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Archive for the ‘Resolutions’ Category

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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Beautiful view on a farm outing with friends

I look forward to Joy the Baker’s summer bucket list every year. It’s typically a mix of places to go and things to learn and/or make, and it’s inspiring. Because summer tends to be a busier time for me, I am expanding my timeframe into fall (and really – the rest of the year). So this is my remainder-of-2021 bucket list. Doesn’t quite have the same ring but…oh, well.

  1. Get some ducks in order – Some of my goals are just reminders to get/keep it together enough to be healthy or at least not completely derail any progress I’ve made in various areas. To that end:
    – Pay off personal loan (last payment due in September!)
    – Carve out time to get back into Pilates practice
    – Make eye exam and yearly physical appointments
    – Write, edit, and submit a short story every month
  2. Take a trip with friends – Okay, so I’ve already done this one. We went to Colorado for a few days in June, and it was magnificent.
  3. Get a new (to me) car – Watson is showing signs of unreliability, and I want to trade her in before her upkeep starts costing more than a car payment would. My first car was a hatchback, and I’ve wanted another one ever since, so I’m looking at gently used options in the area along the lines of a VW Golf or Kia Soul.
  4. Take an overnight bookshop trip – I’ve been musing about going to Magic City Books in Tulsa for a while, but I think my next long-distance bookstore venture is going to be to Nowhere Bookshop in San Antonio. They’re opening for real to the public on Monday, and I think a leisurely drive down there in October would be a great way to break in a new ride.
  5. Choose a new planner – I do love my Simplified Planner, but the siren song of Papier’s daily planner beckons me. I have had separate goal and meal planning calendars for the longest time, and the idea of having everything in one book is so appealing. Also…there are so many cover designs to choose from. *salivates*
Although there’s certainly nothing wrong with this cover…

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“May your coming year be filled with magic and reams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” Neil Gaiman

Every year, I write this quote on the first notes page of my new planner. When I read through my 2020 planner, it made me cry, not only because of some of the things I missed but also because of how much of this sweet wish actually came true. It wasn’t at all in the ways I expected, but I guess that’s part of the surprise.

In Joy the Baker’s “Let It Be Sunday” post last week, she talked about goal setting as making deposits on your dreams. I love that perspective. Each year during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I reflect on the last twelve months and tweak the goals that need a little nudge to get me closer to who and where I want to be. As I mentioned yesterday, I reflect and adjust throughout the year, but this is the time that I always have some days off work to really dig in.

Here are my goals for 2021:

  1. Read 120 books. Third time’s the charm? I don’t know what will happen this year, but I know that I’m more myself when I’m reading regularly. As long as the focus to do so remain constant, ten books a month is a pretty reasonable pace for me, and when I have a little extra time off, I read even more (thus the 13 I read in November and the 15 in December). The theme for this year’s reading is community. I’m in three local book clubs that meet live every month, another one that discusses primarily through a Facebook group (Fantastic Strangelings), and a new one that Roxane Gay is leading. A friend at work is also organizing some of us to participate in the Pop Sugar challenge. I love talking about books with fellow lit lovers.
  2. My current career plans are to retire from UNT when I’m eligible in nine and a half years and then embark on my second (third? fourth? Who’s keeping track, really?) career as a full-time writer. To this end, I will need to have established a strong second income already, which I have already begun working on. I wrote 250,000 words in freelance articles in 2020, and for 2021, I want to push to finish 300,000 words. This means an average of 6,000 words a week, which is a lot but also reasonably doable.
  3. One thing I have become acutely aware of this past year is how the spaces in my home are technically functional but not really inviting. I want to fix that this year, and I have weekly goals for doing so mapped out. Even if I’m the only one who enjoys them, I am reason enough to make them as cozy as possible.
  4. You know what would also be great dream to realize? Becoming a better/more confident artist. I mean, I’ll perform anyway, but I would like it to take less intense and sudden practice, particularly when I’m performing with other artists who regularly put in the time to be prepared for such things. The first ten years I played piano, my mom made me practice an hour a day to justify the lessons she was paying for. It was not always convenient or easy, but it sure was handy to be able to sub in with little to no warning when someone needed me to. At the height of the time I was performing regularly, I danced 10-15 hours a week (and my legs were phenomenal). I also was more aware of how food affected my body and paid more attention to strength so that I didn’t get injured. I have so many writing projects started, and I want people to be able to read them in their entirety at some point. So I have a lot I want to accomplish. I don’t expect myself to carve out an extra 25 hours a week right now, but I can build toward more consistency. To this end, I am putting aside an hour on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights as well as two hours each Saturday, to give myself time to make personal art practice a specific, regular part of my schedule. For January, I’m going to practice each of the three genres (writing, dance, piano) at least three times a week, and I’ll expand/adapt once I am consistently doing that. My hope is that by the end of the year, I’m closer to the 25-hour mark than the 5-hour one.
  5. Pursue joy. Joy is my word of the year, and as you may have been noticing in the 31 days series (which we’re just shamelessly going to continue until it’s done, ignoring the fact that the 31 original days for which it was intended have passed), I have a lot to say about it already. You can expect a few updates a month, and I’m going to be reading at least one book a month with joy in the title. The first one I started with the blog series was Surprised by Joy (which I expect to finish within the week). January has three selections by the same author – Jennifer McCartney’s The Joy of Being Online All the F*cking Time, The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place, and The Joy of Doing Just Enough. In a month where everything else is certain to be pretty intense, I expect these books will bring a little levity.

