What worked for me in 2017

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.

They are:

  1. What worked for me last year?
  2. 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.

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Leave A Comment
  1. Ashley says:

    This is such a great idea for wrapping up the year. I would love to hear what your breakfasts and lunches are! I invest entirely too much time deciding what to eat during the day. Merry Christmas!

  2. Berta says:

    For the last 15 years I have had the exact same protein smoothie for breakfast. I love it and it keeps me perfectly until lunch. Lunch varies by season. Garden season means tomato and cucumber on a slice of black bread. Now that it’s winter I like orange supremes, red grapes and knox blocks with a large dollop of yogurt. I know, I’m borrowing but content.

  3. Annie says:

    This is a silly one, but has made a HUGE difference in my happiness. I clean my own house (no housekeeper…) so I have started the habit of cleaning just my bathrooms (my least favorite chore) FRIDAY after work! This starts my weekend off just perfectly!

  4. Carrie says:

    Blogging uncool? Perish the thought! MDMD is one of my favs. I also eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch everyday. It started b/c I had stomach problems, now it’s just easy. I think learning to blow dry my hair will go own my goal sheet for 2018!
    One of the things that has worked for me is getting all my correspondence done early in the a.m. I check the ‘net for news, then answer all my e-mail instead of checking it throughout the day and getting diverted.

  5. Christine says:

    I am so glad that blogging is still working for you! I know that podcasts are overtaking and/or replacing blogs, but I struggle with podcasts. On a quick break at work it is easy to quickly read a blog post, but it is not nearly as feasible to listen to a podcast. Even if I put headphones on, if someone walks in my office then I am pausing and removing headphones. The same thing applies if I try to listen around the house. I can read so much more quickly than I can listen. Podcasts take up more time. My time in the car is reserved for audiobooks. I miss several bloggers that I used to follow who mostly just podcast now, but really am not interested in listening. I have listened to WSIRN periodically and enjoy it, but again due to the length I do not listen every week. Thank you Anne!

    • Nancy says:

      Same, same! I love this blog. I also love the podcast, and it’s the only one I listen to, but am a few months behind at present because I listen to audiobooks while driving. I can read my favorite blogs pretty quickly, and I don’t have time or frankly, the interest, to listen to other podcasts or watch vlogs, YouTube, etc.

    • Louise says:

      Totally agree. I follow three blogs and read every post, but have listened to about two podcasts in total. They are too time consuming.

    • Leanne says:

      I agree – I don’t have time for podcasts (except for yours, Anne!). I can read on my lunch at work but I can’t listen to podcasts. I’d much rather read a blog so keep it up, Anne.

  6. Kitty says:

    I’m so glad you still love blogging. As much as I enjoy the book club, WSIRN, & your book, I really enjoy your reading your take on things. You introduced me to the daily uniform, the bullet journal & so many other valuable things (in addition to books.) You’re the only blog that I regularly read now. Please keep writing to us! ?

  7. Stephanie says:

    Hope you write an upcoming post about what you eat for breakfast and lunch. We already do this in our family, but I like to “change it up” every once in awhile. Would love to hear your ideas! 😉

  8. Janean says:

    Along the blow drying line of thought, a few weeks ago, I cut ten inches off my hair and donated it to a children’s hair loss charity. I’d been considering a slightly shorter cut, but when I had the thought of donating it, it seemed like such a Christmasy, spirit of giving thing to do, so I just went for it. It’s only hair to me, but to someone without hair, I assume it’s a very special Christmas gift. My hair was taking me about 35-40 minutes to blow dry and I’m an every day washer and that just felt like a waste of time that I didn’t have. I don’t love my shorter hair, but it’s totally fine and it’s 8 minutes, wet to done and I do love that! Every time I think about some child learning they were getting hair for Christmas, I smile and that definitely works for me.

  9. Helen says:

    About every other week,we’ve been ordering two meals in a box from Sun Basket. I’m a pretty experienced cook, and enjoy planning and making meals for my husband and me, so I have been surprised at how much I like these meals. They are quick and easy to prepare, and the ingredients are fresh and interesting. My stress is totally reduced on the nights that I know I don’t have plan dinner or get to the store. My daughter gets Blue Apron, which is great, too. I’m hoping that local supermarkets will pick up on this model and start to offer meal kits to pick up.

    • Janean says:

      Helen, I second your comment! I’m an experienced cook too, but I was having a brain freeze phase, with all my kids’ various likes and dislikes and everyone’s dietary needs. I had chef’s block, if that’s a thing! I indulged in both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh for about a month and it really helped me get my cooking mojo back. For the record, my husband and I liked Blue Apron better in terms of flavor and originality, but it was more involved in terms of prep. My kids (9 and 11) favored Hello Fresh and the prep was easier. After a month, I had regained my meal planning sea legs and ditched the kits, but I wouldn’t hesitate to turn to them again during a busy season or if I fall into another cooking rut. They definitely worked for me!

