(Thanks to my friend, the amazing photographer Julie Williams Dixon, for this photo of me taken at our Wise Women— aka high school friends—gathering in April. “Nurturing friendships” deserves a place at the top of this list every year.)
HOW GRATIFYING it can be to look over the past year to consider the things you added to your life that actually worked. I love reading other folks’ lists, and it brings me joy to realize even tiny changes can carry significant weight. I thought I’d share mine here in hopes you’ll add one or two of your own in the comments.
So here we go! Cathy’s list for 2022.
- Getting my colors done. If you’ve been reading The Daily Grace for a while, you know over the past 18 months I’ve transitioned from a girl with medium brown hair to a woman gone full-on gray. I will tell you as a process, it was not for the faint of heart. But here we are, and here I am, committed to a new, if very different, look. One thing I’ve continued to notice is how something seemed off when—as per the 70s Color Me Beautiful trend I’ve continued to embrace in the…uh-hum…more than 40 years since—how something seemed off when I wore my warm and beloved Autumn palette. Olive, mustard, rust, orange, brown. . .these are my soul! Enter Created Colorful, a company that provides a beautifully updated color analysis package that in addition to IDing your “season” offers helpful links to clothing, makeup, nail polish and more in your palette. Plus it’s all done online, so you can access their services from anywhere. My outcome? Consultants Melissa and Mary determined I am no longer a warm, cozy Autumn but a cool Soft Summer (!!!) marked by the change in my hair to cool-toned gray as well as a skin tone that has transitioned from slightly warm to slightly cool. (Shocker—this happens as we age.) Also, my eyes are hazel but with an outer gray ring that now highlights the cool. Knowing this? And beginning to embrace it? I feel more in my skin and less in an emotional war with my aging gray hair.
2. Ursa Major Golden Hour Recovery Cream Speaking of aging. (This is the last time I’ll use the word “aging” in the post, I promise.) I love this stuff. It feels good. It smells good. And I swear, I think I do see the promised improvements. A wonderfully hydrating cream that’s impactful but not too greasy.
3. James Clear’s Atomic Habits in general, and his HABIT STACKING in particular I read this book early in 2022 and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I took so much from his methodologies for creating good habits and breaking bad ones—I’ll give you this VERY SIMPLE but for me, life-changing example. I am a rule-follower and still I am a surprisingly non-compliant. Case in point: I cannot make myself take vitamins/supplements, even though I know I should. Even though I really mean to. Even though my husband has a cabinet full. How to make myself do it? Habit stacking has been the answer for me. In habit stacking, you choose an existing habit and stack the new one on it. So just after breakfast, which I eat every day, it’s vitamin time noquestionsasked. Habit Stack ONE is DONE. Also, when taking them I add a little grapefruit juice to a big glass of water to distract myself from the horror of the gigantic pills. Then I finish the big glass—Daily Water Intake Round One: Stacked, and DONE!
4. The Magic Question I wrote about my love for The Lazy Genius and her principles in my post The Best Holiday Advice I’ve Heard This Season and here’s one that has really come through for me this year. Kendra calls it “the magic question,” and it goes like this. What can I do now that will make things easier later? I keep this thought close at hand and it really does make a huge difference. I make a salad for lunch? I chop twice as much, put all the pieces/parts in a salad saver and BOOM—tomorrow’s lunch is done. Before television at night? I wash my face, turn down the bed, fill the aromatherapy diffuser with lavender and water so when the show is over—BOOM I’m ready for bed. Examples go on and on, big and small, and I promise if you add the magic question to your arsenal, you’ll love the little wins and your quality of life will improve!
