It's January 1st. A new year! A new chance! A new perspective! A new list of big goals that may or may not be achieved!! WOO HOO!!!!
I sit here in the quiet morning hours remembering this day last year, when the world was so incredibly anxious to say goodbye to 2020 it was palpable. We were so desperate to hit the reset button on the most intense year in modern times, and convinced a calendar turnover would be just the answer. Now, one year later, it somehow doesn't feel like 2021 met our high expectations, although we did try really hard!! The chaos took some turns, the contagion took some new forms, the contention took a dive sideways. I resist the temptation to assess my own resulting anxiety because it stresses me out. Hmm.
So this year, instead of listing and hoping for and dreaming about all the ways the coming year will be better/different/more productive/more fun (and knowing many of those things will likely not be realized), I decided to take a different approach. An inventory of minor accomplishments instead of major failures...a lens through the bright moments instead of the opportunities missed. Since many resolutions are grounded in things we feel we fell short on, I deducted this to be a way to discover opportunities for fine tuning versus ambitiously attempting to reverse course or rewind bad choices.
My personal lists may be boring or meaningless to you, and that's OK. (And they are definitely not intended to be self-aggrandizing!) The point is there was something cathartic about putting them in writing, counting each item as a positive step toward becoming just a little bit better person, toward seeing the intrinsic value of time spent to make life just a little bit richer.
A way of not wallowing in the sadness and heaviness of this year's loss, while in no way dishonoring it.
A way to determine next year's intentions from a place of picking up the ball where I left off, rather than feeling like I dropped it.
Consider it flipping the narrative...even if just for the purpose of gratitude or grace...and make your own list. Look back at your calendar, your photo library, your checkbook. We actually accomplished a lot this year! Yay, Us!!! :)
A Boatload of Books
Several years ago, an acquaintance commented she heard someone referred to as "well-read" and she clearly didn't see it as flattering or something she was interested in being herself. I took particular note of my internal reaction to her comment...I viewed it as a wonderful compliment. In a strange and surprising way, I suddenly felt sad for her and very motivated to read more! I know...it's weird.
So here are some of the books I read (or listened to) this past year which I found worthwhile. You may remember some of the titles from my "Picks of the Month" on the home page of this blog. I don't know if this qualifies me as "well-read," but it's oddly rewarding to look back at the list, even though I probably missed a few. (in random order)
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Hudson and Riso
The Path Between Us by Ian Morgan Cron
The Queen of Paris by Pamela Binnings Ewen
Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Henry
The Great Divorce (again) by C.S. Lewis
Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict
The Henna Artist (and its sequel, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur) by Alka Joshi
New York by Edward Rutherfurd
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell
Atlantis by Carlo and Renzo Piano
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott
Kitchen Chinese by Ann Mah
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes
Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin
The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd
The Other Einstein by Heather Terrell
The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah
Learning to See by Elise Hooper
The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince by Mayte Garcia
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab
The Whole Food Guide to Strong Bones by Annemarie Colbin
Core 52 by Mark E. Moore
These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
The Road to Character (again) by David Brooks
A Most Beautiful Thing by Arshay Cooper
Be the Bridge by Latasha Morrison
Chasing Vines by Beth Moore
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
A Slew of Streaming Series
My default is always to the well-written. I prefer less drug cartels and graphic violence and f-bombs...reluctantly accepting they are sometimes hard to avoid in this world outside of FCC regulation.
The Morning Show
Downton Abbey (for the second time)
Breaking Bad (yes, we were the last people on earth to see this one...)
The Durrells of Corfu
Modern Love (season 2 this year, season 1 last year)
If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd
(Note: we are eagerly awaiting the return of Ozark and Outlander!)
A Strange Range of Engaging Podcasts
The podcasts which make me feel as if I'm getting to know the host(s) personally are my favorites. The ones I enjoyed most this year had the most interesting guests, made me smile, and taught me something...rather than trying to sway my opinion. This is a new world for me and there is so much good content out there! Here are just a few which became my go-tos on road trips or long walks.
"Revisionist History" by Malcolm Gladwell
"Biscuits & Jam" by Southern Living, host Sid Evans
"The Bible Binge" with Knox McCoy, Jamie Golden, and Erin Moon
"Armchair Expert" with Dax Shepherd
"Business Made Simple" with Donald Miller
A Foursome of Family Festivities
Family dynamics can be challenging, to say the least. Particularly as we get older, our parents get older, our siblings grow into people we don't recognize. Yet, the moments still matter...the weddings, the graduations, the milestone birthdays, the new babies. The funerals. If we don't acknowledge those moments, if we don't push through the logistics, if we let too much time go by without connecting, we somehow lose part of our identity. So we suck it up, because it's still important to make them important. (Hint...it helps if you can find an isolated spot to let out a good scream, if needed...)
Ruckman Extended Family at Memorial Day in Jacksonville Beach
Jezek Extended Family at Thanksgiving in Chattanooga
Mack Jezek & Madrie Doty Wedding in San Angelo, Texas
Landon, Marissa, Ayden & Taren Jezek in Niagara Falls
A Smattering of Sales
My career took a turn in spring of 2019 when I quit my full time paid gig and ventured into the not-completely-uncharted waters of real estate sales as a true agent/broker. So by 2021, I hoped to have a few more "pure" transactions under my belt, but life had other plans. How do I change that in 2022...gain more focus? More hustle? More listings...more legitimacy??
Have you ever felt like Diane Lane's character in the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun"? Just as I was lamenting the career successes which had passed me by in 2021, they revealed themselves in understated, unexpected forms. Combined with the joy of being a part of a fabulous agency team in Clemson, a development investment, and the availability to help keep my elderly dad in the real estate game for as long as he wishes -- turns out the year wasn't a total bust, after all.
Something to build on in 2022. Pun intended.
A Financial Refocus
The sale of my beloved bungalow was a big deal...yet ironically, it felt just as good to cancel random subscriptions and consolidate all the little charges (which add up) associated with streaming services, software programs, and storage units. Working on the plan, even if we haven't begun to actually work the plan, was also huge.
A Refined Approach to Fitness
Imperfect, and a continual work in progress. But something is better than nothing, right??
Functional Medicine Evaluation
Elimination Diet/Vitamin Therapy
A move toward gluten-free eating
A move toward less wine-drinking (albeit, a pretty small one...)
Exercise classes...not nearly enough, but more than none!
A Wealth of Wise Women
One of this year's (and my lifetime's) richest blessings is a plethora of amazing, interesting, accomplished, supportive, and smart women. I value their (your!) impact in my life...and I held on to my interactions this past year with the tightest of embraces. Perhaps so tight I squeezed the life out of some.
They (you) are my heart and my rock.
Wonderful Women & Wine gatherings
Way Too Much Sorority Stuff ;)
Young Life Giving Circle - Women Who Love Young Life
Lunch dates and walking dates and spontaneous visits
Hours of phone and text conversation
So...what's next? Keep going. Keep moving. Keep evaluating, keep being. Keep giving yourself permission to adjust...and credit for simply moving forward.