I love New Year’s. I love the celebration that is New Year’s Eve — whether saying goodbye to an amazing year…or good riddance to a terrible one. I love the hopeful, fresh slate that a new year brings. And I especially love when I grant myself* a little downtime to reflect.

*4+ hours on an airplane with no wifi = “granting myself,” but I’ll take it.

There are some things, upon reflection, that I’d like to change. I’m not talking about tectonic shifts, rather just some general nudges in a direction that I feel is important. I recently came across a quote that said, “If it’s important, you’ll find the time, if it’s not, you’ll find an excuse” and YES. It’s time I embrace what is actually important.

And maybe just ignore the rest.

I feel the passing of time so acutely these days — it’s like a weight, pressing on my chest. If I dwell (and I sometimes do dwell) I can’t shake the feeling that I’m somehow…running out of it. This feeling isn’t ominous (like my impending doom is right around the corner), but rather…a welcome reminder that life is so fleeting. Maybe it’s because Raines is turning 12 on Sunday, and I really, REALLY remember being 12. Or maybe it’s that lately he says goodnight, and then walks into his room and closes the door, leaving me standing on the other side, remembering how his fuzzy head once felt nestled underneath my chin.

I want to do this right. This whole “life” thing — I want to do it right for me.

I don’t fully know what this means. Not yet. When I think about what I love to do, how I want to spend my time…I know I love to write, I know I love to travel, I know I love to cuddle my kids to sleep and spend all Saturday morning reading, and go out every Friday with our friends. I know I love to dance. I know I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with my husband — but he doesn’t seem to mind, and I’m trying — really hard — to not have a borderline unhealthy obsession with my sons but NO PROMISES. (Apologies to future daughter-in-laws. I’m trying so hard not to be crazy.)

Anyway. I have a small set of resolutions to focus on this year. Some are just goals, actually, some are about making my life easier, but most have to do with time. Spending it wisely. I want to — like old bear says in this book (one of our absolute favorites) — “choose your days”.

Dear Old Bear, The Keeper of Time & Keys, I choose to….

…Prioritize working out

There is nothing I can do, in terms of both mental and physical health, that beats working out. There’s nothing I can eat, nothing I can give up, no amount of sleep nor vitamins that beats the high from consistently working out hard. It is my king and queen of feeling good.

…Cook at home more (& eat vegan 90% of the time)

I’m not a vegan. I love a good burger and cry happy tears over aged Gouda. And don’t even get me started on a properly made french dip au jus. OMG. But dairy has been the long-time culprit of my digestive woes and messes up my skin. And meat…well.

Meat is, quite simply, not great for long-life and terrible for the planet.

I can accomplish my vegan goal by simply cooking at home more often, saving meat (and dairy) for special occasions or little treats.

I have a few weeknight vegan recipes to share that even my boys will eat (most are slow-cooker friendly), but would love to know if anyone has recommendations! My current go-to for desperation weeknights (aka nights when the fridge has NOTHING) is this 20-minute white bean chili. It can be made with pantry ingredients (and an onion).

I was also really inspired by The Blue Zones Kitchen cookbook that Scotti bought my Mom for Christmas. Researchers from National Geographic studied several cultures with really long lifespans, then went and interviewed them about their culinary techniques and traditions. It’s a beautiful, inspiring book and a really sweet peek into others’ lives. (The recipes look delicious, too.)

…Read a picture book to my kids at least once a week

I still read to the boys every night, but we’ve moved on to chapter books — they’re science fiction nerds like me. I know that they’re technically too old for picture books. But then again, so am I. Yet I love these sweet stories, the questions they spark, the points of view considered, the art that inspires. And I notice…whenever Scotti is visiting and I read to my niece…both boys come and listen. Someday they will be 100% completely over picture books. but until then, I’ll make a point to bring them back into our weekly rotation.

A few favorites to start?

  1. The Book of Mistakes (ooo…this author also has a new one out about empathy and kindness) — this one is a joy to read, and usually inspires a bout of drawing. It’s nothing short of amazing.
  2. Sophia Valdez, Future President – all of Andrea Beatty’s books (Iggy Peck, etc.,) are favs in this house
  3. Rumpelstiltskin by Paul Zelinsky – nobody captures the eeriness of fairy tales as well as Zelinsky. He tells the traditional story, with darkly gorgeous illustrations. My boys used to love these — can’t wait to bring them back out.
  4. Choose Your Days – the book I mentioned earlier. It’s about a little girl who is born, grows up, and realizes she only has a few days left. “For work undone. For play postponed. For music unsung.” It’s a beautiful and comforting take on the natural process of living and dying. And the central message “choose your days, make them happy or gray” is one I repeat often to the boys. (“I KNOW, MOM. CHOOSE MY DAYS BLAH BLAH,” says Pax.)

