Link love

New Year, New Link Love (Vol. IV)

January 26, 2024

Tank on left enjoying his first day home

First off, I’m happy to say that Tank is doing well at home, and I’m much relieved that he seems to be continuing to recover (and he’s enjoying the extra feed as we try to put some of the weight he lost back on him).

This is 2024’s addition to my tradition of “New Year, New Link Love,” even though it’s almost the end of the month. January has gotten away from me in a number of ways, but hey, here we are. Grab a cup of something warm to drink and enjoy these links:

In “How to Cheer Yourself Up on a Hard Day,” Ingrid Fetell Lee shows us how we can create and embrace small moments of joy even in the midst of frustration and struggle.  (Check out the “Joy Break Generator” at the bottom of the post.)

I’m not the only one who was happy to leave 2023 behind. But it’s not enough just to leave the year itself behind if we continue to carry things that weigh us down into 2024. In “7 Heavy Things to Leave Behind In 2023,” Courtney Carver gently urges us to leave those heavy things in the past and walk forward feeling lighter, and with room in our lives to allow in more good things. 

In “Can little actions bring big joy? Researchers find ‘micro-acts’can boost well-being,” NPR reported that scientists behind the BIG JOY Project found that those who commit daily “micro acts” of joy—such as making a gratitude list or doing something nice for someone else—“experience about a 25% increase in emotional well-being over the course of a week.” These acts “led to increased feelings of hope, optimism, as well as moments of fun or silliness.” These findings don’t surprise me, but it’s always nice to be reminded that in a world where so much is beyond our control, small positive acts can make a difference.

How good are you at loving yourself? If you could be better, here are “99 Ways to Love Yourself A Little Better.” 

Click here to see a baby wolf learning to howl! 

I found this discussion of “How to Think About Politics Without Going Insane,” interesting. I really do think most issues are more nuanced than we realize. David writes: “If you can achieve a multi-viewpoint understanding of the debates over gun ownership, law enforcement, socialism, capitalism, transgenderism, housing policy — even if you still adamantly favor one position afterward — the conflict no longer needs to be attributed to malice or stupidity on the part of half the population. There’s a better explanation, which is that contentious issues tend to be multi-faceted and morally complex, and people fixate on the first facet of an issue that makes them feel something. To make it worse, our culture incentivizes the denial of moral complexity. Simply put, it’s easy to motivate people with simple moral stories (those guys are bad) and hard to motivate them otherwise.” 

I enjoyed Maira Kalman’s TED talk, “How to find humor in life’s absurdity.”  (I am down for her “murder and mint chip portion of the day”!)

This weekend we will host out-of-town family as well as continue to monitor Tank’s progress and give him his medication and extra calories. How about you? Any fun plans for the weekend and beyond? How is 2024 going for you so far?


Some Assembly Required

January 19, 2024

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

Happy belated New Year! I’m mostly back from my extended break after a productive, in-depth review of 2023.

As I wrote in December’s Happy Little Thoughts, I did not accomplish many personal or professional goals in 2023. I spent most of the year navigating grief and the practical and administrative matters related to two deaths, and it was all I could do to keep my own life somewhat functional. When I wasn’t doing those things, I was mentally and emotionally recovering from doing them.

But now things are starting to settle down*. Starting a new year feels like starting fresh.

Choosing a word of the year

As usual, I have been pondering the choice of a word of the year. I would like 2024 to be, as professional sports teams call it, “a rebuilding year.” Now that I’m no longer responsible for caring for my mother-in-law, I can begin to think again of what I want to accomplish.

I toyed with the idea of rebuild as a word of the year, but it didn’t feel quite right. My circumstances have changed. My dreams have changed. My tolerance levels for some things have changed. I’m staring down a milestone birthday. Instead of rebuilding what I had before, as great as it was, I want to build a life I love, one that makes me happy to wake up in the morning, on the foundation of my old life. If that makes sense.

Here’s the quote, from Jamie Varon, that inspired me to choose build as my word of the year:

“Imagine the woman you want to be. Think of what her daily life, her habits, and routines would be. Start showing up to those habits and routines, start building them, step by step, and day by day. You don’t become her like magic. You build her. Start building.”

Words of support

Knowing that I am still somewhat shaky emotionally (especially considering what’s been going on with Tank—see * below), I’m choosing a couple of “background” words to support build: restore, gentle. At least right now, I’m not up for any major disruptive changes. I am up for building small habits, little by little, gently, while allowing time for restoration.  

After I wrote down some big goals I want to achieve in 2024, I broke them down into smaller goals, sometimes into something I can achieve in a month. Some of these subgoals are process goals, like “work on [insert project here] 15 minutes 3 times a week.” January has been kind of a trial run, as I figure out how to build the habits I want.

Some fun supportive practices

Thinking about choosing your own word of the year? That’s only the first step. While you can leave it to chance, if you want to make the most of the practice of choosing a word of the year, it helps to keep that word uppermost in your mind. Here are a few supportive practices I’ve heard about and might try this year: 

  • Keep a notebook to record ways your word of the year has shown up in your life
  • Create a Pinterest board for your word of the year
  • Create a vision board focusing on your word of the year
  • Put your word of the year on sticky notes and post them in strategic places.

What feels different?

I feel a certain determination I haven’t felt before. A few of my goals have migrated from year to year without my making any real headway on them and I want that to stop. I feel more likely to look for solutions and work arounds when I hit a roadblock, rather than giving up at the first significant obstacle. One lesson I learned from losing my mom and mother-in-law is that you don’t have all the time in the world. If you want to do it, do it. Do not keep putting off things that are important to you. Build the life you want now.

Do you choose a word of the year? If you’d like to share, please do in the comments below!

Read about past words of the year here, here, and here.

*Last week, my horse, Tank, developed some kind of serious mystery ailment and for the past week I’ve been alternating between hope and despair. As I write this post, he is doing better and I’m cautiously optimistic that he’ll pull through. He’s due to come home from the vet hospital tomorrow.