Saying Goodbye to 2021 with Gratitude

Welcome to 2022! Rather than starting off this year with resolutions (or even suggestions), I decided to begin 2022 by saying goodbye to 2021 with gratitude, not relief.

Sally welcomed 2022 by catching a rainbow

2021 might have not been an easy year, but if you take a moment to reflect, I’m sure you can find plenty of good things about it. I am grateful for the opportunities (many unexpected) to learn and grow that the year presented to me.

Overall, 2021 challenged me to exercise greater awareness. I made a point of maximizing intentional, focused interactions with people who are special to me. And not bothering to spend time doing things that I didn’t really want to do. When I actually stopped to write down my 2021 highlights, everything seemed to fall into two categories: 1) connection and 2) boundaries.

Here are a few highlights of why I am saying goodbye to 2021 with gratitude:

  1. I joined a virtual coworking group for writers. We work together on zoom a few times a week. It’s a great way to get some work done and I’ve met lots of interesting people.
  2. I got a bit more brave about asserting my personal boundaries rather than worrying that someone might think I was being impolite. At least sometimes. Specifically, when it comes to obligatory social hugging. I highly recommend the enthusiastic elbow bump.
  3. Having access to COVID vaccines. For me this meant that I felt ok about returning to the gym (even though I still only attend outdoor classes). It also made me feel more comfortable about traveling when the opportunity presented itself. Meaningfully, this meant that I got to spend some time with a dear friend who passed away unexpectedly a few months after our visit.
  4. I had been thinking that it would be nice to have a steady, part-time gig that could help supplement my freelancing and discovered a position that checked all my boxes. Getting into the swing was a challenge, but it has been a positive experience on many levels.
  5. Speaking of freelancing, can we talk about how great it is to have repeat clients?
  6. I didn’t decorate for the holidays. At all. I’m not kidding. I got all the boxes down and then I decided that I didn’t want to. I wanted to preserve my energy for other things and I still don’t regret not doing it.

As I think about how I would like to approach 2022, it will be continuing to absorb/embody/inhabit the lessons of 2021. Like knowing that I have the resources to accomplish things that are important to me. And recognizing that sometimes those resources might be patience or luck.

So rather than dismissing 2021 or scolding 2022 to be better, I’m going to enter this new year with an open mind and an open heart.

How about you? Can you say goodbye to 2021 with gratitude?

New Year, Same Suggestions

After the lukewarm success of last year’s new year suggestion categories, I decided to retain the format and keep the same list (for the most part). I’m calling it a lukewarm success because I didn’t really feel any huge sense of accomplishment, but I did feel like it provided a gentle reinforcement for the habits that I wanted to cultivate.  So even though it’s a new year, I’m mostly sticking with the same suggestions because most of what I want to do this year are all the same things that I wanted to do last year.

I still like the keep doing, do more, do better, do less/don’t do paradigm. I think that it works well for continuing productive habits. One category that I think that I have underutilized is do less/don’t do.  There are a few things that have sort of naturally fallen into this category – things like shopping and drinking that don’t necessarily need to go on a new year suggestions list. But I do feel like I need to think about how I can utilize this category better (do better: utilize don’t do category).

I was pleasantly surprised to notice the do better category. I think that I completely forgot about it.  That is a motivating way to keep a lot of my keep doing things in the mix.

2019 Suggestion 2020 Version
Keep getting to the gym 5+ times a week Keep doing – getting to the gym 5+ times a week (it’s not like I’m in good shape, but enough is enough)
Keep working on my writing Keep doing/do more/do better – writing; specifically: blog 2x/week, write 6+ short stories/flash fiction, continue daily morning pages, find new writing exercises and challenges
Do more – get my steps in Do better – meet 10k daily step goal
Do more – call people Keep doing – call people
Do better – use my time more effectively Do better – use my time more effectively (I wish I could move this to keep doing, but I’m not there yet)

New for 2020

Do better: thinking about what I eat.  Before I eat it. Not in that obsessive, what’s for lunch as soon as breakfast is finished way, but in a thoughtful, is this really what I want to put in my body right now way.

Do less: keeping things that I don’t need.  I’m talking to you, collection of espadrilles that I haven’t worn since 2018.  Sometimes it is just hard to get rid of something nice, that you like, that is in perfectly good condition, just because it no longer serves you. I don’t think I’m ready for a complete don’t do in terms of keeping things, but if I can let go of a few of these types of things throughout the course of the year, it will feel like a win.

And then, just to be contrary, since everyone is on the intention train, I do have a one silly arbitrary resolution that I want to throw in the mix:

I would like to be able to fold in half again (face to shins with my legs straight out in front of me).

Anything new for your keep doing, do more, do better, do less/don’t do list?  Any old-fashioned arbitrary resolutions?