…Just make the appointment already

I know first hand how important those icky adulting appointments are. And since 2019 was literally the first year I didn’t have to deal with breast cancer on the daily…I slacked off. But this year, it’s time to get back on track. I’m behind on flu shots, dentist appointments, and I really need allergy shots. I CAN DO THIS.

…Just buy those tickets already

I also have to stop putting off the making of plans. I tend to wait until the last minute (dithering the whole time), I almost never RSVP (yes, I’m a horrible person), and for a family who likes to travel as much as we do…this propensity of mine has made things really tough. I’d like to start by being more of an adult. Specifically, I need to buy those plane tickets well in advance, commit to a couple of plans, and ultimately lower my expectations that everything must be 100% fully researched and 100% absolutely perfect.

And maybe responding to an RSVP once in a while wouldn’t kill me. (I can hear my friends’ eye rolls from here.)

…Will replace mindless social media scrolling with something I actually care about

I have so many random goals (learning Spanish is a big one), so many books to read, SO many ways I want to be spending my time…and yet there I am, mindlessly scrolling through someone’s IG feed.

I don’t expect to completely give up on social media, but I’d like to back wayyyy off. So. I’m planning to completely disconnect from social media several nights a week, and next time I find myself mindlessly scrolling, I’m going to take the opportunity to do something that is important to me, like:

  1. Practice Spanish
  2. Read recipes in a magazine (guilty pleasure)
  3. Sit on Mike’s lap
  4. Stretch (Mike bought one of those rollers — painful but SO GOOD)
  5. Actually use one of those facial masks…or maybe that micro-derm kit I always forget I own (similar here)
  6. Bake something (vegan? har har good luck with that one…)
  7. Do the balance board thing so I can retain my youthful dexterity and continue to dominate my boys in sports (except for skiing, boooo)

…If it’s not sustainable, press pause

I want to — gently, carefully — take a more sustainable approach to the things I buy. I know the best approach is to simply buy less, to keep — for years and years — the things I have.

Got it.

But what I’m talking about here are new purchases. If a purchase I’d like to make isn’t sustainable…I’d like to press pause. I’d like to take a a moment to make sure there isn’t a sustainable option that’s equally good, or pause and make sure I really do need this item.

Individual choices are not going to solve climate change — we know this. But I really resonated with this recent NYT piece on how overwhelming climate change feels, yet it’s the small steps that keep us engaged:

We can’t fix this alone. We can’t all do everything. But, we can all do one thing. So just pick one thing — whether it’s eating less red meat, or composting, or riding your bike to work, or cleaning up plastic litter in your community, or buying secondhand clothing — and actually do it.

Maybe it will make you think change is possible, or you’ll think, “That wasn’t so hard,” and that maybe you could do another thing. Maybe it will reduce your carbon footprint or cause less pollution.

Maybe it will remind you that the most important change we can make as individuals is to stay focused on all the work that still needs to be done.

NYT MAKE YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS COUNT

In that vein, there are a bunch of small steps I can take (eating vegan more often is one of them…it helps offset my travel habit). A few others I plan to take on?

  1. Switching to an insulated coffee mug (that’s slim enough to easily hold) – I need to break my to-go coffee habit. I’m currently looking at this one or this one. Might be worth ordering several to test (anyone else interested in the results??).
  2. Getting rid of single use plastics – whether it’s little silicone bags, pretty re-useable straws (we have these) or swapping out cleaning supplies for something like Blueland (I just ordered the starter set)…we’re on a mission to get rid of as much single-use plastic as we can. (Has anyone found a good replacement for laundry detergent? I’m currently looking at Dropps…)
  3. I’m sticking with sustainable sneakers – if there’s ever a category where I love the sustainable brands more than the others…it’s sneakers. My personal favorites are Adidas Superstars, Everlane Tread (I have this pair), or Vejas.
  4. Sleep on it I’ve found that my purchases are more thoughtful (and, quite frankly, fewer) when I sleep on them for a night.

