Welcome to Wellness Weekly coming to you every week. This is a weekly series, sort of like a Letter from the Editors, that will rotate between Lara and Luigi, along with other members of Team Smudge and with the occasional guest. We’ll hold space on the Dirt to check in on our Sixth Sense: the term we use to refer to our spirit, intuition, and inner power. And because while we exist in the world alongside our other Five Senses, we’ll do a check-in of those, too.
I believe in living in the present moment, I swear. Anybody with spiritual wellness understands the power in practicing appreciating the moment, accepting abundance, and not worrying about what has already happened or what might happen in the future. But there is one broad exception I’ll make to this and it happens every year in this odd week that occurs between Christmas and New Year’s when I can’t help but engage in my own personal Year in Review.
I’ve spent the last few days poring over the year’s photos and writing in my journal, reflecting on the memories made and the lessons learned. It always surprises me how much has happened in twelve months – makes me grateful for my ever-present iPhone that while annoying in many other ways, serves as a faithful sidekick reminding me that behind the often anxiety-inducing headlines of the year, there were moments of profound love, joy, and silliness.
Here are my takeaways from 2021:
- Never say no to a trip. By my count, I took around 15 trips this year outside of the Bay Area – four to Mexico with friends and family! Whether I was traveling for Smudge or for pleasure (I’m lucky that they are often for both reasons), each one was full of new experiences, new friends and laughs with the old, and moments of freedom that recharged me for the rest of the year. And it goes without saying, but during a time when the opportunity to travel seems forever precarious, I urge everyone to seize the moment when they can (safely, with precautions and with care).
- Make room for quality time with family. While I clearly satisfied an itch to get away this year, I also loved the special time I spent with my husband and my two kids in 2021. No longer a must-do forced by a quarantine, my time with each was a sincere want-to. I love being around people in my house (more so when we are doing something fun out of it). Concerts, restaurants, and walks on the beach with each of them are among the year’s highlights.
- Challenge myself. While I can’t point to a huge goal I conquered (no mountain peaks reached or marathons finished for me!), I found great satisfaction this year trying and accomplishing a few things out of my comfort zone. I dedicated myself to running and lifting weights (the latter an entirely new thing for me) and shocked myself with strength I didn’t know I had. I focused on some thorny issues in therapy that I had avoided for years and surprised myself with courage I didn’t think I had in me. I also joined Luigi in a Dry December, a challenge I didn’t think I needed at all, but which has brought me significant clarity and mindfulness around the concepts of socializing and relaxing. These little moments of “can I do it?” and follow-through were big 2021 milestones for me.
- Celebrate your people. If 2020 will go down in infamy as the year of zoom and virtual revelry, 2021 will be remembered by me as the complete opposite. Finding a way to properly honor a friend or family member for a birthday, a new job, a graduation, or a marriage took on unique importance this year and as I sort through the photos of the many parties, dinners, and getaways, I am again amazed at my good fortune of being surrounded by some of the best people on earth.
- Don’t forget the fight. I would be remiss if I didn’t note the many moments of 2020 that were not always a party. Inequities still run rampant in our country and the political climate is still polarized and bleak. If I have one great fear as we envision a post-pandemic life (I’m not holding my breath – I know we have a long way to go…), it is that we will collectively leave in our peripheral vision the struggles and marginalization of so many who need our activism. Standing up for transgender rights, reproductive freedom, indigineous communities, food security, and standing up against AAPI hate and systemic racism continue to be causes I was proud to keep fighting for this year. I have no intention of stopping.
Here’s a quick take on what’s going on with my other senses this week…
On Christmas Eve we went to the San Francisco Ballet to see The Nutcracker. I’ve probably seen it 6 times, but watching it as a mother of a child who dances – and who sees firsthand the effort and hard work that goes into every movement! – gave me a heightened sense of appreciation.
The best friend of my teenager is visiting from Canada this month, which has been such a blessing. The two of them, along with my youngest, make for a happy-sounding house. The other night, while I was in my room upstairs, I recorded them below me giggling nonstop. I don’t ever want to forget how full of love and laughter this visit has been.
On one of the many rainy nights this holiday break, we baked cookies. We made the usual favorites, but added Sohla Waylly’s Chewy Gingerbread recipe to the rotation. They quickly disappeared from the serving platter.
When we did our New York pop-up a few weeks ago, we gave away bundles of our cedar substitute for (outdated, kind of creepy) mistletoe. I love creating new traditions and adore the bonus of the clean and cozy smell of cedar around the house.
Holidays have meant a few more mornings spent lingering in my bed and thus is my ode to my duvet and linens that keep me perfectly warm but cool (not overheated!) and feel like I’m in a cozy cloud. I’ve unfortunately already tried to locate the identity of them, but can’t find a brand name anywhere – so this one will just have to stay my little secret. Sorry! I’ve compensated by providing a photo of Nemo enjoying the aforementioned bed. Maybe there’s an Internet detective who can get to the bottom of it.