My Intentions for 2021

YOU GUYS. WE MADE IT. 2020 is over.

Will things be magical better today because of a calendar and a sun setting on one year and rising on another? Nope. Is there a little more hope on the horizon for 2021 than there has been for most of 2020? I think so. The pandemic is looking like it is getting/will get worse before it gets better, but hopefully things will start looking more normal at some point this year.

I looked back on what I wrote at the beginning of last year about goals—and it perfectly aligns with what I’m feeling now, too. “I used to write resolution/goal posts that were entirely achievement-based, but I want to focus instead on how things make me feel,” I wrote last year.

I’ve been referencing old posts lately to find memories, and I have zero promises about writing more frequently here, but I like having things documented here. (But also, how do you feel about newsletters? I like having this as a record for myself, but I also clearly want to reach people, or I’d just write this all in a Google Doc. I just want to reach readers wherever they are. Also curious how you feel about Patreon? To be honest, another part of the reason I started writing here a lot less is that it was taking time away from paid writing work.)

Here’s some things I want to think about for 2020.

Meditation: I took a class last quarter on marrying eastern/yogic practices with therapy, and one of our assignments was to meditate every day for 15 days. Well, I’m currently up to a 68-day streak!!! I use the Insight Timer app, and it’s been motivating to me to keep my streak up. I’d love to continue my streak as long as possible, but honestly, as long as I keep this as a regular habit, I’m happy.

Stop Rejecting Myself: I originally wrote this thinking about it professionally, but it applies personally too. I automatically think the answer is going to be no, in, like…all situations? So therefore I reject myself before someone else can. I get envious of others’ career success (particularly other writers) and realize that, often, the difference is that they put themselves out there. For freelance pitches, specifically, I have been rejected far more by Editor Theodora in my head than any real editors.

I 100% believe in synchronicity, and as I was sitting on the floor foam rolling earlier (this is really just an excuse for me to brag that I actually foam rolled), I saw this book on the bottom of my bookcase: Rejection Proof. OK, Universe.

Have the Hard Conversations: This kind of dovetails with the above. For so long, I was afraid to advocate for myself personally, too, because I just assumed the answer would be no. Recently, I’ve started embracing the tough things and speaking up for myself even when I’m afraid to. As I joked, “what’s the point of all of this therapy if I don’t apply it??” Apparently most people aren’t actually mind readers and our assessment of what they may be thinking is wrong and speaking up can help you get on the same page, or at least in the same chapter.

Be Kinder to Myself: I beat myself up, and then I beat myself up for beating myself up! Such fun! I drank a lot until I went to treatment two years ago, and, especially after taking an addiction class this quarter, I’ve really been realizing how that affected literally half my life. “OK,” said my therapist, “are you going to beat yourself up for that the next half of your life?” Fair point, lady. I’m starting to become more cognizant of noting when I’ve made a “mistake” and moving on from it, rather than beating myself up for it.

Relax: I am Not Good at this. Our society rewards productivity, my mom was an Energizer Bunny, and I lived in the NYC area or Washington, D.C. for the first 36 years of my life—areas not known for being slow-paced. On this break from school, I have had such a hard time relaxing. When I am attempting to relax, I feel like I should be productive; when I am getting stuff done, I tell myself that I should be relaxing because life is just about to get busier again. Again, I’ve been trying to just recognize that pattern and note it and move on, rather than beat myself up.

Be More Theodora: This phrasing is from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and I interpret it as just allowing yourself to be more authentic. In my ketamine infusions, there’s always a point where I feel Peak Theodora and am accepting of all of me, and I let go of attempting to minimize or deny parts of me—even to myself—to paint a picture of who I think I should be.

Open My Heart: I said this at the beginning of last year, too, and I generally meant to romantic love, but even despite this whole pandemic thing, I still strengthened friendships and even made some new ones. Special shouts to my friend and neighbor Kate, who is my pandemic MVP. I also did attempt to date, despite the pandemic. I went on a handful of dates that were either sitting outside 6+ feet away from each other or walking. I’m continuing to work through my relationship blocks in therapy to help me ease into being more emotionally available and less of a stereotypical Aquarius when it comes to love.

Run More Consistently: Just one physical/fitness goal! I worked with a coach for a while in 2020, and running started feeling good again. But…that takes consistency. I don’t know if big races will come back this year, but I just want to continue to feel good about running, despite pace or distance.

Plan Workouts for the Week: I’m about to get much more busy than I’ve been, but my workouts are so so important to my mental health that I need to make sure I am still prioritizing them, so I am going to attempt to sit down with my schedule every Sunday and plan out when I can fit them in. There was one point in this last quarter where I started working out again in the morning, and that was really helpful. I do love a good midday workout as a break, but sometimes it can also be really hard to actually allow myself that break.

