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