt is “one year ago today.” On this specific day, I was likely driving to the farm to spend time with the family. The vaccine wasn’t a thing yet, so I was still in general isolation – working from home, social distancing, endless Zoom meetings – and even more so in the week or two prior to seeing my parents. But in anticipation of the new year, I was also already starting my reflections on joy. I talked about comfort food and books and animals and the parts of being outside that I find least objectionable.

Throughout the month, I also wrote quite a bit about the difficulty of holding on to joy (and hope and other good things that we’re often told we’re supposed to feel, particularly around the holidays). I remember not being excited about joy being my word for the new year. There were too many moments it seemed too far-fetched to be a possibility. I felt particularly lonely last year at this time.

But there were already little sprouts of joy poking up through the soil. If you’ll indulge the navel-gazing (and you’re reading my blog, where that phenomenon often runs rampant, so I trust that you will):

“When I think of the characteristics I particularly love in a partner – and especially when I meet someone new who embodies a lot of those characteristics – there is that jolt. The familiar memory of loving someone combined with the anticipation of the possibility of feeling that way again? That feeling is pure magic. This is the sneaky good thing about joy that may just be my favorite part. It doesn’t just show up in the middle of a particular difficulty. It shows up, in part, specifically because of it. Joy will tailor itself to you.”

And that’s precisely what joy did all year long. Several things about the past year have not been easy or great, and a big part of how I handled them had to do with where the joy showed up. It’s become a bit of a navigator, and I really like that.

I wonder where it will lead next.

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Bring Me Joy

My word for 2021 was joy, and I loved it. I think what made a big difference was the commitment to study it rather than just pondering or wandering about, looking for something that might resemble or cause feelings of joy. Choosing books with joy in the title was a simple way to keep it in the forefront of my mind, so I want to remember that in future years. Some books were humorous, some serious. The ones in this category I finished this year were (sometimes wildly out of order of planned start date):

  • The Joy of Being Online All the F*cking Time by Jennifer McCartney
  • The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place by Jennifer McCartney
  • The Joy of Doing Just Enough by Jennifer McCartney
  • Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
  • Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
  • The Joy of Less by Francine Jay
  • Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday by Jordan Matter
  • Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson and Karin Miller
  • Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee
  • A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine
  • The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal, PhD

Still working on The Joy of Cooking. It’s so long.

Because I was reading about it and reflecting on it a lot, it was easier not only to notice moments of joy when they happened but also to find ways to seek it out. Savoring a favorite dish, spending time with people I love, remembering habits and hobbies I enjoy rather than just tolerate, creating a comfortable and joyful space to inhabit, etc.

I’ve chosen a new word for next year, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop looking for new ways to explore joy:

  • Random acts of kindness, especially toward people in the service industry and retail (because whew – the things I have seen lately, particularly yesterday when finishing up the shopping – they all deserve raises, pastries, and foot rubs)
  • Making an even cozier, more joyful home
  • Love notes to friends, family, and other loved ones
  • Positive gossip (talking about how much you like someone behind their back) (and also to them – see above re: love notes)

I hope you all have at least one solid moment of joy this week (and every week forever).

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Resolving 2021

I’m participating in December Reflections, a challenge issued by Susannah Conway every year, and many of the prompts are things I want to include in my musings about how 2021 went. So I’m going to wrap up the end-of-year review now and leave the rest of the month to post specific moments that stand out.

This was one of those years that some resolutions really took off while others did not. I listed five main goals at the beginning of the year:

  1. Read 120 books.
  2. Write 300,000 words for my copywriting job.
  3. Make spaces in my home “more inviting.”
  4. Build a steady practice for art/music/dance/creation.
  5. Pursue joy.

I definitely exceeded the 120 mark for books. It’s only December 2, and I’m already at 128 for the year. This is good news beyond just meeting a goal. It means that, for the most part, my focus and time management have been pretty consistent, all things considered. 

I did not meet my word count goal for my copywriting job, and I’m at peace with that. I feel like the person who made that goal was basking in some vacation time and also maybe looking at a new pair of boots that would be easier to justify buying with a little extra cash on hand. One thing I’ve learned by making resolutions is that the most realistic goals are not set when I’m in the midst of enjoying time off. That self forgets she has a full-time job and gets super ambitious. Dreams are great, but so is not having to work 60 hours every week. A reasonable schedule. That’s the real dream.

Regarding the cozy spaces in my apartment…I mean…maybe? Sort of? The goal was a bit vague overall, so whether or not I met it is also vague. I did get two cute bookshelves from Steph that make the living room look better, and I made the office a more workable space. I still don’t have people coming over regularly (and frankly, I’ve enjoyed the reprieve), so I don’t have a lot of motivation to tidy. I organized the office better so that Maggie would have a place to sleep when she and Michelle spent the weekend in May, and I got bored and rearranged my bedroom during Icepocalypse. My home still doesn’t look the way I want it to most days, though. The changes I did make have given me so much joy, though, that I will likely make more specific goals for next year.

I have probably written more this year than the previous two or three years combined (not counting my copywriting job). I am also collaborating with my friend Sarah on an album. I have not quite reached the lofty 25 hours of practice a week that my former self was going on about (lol when? When would I do that? What was I thinking?), but I have definitely made more room for and progress on creative pursuits this year.

I loved having “joy” as my word for 2021. I read quite a few delightful books on the subject, and even on bad days there are usually moments of light and longing and…aliveness (dare I even call it hope?). I’m sure I’m not done with the word, but I’ll talk more about that in depth later in the month.

I hope this year has been a good one for you so far, and I hope you have a lovely December as well.

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