The year that was…

We shall see if I make it to midnight tonight. I normally wouldn’t (I’ve become pretty good about my 10:30 bedtime) but I got a ridiculous amount of sleep last night. I went to bed at 10:30 (of course) and woke up on my own around 5:30, and thought for a hot minute about getting up to get some work done in the quiet house…and then went back to sleep until 7:30 when the little dude woke up. Not sure why he slept so well, but I will take it!

Today is a day for posting retrospectives, so I will play along. It’s been a good year, if a tiring one.

I just remembered that the year started with a real professional highlight: I was on the Drew Barrymore show in early January! She was so sweet, and called herself an uber-fan, which was really exciting to one of my kids who kept pointing out that she is the girl in ET. The girl in ET read mom’s book! Nice.

I had done a pilot version of the Tranquility by Tuesday project in fall 2020, and (happily) got statistically significant results. So I ran the full Tranquility by Tuesday project in the spring with what wound up being about 150 people. Participants answered questions about their time, learned nine time management rules over nine weeks, answered questions about the implementation, and then reported back at the end of the study (and a month later, and three months later). I wrote the manuscript of the book, and am now on the second round of edits. As I’m reading various “best of” lists for 2021, I’m aiming to write one that will make it on to some 2022 lists. So that is a goal.

2021 was another year of the Before Breakfast podcast — a new episode every weekday morning. And Best of Both Worlds! We launched our Patreon community, and I have really enjoyed the monthly meet-ups.

I feel like much of the year has been consumed with home renovation stuff. We got our permit and our historic commission approval early in the year. We passed inspection (thus closing out the permit) this week. So all clear to move in! Phew, since I booked the movers for next week….I’m trying to keep the mindset this will be an adventure, rather than total chaos when no one can find anything and we have boxes and only half our furniture for a while…

The house really does look nice. There are a few things that are not done. Our shutters aren’t on, so the outside of the house doesn’t look finished. The oven arrived, and was dented, so it was sent back, thus putting us into supply chain chaos to get a replacement, so no oven until February. We can probably make do since we have a stove and a microwave. If not I guess I can get some sort of toaster oven? Our dishwasher also didn’t arrive, but we had kept the old one in the garage from before the renovation so it got reinstalled for the next few weeks. The fridge arrives — fingers crossed — and will be installed Monday. In time for the move Tuesday.

Due to a measuring snafu, there is no carpet in the playroom. That is coming in late January. As is wallpaper in another part of the house. Various pieces of furniture are back ordered. Some stuff that would have been junked will be moved, used for a few months, and then junked. (Or donated if possible…but some stuff is in pretty lousy condition.) Eventually things will be done. Or at least at a sustainable level of un-doneness. By the time I am writing my retrospective for 2022 I want to be feeling very at home in the new home.

I spent yesterday taking down kid artwork in the current house. Some pieces had been on the wall since 2013 or so, which was really giving me the nostalgic feels. This house has so many memories. I am excited about the new one though it is strange to think I only have a few more nights in this current one. And all this art my babies created! And now they are teenagers/pre-teens texting me. Well, some of them. I do still have a baby who will no doubt create his own art that can go up on the walls at the new place.

Even if we didn’t wind up moving during the calendar year of 2021, the year still brought a lot of transitions. One kid started high school, another started middle school, and another started first grade at a new school. It has not been 100% smooth, but we are muddling along.

I feel like I have put a few good systems in place. We now have a good meal system of doing Sunbasket kits on Monday and Tuesday, breakfast-for-dinner on Wednesdays, and make-your-own-pizza Fridays. That only leaves Thursday for figuring out (well, and weekends) but that all feels a lot more manageable.

It was not my best year ever for athletic endeavors, but I do keep running. I ran with a friend on the last Saturday of every month, which we kept up the whole year. We celebrated our streak by stopping (a few days before Christmas) at a brewery that we run past every time — it was quite tasty!

It was also not a particularly distinguished year for reading. There was one big win — I finished War and Peace after reading one chapter a day for the whole year — but I felt like I lacked the mental energy to tackle much else. I read some books on the natural world (a few titles on birds and hummingbirds in particular) and some books by podcast guests and that’s about it. I am not particularly proud of this low tally because I know I had a lot of time that I could have used for reading, including some brainless stuff if I had wanted, and I just didn’t. I spent a lot of time scrolling around on Twitter while nursing the toddler and trying to get him to sleep and such.

