New Year, Old Me: 2019 in Review and Resolutions for a New Year

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This was the year that everything changed for me, again.

Last year, I had been home less than two days after giving birth to Elliot and had started learning how to be a parent. Over the last year, I’ve seen my entire world dismantled and put back together. I think that the experience of becoming a parent has distilled my personality, rather than changing it at all. I find that I care less about what other people think of me and more about what I want in my life. And part of that was a reinvigoration of my tea blogging activities after a break.

I started researching historical tea practices and discovered a passion for history. I’ve also started taking more of an interest in my tea tasting experience and connected with people on social media and in person to share tea. Plus, I got my first traditional clay pot and discovered a deep love of yancha.

With all of this change and personal discovery and growth, it feels less like I’ve found a “new me” and more like I’ve come to settle in with my old self. Free of the insecurities of youth, I’m moving closer each day to the real me, and learning what is truly important to me. Of course, my first resolution for a new year is to continue this movement toward my own personal center.

But part of reflecting on a past year is looking forward to the new one, and like most people, there are things I would like to do better. I’m very proud of myself for spending the last year not trying at all to lose any weight after giving birth. In the same way that I’ve learned to accept my personality, I’m trying to accept my body for where it is in the moment, and I don’t intend to change that. That said, there is one resolution related to eating that I do have.

I have a rather large collection of gorgeous cookbooks, both gifted and purchased for myself. As we went through this year raising Elliot, Dan and I have started trying to make more of our food at home. Since Elliot started eating solid food, we eat most of our dinners at the table as a family, rather than in front of the television, which is a wonderful start at mindful eating. But I find myself using the same “recipes” over and over again, using a method that I like to call “put things in a pan and cook it until it’s food” to make our dinners. There is only so much bean chili, hash, and vague stir fry that we can eat.

So my resolution for 2020 is to cook from the cookbooks I own. I’m starting with the conservative goal of one dinner per week from a cookbook I have. This week, I went to my cookbooks on food from Ikaria in Greece and my two books of Japanese recipes to cook while I was mostly on vacation, and it’s been lovely to have the variety.

Other than that, I resolve to add more to my life, rather than giving anything up: eat more plants, drink more water, go on more walks, do more yoga, be more present with my family. How are you celebrating a new year?

Renewal, Rebirth, and a New Year

With the new year beginning and the solstice signaling the return of longer days, even the most devout shunner of resolutions can feel a bit of the pull of renewal. Throw a holiday illness into that mix, and one finds a perfect storm of beginning again.

This week, I open a play. It’s Shakespeare, something I haven’t done for ten years. I will expound upon my love of the Bard of Avon later, but suffice to say, it’s been fantastically fun. Except when I’ve been worried all week about the impact of my lingering illness and raw sore throat on my performance. Thankfully, I seem to be on the mend, just in the nick of time.

Last week, I spent most of my time on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket, with a cup of honeyed tea, and either my work laptop or an episode of Midsomer Murders keeping me company. I had started a calisthenics routine after Christmas, but found that cut short. So with a new year, a schedule newly free of rehearsals, and new health, I plan to take on some new exercise. Perhaps jogging on the weekends, and calisthenics in the mornings. Something to get the blood pumping and tone my muscles for aerials.

In the past, I’ve been a New Year’s dieter and exerciser. One year, I actually began my training for a marathon race with a 5k run on New Year’s Day. Other years, I’ve gone through some sort of elimination or detox. Now that I’m older, wiser, and less willing to give up life’s pleasures, I’m less likely to adhere to any sort of detox. Perhaps I shall try an electronic detox to get myself reading some of the books that have backed up. But it will be done with scone in hand, in moderation.

And really, rather than overhauling, I’ve learned instead to refine. Rather than throwing out my wardrobe and revamping it, instead I figure out how to put together what I have in new ways and buy only to fill the gaps. I’ve come to accept myself rather than wanting to change it. And that is the best kind of renewal for a new year: the renewal of one’s ingrained sense of self.

A Day of Crafting and a New Year

Yesterday, I had plans for New Year’s Eve to go to dinner at the house of one of my oldest friends. So I had to finish her Christmas gift! I was making her a crocheted lap blanket, although I was not quite finished. I had the day off from work and my only plans were lunch with another friend, so I spent the rest of the day crocheting.

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I love this project, a chunky piece crocheted from two strands of boucle yarn. I think the combination of the yarns looks like the colors in a peacock’s feather. And it’s very soft. Some yarns rub my hands, but this one is wonderful to the touch. On a cold day, there’s not much that’s nicer than sitting and working on a big crocheted piece, with the finished work spread out over your lap.

And I was able to finish it to my satisfaction before the evening. I even had time to clean up, paint my nails, and put on a bit more glamorous makeup than my usual daytime look. I grabbed a bottle of Moet and then Boyfriend and I drove over.

When we arrived, she was finishing some last things in the kitchen while her fiance was checking the drinks. We were soon joined by her parents and my mother. Dinner was lovely and we all caught up.

After dinner, her father took out his guitar, and we all had a sing-along. It was a wonderful way to spend an evening, singing holiday songs as well as old folk and rock songs. We turned on the television just long enough to watch the countdown to the new year, and then we decided to turn in for the evening.

I’ve woken up this morning, a little bleary from staying up late, but happy with the memory of a lovely evening, pleased that I was able to finish her gift, and excited to see what I can make with the leftover yarn!