Friday, January 1, 2021

Welcome 2021


Coming to the end of a much-needed holiday break spent in more or less the same routine we've been in since mid-March (today is Day 293, 42 weeks). Normally we would have been in Boston this week for a holiday visit, but having decided that was unsafe and irresponsible, we have remained here in northern Virginia to eat Christmas goodies, admire our neighbors' holiday lights, and indulge in our favorite safe recreational pursuits. Yesterday I repeated the guided reflection I wrote about last year, and also took some time to gather some metrics on my 2020 resolutions in preparation for scoping out a new set for 2021:

1 handmade project/month: I didn't quite hit this milestone, but I did count 10 projects completed, which is unprecedented given my track record as a project (non-)completer before this year. And since one of those projects comprises 50+ homemade masks for family, friends, and donation, I feel pretty good about how this went. I even gave some handmade gifts as Christmas presents - here's one, an embroidered infinity scarf that I made for my sister-in-law:

2 outside events/month: well, this one was an epic fail, unsurprisingly, which is mostly on the pandemic and partly on me. I know there were dozens of virtual options that sprang up for connection, entertainment, education, professional development, and more, but to be perfectly honest, daily life was usually so hectic and draining that the thought of voluntarily spending more time online after work and school hours had ended was completely unappealing.

3 minutes/day of meditation: this was not a great success either, as I got into a bad habit of bedtime doomscrolling that I'm still trying to break. This review exercise was a helpful reminder to restart this one, so it will definitely be on the 2021 list again.

4 books/month: I didn't hit this milestone as planned, but I did manage somewhat respectable totals as follows:

Fiction: 20 (25-30% of these were re-reads)

Non-fiction: 2 (reading was definitely an escape this year)

YA fiction: 10 (60% of these were re-reads of old favorites)

Cookbooks: 5 (this number represents a documented use of a cookbook for a new recipe or technique)

Related to this last category: I did not have a food- or recipe-related resolution for 2020, but having reviewed my notes and photos I did document 21 new recipes or techniques that expanded my repertoire in 2020. (More on that in a subsequent post.)

5 30-minute exercise sessions/week: I actually managed this pretty consistently, especially once quarantine cabin fever got me into the habit of regular walks. Over the last month, I've been challenging myself to increase my step count by at least 100 steps over the previous day's target, working towards a goal of consistently hitting 10,000 steps/day. I started this in late November with a step total of 4,300 for my baseline; yesterday my target (achieved) was 7,000 steps.

6 pages/week of creative writing: here again, I didn't quite hit this total. But I did establish a routine of getting up 30-45 minutes early most weekdays in order to write, and have produced about 80,000 words of writing practice this year, including blog posts, exercises, and story drafts. 

7 hours/month on personal and financial admin: I did manage to integrate this as a regular part of my weekly routine, and feel I have a much better handle on our financial situation and home admin than I did a year ago. We have been extremely fortunate to be able to maintain employment and financial stability in 2020, and thus to have the opportunity to deal with some debt, make some necessary home repairs, and try to pump some money into the local economy.

A note related to this last point: one of my friends suggested online recently that those of us who are US-based, financially stable, and in line to receive a stimulus check consider making a concerted effort to put all of that money back into the local economy by purchasing goods and services from small businesses. I'm completely on board with this idea, adding only that another good option would be to donate a chunk to charities working to mitigate the economic and health hardships that so many people are facing this winter. (If you're looking for ideas, a local food bank is always a good place to start.)

When I re-read this post, I am struck again by how very, very fortunate I am to be healthy, housed, food and income stable, and able to focus on how best to use my time and money. I'm working to keep that in mind in finalizing my resolutions and plans for 2021. 


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