Pop.Bop.Shop. began as a New Year's resolution in January 2009, so annual goals have always been a part of its DNA.
In January 2015, I started sharing my list of personal resolutions, updating you on my progress throughout the year. If you'd like to revisit any of those previous lists, I am linking to all of my year-end recaps here:
- 2015 New Year's Resolutions
- 2016 New Year's Resolutions
- 2017 New Year's Resolutions
- 2018 New Year's Resolutions
- 2019 New Year's Resolutions
- 2020 New Year's Resolutions
To be completely honest, I wasn't sure if I would publish a list for 2021. We're still in the middle of a global pandemic. There are so many restrictions on what is possible right now, which certainly makes dreaming up new intentions a bit . . . limiting.
I spoke to many family members and friends about this conundrum. Would it be fun to follow along with a list of resolutions that was mostly at-home activities or modified for social distancing?
In the end, my dad had a great idea. He suggested I share this list in two parts: one section for pandemic times and another section for post-COVID hopes and aspirations.
With that in mind, here we go!
1. Commit to a meditation practice
Last spring, I was venting to my cousin's wife about how stressed and anxious I was feeling. It had been two months since my office had gone fully remote and I was really struggling. She recommended that I try meditation. She suggested an app called Insight Timer. It is free to use and has hundreds of different options.
I downloaded the app on May 25, 2020 and since then I have meditated at least once per day for 173 days. All in, I've meditated for over 1,100 minutes!
I find that I use the app in a few different ways. Most often I meditate right when I wake up, helping me transition from sleeping to beginning the day. During times of extreme stress at work, it helps me to feel less overwhelmed. Sometimes I will even do an anti-anxiety meditation during the work day to calm myself down.
I also use the app at night, especially when I am having trouble falling asleep. The sound of the teacher's voice gives me something to focus on, rather than letting my thoughts run wild.
So far, my favorite teachers are David Gandelman, Barbara Gibson, Leslie Erdhardt and Nicole.For.Real (yes, that's her actual username).
In 2021, I want to continue meditating, with the goal of doing five sessions per week.
2. Decorate the Hull house
In my 2020 resolutions recap, I shared the exciting news that I purchased a beach house in Hull, MA, the town where my dad grew up and where I spent every summer making memories with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
I got the key in late November, and since then I have been working to make the place my own. I made several furniture purchases on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (lucky timing), including this console which will eventually be the spot where I put the TV.
I also snagged some artwork on Society6. This framed print will go in my bedroom.
Most of the things I ordered are taking 8-12 weeks to get delivered, so I still have a little bit to go before the bigger pieces arrive. I am most excited for the dining room set and the living room couch.
In December, I had the hardwood floors refinished. I also moved in a bunch of furniture that my aunt and cousins passed on to me - two beds, two dressers, a night stand and a big mirror.
This month, I am having the interior of the house painted. I am looking forward to every single room feeling fresh. With the painting complete, I can begin to set up each room in earnest.
As I share resolutions progress updates throughout this year, I will be sure to include plenty of photos of the house. I have been giving small, real-time updates on Instagram, so if we aren't connected there, please follow along @mollygaller.
3. Reserve a private movie screen
One of the things I miss most about life before the pandemic is going to the movies. I love the experience of reserving a ticket to see a brand new flick, grabbing your favorite snack (gummi bears for me), settling into a giant recliner, and seeing a new story for the first time alongside a room full of other giddy movie goers.
Just before lockdown in March, the Majestic movie theater opened at Arsenal Yards in Watertown. I was so thrilled to have a theater less than five minutes from my house, and because of COVID, I couldn't even go to it!
Well, the team at the Majestic has found a way to allow people in safely. For $200 dollars, you can reserve a movie screen for 20 people or less. You choose the film - either something currently playing or available in their archive - and you can enjoy it with a very small group of family and friends.
I saw a few friends do this over the holiday break and now I'm eager to experience it. I mentioned to two of best gal pals that I thought it would be a fun outing on Valentine's Day (which is on a Sunday this year). I hope we'll be able to book it!
4. Spotlight small businesses every month
On January 4, 2021 I celebrated 12 years of Pop.Bop.Shop. In that anniversary blog post, I mentioned that one of my primary focuses this year is going to be spotlighting small businesses.
During the pandemic, it has been increasingly difficult for store and restaurant owners to welcome guests in any sort of "normal" way. There are limits on how many people can be indoors and how far apart they need to stand. There are new protocols for cleaning and disinfecting. Many places have had to furlough or layoff the majority of their team. It's heartbreaking.
I thought long and hard about how I could use this platform to help these local spots survive the pandemic times and make it through to the other side. I plan to share a list every single month for the next 12 months that highlights 5-10 independent businesses that deserve your support.
These lists will be a mix of bakeries, bookstores, boutiques, gift shops and restaurants. If there is a particular category you'd like to see included, please let me know!