…Re-think my personal clothing budget to better align with long-term happiness

AKA..I don’t need another sweater

I keep spending money on pieces that, OK, I might love in the moment, but I’m still left with uncomfortable underwear and slide-on slippers that exacerbate an old foot injury and jeans that don’t look good with the boots I’m wearing. So. Why not spend my money on pieces I really will use the most, for years to come? Pieces that will not just ‘spark joy’ but actually solve a problem?

So. I made a list of Current Clothing Problems That Make Me Annoyed and here is the start of my 2020 sartorial to-do list:

  1. Figure out which jeans go with which boots (trial & error) – I’ve got skinny jeans figured out. I know, after years of wearing them, exactly which boots look cute with skinnies. The problem, however, is that I’ve now amassed a few pairs of mom jeans, straight leg jeans, boyfriend jeans etc., And while these styles always look good with high heels or sandals….winter is always a problem. I need to lock myself in my closet and try them all on with my various boots and just figure this darn thing out.
  2. Heated ski boots – instead of going through 30+ disposable toe warmers (that only work marginally well), I need a pair of heated ski boots. My boys can literally ski all day, every day, and not having to deal with freezing toes will make my life SO much better. (Either these or these, if anyone else is in the same boat.)
  3. Maybe heated mittens and a coat, too? Probably overkill. But am thinking about it, haha.
  4. Comfortable no-show underwearthis pair is my current favorite (after trying six other recommendations), but I’m not 100% sold. Am thinking I should make all of the TME contributors try a zillion different pairs and then vote. Yes?
  5. Slippers that aren’t mules. I hurt my foot a few months ago, and it keeps coming back to haunt me. It gets worse when I wear mules (or any sort of slip-on shoe). I had been refusing to buy another pair of slippers because I have several already…but now I’m either grumpy, walking around with freezing cold feet or limping. UGH. FINE. I’m looking at either these or these (neither are sustainable, but I know I’ll be wearing UGGs for years.)

I guess, in short, my New Year’s resolutions can be summarized: Workout, Eat Mostly Plants, Cut Out Plastic, Act More Like an Adult, Stop Buying Stupid Stuff, and Choose How I Spend My Free Time Wisely.

What are yours?

xo,

S

37 COMMENTS

  1. My biggest goal is to learn how to stop comparing myself to others. The quote “comparison is the thief of joy” is so true and I need to be be more aware of it in my life. Also, the Ugg Alena slippers are definitely the way to go! I got them a few months ago and I can put them on to drive my kids to school and my feet and ankles stay warm! They are an answer to my prayers!

  2. You foot injury will never cease if you continue to wear Uggs. I love em too – but absolutely zero arch, plantar, ball of foot support. Add a visit to a podiatrist to your list my friend. I have all wood floors on a cement slab home in FL and cannot walk around without Birkenstocks. They have saved me. Some have fuzzy insides?

  3. Please share your non-skinny jean+winter footwear research results!!! Would love to wear my straight leg and mom jeans with confidence and not feel…like I’m trying too hard…?

  4. If you like Indian food check out Manjula’s Kitchen for amazing and easy veg and vegan recipes (especially if you have access to an Indian grocery store to stock up on spices): manjulaskitchen.com. Also: roasted chickpeas! We toss them with oil and spices (smoked paprika gets you some of that bacony smokiness) and roast at high temp for c. 15-20 mins and they sub for roasted chicken in a bunch of different contexts.

  5. For laundry detergent, try Rockin Green. It gets the stink out of workout clothes, but we use it for everything. It’s gentle enough for the baby’s clothes, too. For beauty products, I get a monthly box from Petit Vour. Everything they carry is vegan & cruelty free, an I’ve found some of my favorites from the products they’ve sent. They carry clothes & accessories, too.

  6. LOVE Dropps. I use the laundry detergent and the dishwasher pods.
    Also love Pact for sustainable basics (underwear for the whole family)
    And – please share no show underwear results !

  7. I asked for (and received) silicone bags to replace plastic for packing my work lunches. I’d love to see more vegan recipes and underwear recs

  8. Get out of my head Shana! More than not, as I read your posts, I’m always like, “yeah, me too”. My boys are nearly the same age so I definitely feel you on that one but also that my parents are getting older and it is sinking in that I am not the “kid” anymore and I am the actual adult that needs to take care of the younger and elder in my family. (Thankfully I have a sister and husband to help) I also have suggestions: 1) Hydroflask has an insulated mug with a handle that works great if you can’t find “the perfect” slim one 2) Sanuk makes warm slip ons. Not the cutest and sustainable but super comfy and they have an extensive corporate responsibility policy section on their site that shows they are “one of the good guys” out there on the market. Also, I have recently tried Everlane’s underwear (they had me at high rise) and they are not bad at all. Happy New Year to you, your family and the whole TME team!!

