The Daily Grace
The Daily Grace

What worked for me in 2019

Jan 22, 2020 | ideas & inspiration, Creative Living | 7 comments

In my newsletter, Grace Notes, I mentioned what joy, and grounding, I found in working through Laura Tremaine’s 10 Questions for the End of the Year. I loved it so much I bought a new Leuchtturm1917 Journal specifically for that purpose. I’ve continued to work on my 2019 pages through this month of January, and in addition to the beautiful clarity the practice is giving me, I think it will be great to look back over my life this way, year-to-year.

One question Laura suggested–which is new to me, I have to say–is to consider not just what you want to change as you move toward a fresh, new, clean slate calendar, but what you did in the past year that actually worked well for you?

I love thinking through this, walking back through the intentions I had that came to fruition, realizing there were good things that in one way or another enhanced my life. I love realizing even tiny, tiny changes held good, solid weight.

I thought it would be fun to share my list, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. (Alas, on Laura’s list of questions is also, inevitably, WHAT BEHAVIORS DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE?)

So here we go. Things that worked well for me in 2019.

a sweet early morning, back on Bickley’s Pond
  1. Getting up early. My very best days begin in the dark quiet, when I am calm and rested and not rushing to get this or that done. My head is clearer, my heart is warmed and open. I am at my best in this time–the hour (or hours) just before sunrise–like I’m waiting to receive the gift of a new day. I am fortunate that many of these mornings I wake up in the western North Carolina mountains where the sunrises are a tremendous gift, a beautiful meeting of holy and earth. But even here in my little bedroom studio in our new downtown South Carolina home–where right now day is just beginning to dawn and my only indication of sunrise is the soft light beginning to slip through the blinds–it is my favorite time of day.
  2. Writing first. I am working on two novels right now, and there is the blog and the newsletter, and there are the various and sundry other projects that come up now and again. The earlier I start, the faster it goes. And always, always, the better the work.
  3. Making myself (personal life)* step forward from Enneagram 9-ness. Those of us who identify as Enneagram 9s know we are the worst when it comes to stating a clear preference. And the truth is–for me, anyway–much of the time it really doesn’t matter. What I see is potential all around! And I would truly be delightfully happy with any of the presented options. But then. But then come the times when it does matter, when my opinion is valid and needed. And in 2019–late in the year, actually–I made the decision to work harder at speaking up, at forming an opinion and stating it and trusting that those who love me and those whom I love will hear it, and welcome it, and value it. I’m still working on this, yet I have to say I find it to be one of the most courageous things I’ve done this year. (*For some reason I don’t seem to struggle with this in my professional life. I think–at least I hope–it is my Enneagram 9 inclination toward Enneagram 3 in health and growth that steps up. Enneagram people: I’d love your thoughts about this.)
  4. Fruit in my water to increase my intake. How lucky today’s young people are that they’ve grown up drinking water. To them it is second nature, but not to me. So I started adding sliced blueberries or strawberries or kiwi, and somehow that fakes me out just enough to think I am eating something wonderful rather than drinking plain ol’ Plain Old Water. This year, thanks to this silly trick, I have been a much more hydrated human.
  5. Fung Shui. After a spring trip to San Diego, and some sweet personal coaching from a sweet San Diego friend, I cleaned up and rearranged my mountain studio with an eye toward enhancing my writing life and my odds of landing a literary agent and book deal. While neither the agent nor the deal has exactly manifested yet, the flow of energy in that space improved dramatically and immediately I could tell a difference. I mean, it was palpable, friends.
  6. Short workouts, daily. As an option for a workout when we’re in the mountains (where there is neither gym nor pilates nor yoga studio for miles), I started the 3 Week Yoga Retreat program. Tim already had a subscription to Beach Body on Demand, which meant I could access Yoga Retreat for free. I love it so much–the instructors are wonderful, it’s easy to follow, and I find it hard to wimp out when the voice in my head reminds, “It’s 30 minutes. Surely you have 30 minutes.” I have found I am much more consistent with a short workout, and the consistency has really mattered physically. I take the same approach with the treadmill–shorter, more often = more consistency. (I think we get Beach Body on Demand for $99 a year and that includes access all its programs, which we can access wherever we are. It’s a real deal, and I love having workouts available via a television, iPad or iPhone. And I use all three. )
  7. Sleeping on my back. Or what I should say: Trying to sleep on my back. My beloved massage therapist has identified a “pulling to the left” of a part of my spine, maybe caused by some long ago shoulder surgery, definitely exacerbated by head-turned-stomach-sleep. Which is neither here nor there but to say a curving spine can be quite a grand motivator. And then I learned all about the damage done to our faces from stomach-sleep as we age, the squishing and wrinkling and bunching up of skin. And that did it for me, except that I HATE sleeping on my back, did I say that? And I’m not very good at it, but I am trying. HEAR ME FACE AND SPINE??? I am trying.
  8. A standing desk. This bad boy works so well for me. I stay energized, my back feels better, it’s easy to just step away and walk a few steps if I want to think through something. Love, love, love. (Standing desks can be expensive, and I already had a desk so I bought this riser and am delighted with it. I do think it is vital that you have a good pad to stand on. I bought this one.) One of the best changes I’ve ever made in my life.
the “relationship” bagua in my newly fung shui-ed mountain studio
my bedroom standing desk

There is more, I’m sure there is more, but for now that is plenty to consider.

