My 2023 Year in Review – 2023 Lessons
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Surprise, Surprise! (that’s one of my favorite expressions here recently in 2023) Do you know the meme of the lady singing “Surprise, Surprise!”
The videos that people make with that clip are SO funny and I started using that expression in my own life – and told everyone they need to say “surprise, surprise” instead of just “surprise,” from now on. I crack myself up!
And, another surprise, surprise – I thought the singer was Blanche from the Golden Girls – but apparently, it’s Cilla Black – that really was a surprise when I googled it!
But -the original surprise for this post is that there IS a post!
I couldn’t resist my end of year tradition of creating a wrap up based on all my monthly interviews with myself throughout the year.
Here are the previous years’ wrap ups:
What’s Been Happening in 2023
I’ll share some big changes, some surprises, the lessons I’m continuing to learn and some lessons that I *think* I might have finally learned!
Then, I’ll let you know what I I’m thinking about for 2024
With the podcast: obviously. We’ve had far fewer episodes, only 10 this whole season. I LOVEd the freedom of it! I have been doing so many different things and I’ve loved not having the routine (or the pressure) of producing a weekly podcast episode – but always having the option to create one if I wanted to.
Move from Gilbert back to our previous house in Chandler. We got to go through the entire process of decluttering and putting half of our stuff in storage, and selling furniture to stage our house and get it “show ready” to sell.
I was very nervous about living in a “sell and show-ready” mode until we found a buyer and made it through the transaction, but luckily, I manifested an easy, breezy showing and selling experience and we got exactly what we wanted on the first try!
Moving back into our old house (that had been a rental) included a tiny bit of construction because I wanted my office to be in the front of the house instead of in a bedroom – so we had a wall built and a door installed and I got to create a spacious, beautiful, light-filled office for myself which I love spending all my time in!
Now, we’re currently working on another renovation project for a rental property. Again, I’m getting the opportunity to learn so much about myself and my expectations and saying No when it’s really a no.
Time in Santa Fe
We were also lucky enough to spend over 3 weeks in Santa Fe, New Mexico this past year – spread over 2 different visits. I love spending time there. I’m so attracted to the different vibe, energy and pace. I’m intrigued by the displacement from being in my own routine, familiar surroundings. And I’m not tired of Santa Fe yet. The list of places I want to try out and visit and revisit keeps growing! So, we already have 2 trips planned for 2024!
Surprises I Didn’t Plan for or Expect
Frientimacy Book Club
I got to participate in an unexpected book club earlier this year. I hadn’t heard of the book or the author before and I had only met the book club members once or twice before and it was an AMAZING experience.
I loved the book Frientimacy by Shasta Nelson and have since recommended it to so many people.
I appreciated our group discussions. I really enjoyed hearing the other members’ perspectives and personal examples. I’ve started using what I learned from that book and our discussions in my own relationships.
Another surprise that I would not have guessed would show up in my 2023 Daily Planner Pages has been participating as a Mentor in a mentoring program being piloted by the AZ Dept of Housing and ASUs School of Social Work. The goal of the program is to pair caring, stable adults with young adults who have transitioned out of homelessness.
This program has been an eye opening and perspective widening experience for me. I was just recently matched with my mentee, so we’re still getting to know each other and I’m still learning what it’s like to be a mentor. The program office is in Downtown Phoenix – very near to where I lived in my early 20s, so being around people in that age range and going to that area a few times per month has brought back so many nostalgic memories for me.
Started teaching Painting Workshops
One of the most creative and fun surprises of 2023 is that I have started teaching Painting Workshops or Paint Parties! It started out as exclusively teaching Dog Portraits – since that’s the subject I exclusively paint these days.
