twentytwentyone

I mean, how do you even begin this post? I love writing these yearly posts but this year is just hitting a little different isn’t it? I don’t want to spend much time speaking about the elephant in the room, cos at this point we all know what’s up. I’m finding that constant mention of the pandemic is making my heart race. I’m sure it’s the same for many of you. So instead I want to just keep this post short and hopeful. Short because I don’t have much hope in me right now. Hopeful because we can’t exist without it. Whatever the situation, no matter how deep into it you are, no matter how much your mental health is holding on by a fraying thread, no matter how much you want to give up, no matter how much you’re dying for a hug or a proper pint or a maskless breath of fresh air, I think there is always hope.

Every single thing that happens in your life is temporary.

Read that again.

Every single thing that happens in your life is temporary.

I’m obviously not talking about death (etc.) here, don’t try and get smart with me. But what I mean is that every feeling and mindset and set of circumstances you find yourself in will be fleeting. Your world twists and turns and evolves constantly. Often quicker than you can keep up with. (2020, am I right?) A lot of things in our lives will feel out of our control, and honestly, a fucking lot of it is. But a lot of it isn’t. And that’s all we’ve got. So that’s what we should focus on. That’s where we find our hope. Make it tangible not abstract. Regain autonomy of our lives amongst the madness and fear. So I think that’s what we should all work on this year.

Just take a deep breath. Right now, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Okay. Push out of your brain all the things in your life right now that are unchangeable. I won’t list any because we all know the things that relate to ourselves specifically. Now I want you to let the things you can control float to your mind’s forefront. What is there? Maybe make a mental list. For me, a couple of things popping up are what I read, what activities I give my spare time to, how I nourish my body (mental/physical).

These are the things that are going to give us hope this year. So spend a little time thinking about what you would like from them. Maybe you’re into resolutions so you quantify your thoughts and write a list of goals. Maybe you’re not and you just think abstractly for a moment. Whatever works for you. But what I want you to do, any time over the next few months that you feel overwhelmed or hopeless or that you’re spiralling. Just stop. Everything. Pause for a second. Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Then circle back to this little list and think of one small thing you can do that day to develop one of them. Could be a walk. Could be putting a frozen pizza in. Could be watching your favourite tv show. Could be a nap. Could be as simple as getting yourself a cup of water. The things we’re controlling this year are not big. They’re the inconsequential every day, that all link together to become the most important parts of our lives. You might not be flying to Bali this year but you might give yourself ten minutes each day to journal and that is equally magical.

So what am I focussing on this year? A couple of little things.

  • I want to move my body more, however that feels right each day. Could be a run, yoga, some pilates. Could just be a walk. I’d like to incorporate more walks into my week, something positive I’m taking out of 2020.
  • I want to drink more water. I used to drink a lot but I’ve noticed now I’m usually sipping a black coffee. Oops!
  • I want to start working on my novel again. I didn’t touch it at all last year. Yikes. But I’m starting super small with just reading what I have and fixing any typos. You can have bigger goals but just break them down and down until they’re achievable little actionable tasks.
  • I want to read widely but slowly and intentionally. I had a very intense reading year last year, and I’m glad I did it and I had a lot of fun. But it was a lot. This year I want to find some new favourite books but I also want to fit in some tv, haha.
  • I want to connect better with my friends. I’m a famously bad messager but I don’t want to be. And checking in with people is so important, even more so now. So I’m working on it.
  • Oh and I want to buy a house. That’s not small but damn it, it’s happening!

So this ended up being a medium sized post. Turns out I had more hope than I realised. I hope you do too.

If you need help, reach out. To somebody, anybody. Could be me, doesn’t have to be. But don’t suffer alone. We truly are all in this together. And we’re surely reaching the home stretch now.

I hope your twentytwentyone is sublime.

Peace x

Kyoto – Phoebe Bridgers

Sarah To Zero

Hi!

You’re probably wondering what the heck ‘Sarah To Zero’ means.

We’ll get to that.

