My 2022 had its challenges and macroeconomic complexity threatens to make 2023 harder still.
Call me naive then but I maintain that it will be difficult to surpass the crush that was 2020, and even the daze that was 2021. I am optimistic that even if 2023 features a recession it will be a painful part of the journey out of this pandemic.
That attitude shines through in my resolutions for next year. I have two kids, new hobbies and a very different business than I had in 2019.
Years back, I only read a handful of books each year and spent a lot more time on articles, blog posts and social media. Around 2016, I started publishing notes here that I took from the few books I did read, and I found it helpful to review what I learned from a slower, deeper medium.
From then on, I resolved to put more time into books, and I kicked that off with a resolution to focus on women and authors of color. A book a month seemed a realistic goal, as I juggled work and other priorities. Then the pandemic hit. In 2020, which included the birth of my first child, I read far less, and I thought my goal was doomed. But by 2021, I rediscovered my neighborhood library and found that I needed an escape from the breaking news — while still learning. I read more books in 2021 than ever before in my adult life. Then in 2022 I more than doubled that total — even though my second kid arrived that year.
Point is that I’ve gotten great joy out of engaging with books, especially from that local library. Below I recap the books I read this year for my own recollection.
Note: This historic church in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood is being replaced.
I want to tell you the parable of St Laurentius Church
St Laurentius is an old church, at least by American standards. It was built in 1882, with the donations from Polish families who wanted something of their own — beyond the other Catholic Church nearby that catered to Irish Catholics.
If 2020 was a collapse, 2021 was a timid rebound. I hope to return to goals of 2019 with newfound learning and momentum to make 2022 something special.
Last year was a step back toward friends and family, thanks to a historic vaccination program and despite ensuing covid variants. I’m optimistic for continuing the development of a post-pandemic world — even though we know now that covid will almost certainly transition into a new seasonal affliction.
I see hopeful sign posts. I have plans to attend a wedding in each of the first four months of this year, all of which were postponed at least once, and they are planned to have the good food and dancing that any good wedding of old once had. For at least two of them, SACMW and I will be staying in hotels, while our baby stays with a grandparent; I understand these were once fairly normal acts in The Before Times but they’re novel, and downright exciting, to me now.
I am very eager to return to some form of travel in 2022 but it all feels so uncertain. So, though I initially considered resolutions like “Use my passport again” and “Get on a plane,” the pandemic and new parenthood combined kept those off the list for this year. Nonetheless, I have high hopes for next year.
This year was better than 2020 but boy it brought its own historic stresses.
I am thankful for the remarkable vaccination program, for frontline workers, fiscal stimulus and the limitless inventiveness of humanity. I saw more family and friends this year than in 2020. My coworkers and I got ourselves to a stronger position than where we were even in 2019. I’ve regained a balance on knowing I am both extraordinarily fortunate and regularly challenged by the world.
Earlier this year, burnout caught up to me, and I had to confront those demons. I took a step back from social media and spent more time with my baby daughter and good books. Much of what I loved about my life in 2019 is still on a pandemic pause (travel, routine restaurant visits, indoor events and more). I found ritual and joy and added new habits. No matter how much this pandemic changes the world for good, I’ve changed — as a parent, the owner of a remote-only company and just a bit older and more experienced.
Thank you to so many who helped me grow this year. I hope I contributed at least as much.
Develop your internal motivation. Focus. Be kind. Ignore the rest.
I read Neil Pasricha’s 2016 book The Happiness Equation as part of a pandemic-fatigue powered period of self-discovery. It certainly has its gimmicks and many of the concepts felt familiar to me. Still, I did appreciate the book and came away refocused on returning to being a happier person during such a tumultuous time.
Below I share a few of my notes from reading the book, though I recommend you buy a copy yourself.
I finally read the acclaimed 2015 science fiction book The Fifth Season, which kicks off the Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin. It was beautiful and enthralling. Lots challenged our relationship to our world and those who are different, and many lines were memorable but two stuck with me as representing those two points:
“Neither myths nor mysteries can hold a candle to the most infinitesimal spark of hope.”
As a character thinks while on a long, desperate march: “There are boring parts, like…when the fields give away to stretches of dim forest so quiet and close that Damaya hardly dares speak for fear of angering the trees.”
More slowly than I’d like to admit, I’ve changed behaviors in recent years. A resolution of mine for this year has been to do more. I wanted to capture a small accounting of what I’ve done so far and how I think I can do more.
Most prominently, last fall, we installed a 12-panel solar array on our roof. According to projections from our installer Solar States, this should more than account for our electricity usage.
Because of that installation, we replaced our traditional natural-gas hot water heater with a heat pump variety from A.O. Smith. We intend to turnover our other appliances (stove, clothes dryer and furnace) too, as part of electrification. Despite being a home from the 1890s, transitioning all of our home to electricity which can be primarily served by our solar installation will be an important contribution. I’ve happily encouraged a couple friends to follow this same transition.