  9. Hey Shana, I have been eating mostly whole food plant based for 8 years but, like you, I have a treat meal occasionally. My biggest suggestion is to find people near by who eat the way you aspire to. There’s just something about local support that makes it easier, and you can swap tips about grocery stores and restaurants, etc. This non-profit is a great way to find people, and being in a big city you’ll probably be able to find a good group https://www.plantpurepods.com/.
    When I’m looking for recipes I usually just google “plant based whatever”. 90% is a good goal. Good luck to you. Let me know if you need anymore advice. I volunteer as a leader with the above non profit so I’m used to helping out newbies.

  10. Love my Ember mug, they also make a thermos. Keeps my coffee hot in my mug for up to a couple hours.
    For boots, find a Surefoot store. They are on most major mountains. They custom fit the boot and will make all necessary adjustments forever, free of charge. And if the boot just eventually doesn’t work for you, they will replace it free of charge. They will create a profile online so any store anywhere can see what’s been done. I just bought a new pair of Langes through them. They extensively evaluate your feet, through technology, before deciding what is the best boot for you. The heated liners that are discussed, they all have the wiring built into the liners. The actual battery is extra and runs around $300-$380.

  11. Shana, you are one of my favorite writers! While I love supporting your business because you haven’t led me wrong on my purchases through your site, I miss articles like this one. I guess I do miss the days when blogging was just writing. You have talent! I can relate to so much of what you’ve shared here. Here’s to a fresh new year! Keep writing…

  12. Man, that one about phone scrolling resonates with me.

    Have you tried Ingredients Matter? I saw it at Target and picked it up specifically because it the ONLY laundry product not in a plastic bottle. It’s soap flakes, which are compostable, and the entirety of the packaging is recyclable.

  13. About a year ago I just gave up wearing underwear altogether (except to sleep), and it has been great. Now I can’t stand the feel of it under clothes. Vaginas need air!

  14. Shana, you are fantastic writer. Keep doing more of this type of essay please. I love hearing your thoughts behind the suggestions you make. While I don’t always agree with your position, your words can be thought provoking sending me off to confirm, affirm or change my own opinions.

    I have spent the last 2 years recovering from first one metatarsal fracture to another in the opposite foot. My podiatrist says it’s a common injury in women of my age…..super. The doc highly recommends birks: which is good news since they have been my “house” shoe of choice for years. I don’t know if the company fits your sustainable model. However I can attest to a pair lasting for years and the company will repair as needed.
    Here’s my winter choice:
    https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/birkenstock-boston-genuine-shearling-lined-clog-women/3725485/full?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&breadcrumb=Home%2FAll%20Results%2FWomen%27s%20Shoes&color=dove%20grey%20suede%2F%20shearling
    Size note: I size down one size in this model
    PS-thank you, thank, thank you for continuing to run add free in your articles. I have quit reading several blogs due to annoying pop up video adds. They are so distracting.

  15. Maybe TMI- but one of my goals/resolutions is to stop using feminine products that don’t biodegrade well, if at all (tampons, pads etc). So I took the plunge and ordered some Thinx underwear.
    And I totally resonate with your comment about stopping or reducing mindless scrolling and invest the time instead in something that is important to me. I’m going back to school this year so that will help a lot! 🙂
    Happy New Year!

  16. Yes, please! I bought a couple of Everlane’s cigarette leg jeans on final sale, but now I’m stuck on to wear them with shoes 🙁

  17. This post REALLY resonates with me. I could have written this, esp about being acutely aware of how fast time flies. Practicing more mindful time management is my biggest goal this year.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • It’s so hard (mindful time management). Even last night I found myself mindlessly scrolling – again – and was like NOOOO. 🙂

  18. Any coffee mug needs to be dw safe or forget it, just sayin… My congtigo in stainless is the bomb. Not labeled on amazon as DW safe but the non-colored ones definitely are. I have it in 16 and 20 oz and the bigger one is tall and slim. Room for coffee and milk. I make coffee with the clever coffee dripper, large size. The best simple coffee at home. But you can only make 18oz at a time, which is fine as my spouse pulls espresso shots for himself. This might not be happy-full for others.