What about you? What are your intentions for 2021? (knowing that there is still so much beyond our control. I mean, there always is, but especially during a pandemic.)

Cookie Swap in 2020: Socially Distanced

How did I used to write here every day? Multiple times a day? Sometimes I really miss those simpler times where everything was documented. But I’ve documented every single cookie swap so far, so I wanted to document this one, mostly for posterity’s sake.

If you’ve read here for a long time, you know that my cookie swap is probably one of the most important Christmas traditions to me. I started in 2010, not thinking about if I’d make it a tradition or not, but in 2011, one of my friends asked if I’d be having it again that year, and a tradition was born!

[2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | fuck! apparently I didn’t write about it in 2019]

Especially since my mom got sick in 2015, it has been a slice of normalcy when the holiday season feels anything like normal to me. It’s the new normal, and I guess I’m getting used to it with this being the sixth fucked up season for me, but there will always be a Carol-shaped hole in the holiday season for me.

as a grownup, i've learned all the christmas magic i felt as a kid, was really a mom and dad who loved me so damn much
I saw this recently and it resonated so deeply with me and reminded me how damn lucky I was.

Early on in the pandemic, I wondered what things would be like by the holidays. Would I still be able to have my cookie swap? [Yes, there are much bigger issues in the world right now, but missing your usual traditions is completely valid too.]

Things are…no bueno in LA right now, and most of the country obviously. This fall, I kept saying to my friend Kate, who lives upstairs from me and is my pod, “if we have to do it just the two of us, I’m fine with that, too.”

But one of my friends asked if I was doing it this year and that was all the encouragement I needed! I have been taking this all very seriously, and I know we all have very different risk assessments right now. I didn’t want to put any of my friends in a place where they felt uncomfortable doing this while also feeling uncomfortable saying no. I emailed a very small group of friends who I knew were also taking similar levels of precaution and told them I’d love to be able to do a small cookie swap outside (god bless LA)—but I also 100 percent understood if they didn’t feel comfortable. And with things changing so rapidly, I told them I also totally understood if their comfort level changed. Thankfully, everyone was in and comfortable.

socially distanced cookie swap

So, it was next really important to me to do this as safely as possible. I remember early on seeing guidelines to avoid sharing food, and I figured better be safe than sorry. I asked my friends to pre-portion in their cookies into bags, and I created little goodie bags for everyone with their own food—chocolate covered pretzels, little charcuterie packs, little champagne splits and candy canes, of course.

candy cane food group

Me: Yeah I don’t think I have much Christmas spirit this year.

Also me: has seen Elf four times in the past month.

I’ve tried so many years to be ambitious with my cookies, and inevitably I fuck them up and it stresses me out more, so I’ve finally learned to go simple. I do the NYT Basic Sugar Cookie recipe now, with a cream cheese frosting with crushed candy canes. If you need an outlet to get frustration out, may I recommend pounding the shit out of some candy canes?? It’s incredibly satisfying.

*It should be said that I KNOW BETTER THAN TO HAVE MY MASK UNDER MY NOSE, BUT IT FELL IN TAKING THE PIC AND I DIDN’T NOTICE UNTIL LATER. (I always think of this meme when masks are under noses.) Lucy mask is from this site, and honestly it’s not the most breathable but it’s cute.

We met in the park behind my apartment and sat six-plus feet apart with our masks on, except for eating.

Obviously Lucy was invited.

When I walked Lucy later that night, the sunset was absolutely magical, and I cried happy tears, feeling so so grateful to be able to continue my tradition and to have great friends in my new city. (I’ve now been here for more than a year and a half, but I’ve now lived here longer in a pandemic than not, so it still feels new-ish to me.)

Like I said, we all have different levels of risk assessment right now. Some of you might think I took excessive precaution; some of you might think I didn’t take enough. I only socialize with Kate and her husband inside. I’m not going home for the holidays (which breaks my heart, but if it keeps my family and others safe, it is so worth it so that I can see them next year), so if I *am* going to see others, I’m going to do it in the lowest-risk possible way. I read this article about considering a harm reduction model re:covid (a concept used in substance use treatment). Quarantine fatigue is real, and it’s just seeming so apparent that preaching “abstinence” is being ignored by so many people that, instead, let’s figure out the absolute safest we can be.

Whatever you do, please be safe this holiday season and sending love to anyone for whom this week will be hard. It’s almost over!!! Do whatever you need to get through.