2019 in Review

Can you believe that 2019 is over? We just got ourselves a bright, shiny new year and a bright, shiny new decade. But before it’s too far gone, I thought I should take a look back on 2019.

My first feeling was disappointment.  It didn’t seem like I had accomplished the things that I had set out to do. As I was preparing to throw myself a little pity party, I wondered what DID I do all year after all? I mean, I was pretty busy, it couldn’t have all been goofing off, could it?

After I thought about it, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that even though I didn’t necessarily accomplish my 2019 Suggestions, I did accomplish quite a few things.  Including some that I would have never even imagined.

One thing that I was getting down on myself about is how much I have slowed down with my blogging.  I was disappointed because working on my writing was one of my keep doing suggestions.  But then I realized that I have been writing. A lot. In a bunch of new-to-me genres, not just creative non-fiction.

I started writing fiction (flash fiction and short stories so far).  I’ve published a few here like the tale of the wacky antiques dealer, the Real Housewives Triad, and the legend of Headless Mike.  One of my stories was published in an actual book (more on that in a bit).

Writing for my neighborhood newsletter gave me an opportunity to venture into journalism.

And I started a habit of morning pages – three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing, longhand, done daily (one of the cornerstone practices of The Artists Way).

Even with all of that and The In-Between Things, I didn’t feel that I had been generating the volume of work that I would have liked.  Why not, where was my time going?  Oh, that’s right! The Rough Writers Anthology!  Because I was not only a contributor, I was the editor and project manager for the book.

By virtue of my work as editor on the Rough Writers Anthology, I was approached to edit another book. And that makes three things that had never even occurred to me that I would do in 2019: become a published author and edit two books!

In addition to my foray into editing (which I LOVE and hope to do more of), I also started to find my niche with my freelancing – brand platforms. I know how hard it can be to figure out how to talk about what you do, and it has been beyond edifying to be able to help other individuals and small businesses get clear and get comfortable with their stories.

So instead of beating myself up for the things that I didn’t do, I’m going to take this opportunity to celebrate a few little victories.  When I look back on 2019, I can see that it was a year of experimentation – I said yes to almost every opportunity that came my way and those opportunities opened new doors to unexpected paths.

Before you get too busy in this new year, take a moment to look back on 2019. It probably didn’t go the way that you had anticipated either.  But I bet that you also accomplished some things as the result of happy accidents.  What were your surprise wins?

As I get ready to think about my goals for 2020, I’m going to try to remember to give myself some latitude for happy accidents. I hope that you will too.

2019 Suggestions

New Year, New Suggestions

Here we are again.  Facing a new year that is so full of potential and opportunities.  We are going to jump up and be everything that we have wanted to be, right?  Ok, probably not. But we are going to make an effort to do something new, aren’t we?

After I told you about my 2018 Suggestions list, I felt a lot of pressure to come up with a good list for my 2019 Suggestions.  There were probably 20 things at least.  I didn’t write them down.  I’ve decided to take a different tack this year.  I’m going to start the year with six suggestions for myself that fall into one of four categories:

  • Keep doing
  • Do more
  • Do better
  • Do less/Don’t do

I give myself permission to revisit my list at any point during this year and revise as I see fit.  Maybe I’ll nail it on all these suggestions and will add some other things.  Maybe I am going to need to reframe something to try to get a better handle on it.  We’ll see how it goes.

The four categories idea came out of something I was reading on the internet somewhere.  The gist was, “rather than resolving to do more things, resolve not to do some things…” something like that.  I thought that was a good point.  Why try to pile on a bunch of new stuff without looking at what you’re already dragging around with you and thinking about what you can let go?

my 2019 suggestions
improve handwriting didn’t make the list

Here are my 2019 Suggestions for myself:

  • One thing that I want to keep doing is getting to the gym 5+ times a week.
  • Another keep doing is working on my writing (tada!).
  • Something that I want to do more is getting my steps in.  Santa very kindly brought me a Fitbit Versa so now I have my activity tracker strapped to my wrist and I can’t use the excuse of, “well, I didn’t have my phone with me, I don’t know what I did,” to justify not achieving my activity goals.
  • Another thing that I want to do more is call people.  Like actually picking up the phone (quaint, I know!) not sending a text. A friend of mine called the other day out of the blue and it was such a treat to just chat for a few minutes. I felt so appreciated that I immediately resolved to add it to my suggestions.
  • One thing that I want to do better is use my time more effectively. This is going to be a big one.   I have some ideas about tactics that I want to try. Ultimately, I would like to feel that I’m getting the most out of each day.  The trick is going to be being realistic about how much time that I need to devote to any one thing because everything seems to take longer than I want it to.
  • My do less/don’t do is waiting to find a buddy to do things with. It is always fun to get to share an experience with someone, but sometimes a girl just has to go for it.

What are you thinking about suggesting for yourself for 2019?  Anything to keep doing, do more, do better, or stop doing?