But, in the past few weeks, the stars have aligned and I now have the opportunity to teach other types of paintings too. If you’re in the East Valley of the Greater Phoenix area, I hope you’ll join me for an Intentional Woman Paint Party on Wednesday, January 10th. You can see all the details for this event at bexb.org/letsmeet
Caffeine by Michael Pollan
In previous years, I’ve shared my entertainment and Pop Culture recommendations from the past 12 months, but this year, I’m only going to share 1. It’s Caffeine by Michael Pollan on Audible. I’ve been a big fan of Michal Pollan for many years and I saw this title pop up on my audible suggestions so I decided to listen. It was so good. It is informative, completely relatable and funny at times. I had been abstaining from caffeine for about 6 months when I listened to the book, and after hearing it, I decided to start caffeine again – and I feel so much better! I’m so, so, so grateful that book had me reconsider the decision I made earlier this year.
Let’s talk about the Lessons I’m still learning in 2023. I can not call these lessons learned, because as I compiled them and as I relistened to my previous Year End Wrap Up episodes and heard them in past years, I know I probably haven’t fully learned these lessons yet – but I’m still working on them!
Don’t agree to what I don’t really want to do, say no when I get the nudge.
This is not a new lesson! I think I’ve mentioned it multiple times each year – and here I am in 2023, STILL learning this lesson!
I really need to be clear with myself about my own expectations – I can choose my own expectations.
This lesson was mentioned in 2 separate months – so again, a lesson I’m continuing to learn!
Things will probably not be as bad as my brain says. Things aren’t as hard as my brain tells me they will be.
This lesson was also mentioned in 2 separate months – so also, a lesson I’m continuing to learn!
Compulsion to Complete
The next lesson is noticing that I have a compulsion to complete. When I start something, I feel like I need to see it through to completion, even if I’ve changed my mind, or the purpose has changed.
I thought this was a new lesson for this year – but as I was listening to my prior years’ wrap up episodes, I heard this phrase – so it seems like it’s something I’m continuing to get comfortable with.
Sometimes it’s kind to interrupt.
I love to notice my own reaction to interactions and other peoples’ reactions. My brain likes to replay conversations and wonder what the other person was thinking or hoping for in our exchange. I’m so curious about noticing when people behave differently than I would in social situations.
Partly because of the book Frientimacy, I’ve been really paying attention to what I share, and how vulnerable I get in conversations. and Now, frequently, I consider if I’m getting what I want from an interaction.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I am usually not comfortable interrupting someone else when they’re speaking. Sometimes I do, if I have a very compelling reason, but (I think) I don’t often interrupt. I wait until there’s a break in conversation to add my opinion or ask a question or share an experience.
No Conversational Break
Sometimes, depending on who I’m talking with, that break never comes.
I’m also noticing that sometimes people fill the silence because they’re uncomfortable with the silence.
I also know that sometimes people get started talking and then keep going and they don’t want to or mean to monopolize the conversation, but they don’t remember to pause, or ask questions (and sometimes that leads to oversharing more than they meant to or embarrassment about talking too much).
So, the lesson I’m learning and still getting comfortable with is that sometimes, it’s kind for me to interrupt. It gives them a chance to pause. It allows me, or someone else, to contribute to the conversation.
Sometimes, it can be more inclusive to interrupt.
And finally, as I wrap up this year’s wrap up – I have 2 lessons to share with you that I feel like I have actually, finally learned- not currently still learning.
I feel pretty good about my balance! As I heard myself talking about balance in how I spend my time in previous years, I realized this hasn’t been an issue at all for me lately – so then I started wondering, why not?
I think part of it is all the thinking and reflecting and experimenting I’ve done around the topic of work-life balance in the past few years.
Also, I’ve changed my labels and identities of how I refer to myself. Since 2020, I’ve shifted from considering myself a Business Owner/Entrepreneur to Self Employed to Self Employed on a very part time basis to now thinking of myself as Post Employed.
It’s so interesting to me that the label I use for myself – both to myself and when I introduce myself to other people – has such an impact on how I think about myself and how I spend my time.
Earlier this month I was at a dinner with some new and current friends and so we were all introducing ourselves and saying what we do. When it was my turn, I talked about how – in a very part time way – I support people in their journaling and that I have a journal and notebook shop.
