Reflections and Aspirations on 1 January

January first. Another new year. In some ways, 2021 seemed to last forever. Maybe it just seems that way because the days of 2020 and 2021 blurred together in seemingly endless restrictions and social distancing.

Then again, it seems like we just celebrated the 2021 new year, hoping for better days. In some ways, that did happen. In some ways, 2021 was more of the same. Regardless, while the days may have dragged, the months seemed to fly by as the weeks were marked off. And now here we are on the cusp of a new year.

For me, the first day of the new year means making plans for the new year as well as taking time to reflect back on the prior year.

My New Year's morning view looks the same as every other day.

I didn’t make any resolutions this year. In fact, I stopped making resolutions several years ago. In my experience, resolutions are nice in theory but in practice rarely hold up past January 31.

I also don’t buy into the “New Year, New You” marketing BS. That kind of passive-aggressive negative phrase leads to negative thoughts that just make people feel bad about themselves in a month or so when whatever the “New Year, New You” pitch didn’t turn out as advertised.

Besides, why would I want to be a new me? Frankly, I’m rather awesome as is. No diet, workout, facial cream, etc. is going to alter my core being. I am who I am. And I’m pretty happy with that.

Now that’s not to say there’s not room for growth. We all grow and change. Every day, just moving through life we add to our collective experience. And I do strive to grow, to learn. One way I do that is through reading challenges. Reading connects us with people, cultures, places different from our own. We learn to see the world through a slightly different lens with each book.

For 2022, I aim to read 78 books—1.5 per week, which is my traditional annual goal. In 2021, I read 165 books (not counting all the rereads). And I’m pretty happy with that.

I read primarily romance in 2021. I needed the happily ever after (HEA). I’ll probably read some more romance this year because who doesn’t need a HEA at least once in a while. But starting off 2022, I have 2 non-fiction books: The Hidden Life of Trees (which I started last year) and Entangled Life.

I’m also on a book buying ban until I clear my TBR bookcase. That’s right. I have an entire bookcase of unread books. I just took inventory—111 titles, a mixture of genres including 17 non-fiction. So I have a lot of reading to do!

My other big challenge is fitness. In 2021, I challenged myself to walk every day of September and to keep a daily food log. And I did. I walked every day in September. And then I kept walking every day through the end of November and I successfully kept my food log every day.

But over Thanksgiving week, I went to Kyoto on vacation and when I got back, I was out of the habit of daily walking and food tracking. Plus, the first week of December it rained and it got dark by 5, and so I stopped for a week. Then a week turned into 2, and now December is done.

So for January, I’ve rechallenged myself to do some kind of fitness every day. My plan is to rotate walking with swimming, rowing, and yoga. I don’t have a set schedule (yet). A friend recently earned her yoga teacher license, and so I will start yoga practice with her as soon as she develops a schedule. Then I’ll plug in the other activities on the other days. Today, I will take an afternoon walk.

My other 2022 challenges include writing more and more crafting.

I successfully completed NaNoWriMo 2021. I wrote over 50,000 words. But despite that I have a lot of chapters and a good start on the plot, my story has no climax or ending. And I want to keep working on it as I like the idea. Plus, I slacked off on blog writing. So YAY for me for starting off 2022 with a new blog post.

I also have a few half-finished crafts laying about and a few more to do. I’ve been lax about making time for crafting, so that’s also a priority because I enjoy crafts.

I hope that 2022 also brings more opportunities for travel. One of the reasons I wanted this job was for the opportunity to travel throughout Southeast Asia. But like many countries, Japan has been locked down during the pandemic. It’s relatively easy to leave, but not so easy to get back. My hope is that maybe by the summer, Japan will ease its travel restrictions.

Starting a new year also means reflecting on the past year. I traveled to Hawaii (albeit for work) and went on vacation to Kyoto. I kayaked through the mangroves, biked Ie Island, swam in infinite saltwater pools, and watched for whales. I ate new foods, drank a lot of tea, and enjoyed yummy desserts. I made new friends, read many books, and did a lot of puzzles.

All in all, while 2021 did bring its share of issues and while it wasn’t the year I thought I would have, I still had an overall good year. And I’m sure 2022 will bring even more adventure, laughter, and fun.

To all of you, I wish you much joy and adventure in this new year.

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