I am already thinking ahead to unique ideas for Valentine's Day. If you are a small business owner who will be offering something special this year, please reach out.
Now we've come to the portion of the list that can only exist in a post-COVID world. I am optimistic that I will get the vaccine this year and that we'll start to see a slow return to some of the activities we used to enjoy before the pandemic. It goes without saying that my priorities are to see my family again, reunite with friends, and hug everyone!
What follows are goals that are a bit more specific.
5. Enjoy more moments of self-care
While I've found ways to relax at home (hot showers, face masks, heated neck pillows), I really miss spa treatments. For months I've been fantasizing about getting a pedicure.
Now that the temperatures in Boston are consistently at or below freezing, I've also been dreaming about a hot stone massage.
When it is safe to return to these types of outings, Essential Therapies in Bolton, MA will be my first stop. It's a small spa that has a beautiful outdoor area including a sauna and a hot tub. They also have wonderfully luxurious robes.
Booking these kinds of appointments always felt like a splurge, but after all we've been through the past 10 months, I think we've earned it!
6. Return to indoor dining
I used to dine out 5-7 nights per week and I miss it terribly. While it's been amazing to be able to order takeout from so many of my favorite spots, there are certain places where the ambiance is a major part of the experience.
I've started to keep a short list in my phone of the places I can't wait to revisit once indoor dining is safe again. Below are my top picks for the three cities I spend the most time in.
Double Chin: This Chinatown gem is known for its creative plating, which simply cannot be recreated inside the confines of a takeout box. I miss their whimsy!
Fox & the Knife: Top Chef star Karen Akunowicz runs one of my favorite restaurants in the entire city of Boston. I long to sit at the bar, overlooking the open kitchen, pulling apart fresh pieces of focaccia bread stuffed with taleggio cheese.
Pammy's: I long for the coziness of the Pammy's dining room, the sound of ice in my freshly made cocktail and the twirl of homemade pasta around my fork.
Posto: I have gotten takeout from Posto many times, but nothing beats a glass of red wine and people watching next to the glow of the pizza oven.
Sweet Cheeks Q: Chef / owner Tiffani Faison's BBQ joint is the stuff dreams are made of. I've been craving a giant mason jar of sweet tea, a hot biscuit and the lunch lady tray full of goodies - farm salad, broccoli casserole, potato salad and mac & cheese. I just drooled a little typing that.
Tony & Elaine's: While you can get takeout and delivery from Tony & Elaine's, nothing beat sitting in one of their red leather booths, popping mozzarella sticks, indulging in rich pasta dishes and saving room for a cannoli.
New York City:
Jack's Wife Freda: This is one of my all-time favorite spots and I can't wait to shimmy into one of their booths and stuff my face.
Marta: If I close my eyes, I can see and taste Marta's burrata pizza. I would say I think about that pie at least twice a week.
The Smith: When I make my eventual return to The Smith I will be wearing elastic waist pants so I can stuff my face with reckless abandon. I miss the chips and dip, the tempura fried green beans, the crock of tomato soup covered with melted cheese - all of it!
1-800-Lucky: It is well documented here on the blog that this is my favorite spot in Miami. I can't wait to bop from stall to stall, picking out dishes and holding 4-5 buzzers in my hand waiting for each one to be ready.
Doc B's: The first time I went to Doc B's was in Chicago, but its Coral Gables location is now my go-to. I miss the guacamole with sweet potato chips, the giant salads and the generous slices of chocolate cake.
Let's hope that we'll back back to dining inside sometime in 2021. If it wasn't abundantly clear, I'm ready!
7. Vacation in Palm Springs
Once it's safe to travel again (without weeks of preparation, COVID tests, masks and face shields) there are many places I want to revisit and head to for the first time. But before I do any of that, I want to get back to Palm Springs, CA.
In June 2018, I went there with four girlfriends and had one of the most memorable trips of my life. We rented an incredible house that had a private pool, hot tub and amazing outdoor eating area.
I still dream about the day beds by the pool.
I want to go back to Cheeky's for brunch.
And get gussied up for happy hour at The Parker.
And laugh all night on the patio at Birba, while noshing on roasted cauliflower and thin crust pizzas.
I want to cool off with frosty treats at Great Shakes (garnished with mini donuts!).
Honestly, I miss everything about Palm Springs. Imagining myself there again with the girls is a thought that has kept me going all these months.
There you have it. My realistic (and reluctant) resolutions for 2021. As I have in years past, I will plan to share a few progress updates throughout the year.
Tell me, are you setting any goals for this year? Or does it all seem too uncertain? I'd love to hear from you.
*Insight Timer image courtesy of @insighttimer on Twitter, Majestic 7 image courtesy of Arsenal Yards, Essential Therapies image courtesy of Essential Therapies on Facebook. All other photography by Molly Galler.