I am writing this to you, but it is a thinly veiled note-to-self.

It is the start of the new year! I wish I could say I was bubbling over with opportunity and potential in my eyes, but admittedly, I am a little lower key at the turn of the calendar to 2024.

I have been having a case of the comparisons this year.

“I wasn’t as productive as that lady’s Instagram looks like she was. Such success!”

“She is making so much more money, but I have the same skills. I must be really terrible at all of this *waves hands around. *”

I felt like I was losing an arms race I didn’t even know I was in at the sight of everyone’s Goodreads reading recap posts. I like to read, and I read a lot. It is befuddling why I feel concerned about how many books you’ve read. I am only mildly concerned with the number of books I’ve read. Maybe you didn’t read 78 books this year. Maybe you didn’t even know you were “supposed” to.

It’s okay if you didn’t measure success that way.

I have been fighting the urge to buy a $48 wall calendar because I know, this time each year, I convince myself that all my struggles would go away if I just had a fresh blank page and a little more hope/stamina/will. And every year, I am unwittingly seeking that in a pile of paper. Spoiler alert, I never find it there. I nearly signed up for a half-marathon on a whim; thank goodness the date didn’t work out.

I am still eating cookies and cheese (although weaning off, no need to go cold turkey). Let me be the first to tell you that I will not, repeat, not waste those garlic dill cheese curds. Because if I can’t have a joyful snack now and again then what am I supposed to be doing with all that exercise?

I’m not feeling down about all of these minor indiscretions, because I remind myself what an absolute boss I am at the boundaries I have put in place. They are:

  • 8 hours of sleep
  • 64 ounces of water
  • Exercise 5 times a week

I call these boundaries, not goals, because I am not aiming for them. They are non-negotiable. I have done this for a few years now, and it took four times as many years to finally become consistent at them.

I am not hating on your goals – I think all those books everyone else read are awesome! And yes, I am noting your top recommendations for my own list. What I am doing (and pay attention, this part’s important) is no longer “shoulding” on myself for not accomplishing your goals.

Isn’t that bonkers that we do that? That we feel a little less about ourselves because someone else beat their goal to read books? When you put it that plainly, it is notably ridiculous. Where else are you rating your performance on someone else’s goals?

I do my annual review and planning process every year in December, and I can’t quite figure out why yet but the word of the year shouting out to me for 2024 is “grace.” (Maybe because it’s an election year? I kid. A little.) It is undeniably the word that keeps coming up, so I am trying it on for size with past limiting beliefs like the book goal comparison. I am also keeping it at the ready so when a big obvious moment comes along where grace is required, I recognize the moment and rise to the occasion.

My birthday is also around the corner. While I don’t make a big deal of it, I have one little tradition that’s become an annual one since covid years. I go get my free piece of chocolate birthday cake from Portillo’s and I sit and eat it all by myself in my car in some FLIPPIN’ PEACE. Glorious, utter silence.

I understand how sad and lonely this sounds on paper. I’m giving myself grace and not caring.

Confessions aside – I am looking forward to finding the opportunities to extend grace to myself and others. I am coaching swimming now – I give grace on my learning curve and remind myself, “I’ve only really done this for three months!” I am going to have to get on a bike for the first time in decades and train for that first-ever triathlon I am about to sign up for. Bike training workouts are going to be humbling, no doubt. I am going to publish my first children’s book this year after sitting on a pile of manuscripts in my files. Grace will be required.

What will your word or symbol be this year? I’d love to hear it (and cheer you on about it).

Sending love and car cake,



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