One last Winter Wonderland Adventure note: I forgot to mention two trips to Mud Bay Pet Supply, a really nice Bend pet store chain, and one trip to a grocery store that was so wildly over-priced that we walked out with nothing but the oat milk we needed for coffee. Not that I need to tell you absolutely everything we did during every moment of the WWA, but I write mostly for Future Me, and I do want to remember Mud Bay, because it was excellent. Dog treats for $3.99/lb, and I wish I’d known that Sophie would like them, because I would have gotten many more of them. Next time!
Meanwhile, I did want to write about New Year’s, both looking back and looking forward, before we get so far away from the beginning of the year that it’s just silly. And so, yet another blog post from me this week. I promise the proliferation will slow down soon.
Looking back, my 2022 goals… well. Not so successful! For 2022, I gave myself projects instead of resolutions. I spent two days organizing some of the 1341 books on my Kindle and created three collections: 2022 Fiction Reading Project, 2022 Learning Project, and 2022 Cooking Project. My goal was to read the 36 books in the fiction collection, the 20 books in the learning collection, and to actually use my 46 cookbooks by cooking recipes from them.
Spoiler alert: my projects were a total fail.
I read, or fully rejected, 14 books from the fiction project, 2 books from the learning project, and cooked not a single recipe from my cookbooks. Oops. Also, I now have 1419 books on my Kindle, so instead of getting rid of books, I added 78 new ones. The vast majority of those were probably free or .99 books, but still.
That said, while I didn’t read those books that I intended to read, Kindle Reading Insights tells me that I read 285 titles in 2022. I don’t know whether that includes Kindle Unlimited titles, but I assume it does. It doesn’t include library books, however, so it doesn’t actually represent my total reading.
Speaking of which, I got a great email from Amazon about my Kindle Unlimited reading. Let’s see if I can take a readable screenshot of it. Check it out: 173 books; 4431 hours spent reading; and over 80,000 pages read; BUT that’s more pages than only 96.2% of Kindle Unlimited members.
3.8% of KU members read more than me!
I read that and thought, “Holy cow, there are people who read more than I do?! How do I find them? They are my tribe, my people, clearly destined to be my best friends.”
And then I realized, I was in KU for only six months of the year. In six months, I read more than 96.2% of KU members did in 12 months. So, if my reading for twelve months (including library reading) had been considered, that 3.8% of the population who read more than me would disappear. That explains why I’ve never met any of them.
KU is a definite bargain for me, though: the email went on to say that the total value of books I read via KU was $800. Of course, I wouldn’t have purchased a lot of those books, so I wouldn’t have spent $800 if I didn’t have KU, but still, it was a pretty good deal for those six months. Except, perhaps, for the fact that when I went looking for what I would consider the best book I read in 2022, I couldn’t come up with one. I read a lot of mediocre books. Which is fine, really — it’s what I did instead of watching mediocre television or doom-scrolling or spending hours on social media, so no regrets — but I didn’t read much that I loved in 2022.
I am a bit dubious about that hour total, too. Shall we do the math? KU thinks that I read for 4431 hours. Divide by 24, and we get 184.625. That’s the number of DAYS the Kindle app thinks I spent reading, which means the software thinks I literally spent half of my year reading. Twelve hours a day, every day. No, I did not. Five hours a day is plausible, given that I read in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening; maybe even six or seven hours some days… well, actually, when I was sick back in June, I definitely had days when I did nothing but read. Still, I think it’s just counting time that the app is open on my devices, not time that I’m actually reading. The 80,000 pages is totally plausible, though. That’s 219 Kindle pages a day, and sure, I did that.
And wow, I have gotten distracted. Where was I going? Oh, right. Resolutions and projects and goals. The ending of one year, the beginning of another, a time to reflect and assess and plan.
In 2020 and 2021, I had focus words instead of resolutions. In 2020, my words were Create, Appreciate and Learn, and they worked really well for me. I said about them at the end of the year, “Despite the challenges of the year — or maybe because of them? — I did a great job with my focus words. They literally gave me something to focus on when it felt like the world was falling apart.” In 2021, I got more complicated and my words worked much less well. I didn’t blog about it at the end of the year, so can’t link, but I started the year with an acronym, GRACE, for Gratitude, Reading, Art, Cooking, and Exercise, but had stopped even trying to track those things long before the year was over. I’m pretty sure they fell apart soon after Zelda died, which was in January. Not that I didn’t read and cook during the year, but I stopped doing an evening reflection, where I looked back on my day and how it had gone.
So for 2023, obviously, I’m living my Depression Recovery Plan, so in some sense, I’ve been working on resolutions for six weeks already: sleep seven hours or more; eat ten vegetables or more; walk for 7500-8000 steps or more. Ta-da! Resolutions, right?
But they feel somehow dissatisfying. I absolutely do intend to try to do those three things every day for the rest of my life, but they don’t reflect what I want my 2023 to be. Except, you know, healthy, but that’s kind of boring, isn’t it?
I was in the park the other day, throwing the ball for Sophie, and a friend texted me with a question that was going to be mildly complicated to answer with the single hand available to type on my phone (since the other hand was holding the Chuckit launcher). So I did a radical thing, clicked on the phone icon, and actually called her. (We’ve been friends for closing in on ten years; I’ve spent the night at her house more than once; I try to see her every time I get to Florida; and this might have been the second time we’ve spoken on the phone. Gotta love the 21st century.)
During the course of our conversation, while we were talking about our writing goals for the year, I was rather inarticulately stumbling around an idea I had about my own writing, about how I get stuck and how I want to move past that stuck-ness this year, and I finally found the word “playful.” I told her I wanted my writing to be playful, to worry less about plotting, and fulfilling expectations, and turning points, and just… play. With my characters, with the words, with the stories.
After I hung up the phone, I was thinking more about playful and what it means to be playful and how playful shows up or doesn’t show up in my life. Sometimes I’m “playing” with Sophie, but it feels like a responsibility, not a joy. Sometimes I’m “playing” a game on my iPad or computer, but it feels like an addiction, not a pleasure. Meanwhile, I like playing games with actual other human beings — card games and board games, not sports — but I rarely take the initiative to make that happen. I don’t like feeling competitive, but I do enjoy playing.
And, in this thinking, I also realized, this is what I want in 2023. I want a playful year. I want to remember when I’m playing with Sophie that it is an incredible blessing to get to have fun with this dog, and I want to let go of video games that don’t feel playful to me, and I want to play more in my writing and in my attitude to making art and in my life. Even maybe in my cooking.
That’s my focus word for 2023, the centerpiece of what I want this year to be.
Oh, and one teeny-tiny resolution to go with it: no checking the time in the middle of the night. If it’s dark, it’s still time to be sleeping, and I don’t need to know whether it’s 10PM or midnight or 1 AM or 3AM to make that decision. Just go back to sleep, self.