Today, I’m gonna share with you my reading goals for the year! But first I wanted to give you a little review and wrap up of last year.

Last year I had ten goals. TEN. Have I met me? I don’t know why I did that. Although, a lot of them were more just intentions and quite abstract. They weren’t massively rigid. So I think I actually did a good job of hitting them all a bit. I read almost every day. I didn’t allow seven consecutive weeks to pass without finishing a book. I read more women than men. So I’m feeling good about those and they’re habits I’d like to carry into the future.

My main goal was of course, the number of books I wanted to read. I set it at 50 again after a very busy December 2018 reading 17 books to meet my goal. I wanted to reach 50 more comfortably before I moved it up. Sensible, I thought.

WELL.

I only went and read 73 books! I was so bloody chuffed with myself, so it’s okay if you are too. Haha. I comfortably reached my goal in about September and after that I just wanted to see how further I could actually take it. I definitely went above my expectations.

But, you know, I can’t take all the credit. A big shout out has got to go out to my new best friends: audiobooks! For some reason I only started listening to these in the later section of the year. My office thankfully allows headphones and WOW the amount of books I’ve been able to listen to. I’ve really enjoyed the different medium as well, to be honest, and have no idea why I waited so long to try them!

So yeah, pretty solid year I think. I had a lot of fun.

But on to this year. The goals. So they’re ambitious. But simple.

They’re twofold.

I want to read 100 books.

Yeah, don’t question it. It’ll be fine. I already know I’ll be taking part in about three readathons; me and my mate are setting up a book club(!) (did you see my last post?); and I only discovered audiobooks in like October or something and that really boosted my book count so imagine an entire year of them! So I feel like I definitely have the tools to push my 73 up to 100. It’s just a matter of whether I use them.

I want to minimise my unread owned books as much as I possibly can.

This is Sarah To Zero. Get it? This is me reducing my owned unread books to zero. This has been something I’ve thought about for a long time, and actively tried to change over the last couple of years.

I love books.

I want to consume every word ever written. So it makes sense that I’ve bought several books over the years. It didn’t help that in university I lived two minutes away from an amazing second hand bookshop; this is the culprit for many of my books! Couple the buying with the fact I wasn’t reading more than twenty books a year and you are obviously left with disaster and disappointment.

But I want to change that.

And I like to be real with you guys. So I’ll tell you. I started twentytwenty with 214 owned but unread books.

Yikes.

Ideally, I think I’d like that number to be 20.

SO.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. But only I can control this number.

Therefore, making no books a top rule in my no buy for this year was paramount. I picked a 100 books to read because I like to push myself, and also because I think I can do it. But imagine getting to December 31st and only having 114 books left on my shelf. That floods me with relief, even though some of you are probably thinking, what the fuck Sarah, that’s still so many books!

For me, that’s not many.

And what’s funny is I’m desperate to read all the books on my shelf. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there. I wouldn’t have bought them. Or I would have donated them by now. It’s just a matter of slowly working through them. I want their knowledge.

My newfound love for audiobooks is also going to help me out here. I have an existing subscription to Scribd (which is therefore allowed to continue according to my no buy rules) and I’ve already discovered that a massive amount of my physical shelf is on here. Being able to listen to them in work is going to hugely impact my ability to crush through them. Last year I listened to a lot of books I don’t own, because the magic of discovery was so exciting. But this year I have a clear focus so listening to the books that I already physically own will really help me reduce my shelf. So yeah, Sarah To Zero. It’s happening.

And that’s it. Didn’t you see in my twentytwenty post that simplicity is my word of the year? I really mean it.

What are your reading goals for the year? I’d love to hear them! Have you set an unrealistic goal for yourself? Do you want to get back into reading after having a long break? Do you own too many books like me and have a similar challenge to reduce them? Let me know!

Since joining it a while ago, I’ve found bookstagram a really motivating place. It makes me want to read more. So if you’re struggling or needing some inspiration definitely check the world out. My bookstagram is @theunreliablereader 🙂

The Wolves (Act I and II) – Bon Iver