I love to do a little bit of reflection at year’s end, but I don’t make it complicated. Around my house we’ve been using the same two questions for years to help us take stock of the year gone by.
- What worked for me last year?
- What didn’t?
Today I’m sharing a few of the things (from significant to shallow) that worked for me in 2017. (I’ll share my list of what didn’t work in the newsletter, same as last year, and the year before that. Sign up here if you’re not on the list.)
Much is unchanged since last year; plenty of 2016 favorites are still working for me, like decaf, and wearing the same thing every day. These are my new (or new again) 2016 additions:
1. Puppy training. We worked and worked and worked with Daisy with what felt like very few results. And then she turned the corner. She’s doing great (although she’s likely to forget everything she knows if you stop by for a visit). This photo is from almost a year ago and she looks so tiny!
2. The right tools. In 2016, my flat iron broke, and I accidentally replaced it with a much nicer one. In 2017, I took a chance on a new-to-me blow dryer, and it is magic. I finally learned how to blow dry my hair, so now I spend half an hour on it every three or four days. Ten minutes would be better, but I’ll take what I can get. It’s working for me.
3. Meeting you in person—more this year than ever before. We had meet-ups and parties and Reading People gatherings and What Should I Read Next events, and it was great. I loved getting to hug you, and talk books (and everything else) face-to-face, and visit cool cities and awesome bookstores in the process. This will happen again in 2018!
4. Throwing parties. We moved in February, and could totally file our new place under things that worked in 2017: it feels like where we belong. Right before we moved in, we started talking about hosting a party—here—for the Popcast Live weekend. And then we actually put it on the calendar, for June. I didn’t see it at the time but the timing was genius.
I have a history of waiting for the next house—of waiting way too long to make decisions, and put nails in the wall, and actually settle in like my house is my home. The root is stupid perfectionism, and I was determined not to do it here, in our new place. It’s good to be determined, but having that party deadline on the calendar motivated me to hang the pictures, and place the furniture, and make this place feel like we really lived here, before we opened our doors to a whole bunch of people. Our four month move-to-party window gave us time to live in the place a little bit to figure out what we needed, and then time to make it happen.
5. Blogging. This is uncool to say in 2017 (and even worse in 2018!) but I love blogging. I love having a place to work out my thoughts, to share great books I read and ideas I’m mulling over, to hone my writing, and to talk to you. Everyone says blogging is dying or already dead but I love my blog, and the community here.
6. Banana Republic. My mom, as my earliest and most-frequent shopping companion, taught me pretty much everything I know about finding great clothes in the stores. Sometimes we’d go shopping and find absolutely nothing. Sometimes we’d find all kinds of great stuff. Either way, she’d point out that it wasn’t us, it was the store. Some seasons the stores are packed with clothes you love, in colors that look amazing on you. Stock up! And some seasons (or whole years, if we’re talking 2017) the stores carry trends that aren’t for you in colors you despise. (Make do with what you have, next season will be better!)
I haven’t shopped regularly at Banana Republic in many moons, but this spring I wandered in to check out a dress I loved in the window and loved what they had on offer (once I saw past all the ruffles—they look great on you but aren’t for me, thanks). They’ve been my go-to (plus thredUP, and Madewell jeans) this year. I don’t enjoy shopping, but knowing where to go (at least in this season) has made my life easier. Now I’m crossing my fingers for their 2018 lines!
7. Biltmore. Wrigley Field. Hamilton. This year we did a few things—as a couple, as a family—that gave my naturally frugal self pause because they were pricey. My entire family of six was wowed by Biltmore. There was a weekend full of Cubs games and great food in Chicago. After much debate, Will and I snatched up the last two tickets in the theater to see Hamilton in New York in June. My husband helped me push through sticker shock, and now those things top our highlights list for 2017.
8. Re-reading. I’ve read so many books this year for the second or sixth or seventeenth time, and I’ve enjoyed it so much. I think I finally figured out why I love to read books again and again: I love to find out how things are made, and it’s only on the second (or seventeenth) read that I can appreciate not only the story, but how the author pulled it off. Downside: my TBR is getting longer by the second.
9. Eating the same thing every day. For 340 of the last 365 (honestly, maybe more like 900) days, I’ve eaten one of two options for breakfast. On 90 of the past 100 days, I’ve had the same thing for lunch. This may not be the most exciting culinary life, but it’s made my life so much easier.
10. Great help. I’ve long had help keeping things humming in Modern Mrs Darcy land, but this year I opened up some areas that weren’t terribly comfortable at first—like getting my messy files in order with the help of an organized friend, or actively cringing while my husband read my terrible first draft of a new project. Embarrassing, but so worth it.
I’d love to hear what worked for YOU in 2017, and what didn’t, and why. Tell us all about it in comments.