    Vegan chocolate cake recipes from the 30’s and 40’s are awesome, google some versions. I don’t know how to properly embed links (obviously) but here is my favorite one. https://www.pccmarkets.com/recipe/pcc-vegan-chocolate-cake/ Delicious! Fruit crisps are easily vegan if you sub coconut oil for butter.

    You TME ladies are all awesome and let me echo previous posters – Shauna you are a WONDERFUL writer. I love your posts about life and politics.

  19. Please let us know how the switch to Blueland goes. I’m considering it and Cleancult, but not sure how well they will clean. I’m also very interested in a good “natural” or at least less plastic-y laundry detergent that’s as effective as Tide (or close to it). Please let us know if you find/test anything!

    • Kathryn, for what it’s worth, we use Cleancult and I’ve been very pleased. The packaging is lovely and so pretty, and the products work as well as I could have hoped — including the laundry pods. (Before this we used the All Free + Clear pods, and these seem comparable.) My one point of feedback is that the multi-purpose cleaner leaves a bit of sheen, so we don’t use it on electronic surfaces (namely screens) or mirrors. All in all, a super product line with good customer service, too.

  20. I’ve been using Dropps laundry and dishwasher pods for 3-4 months now; happy to report they are just as good as the stuff I used to buy in plastic jugs! I purchased the laundry booster pods for loads that need a little extra help. All cardboard packaging. Someone else mentioned Rockin Green which is great for workout clothes – powder comes in a plastic pouch, but lasts a fairly long time if you are not using it on everything.

    I use Blueland hand soap tablets. Very minimal paper packaging and cost less than replacing the plastic hand soap bottle, so it’s a win-win!

    I am still looking for dish soap. I had a sample from etee’s (liquid packaged in wax) but I think it is still beta. I have an order of Meliora dish soap bar on the way from Mighty Nest but haven’t tried it yet.

    Mighty Nest has been great – I had a subscription last year that introduced me to one new thing each month that helps you on your way to more sustainable living. My favorites so far are reusable lunch bags, metal straws, and glass containers.

    All these little things help – it can be so overwhelming but we can all start by taking steps in the right direction!

    • OMG!! I forgot about this cake!!! My mom has a similar recipe somewhere too, from her Mom. It was once called “depression cake” because it could be made without butter or eggs…

  21. For laundry, we’ve made the switch to TruEarth and love them. The strips are mess-free, take up no space at all, and you can rip them in half for smaller loads.

    Also curious about dish soap alternatives.

    For dishwasher, we’ve reverted back to “old-fashioned” powder in a cardboard box – no more individually wrapped packs or pods made of microplastics for us!

  22. Hi people, this is my testimony to Erica! It took me a long time to think about this testimony! You helped me so much lately that I really wanted to express all the feelings I have since I met you. Of course, I am really happy that you reunited us. Yet, what I will remember from that fantastic experience you made me live with this miracle, it’s that you have always been a very kind and sincere person. Now I consider you like a confident, and not only a simple and understanding woman. You remind me a lot of my grandmother who was counting me many stories about voodoo when I was young. You are a rare person and I’m glad that I met you. I can feel all your spiritual goodness in all the emails you wrote, from the first day until now! I’ll be forever thankful. I was suffering from heart break, we have been dating for 3 year, thinking that we will get married soon. Not knowing that my man has been with another lady. I cannot lose him for another girl just like that. I heard about you (Erica), a powerful and honest woman, to my greatest believe, she did it and now i am with my man. Guess what everybody, i am getting married next month…. please if you have any problem do not hesitate to contact Erica. Do not lose your love one, do not waste time because you are afraid, contact Erica now so that she can help you, she is the best I have ever seen with time being. Email her now: emagicp101@gmail.com or visit her website ericaraven. webs . com

  23. I really want to see the round-up of slim, spill-proof coffee mugs. I am a generally neat person, aware of my surroundings, pretty careful, not typically sloppy, even a bit prim. But I can somehow manage to spill coffee out of ANYTHING. Every (large) bag I own has had coffee spilled in it. I cannot find the perfect spill-proof mug that keeps coffee hot, stays allllll the way sealed, is easy to clean (sorry, Contigo!) and slim enough to fit into a work bag or easily hold in my hand. The ideal mug is at least 16 oz but preferably 20 (I brew coffee at home, so there’s plenty!). Please work your magic, TME! I am loving the sustainable cleaning materials, too, and am going to order the Blueland kit as well.

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