Year of New 2021: Week 1

I decided at the end of last year that I’d attempt to restart my Year of New project on January 1. I abandoned last year’s attempt pretty early on, even before COVID-19’s impact fully hit the States, as I quickly realized it was feeling more like a chore than a creative outlet.

I sort of feel like I spent the end of 2020 in creative recovery, similar to what Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way aims to do for its students. 202 was a long, hard year where I didn’t feel like doing anything creative. In the last couple of months, however, I could feel this start to change. But instead of launching into something big, I wanted to try a smaller, more incremental endeavor. This led me back to Year of New.

I started the Year of New project on January 1, 2016, at a point in my life where I felt stuck. I figured that forcing myself to do one new thing each day–even a small thing, like eating a new sandwich–would likely pay dividends in other areas of my life. And I was right. Because of the Year of New project, I’ve repeatedly forced myself out of my comfort zone and off the beaten path. It has helped me shift the expectations I have of myself, others, and what is possible in my life.

If you want to know more about the project, I spoke with the wonderful Kimberly Wilson about it on her podcast Tranquility du Jour back in early 2019. Kimberly’s podcast was the first one I started listening to, way back in 2006(!), so I was honored to join as her guest.

Here’s what I did during Week 1 (plus a couple of extra days–I decided to go with Sunday-Saturday weeks and tack the first couple of days of the year onto this one):

January 1

For New Year’s Eve, I booked a room at the Standard East Village. I’m 99% certain I hadn’t ever woken up in a hotel room on New Year’s Day before this year, and I definitely had never woken up in this particular hotel on January 1 or any other morning.

January 2

I started reading Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love. I’m kind of obsessed with Dolly because she’s more glamorous than I am and it makes me mad. Kidding, sort of, but she’s a very good follow on Instagram and I’ve been excited to read this book for a while.

January 3

I watched Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2. I’d somehow never seen a Fellini film, and my BFF Adriana recommended I start with La Dolce Vita (she is an expert in all things Italian as she has a PhD in Italian Language and Literature; also is Italian-American), it wasn’t available to stream ANYWHERE so I went with 8 1/2. And I loved it.

January 4

Took an incredible vegan Chinese cooking class with Diana Kuan through Brooklyn Brainery (via Zoom, obviously). We made General Tso’s Tofu and Cauliflower (I subbed seitan for the tofu as I couldn’t find the sturdier baked/smoked tofu Diana recommended and it worked beautifully). I really recommend taking one of Diana’s classes. I’m typically pretty slow on knife skills but I was able to keep up with the class and the meal was AMAZING.

January 5

I took the day off because my cat had dental surgery and needed to run an errand in Manhattan, so I decided to take advantage of the lack of line outside Grace Street and picked up an order of their vegan matcha beignets. Did not disappoint!

January 6

I decided to start learning Japanese on Duolingo. I’ve been doing French for a while (recently lost my 400+ day streak but started over on New Year’s Day) but hadn’t checked out any of their other language courses until now. I started teaching myself Japanese in high school but only using English characters, never kanji, so this is all brand new to me.

January 7

Took an Introduction to Classical Music class, again through Brooklyn Brainery. This was a great primer!

January 8

I celebrated David Bowie’s birthday by rediscovering one of my favorite chilhood pastimes: face painting! When I was a kid I had an amazing Klutz Press face painting book and loved to take over our downstairs bathroom to morph into a mouse or tiger. (The original seems to be out of print but there’s a newer one–though reviews suggest the new one isn’t quite as good.) It was just as fun as an adult–looking forward to trying out some other ideas!

January 9

I bought a saxophone! I’ve been planning to start playing again ever since I suddenly remembered I could play the sax a few years ago. After spending the past few months researching options for something to relearn on, I pulled the trigger on an inexpensive model this week. (It looks like the pink one is currently sold out, but there are a bunch of other colors available.)

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