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21 for 2021

by Carly-Ann

It’s year four – this is officially a tradition. And I am equally excited for and fearful for the coming years as they get bigger. It’s only one additional thing each year, but it’s getting more and more challenging. 18/19/20/21 things to accomplish in a year have sometimes been tough to tackle, but invariably a few weeks after I’ve hit publish, one or two more ideas – sometimes better than the originals – pop up. I’ve been meaning to post this for days now and I’m finally ready to let it loose into the world and get moving on some fun and some daunting plans.

Here we go!

Sauce-free. It’ll be ten years this July since I stopped drinking so this isn’t at all about the booze. Nope, this is sauce of the condiment variety. I know I’m not alone in my habit of slathering something all over many of my meals – hot sauce stations are in practically every eating establishment that you visit these days. Whether it’s sriracha, hot sauce, ketchup, or steak sauce, I am pretty quick to top a meal off with a dollop or more. Now, I’ve spent some time with chefs in my life and the act of even turning a pepper grinder above a carefully crafted meal can be taken as an insult. It isn’t exactly as pretentious as it sounds, but when someone has prepared a meal with great precision, to make modifications to it, sometimes without even tasting it? Yeah, that’s kind of a shitty move. It isn’t like I’m over here enjoying fancy meals all the time or ever, but I’ve grown concerned that my ability to enjoy – or even recognize – the natural flavours of the ingredients contained within my meals has been altered. There is a place for all that sweet, spicy and savoury goodness within a meal, but I’m going to take a step back from adding it arbitrarily. This may require me to spend additional time and effort in the kitchen, but I’m willing to give it a shot if it’ll reset my tastebuds. (Sauces that are part of a meal are excluded. You know, for the record.)

*Buy a good pair of jeans. By good, I mean that they’re made from organic, ethically and sustainably sourced denim. There is a lot that goes into making a pair of jeans and it’s kind of sickening to know all about it. In early 2020, I read Fashionpolis by Dana Thomas and it changed the way I think about clothing. I’m not really a jeans person, but I picture investing in a really good pair of them and finally understanding what the big deal is. (Fashionopolis was the only non-fiction book to make my list of best reads in 2020.)

Send a thank you note every week. Over and above a general motivation to send more mail this year, I was quickly on board with this article that I read a week or two ago. Yes, the piece is written primarily with a business angle, but this act of practicing gratitude and sharing it warms my heart. There are so many opportunities where we can reach out to others and let them know how important they are to us or how they’ve made an impact on our lives and I truly believe more of this would break down many barriers and make the world a better place.

*Restore my Grandad’s typewriter. My grandfather was a writer and often presented family members with his works. He had a unique style of writing, a combination of poetry and prose and all of it was crafted on his old typewriter. When we were cleaning out my grandparents’ house, whoever came upon the typewriter asked aloud, “who wants Grandad’s typewriter” to which my beloved cousin Kevin replied, “Carly is the writer – it wouldn’t be right if anyone else had it.” It’s got gorgeous bones, but it needs some cleanup work and I really want to take that on now. (As a bonus, this typewriter from the 70s is in a script font instead of the regular typewriter look.)

Embrace the storyteller archetype. I spent some time exploring this with Mimi from Ceremonie in 2019 and it was pretty intense. I got a little freaked out and unconsciously took a step back from it, but as 2020 progressed, I started to feel called back to it more and more. I was tempted to add write every day in its own spot on this list, but I think that there is a lot of crossover and embracing the storyteller archetype will definitely involve a lot of writing. I don’t know exactly what this looks like just yet, but it’s something that I hope will unfold.

Return to running. I’ll be honest – running was a distant memory for me in 2020. I think I underestimated how much I enjoy the community and event nature of running. I ran on my own as preparation for a race and I enjoyed it enough to keep going, but not enough to continue when there wasn’t something to look forward to. We attended the My Better Half race in Seattle in February and once the other races shut down, so did I.

Go back to Texas. This is related to the above goal. We were planning to go back to San Antonio for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon there in December. I don’t even need an excuse for why we didn’t, but, among other things, it was cancelled. I want to go back to Texas regardless, but this is a good reason to do so. On our next visit, we’ll spend some time in San Antonio as well as some time in Austin after the race. (Miss you, Rachael!)

Read 78 books. To be clear, this intention is to read a book and a half each week – no less and no more. One of my goals in 2020 was to read 52 books and I ended up reading 100. I know, it’s not a bad problem to have, but I do want to aim for less time spent reading, more time spent exploring creativity and there are more than enough options being laid out here. (This was originally 52 books, but one book a week just didn’t feel right so I upped it to 1.5.)

*Read the Giller Prize long list. This was on my list for last year and it was a very enjoyable experience so I’m saving a spot for it in 2021. I mostly succeeded in this goal for 2020, although I still haven’t read two of the fourteen long listed books, but I have copies and hope to get to them this year. The Giller Prize is awarded for outstanding Canadian fiction and the long list of nominees is usually announced in early September, the short list in early October and the winner in early November.

