Happy new year, friends! I hope you were able to dedicate some time to yourself over the holidays away from work and obligations to be decadent and indulgent. I rode a train north to Massachusetts to meet my family in Northampton. It snowed on Christmas Day, my niece wore no fewer than three hand-me-down Christmas ensembles, and I felt restored to myself, just for having a wide open expanse of time. Some of what I learned included:
- Being able to go and stay offline––for days!––feels like the rarest and most glorious kind of luxury
- I love the Mindy Project (and Dr. Danny Castellano)
- It can take a full week for the stress and anxieties of work to lose their grip on you
- If someone offers you a shot of innocent-enough sounding pink gin (which is actually the vile combination of gin spiked with bitters), do not kick it back
- A long winter walk can ease just about any kind of hurt
- Grown adults can sit in a circle and be entertained for hours by the smiles, squeaks, and flirty expressions of a five month-old
- It feels good to set time aside to dream
- Another rare and glorious luxury: slipping into an outdoor hot tub surrounded by packed snow, bare tree branches stretching over your head
- I am a woman who wants to wear a furry hat
Over the holidays I watched the documentary The Queen of Versailles, a movie about David Siegel and his time-share business and family. One scary scene brings you into a motivational sales meeting. The man at the front of the room, in sort of creepy Tom Cruise in Magnolia-like fashion, tells a crowd of time-share sales reps that they are just like doctors, like nurses, like firefighters. “Vacations save lives,” he tells them. Well, I had to give him that. Studies do show how vacations encourage physical and emotional well-being, and right now, fresh from time with my friends, my family, and to myself, I feel it. I feel optimistic and grounded, lucky, loved, and centered.
I haven’t been one for resolutions lately. Last year, I gave myself a theme to repeat to myself like a refrain: Back to Basics. With its simple encouragement to stay tuned in to what matters, it’s one I’d like to keep up this year. I’d also like to wear more flattering v-neck t-shirts and read more books. But I think my strongest thematic influence this year, which I will share at the risk of sounding like Iris McKay, is inspired by the two archetypal feminine cards in the tarot deck: The High Priestess, who is complicated and confusing to me, but who stands for potential, mystery, and the magic of the unseen world, and The Empress, who is as wonderfully straight-forward as a woman lounging on a chaise in a woodland scene, wearing a flowing gown and a crown of stars can be. All of my intentions for the year, though, are bound up in a bigger one: to be with what’s here right now. It’s a resolution I could make for a lifetime.
In the spirit of fresh starts, and because you, like me, are probably craving vegetables right now, I also wanted to share my current favorite winter salad. It’s as simple as can be really, and more a template than a recipe: any roast squash will do, some chopped apple, the nut or seed of your choice tossed with lots of shredded kale and a sweet-tart apple cider vinaigrette. Before the holidays I was sprinkling this salad with a bit of blue cheese, but if that feels too hedonistic, I think some pomegranate seeds would be just lovely.
If you feel like sharing, my questions are manifold: what themes/resolutions/intentions are you thinking about for the new year? What vibrant, healthy meals are you making right now? And what did you learn on your winter vacation?