5. #The100DayProject So many of you sweet souls followed me on this journey in which I promised myself I’d complete a specified creative project most every day until I reached the golden 100. Folks around the world participate in this effort, and amateurs and professionals alike post photos of their creations on social media with a common hashtag which makes for a very supportive community. I decided to complete 100 little watercolor paintings WHICH WAS RIDICULOUS since watercolor has never been my medium but it sounded quick and easy and fun. Well it wasn’t. Quick or easy, I mean, since it really was tons of fun. My 100 paintings now live in two little watercolor journals and I’m so happy I have the collection to flip through! Plus there was something amazing and most satisfying in committing to and then actually completing such a project. I WANT TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO THIS. Even if you’ve never considered yourself an artist, YOU CAN DO THIS. For instance, one sweet soul created 100 Days of Type in Love, in which he/she formed the word LOVE out of different materials, like pennies, watermelon seeds, candle wax, scrabble pieces. How LOVEly is that? This year’s kickoff will be in late February, and I’m sure I’ll offer a reminder here or in an email but if you are interested and want me to track it and contact you personally, I’m happy to do this! Just send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
6. WORDLE + community Yeah, well, WORDLE is right up my proverbial ally. And what makes the game even more fun is sharing results in a community that always cheers you on. Tim and I email each other WORDLES every day (and most often have a whole debriefing strategy discussion about it), and at my work, Riggs Partners, we have an entire Slack Channel devoted to posting results then championing each other both in grand wins (YAY with a fabulous dancing custom-created emoji) and even grander losses (“BUT LOOK AT ALL THE WORDS YOU KNOW!!!” which comes most often to me from precious and always look-at-the-bright-side friend and co-worker, Julie Turner). WORDLE has been a very happy surprise for me this year.
7. Bullet Journal This is a repeat for many years and it still has a well deserved position on my What Worked list. My bullet journal is where I track my life—not just the daily to-dos and notes I want to keep track of, but I keep everything in there: quotes, songs, things I see online that I screen grab then want to investigate. Anything I want to remember or make note of I put in my bullet journal like it’s my official life. There’s a ton of info online regarding the Bullet Journal Method and it’s good to start with a viewing of the official video for a basic understanding. But know the “method” is wildly customizable so your journal will be the only journal in the world that works the way it does because you will set it up for you. Also #2—there are thousands of people who create incredibly inspiring pages in their journals using stamps, tape, hand-lettering, charts and graphs, stickers, you name it—and those are very fun to research and admire. I don’t go to any of that trouble in mine. In fact, I mostly only write with my beloved Twist-Erase 0.7 Pentel mechanical pencil because I erase A LOT. You can use whatever journal you want, but my fave is the LEUCHTTURM1917-MEDIUM A5 DOTTED HARDCOVER which for 2023 I selected Berry (I never would have bought this color but it is in my new Soft Summer palette and I am going with it). Also, I am particular about dotted pages. They’re less bossy than lined pages but offer more support than blanks 🙂
8. iPhone Home Screen Photo Rotation This one snuck in just in the nick of time. During the holidays, Eliza shared a new-to-me feature on the iPhone that allows you to set up your home screen wallpaper to rotate through the photos in your photo library. Think about it—every hour (or however you choose to set yours up) there comes the surprise of a revisit to a time or place you love enough to have saved it on your phone, and for a moment you are transported back there. It’s magical. THIS HAS GIVEN ME 12 MONTHS OF JOY OVER THE 2 WEEKS I’VE USED IT. Learn how to set it up here.
9. Eating the same thing for lunch every day. What an easy way to simplify life in a meaningful way, to eat healthfully, to streamline something that—to me—doesn’t need to be a hassle. Most days I have a salad of shredded brussel sprouts and arugula topped with sliced strawberries and blueberries with a balsamic vinaigrette and a tiny sprinkling of fresh grated parmesan. In winter I might change it up to shredded brussels and kale topped with microwave-warmed roasted winter veggies (I do a big batch, then just keep in the fridge) and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds with a simple lemon/shallot vinaigrette. It’s so easy. I always know what to put on the grocery list; I can make the pieces/parts ahead; (unless I’m really stressed!) I don’t make bad choices when I walk into the kitchen.
10. Embracing a Hygge Lifestyle . I have so done this this year, and I swear the move toward calm and cozy has done a great deal to slow me down and improve my quality of life. I mean—why not live gentle? Here are some of my faves:
- tiny vases of fresh flowers and greenery, cut right from our yard
- scented candles I actually burn on regular days, not just special occasions, and in multiple rooms—I particularly love a candle in the kitchen on these dark winter nights
- cozy throws, thrown about
- essential oils in the diffuser and a spritz of lavender on my pillow at night
- soft music throughout the house, particularly in the morning (Coffee Table Jazz on Spotify is a regular)
- a cup of herbal tea when I settle in to read
- a fire in the fireplace every opportunity
Wow! I did go on. But I hope my list inspires you to make one of your own, and I so hope you’ll share. I’d love to hear something that worked for you in 2022 in the comments!
30 Days of Joy
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