Intentions, Favorite Books of 2022, and My 2023 Challenge

This past year was really busy and full of transitions. And in that I haven’t posted much to the blog. Every week there is someone who comments about missing it and asks when will I post again. I don’t do New Years Resolutions and I’ve learned that complete overhauls of lifestyles in a snap of a finger only set me up for failure. I was listening to an episode of the Tim Ferris Show where he was having a conversation with Seth Godin about his book “The Practice”. He spoke of a quote from sculptor, Elizabeth King. She says “Process saves us from the poverty of our intentions”. I backed up and relistened to it and what he said about it a few times.

We all intend to be our best selves and check all of the boxes we believe will get us there, but our processes (or lack there of) are the driving force of our actual life. Processes, systems, and habits are all the same thing. I have always intended to write but I’ve let the process fall away. My plate is full so I’m not hard on myself about it, and I’ve also missed being creative in so many ways that I love. Brene Brown says (you know I can write anything without a quote from her) “There is no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people that don’t. Unused creativity isn’t benign.” I am here trying to create a process and system to fit in what I love to do.

In lieu of resolutions, I usually do a personal challenge for myself every year. Coming into the end of 2021, my emotional fatigue was high and I wanted to pick a challenge that would help me “get out of my own head” so to speak. The challenge I chose was read 52 books in 2022. I finished up book 52 on December 28th. It’s the most I’ve ever read in a year, and for me, it was too much. 

I was listening to most of the books at a faster pace and from the list there are not as many standouts because the pace I needed to get through them kept me from savoring, lingering, and thinking the way that I prefer. I also know that I like looking for books to read maybe better than I do reading them. I love reading book reviews and what other people are reading. 

And because of that, I’ve compiled a list of my Top 12 books with a short review. I rarely don’t like a book if I’ve finished and I’m not a tough critic. I chose these from how engrossed I was in them as I was consuming them. 

  1. I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet by Shauna Niequist – This book described how I feel after the last few years. I gave this to so many people and I reread it a couple of months ago. It’ll be one that I go back to over and over. 
  2. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah – This book is heavy and sad, but it really captured what life would’ve been like in the Depression/Dust Bowl Era
  3. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson – I laughed out loud and loved this book. I recommended it to quite a few people and they didn’t love it the way I did. The book is centered around two children who can burst into flames at any moment and metaphorically having a child that can do a similar thing made it more relatable to me and not as traumatic.
  4. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – A woman finds herself in a library full of books. Each a version of her lives unlived because of tiny decisions she made everyday.
  5. Maid by Stephanie Land – I love memoirs, especially from ordinary people. A young mother working her way out of poverty and domestic abuse. There is also a Netflix special based on this book. 
  6. Malibu Rising  by Taylor Jenkins Reid – In my opinion, Taylor Jenkins Reid can do no wrong. I have loved every book of hers that I’ve ever read. The setting of the 50s through the 80s is so fun, and I love all of her characters. 
  7. Long Bright River by Liz Moore – I don’t read a lot in the mystery/crime genre and this left me thinking that maybe I should read more. But I’m a sucker for a redemptive addiction story. 
  8. I Dream He Talks To Me by Allison Moorer – I’ve read a lot of memoirs of parents who have children with autism. This is the best I’ve ever read. She captured for me what parenting Everett is like perfectly.
  9. These Precious Days Essays by Ann Patchett – Ann Patchett is one of my favorite fiction writers but I most love reading her essays. 
  10. 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand  – First book I’ve read by Elin Hilderbrand but I’ll be back for more. 
  11. Finding Freedom by Erin French – Memoir from restauranteur Erin French. Again, I’m a sucker for recovering addicts who recreate their lives. And the food descriptives in this book are (pun intended) chef’s kiss.
  12. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice From Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed – So many beautiful answers to the human condition. I listened to this one but I’ll be buying a hard copy to pick up and down. 

I know you’re on the edge of your seat for what my 2023 Challenge will be. This year my challenge will be centered around cooking. I am a intuitive cook and rarely adhere to recipes (unless baking and even then not a big rule follower). I read cookbooks like they are novels and take ideas. The past few years I have worked really hard on cleaning up what I eat and cook. Doing so has been extremely beneficial to me but has left me in a bit of a rut in the creative cooking department. I’ve already started pushing out of that the past couple of months and have enjoyed it immensely. I haven’t exactly nailed down the boundaries of this year’s challenge and I don’t want to this to be frantic in fruition. I want this to be pure pleasure and also a real challenge. My thoughts around it are cooking new (to me) recipes from cookbooks, going through old family recipes, and rediscovering recipes I haven’t made for years that I used to love. The caveat is that I want to lighten up these dishes so I don’t undo the progress that I’ve made in terms of my health. I’m thinking 1-2 recipes a week. My intention is to share along the way, and I’ll figure out the process of how that will happen during January.

Yesterday, the weather was beautiful! I set out on a walk and asked Everett if he wanted to join me. He didn’t so I went out alone. While I was walking, I see a bike in the distance and it took me a minute to realize who it was. I hear a “Hey Mommy!!”. Clay bought he and Everett a tandem bicycle to ride together last year. I can’t explain just how much this moment filled me up. Everett was so excited and just seeing the two of them makes me smile big. The one skill that I can say that I have mastered is seeing these tiny moments for the magic that they are and so fully leaning into them.

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