Do you make resolutions? If not, do you have goals you’re working toward? I’d love to hear about them!

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Some of my favorite images from the year

Well, here it is. The end-of-the-year review. I feel like a lot has been said about the world in general, and I’m tired and a little sad tonight, so I’m not interested in recapping it (didn’t I do this last year, too? I remember being very melancholy last year at this time. Maybe that’s just who I am now.). So I’m going to go through the year I thought I was going to have, how it changed for me personally, and maybe some more things as I ramble on.

First, some goal-setting changes:
1. I love resolutions, but I maintain the flexibility to adapt them. I did this really well this year – mostly out of necessity but also because it just makes sense to set goals that way. To work toward what you want until you get it or don’t really want it anymore or figure out something you want more.
2. Instead of plotting all the short-term tasks needed to reach goals in a chart for each month at the beginning of the year, I plotted one month at a time and based the new standards for each month on the previous month’s actual accomplishment (it’s like I KNEW) (I did not know) (No one knew). I like this much better, and it gives me a much clearer picture of the real progress I’m making.
3. I took the month of December off from the reward system of checking things off. Mostly I did this to just take a break from it, which was needed. But also it gave me a chance to see what habits actually stuck when I removed the reward of a check mark or a crossed-off item. Very illuminating.

Official resolutions I made at the beginning of the year and how they went:
1. Read 120 books. I did not quite make it. But, considering that I went for about four months where I had the attention span of a gnat and couldn’t read for more than five minutes at a time (I read a total of six books during those four months), I think my final total of 96 is still pretty respectable.
2. Finish Fishbowl again – nope. Although I’ve made considerable progress.
3. Keep up with microfictions on Ello – yes…ish. I haven’t even checked lately to see if Ello is still a thing. But I have written a LOT of microfiction and short stories. I didn’t set a specific number to write every month, so I didn’t keep count, but that was the main creative writing I did.
4. Perform with Spiderweb – yes x2! I was in the last in-person show, collaborating with Sarah Ruth for Spiderweb Loves You on Valentines Day. And I had a spot in our online Spiderdead in November playing an original not-really-a-composition-but-more-like-a-prompt called Maybe Hope is a Terrible Idea.
5. Find a doctor – yes. Done.
6. Find a new dentist and eye doctor – not yet. Have people picked out to try, though, in the first few months of the new year.
7. Continue to build Pilates practice – yes, but not back with the in-person classes yet (although my studio has been great with upping the cleanliness standards and thinking outside the box and serving customers – really proud of the way they’ve done things). When we started working from home in March, I accepted a 30-day strength challenge with Jessica and Mary in my office, though, and I incorporated a lot of Pilates stuff in that and have expanded it and kept up with it pretty well. I may be able to test into Level 2 classes when I return.
8. Work – vague resolution about continuing to figure out what I want to do with my life that got put on the back burner when I was just happy to still have work.
9. Word of the year was “alive” and we know how I feel about that. So that’s that.

Goals I didn’t have at the beginning of the year but added and met anyway:
1. Reduce plastic use and trash production. I started putting trash day as Monday on my calendar (I needed help remembering some things – see note above re: attention span). I soon found myself finding ways to prolong it to another day to see how long I could go without filling up the trash cans. I’m up to three weeks (except in the kitchen because food-adjacent waste really shouldn’t sit in my house for three weeks but I just use smaller bags).
2. Reduce food waste – my fridge had a hard year and I think it’s on its way to dying. My freezer still works great, though, so I began freezing leftovers. I’m down to almost zero food waste, so I think that’s a habit I’ll keep even when I have a fixed/new fridge.
3. Automate shipments – toilet paper, toothpaste tabs (the Bits ones – plastic free packaging!), laundry sheets (also plastic free!), etc. I needed to take things out of my headspace this year, so I automated a lot of shipments of things I normally would just run an extra errand to get when I ran out. Now I don’t run out. Great decision – 10/10 – highly recommend.

Things I learned about myself:
1. I’m way more adaptable than I thought I was. Like…my response to chaos has mostly been to fight and thrive (relatively speaking).
2. I am very particular about who I trust. And I like that about me. I mean, I’ll extend a basic trust to most people – I don’t want into new relationships assuming they’re shady – but past that basic trust? It has to be earned.
3. I can like and get along with someone without trusting them or letting them affect me. This makes me good at standing up for other people, and I want to practice that more in the future.
4. I need to be touched. Like…regularly. I knew this already but I really really know it now.

I lost a few people I love this year (some COVID-related, some not), and that’s been hard. I also had a few heartbreaks, one in particular that was really heavy and terrible. I feel like I’m in perpetual heartbreak these days, and I don’t know how to not be. I’m really trying to seek joy in the midst of it anyway.

Finally, to end on a sort of positive note, some highlights:
1. Staying connected to Spiderweb even though it’s online and particularly to the You Are Here support group
2. Monday night text study
3. Book clubs!
4. So many artists adapting to online performance and sharing really beautiful things
5. So many local businesses adjusting to changes and finding new ways to serve customers
6. The Science of Well-Being – free course from Yale
7. Wake and Bake fundraising boxes of baked goods
8. Backyard hangouts with people who love me

Goodbye, 2020.

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