  10. Diana says:

    I’m glad you still enjoy blogging! I still read many, as well as listen to podcasts. Benefits to both! I was listening to a podcast earlier this year where they said they didn’t think people liked blogs anymore and instead were switching to vlogs. Which is the thing I definitely have the least time/patience for! I can read blogs on my phone when I have a few minutes or listen to podcasts while driving and doing housework…I rarely sit and watch videos on my computer (or phone)! Blogging certainly isn’t dead!

  11. Tara says:

    I haven’t yet taken the time to dig very deep, but I can say with certainty that returning to at least *some* physical books (I’ve been an electronic only reader for a few years) this year has been quite fun; in addition, I have taken up a couple of new forms of exercise that are serving me very well. Thanks for sharing these, Anne!

  12. kate holmes says:

    As to “And some seasons… the stores carry trends that aren’t for you in colors you despise. (Make do with what you have, next season will be better!)”… or you could, totally, shop resale! If what the corporate deities decide you should buy now just doesn’t appeal… consignment, resale and thrift shops offer a greater variety where you can choose what IS you! (And possibly find that book you’ve been longing for, as a bonus 🙂 )

  13. S Lee says:

    I have a solitary job, and listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks, but I LOVE your blog. I’m glad you’re loving it also!

  14. We’ve had so many changes this year, I’m still assessing what has worked and what hasn’t. We love the Cubbies and we try to make it to at least one game at Wrigley Field during regular season, and we always travel to watch them play the Braves in Atlanta.

    You have an interesting list! And I’m happy that blogger like you still consider blogging cool.

    Merry Christmas!

    Ricki Jill

  15. Emmy Cecilia says:

    I’m glad you had a great experience at Banana Republic this past spring. I, unfortunately, was racially profiled when I went into a store a couple of weeks before Easter. It was the first time in my 32 years of life that I’ve had that happen to me. Living in L.A. and there being a large Latino population, I would’ve never thought it would happen to me but it did so I’ve decided to never shop in the store again. I hope your experiences continue to be much pleasanter than mine was.

  16. Most nutrition article I read say you should not eat the same thing every day, but I’ve been doing it for years for breakfast and lunch and love it too! I don’t have to think about what to eat or worry about having the right groceries on hand…and I know I’ll eat decently healthy at those meals. Dinner is where I get my variation.

    And I wish I could get myself to re-read. I make it a goal every year and it just never happens. Too many new-to-me books I haven’t read yet.

  17. Kristina says:

    I love blogs and podcasts (one for coffee break and one for commuting), and I love getting a little MMD in both places.

    The game changer for me this year was real, honest to goodness therapy. After struggling with an area of my life for the last two years (embarrassing it took me that long to make the decision), standing up and taking the first steps towards healing has made an unimaginable difference in my quality of life. I wish I would have been braver earlier.

  18. Janna says:

    And one of the best things you did in 2017 was introduce me to Madewell jeans–I think–my wallet is not so sure! They FIT, come up to my waist and look great! And I had a work event which required “suits” of all things!!! You introduced me to thredUp and I bought two suit jackets for little or nothing to pair with slacks I all ready owned! I write a blog–nowhere near as popular or successful as yours–but I do have a following. I LOVE my blog and you are right, it hones my writing skills. I enjoy your blog and reading tips so much–keep it up!

  19. Rebecca says:

    I’m so grateful you’ve shared about #4 along the way as y’all sold your last house and moved into this one- the hubby and I bought our first house this year and with your experiences on my
    mind, we are definitely so much further along in our homemaking process than we would be otherwise! Thank you!

  20. Beverly J Marmas says:

    2016 & 2017 have been on decluttering.It’s working for me.Anne, you’re my first & only blog, glad you are going to continue.

  21. Melissa says:

    Getting up at the same time every day. Even on Saturdays and Sundays. I feel so much better. When I used to sleep in, sometimes I would get a caffeine headache. I’m a morning person, so I get more accomplished getting up early.

    Thanks for your commitment to blogging. I look forward to your posts every day. Your topics are interesting and insightful. Plus all the bookish fun!

    Merry Christmas!

  22. Vanessa says:

    I think that the concept of blogs dying out is really specific to a particular blog. I do watch them die (and it is sad when they go) but blogging as a whole is more of a relay. One writer picks up from the last in an imperfect baton/blog hand off. I am going to start my own soon (I think) and I’ll fill a hole left by a dead blog.

  23. Ellie says:

    Your blog is gold! It’s my favorite thing to read each week. I love all of your insights about life, as well as your links to other impactful articles. Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts with us. I have learned so much about life and myself through the years of reading your blog. It is what’s saving my life right now and always :). Thank you!!!

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