Recovering from foot surgery + a global pandemic helped me read more books for pleasure last year than I’ve ever read in one year of my adult life. Reading served as my escape when I was unable to leave my home. I traveled all over the world — to places like Australia, Austria, Bolivia, China, and Singapore — and across the United States from the comfort and safety of my home.
After three weeks of reading A Promised Land, which is the longest book I’ve ever read, I found myself a little over the 50% mark. I needed to take a break so I read some novels. First I read Last Tang Standing, which gave me a case of the giggles. Rather than returning to President Obama’s book right away, I picked up Katherine Center‘s newest novel, What You Wish For. It was in the pages of What You Wish For that I found my One Little Word for 2021.
Before I tell you what my word for 2021 is, come back in time with me for a moment. You may remember the latter portion of 2019 was a when-it-rains-it-pours kind of time for our family. I chose the word restore to guide me through 2020. At the time, I thought restore was a bit of a pipe dream. We had a family member who was extremely ill and I didn’t even know if/when I was going to have surgery. While I’ve had to claw my way back to being able to use my foot properly again (I’d say I’m about 90% recovered. The final 10% is going to be challenging. So will taking off some of the weight I gained from being sedentary all of those months, but I’m digressing.), I feel as though I’ve been able to restore most of the things I took for granted before I injured myself in 2019. Plus, said family member has gotten good news twice in the past three months. Amidst all of the horrendous things that have happened relating to COVID-19 in 2020, I am grateful for what we have.
Yet, I’d be disingenuous if I said I have been enjoying life every day. There are big, daily challenges we face as a family. It’s stuff I talk about face-to-face, but I don’t blog about it. These challenges aren’t things that are going to change in a year’s time. The challenging stuff will be demanding for years to come. So when Sam, the main character in What You Wish For said this, I knew I found my word for 2021:
Consciously choosing to be joyful is what I realized I need to do, even when it’s hard. JOY. That’s the word that will guide me in 2021. Joy is something I will look for daily in 2021. I will aspire to find joy every day in 2021.
I don’t have a plan for exactly how I’m going to be joyful on a daily basis this year. So, it’s good that I’m the kind of person who reads the author’s note in books since Center recommended Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee. I have a feeling this book will be a roadmap for helping me find joy authentically, even when it’s hard. In the meantime, I will take walks when there’s no snow and ice on the ground, try (more) new recipes, and use face masks once a week since those are things that delight me. But before I read Joyful, I’ve got to finish A Promised Land. (I made it to page 486 of 752 last night!)