On the other hand, I did build a lot of Lego sets with the kids. And I did a number of 1000-piece puzzles. So there’s that.

Anyway, everyone is healthy and reasonably happy so on that measure the year has been a success. Much transition, many long projects shepherded through, and hopefully in 2022 I can start enjoying some of those things!

Happy New Year to everyone! Thanks for reading this blog this year. I really appreciate it.

In other news: I track my time and so I know how I spent all 8760 hours of 2021. If you’d like to find out where the time really goes — just for a week — I’ll be running a time tracking challenge from January 10-16. You can sign up here. I send you motivational emails each day, and I’ll be posting here about it too.

Photo: Empty pantry, ready for us to fill it…probably a metaphor in there somewhere…

16 thoughts on “The year that was…

  1. Happy New Year to you and yours Laura! Thank you for letting us come along for the ride for another year. Wishing you lots of happiness in 2022!

  2. Laura, thank you for continuing to share on your blog. I check it every day. I have also enjoyed the patreon discussions even though I haven’t been able to attend any of the meet-ups (because of time differences). Happy New Year!

    1. @Sarah K – thank you! And we’re going to have a “lunchtime” (Eastern) discussion soon so hopefully that will help a few more folks be able to attend one!

  3. “Or at least at a sustainable level of un-doneness.” And this is why I love reading your work, Laura – you’re just so darn relatable. You remind me of one of my closest friends who always astounds me with her levelheadedness and ability to shrug her shoulders and just get on with life when it gets overwhelming.

    Looking forward to reading more of your insights on career, family, and life in general, especially in the pages of Tranquility by Tuesday.

    Happy New Year and I do hope the move goes as smoothly as humanly possible!

    1. @Elisabeth – thanks but we shall see on the move! Just learned our “confirmed” fridge did not show up. Did the distributor, facing a shortage, give ours to someone else??? Who knows….

  4. Hi Laura!

    Do you have any tips on War and Peace? Inspired by you, I’m now on chapter 2 and plan to read 1 a day through the year. I believe you’ve read it multiple times, right? For your first time, did you keep a character list or anything? I’ve heard there are over 500 in the book…seems Game of Thrones-esque, and for that, I could have benefit from a spreadsheet, ha!



    1. Hello Heather, when I read War and Peace, I drew a chart with the characters and arrows showing the relationships. It took me a little bit to realize that each character had about 3 different names, and that a lot of people were referred to as “prince” or “princess.” Drawing the chart and referring to it frequently helped me understand the story, which I enjoyed. Happy Reading!

    2. Heather – I’ve read it twice, and I realized, on the second read (when I read a chapter a day), that I had missed a lot. Some of that was a function of speed. I read the book in about 3 weeks the first time, possibly because when there is a lot to get through, you feel the need to make noticeable progress. But also there are a lot of characters and it’s impossible to know from page 1 who is important and who is not. I’m not going to do any spoilers here, but I didn’t know that a major (and in retrospect obvious) conclusion to the book would happen and so certain earlier scenes didn’t seem nearly as important to me. On the second read, I realized that they were foreshadowing major plot points.
      I’m not sure what to do about this, because if you read a wikipedia thing on the characters you will learn the major plot points, and if you don’t want to do that, then you’re going to have a harder time keeping track. I think that the digital version I read for my first read through had a list of characters organized by families in the beginning. That didn’t give away anything — it’s fine to know that the Rostovs have children named Vera, Nicholas, Natasha, and Petya and that Sonya is the cousin they took in. It might be worth tracking down something like that.
      Or just accept that you might want to read it again!

  5. Happy New Year! If you look for books again in the near term, I’d recommend “The Heirloom Garden” by Viola Shipman. Based on things you’ve said, I *think it may be up your alley. Lots of good writing about flowers, with a pretty setting. It is sad but redemptive.
    Best of luck in the move!

  6. Best wishes on your move to the new house. I will be tracking my time next week. I have been feeling chaotic lately, and I feel like time-tracking grounds me. It gives me some insight and then I can make a plan. I also need to get back to scheduling my time. January is a wonderful month to reset. Happy New Year!

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