I am an incurable list maker—never more in my sweet spot than at the beginning of the New Year when it’s time to write resolutions. Thirteen years ago, in 2009, I wrote them on a white linen napkin, each resolution beginning with an A.
This year’s ideas ruminated in my mind as 2021 wound down, steeping like Maddie’s holiday mulled wine. Joking with Vancouver John, my big guy Duplicate Bridge opponent, he teased, “Alcohol-free January again this year?” to which I replied, “A definite no. I’m either drinking just on the weekends or only on the nights I’m out…”
We agreed on moderation, and both grabbed a bag of Doritos as the Thursday afternoon match began.
The next morning as I prepared to create 2022’s guide for my wanderings, my enchanting friend Connie (she of chocolate baking fame also...) offered a twist, writing in her more than enchanting style:
(I mean it this time.)
Last year, I refrained from making yet another list of New Year’s resolutions. They were always worthy enough—banish procrastination, organize closets and cupboards, study Spanish, write regularly—but were too broadly drawn and easily forgotten. Pointless, I decided. If I really wanted to get something done, would I not just do it?
As January 1, 2022, drew near, my perspective shifted. I wanted focus and specificity and to escape the amorphousness that time had become for me in the pandemic. This coincided with a book I was caught up in, Between Two Kingdoms, a memoir by Suleika Jaouad, who at twenty-two was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. She chronicled with stark honesty and dark humor her journey through treatment, recovery, and the task of living fully and creatively despite the lurking possibility of recurrence.
Gripped by her stories and enamored of her writing, I wanted to be Suleika’s friend, but I settled instead for subscribing to her weekly newsletter, The Isolation Journals, and following her on Instagram.
The first newsletter post was titled The Five Lists. Acknowledging her own ruminations about the past year and wanting to do better in the coming one, Suleika offered a reframing of the concept of New Year’s resolutions. Write your way into the New Year, she proposed, by listing your answers to five questions. I opened a new spiral notebook and wrote.”
Connie's sharing of The Five Lists hooked me instantly! Suleika’s thought-provoking, conversation-stimulating, self-examining questions were right up my alley:
1. What in the last year, big or small, are you proud of?
2. What did this year leave you yearning for?
3. What’s causing you anxiety – from mundane to enormous?
4. What resources, skills, and practices can you rely on in the coming year?
5. What are your wildest, most harebrained ideas and dreams?
I instantly abandoned my working draft of 2022 resolutions and switched to this bank of intriguing queries. For several days now, I have added, subtracted, considered, changed, and edited my answers. It’s a work in progress. A messy work at this point...
No big surprise- number five, (What are your wildest, most harebrained ideas and dreams), is the one I go back to over and over. Quite fun!
The entries of "harebrained ideas and dreams are spilling over onto the next page and the next, including a few wild and compelling fantasies (some quite doable, others maybe not...):
visit all National Parks,
walk Camino de Santiago (in tandem),
be a performing singer (Norah Jones style),
give away art, buy more art (Perry Vasquez top of my list),
serve in a place of need (in the US),
something from Tiffany’s (never gotten one of those little blue boxes),
buy and restore another home on my street (then give it to my daughter),
invent something useful,
solve the country’s homeless situation,
and finish my damn second book--working title A Pandemic Fairytale or 215. (Hopefully, this is not harebrained and not a dream, but at certain times it seems to be. I don't want to add the project to next year's What did this year leave you yearning for? question.
Besides addressing the dreadful omnipresence of COVID-19, number two was an easy answer for me. What did this year leave you yearning for?
My instantaneous answer?
Very little besides more time with my adorable Chesapeake and Cash who moved with their parents across the country to North Carolina. So far away.
Thanks to my delightful inspiration and her Connie-isms (her wry and creative style of storytelling) for giving my 2022 such an innovative and captivating start. Here’s an example (her answer to the third question) of why I love Connie’s multi-faced witty voice in her writing, as we walk, and as we talk:
What’s causing you anxiety – from mundane to enormous?
“Inner critic on my shoulder when I write. Chilling effects of rampant disinformation and misinformation. Increased difficulty threading my sewing machine needle. Climate change. Global suffering. Chin hairs.”
It’s not too late – take a shot at The Five Lists . Have fun. Would love to hear from you!
A continued Happy New Year…all the way through.
P.S. Here's the recipe for Connie's Chocolate-Pomegrante Torte.
Limited success with my 2021 mantra: Just because something is in my mind does not mean it has to come out of my mouth. I will try harder in 2022.
I try to have three days of no alcohol each week; limited success with this also. I do not over drink! Both my father and my husband were alcoholics. Oh Yes, you already know that. MM in Texas
Hi from Big D on a glorious Monday afternoon!
Marilyn, thank you for your 5 magnificent thoughts for the new year! The depth, personal energy, and emotional perspective is a “Now moment!”
I shared them w/ Donna Lewis and Caroline plus will enjoy the conversations it triggers! Appreciate your sharing, thanks!
PS, pulling those damn chin hairs!😂