The Unread Shelf Project. This is all about reading the books that we have on our shelves and downsizing our collections and it’s a community led by Whitney Conard. I’m no longer as interested in owning a lot of books as I once was and through three moves in the last seven years, I drastically reduced the number that I have hung onto. I could still use some motivation to read and get rid of more from my unread shelf and decided a few months ago to participate in 2021. I have 139 unread books as of today and am interested to see what happens to that number as I work through the regular check-ins and special monthly challenges throughout the year.

Less screen time. I’m talking the bigger screen, but not THE big screen. I’m not super worried about time I spend on my phone, but I watch a lot more tv than I’m comfortable with. My goal is to stay away from watching it two weeknights of each week. This makes some space for, as above, all these projects that I’m outlining and saying that I want to dig into here. Without reading and tv to fill the void, I hope to be surprised at how much I can get done.

*Learn kintsugi. This is another repeat and I have no excuse for not fulfilling it in 2020. I mean, I was INDOORS for the majority of the year – and I didn’t even buy the supplies. But this is a new year and nothing says I can’t have some of the same goals. I’m even more motivated to get this on record again after my Stellar Guidance session with Stephanie Gailing on my birthday spoke to exactly this. She advised me to sit with the idea that, “things will be created by the/through the destruction of others.” When I told her that kintsugi was among my interests, she agreed that this was exactly the kind of work she would suggest I immerse myself in. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of piecing things back together after they have been broken, and it emphasizes that scars can make something even more beautiful than it originally was.

*Volunteer. I’d like to start donating my time and there are a couple of ways that really appeal to me. When I looked into them last year most of the volunteer opportunities had dried up as a result of the pandemic (surprise, surprise) so I’ll need to revisit or rethink the ideas I had in mind.

Wear real bras. I don’t know about you, but I am stuck in the sports bra trap. There are legitimate bras out there, but I have been taking the easy way out by opting for a sports bra (the kind that go over your head no less) almost all the time. It works, yes, but it’s very utilitarian when I consider all of the much cuter options out there. And the S/M/L sizing is a giveaway that this is not how we were meant to live. We can’t all be crammed into a small group of variations – and the girls shouldn’t be either.

Learn something new. I’m not talking about learning a language on Duolingo (I’m on a 267-day streak right now and I intend to keep that up) or a self-guided online course. I mean a class with a teacher and students connecting in real time (in person or virtually) to teach/learn something new. I don’t know what the subject might be, but I am open to anything really.

Take an RV roadtrip. We came really close to doing this in 2020, but ended up putting it off because we weren’t totally comfortable with travel around the province and wanted to respect the safety of small communities amid increasing COVID rates. The idea is super fun and we’re excited to give it a try. If it were up to me, I’d like to spend some time in Lillooet and surrounding areas, but Ucluelet is another dream destination.

*Deal with old computers. Last year this was “get hard drives removed from old computers” but at that time, I was only concerned with getting the goods off my old iMac (G4 2002) and my MacBook (2006-ish.) Now I’m adding my current iMac (2010) to the list. Fortunately, this one is still working so it’ll be a lot easier to deal with extracting what’s on it and then I’ll just have to figure out where to take it. I just got a brand new MacBook and you have no idea how proud (and relieved) I was to be able to strip down my old one and send it into Apple for a trade-in.

Wake up at 7am every day. This is an experiment more than anything. I am, by nature, a night owl, but I’ve also started to really love the early hours of the day. I’ve noticed that I have much greater focus and my creativity spikes after just waking up when the house is still quiet so I want to explore where it goes if I can commit to a solid morning routine.

Improve my iron levels and donate blood. This may be a pipe dream because I don’t know where my iron levels are right now and how long it would take to improve them to the point of being able to donate blood. My grandfather (the same one mentioned above) had a wall of certificates for milestones reflecting how many times he’d donated blood. This has always been something I wanted to do, partly influenced by his example and by knowing I could be a universal donor (my blood type is O negative.) I haven’t been able to do it mostly because I’m scared of it, but also because in recent years, my iron has tested on the deficient side (though I’m not anaemic.) I’ve been working with a doctor and a naturopath for about a year so I should get tested soon and see where we’re at now.

Try one new recipe each week. I am NOT into cooking. If I’m honest, I’m not really that into eating. Left to my own devices, I’ll end up eating the same five dinners over and over. I’m motivated to explore some new foods, some new techniques and maybe I’ll end up changing my feelings about it all. (My last ND thought that my disinterest in food was “more of a story about my digestion.” Let’s see!

My Happiness Project. I’ve already posted a little background about this and a whole year is a big commitment, but I’m hoping to see it through. My January – MAKE SPACE intentions went up the other day.

* Appearing for the second time on one of my annual lists

Here are a few other notable things that didn’t make the list, but that will be on my mind this year. Let’s call them mini-goals.

  • Cat – get one
  • Spiritfarer – finish the game
  • Origami – practice more

Have you made a 21 for 2021 list? Whether you did or not, do we have any goals in common?

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