Random Thoughts

Looking Forward

The first day of the new year at Joshua Tree National Park

For the last several New Year’s Eves, our nights were spent somewhere far from home, usually with friends, and always with party poppers, glow sticks, and raucous dancing involved. But this New Year’s Eve was different. It was quiet. It was just the three of us, ringing in 2017 with a last-minute staycation in Palm Desert. We cranked up the heat in the pool of our rental house and took a midnight skinny dip together, passed out early (well, early for us) and started the first day of the new year with a leisurely stroll through Joshua Tree National Park.

Exploring Joshua Tree National Park

It was a clear and sunny day, the air was clean and crisp, and we were in no rush to accomplish anything that morning (evidenced by the fact that we returned to Palm Desert almost two hours later than planned, missed the opportune start time for a hike we wanted to do in Painted Canyon, and decided to spend the rest of the day in the 98-degree pool with our friends who’d driven in that afternoon).

And so, all of that has more or less set the tone for the new year.

Right now, I’m sitting in my pajamas, sipping tea and eating stroopwafels, and staring at a strangely empty calendar that’s typically packed with projects around the house and adventures in far-flung places. Sure, there are some small to-dos and weekend trips on the horizon, but most aren’t set in stone and I find myself saying things like maybe… and we’ll see… when it comes to making plans for the year ahead.

This year, I’m feeling a need to set aside more downtime, flexibility, and spontaneity in my schedule. It’s a welcome change from the chaos of 2016, which I leaped into head first with a 2,000-mile road trip, baby showers on opposite ends of the state, the birth of my daughter, a book deal, and several other writing projects (all in the first three months!) that had me running on high speed until the holidays.

Setting off on a 2000-mile babymoon road trip

But this year? This year I have a new book coming out, of course, but I’m not thinking a massive book tour à la The CSA Cookbook Road Trip (for now, anyway… we’ll see if I start itching to travel a few thousand miles this summer). I’m not hustling as hard, I haven’t even begun to figure out when and where I might be doing events, and I don’t know what kind of brand collaborations will be happening on the blog. I’m actually embracing the uncertainty of the next few months but confident that when the right opportunities pop up, everything else will fall in place.

I guess you can say… slow and steady is the theme for 2017. And I’m liking where it’s going so far. I’m open to every possibility and in the meantime, I’m relishing the calm and quiet that I haven’t felt for the last 12 months. (As calm and quiet as life with an almost-toddler can be, anyway.)

Homegrown beets

Looking forward, I’m finally going to devote some real attention to my garden after two summers of haphazard planting amid all the traveling. I’m going to make time to surf again and take sunset walks by the beach. And I’m going to start on gradual improvements to the blog, which, unbelievably, will be turning seven this year! (By the way, huge heaps of thanks to all of you who have submitted your feedback to my blog reader survey. It has helped immensely with figuring out where to concentrate my efforts, and while the overwhelming opinion is to keep the blog as-is, I know that a few thoughtful tweaks here and there will make it that much more usable and enjoyable for you, my readers. If you haven’t had a chance to send in your survey yet, I’d love to hear from you.)

It feels good to get back to “the sweetness of doing nothing” (il dolce far niente) that I love so much, to go with the flow and not overfill my plate. It feels good to have these long stretches of idle time in my day to rediscover all the things that made me fall in love with my home and my garden to begin with.

Here’s to slow and steady, simple inspirations and longer days ahead. Happy New Year, all!

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »