All my goals for 2020 😱
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Each Sunday afternoon, I attend a pay-what-you-can yoga class at a local studio. At the end, while we're laying in savasana, stretched out and sweaty, the instructor says the following: "You do enough. You have enough. You are enough."
I'm not much into mantras, but there's something about those three little sentences that hits me every time. I can already tell 2020 is going to be a challenging year, and when I inevitably feel like I'm falling short, words like those can be a profound reminder. I have everything I need; all of this is enough.
Which is why, when it came to setting this year's goals, I followed but limited myself to five goals per category. A lot of these goals (pottery, surfing, bread) are fun and low-stakes, a chance to learn something new. Others (write a whole book???) are quite the opposite - all the stakes, if you will. And still others are deliberately vague because I don't yet know what shape they'll take. And that's okay. Despite all our strategies and goals, long lists and bullet points, plans and promises, we don't need to have everything figured out just yet. We can prop a door open, crack a window. Leave a little space so that when the time comes, there's room to grow.
Here's to 2020. 🥂
Write the first draft of a brand new novel
Write and submit a personal essay
Join or form a local writing group
Reach 1000 newsletter subscribers
Read: 3 poetry collections, 3 memoirs, 3 essay collections,
3 short story collections
Find ways to keep my marriage strong despite the distance
Volunteer for the 2020 Democratic candidates
Visit my nephew in New Jersey
Bake 24 loaves of bread (2 per month)
Take pottery lessons at Pineapple Studios
Accrue zero credit card debt while Nathan is in school
Get emergency funds back to $3000
Quit Amazon for good and shop locally
Continue to pay extra on mortgage and contribute to 401K
Pitch freelance articles to new outlets
Exercise at least four times per week
Abstain from alcohol three days per week
Learn to use the free weights at the YMCA
Take surf lessons through work
Take part in a big group bicycle ride
The Five Best Books I Read in 2020
Since 2013, I've been keeping a spreadsheet of all the books I read, with one sentence summaries and a rating on a scale from 1 through 5. 2019 was a particularly good year for reading - here are the books I gave 5 full stars.
There, There by Tommy Orange was the first book I read in 2019, and I knew right away it would be difficult to top it. I loved the different voices in this book, the way they converged to create a modern and multi-dimensional experience of being a Native American in today's United States. There was also so much tension and suspense in this book - I couldn't stop reading it until it was done, and then when it was done I couldn't do anything at all.
Circe by Madeline Miller retells the stories of Greek mythology, but through the perspective of Circe, a daughter of Zeus with unique powers of her own. On the surface, this is a book about gods and goddesses, but more than that, it's about the beauty and terror of being a human. This was a book I read mostly because of my book club, and I'm so grateful we chose it.
I loved Jia Tolentino before her collection of essays because the most talked-about book of 2019. Even Barack Obama included it on his list of top reads!!! Still, I must include it here, because Trick Mirror is the smartest, funniest, most terrifyingly astute telling of the world we live in today. These essays ask more questions than they answer, which is perfect. Now is not a time for answers.
How to Do Nothing is hard to categorize. I like to think of it as a user manual for the world. It also works well as a response to Trick Mirror - not an answer, but another side of the conversation. This was another book club pick (I suggested it!) and I highly recommend reading it with some of your smartest friends so you have someone to talk to about it, because you WILL want to talk about it.
I finished this book two days ago, and it was such a quietly profound way to end the year. Ask Again, Yes is what I like to call a Novelist's Novel. It takes its time as it follows two families for 40 years, picking apart the tragedies that bond them, and showing how those mistakes echo through the decades. It's about family and marriage and disease, written so beautifully, and I loved every second I spent with it.
A Tiny Challenge
Just two days left of 2019! Whether it was a year of questions or a year of answers, remember: it's almost over, and it was enough.
See you next year! 💌
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