What worked for you in 2019? I’d love to hear and be inspired! Leave a message here, or over on Instagram, or on Facebook if you feel like sharing.

Happy 2020!



  1. Lynne Grout

    I loved reading this. Fruit in water will be a daily treat for me. You’ve,also, inspired me to get on the yoga kick.
    I’ve never heard anyone complain about a yoga session.
    Time to try it!

  2. Kristi Stephens Walker

    You are quite literally the best. Best thing I did as a writer in 2019: connected well with you.

    • Cathy

      Ditto that! XXOO

  3. Lisa Rigg

    What an inspiration this Daily Grace is!
    Here are my 10!
    1. Walking my steps daily

    This year I was on a walk across TN team in a competition. A team of 8 women against other 8 women teams to count our steps ,record and turn them into miles. We had 6 weeks and our team won! It really kept everyone motivated. I plan to choose another state this year and get started!

    2. Stepping out( “on my own” ) and getting involved in something I love to help not only myself but others.

    I have always had a love for horses and children and it all came together as one.
    I have started volunteering at a therapeutic riding non profit organization. I take two ponies to school on Mondays for the special education students to read to them and during the week I help with riding lessons for many different therapy riders. This year they had no one to feed the horses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and my family was getting together after Christmas so I volunteered to feed with the help of Randy. It was one of the best two days I have had in ever taking the horses “Christmas Carrots”. Those stables are a little piece of Heaven for me.

    3. Yoga and working out

    Yoga on Wednesdays and Fridays will one day make me taller! lol Love that stretch of body and mind.

    4. Grandgirls and Nana and Grandaddy Camp!

    Each year the grandgirls come and spend a week at Nana and Grandaddy’s house and we call it Nana and Grandaddy Camp. During this time we Barbecue, take adventure walks, choose a chapter book for me to read aloud , swimming, horse back riding lessons, golf lessons, and staying up LATE! Best Week Ever!

    5. Learning to say No when I really need to!

    I am a people pleaser and I am doing better at thinking before I jump out and say “Oh, I’ll do that”. I am only one person so taking on too much has been my downfall. This I truly have to work on!

    6. Listening More!
    I have so much to say sometimes and I forget to listen to those around me. I have always been a talker. I guess that is the teacher in me. For 20 years I instructed a classroom full of third graders and at times baton students. God knows there were few quite moments in those classrooms. It’s amazing what I hear when I “shut up”. lol

    7.Eat more green vegetables, fruit and yogurt.

    Yesterday Randy and I saw our doctor for our 6 month check. I asked about vitamins. He said to eat fruit, green vegetables and eat yogurt. This should take the place of those vitamins if I am eating right. On our way home
    we stopped to get sub sandwiches and guess what was beside the sub shop? A Freddy’s ice-cream shop. I went in and ordered a sundae with pineapple, strawberries and, bananas with a cherry on top. I had fruit and calcium.
    I think I need to work on number 7. a little harder this year.

    8.Keeping up more with the older friends in my life.

    Some of my older friends who are in their 80’s do not use the internet very much. They still love a phone call, a Christmas card, or a kind note just to say hello. I forgot to send Boo, Mrs. Rigg’s friend from college, a Christmas card. She called and I missed her call. Then she wrote me the dearest letter asking if I had forgotten her. ??? She included her number and asked that I call. I did as soon as possible. She was delighted to hear from me and to catch up with the Rigg family. Even better it was her birthday and Randy and I got to wish her a Happy 89th!

    9. Stay involved in Church!
    We have found a new church that we love that is in town. We were driving 45 minutes to our before church and couldn’t find the time to really be involved. We were led to this church and it is the right place for us.


    I have a stack of books that are patiently waiting for me. I am hoping to plan a time for reading each day just like I would if going to a yoga class.
    These are my 10! Let the work begin!

    • Cathy

      I love this list and I am so inspired. Thank you for sharing! We have much to discuss 🙂

  4. Matthew

    I’m a 98% 4 and a 95% 8. That seems terrifying.

    • Cathy

      I don’t think that is actually possible but then–it is YOU. LET’S DISCUSS. XXOO

Cathy Rigg Headshot

Hi. I’m Cathy.

This is a blog about writing, creative living, and grace in the everyday. It’s my hope this little spot on the internet will be for you a place of quiet and reflection, a source for inspiration, and a reminder there’s beauty all around—we simply need to keep our hearts open to see it. Thank you for being here with me.

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