A friend sitting across from me said “but what about dog painting?!?!” and I said: “Yes! I can’t believe I didn’t mention it – my side hustle has a side hustle.”
We all laughed, but it’s not just funny. It’s true. and I really think that change in my identity has helped me not be so urgent and frenzied about my own schedule and productivity.
The last lesson learned that I’m sharing with you today is that: I’d rather be lucky than smart – this realization just came to me in the past few weeks and I love it!
Another tangential lesson I noticed throughout the year is that I don’t want the pressure of “having to be” smart. That means choosing the most effective way to do something. Getting it right the first time. Knowing what to expect. Not making mistakes- those are concepts that fit into my idea of what it means to be smart – and since I’ve tied being smart to my self concept, all those “rules” go along with it. And it’s a lot of pressure.
So, I decided, I’d rather be lucky than smart. If my self concept is that I’m a lucky person (which I am), I don’t have to know the probable outcome in advance. I don’t have to know the smartest way to do something. I’ll never tell myself I should have known something. I’ll just enjoy being a lucky person who knows she isn’t always going to be lucky 100% of the time. What a great lesson!
What’s Coming Up in 2024
Shifting focus to Journaling Support
I am currently planning to be more present on this site again in a more niche way.
For next year, I plan to share a lot of information, insights and tips about releasing resistance to journaling. I imagine that most of my posts will center around journaling practices and how to get the benefits of journaling.
If you’re a non-journaler and in no way journal-curious, I’m still inviting you to follow along because I think many journaling techniques and concepts can be adapted to other types of practices.
Invested Journaling Membership and Weekly-ish Book Club
I’m not holding myself to a specific date just yet, but I am so excited to be launching an invested journaling membership and weekly-ish book club in 2024.
Invested means that there will be a time and money contribution to be a member of the community.
I can just see so many benefits for the members (and for me) to having an invested commitment.
I’m making it sound more serious than it is. I’m envisioning an upgraded and expanded version of what I’m already currently offering in the Journaling + Friendship Meetup and Facebook groups. The investment will be minimal, but meaningful.
I’ve noticed in myself (and I’ve heard from other people) that we appreciate things more when we make a decision to pay for them. There’s a little bit more of a commitment and participation than with the things we get for free, and might, therefore, take for granted.
I’ve joined 2 memberships in the past few months and I can see how seriously I’m consuming the content and participating in the offerings as compared to when I join something for free, on a whim.
I hope you’re already curious and considering joining the membership. Stay tuned and keep following along so that you can be one of our founding members!
Continuing to Teach Painting
As I mentioned, in 2024, I’m continuing to offer Painting Workshops.
I have partnered with a location in Chandler with our first event being held on 01/10/24 and with a plan to offer 2 events per month.
I’m also looking for other venues that would love to host and I’m also available to come to people’s homes for private paint parties – if you want to get a group of friends or family together to paint.
Continuing to Create Journals, Provide Prompts and Host Meetups
I’m also continuing to create new journals – for myself and for you.
I’ve used some of the phrases that have come up as I reflected on my year as journal titles for my own 2024 blank journals that I’ll be using.
My first one is called Making It Up as I Go Along – it’s got vibrant neon colors streaking around the cover.
I also have a fun rabbit-themed notebook called Running through Rabbit Holes because I love to get lost following new topics and seeing where they lead me.
I’m thinking now I probably need a journal with a title about being lucky – what do you think it should be called? What should it look like?
You can also plan on seeing journal prompts from me every day in the Journaling and Friendship facebook group, plus I’m continuing to send out a weekly gentle journaling check in with prompts, tips or mantras every Sunday.
You can find out more about both of those by sharing your email at bexb.org/weekly
I hope to see you at Podclub on the 1st Thursday of each month where instead of having to read a whole book, we just listen to 1 podcast episode and then get together on Zoom to discuss.
Or, maybe I’ll see you at one of our in person or online Journaling + Friendship sessions, where we journal alone, together for 20 minutes, then spend the rest of the hour in a friendly conversation.