Sarah, Kat, Kim & I are to hosting Reverb throughout 2016 as a way to share writing prompts and providing a space for writers via our Facebook group. In December of each year, we host a prompt-a-day to provide structure and a way to close out the year.
Resolutions // We don’t all make new year’s resolutions. If you are making them, what is your biggest priority? If you aren’t, tell us why – what is your experience or opinion on resolutions?
I am nothing if not goal-oriented. Last year, I made seven resolutions: to read more; to train smarter; to cook more; to practice patience; to work on dog training; to add things to my life and not take them away; and to buy running shoes for my new biomechanics.
I hired a running coach, and promptly went down the rabbit hole of a serious genetic disorder that derailed my running career for good. I have been resolving since 2013 to cook more and I definitely didn’t do that, since I spent more than 60 days out of the country this year.
I did practice patience – I started meditating more. I strongly recommend the Insight Timer app, and Positivity with Andrew Johnson as two great starting places. (Andrew Johnson’s whole series of meditation apps are excellent and I have a couple of them). I also bought an Apple Watch, and I find the periodic reminders to BREATHE really comforting. I finally admitted that even though I am a New Yorker, I’m deeply bothered by noise and I can lose it much more quickly in a sea of sound – so I bought good noise cancelling headphones and I carry ear plugs (including in spin class and anywhere I might be bothered by loudness).
I don’t know why it took me so long to do something about that – my family used to antagonise me as a kid because I’d ask them not to pound on my door or turn the TV up loud or yell and scream. They thought I was kidding around or being a princess. In reality, I just have really sensitive ears.
I also did a lot of training with Roo – we watched many YouTube videos and he took multiple cross-country flights; worked on his canine good citizen certification; worked on therapy dog basics; worked on verbal directionality commands. He’s still not the world’s best leash-walker – but he’s lightyears better than he used to be!
I wanted to add, not subtract from my life, and generally I did that, too.
But the main thing was reading more. In 2015, I think I read maybe five books. As a lawyer, (especially with the type of work I do), I have to read A LOT, and pleasure reading isn’t always something that comes easily anymore. I have to TRY. So, by committing to TRY, in 2016, I read 30 books. Here’s what I read last year (which admittedly was a mixed bag of fiction, non-fiction, classics, contemporary lit, interesting stuff, and total garbage).
- Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen
- Grace – Grace Coddington
- Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
- H is for Hawk – Helen MacDonald
- The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
- Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling (Again, I am admitting to reading this with the disclaimer that I read this for my book club, and it is a horrible, racist piece of trash. I walked away from this book with the impression that Mindy Kaling is a terrible person)
- When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
- After You – Jojo Moyes
- Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
- The Monster Within – Barbara Almond
- The Vitamin Complex – Catherine Price
- The Nightingale – Kristen Hannah
- How Brands Grow – Byron Sharp
- Kane and Abel – Jeffrey Archer (another book club pick; another piece of trash)
- Beloved – Toni Morrison
- The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
- Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
- Maus – Art Spiegelman
- 84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff
- Expecting Better – Emily Oster
- Skyfaring – Mark Vanhoenacker
- The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson
- Scandalmonger – William Safire
- Rust – Jonathan Waldman
- The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
- Girls Like Us – Sheila Weller
- Stag’s Leap – Sharon Olds
- The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
- The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher
- Cancer Ward – Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
Of what I read, The Nightingale, H is for Hawk, The Orphan Master’s Son, Cancer Ward, Beloved, and Skyfaring were my faves. The Orphan Master’s Son was the only book that my entire family has ever read that each one of us loved, and none of us has the same taste in books. I have also recently read a few of Helen MacDonald’s (the author of H is for Hawk) pieces in the NY Times, and her recent Magazine feature was particularly timely, poignant and…excellent.
For next year? I’ve got nothing particularly ambitious in store. I want to keep reading. I want to write more. I was in 16 countries in 12 months, and I may be the only woman in America who wants to travel less.