I have been chronicling my New Year's resolutions here on Pop.Bop.Shop. since January 2015. I've always found it a motivating and joyful way to set goals, share dreams, and talk with all of you about your aspirations.
This year has felt different than any other. In 2020, we were in shock. The year began normally. I even traveled to Israel and Curacao in the first eight weeks. Then in March 2020, COVID reached the U.S. and we went into lockdown. It was a year of fear and isolation.
In April 2021, I was able to get vaccinated. That moment brought with it hope and optimism that I hadn't felt the previous 11 months. I was looking forward to returning to restaurants, traveling again, and reuniting with family and friends.
While I did get a few months of that move toward normalcy, as I sit here on December 29, it feels like we're headed into a lockdown again. Or at least stricter rules. The Omicron variant is spreading, COVID case numbers are rising, and instead of spending the holiday break going out, I'm staying in and trying to keep myself and others safe from exposure.
When I sat down in January 2021 to write my resolutions list, I had a tough time. It felt like we were in a strange limbo with so many unknowns. If you read the original list or the progress updates I shared in June, then you know I wrote the list in two parts: things I could do during the pandemic, and things I hoped to do if we got to the other side of this.
Today I'm sharing my year-end recap and I have to be honest, I feel like many of these goals were thwarted by things completely out of my control. I knew that was a possibility, but reflecting back on the past 12 months, I can't help but feel sad about this stagnant place we're in with COVID.
There are seven resolutions on this year's list. Let's have some real talk.
1. Commit to a meditation practice
Status: Zen master. For me, this year, meditation was like oxygen. Whenever I needed to calm down, quell my anxiety, move through an angry moment, try to fall asleep, or just start the day on a positive note, I meditated.
I have been using the app Insight Timer since May 2020 and I can't recommend it enough. It's free to use and there is such a wide variety of options for every type of meditation - guided, music, multi-part courses, sessions for kids - it's amazing.
Insight Timer tracks my stats and as of today, I've meditated for a total of 41 hours and 58 minutes. My daily average is seven minutes. The longest single session was 37 minutes (I remember that night, I was desperately trying to fall asleep) and the most I've mediated in a single day was three separate sessions.
If you're curious about meditation, I'd love to chat with you about it and share what has worked for me. I was a total skeptic, but it's completely changed how I manage my stress, and as a result, relieved me from a lot of physical pain (I was carrying all of that in right shoulder) and helped me to be much less reactive.
2. Decorate the Hull house
Status: Decor galore! In my last update in June, I was getting ready for my family to arrive for the summer. My sister, brother-in-law and nephew were planning to stay with me for the whole month of July, and my parents had a few trips on the books in July, August and September. Knowing they were coming gave me a deadline to work towards.
Where we last left off, I had half of a couch. West Elm had delivered one side of my L-shaped sectional in the wrong color. I ordered it in December 2020, got one half in May 2021, and wound up getting the correct second piece during the third week of September 2021. Nearly a year after I ordered it!
I am proud to say that the decorating phase of the nesting process is complete. The floors have been refinished, the walls have been painted, art work has been hung, furniture has been arranged, the front porch has been transformed, an outdoor shower has been installed - things are feeling settled.
While there are still more upgrades I'd like to make - switch out some light fixtures, add more AC units - the major stuff is done.
It feels amazing to welcome people into the house now and give them a tour of a space that feels like me and the dream I had to create a summer oasis for my family.
I thought it would be fun to share a few snaps to give you a sense of how things came together.
This is the front porch. It's everyone's favorite space in the house. Some people wake up and drink their coffee out there, I like to read out there, and it's the perfect hang out spot when we get back from the beach, but we're not quite ready for dinner.
My bestie had the genius idea to replace the poop colored linoleum on the floor out there with a bright and cheerful pattern. These tiles are peel and stick from Home Depot. Over Memorial Day weekend, she and another one of our fave girls spent hours sweeping, placing, and cutting these into perfect position. They make me happy every single time I open the porch door.
This is my shell collection, most of which I gathered while splashing in tide pools with my nephew all summer. I taught him how to hold the spiral shell up to his ear and listen to the ocean.
My grandmother used to collect sea glass and display it in jars on her front porch in Hull. As soon as I closed on the house, I knew I wanted to do that too. I'm still working on filling up the first jar.
This is the living room. When I first got the key to this house, I had a vision for this room being where all the cousins hung out, chowed down on pre-dinner snacks, and watched Red Sox games.
This is the infamous couch. While I wish the delivery process had been smoother, I have to say, it was worth the wait.
Just beyond the end of the couch is the dining room. Over the summer we had countless meals around this table. I purposefully selected the bench as part of the seating set up so we could maximize the number of cousins who could squeeze in together.
This is the guest room, which had many occupants this summer. It was a crash pad for friends and the home base for my 94-year-old grandmother when she came to visit for two weeks.
And last, but not least, this is my room. The paint color is Benjamin Moore Nile Blue and I'm obsessed with it.
The bedding is from HomeSense and the adorable "Hello Sunshine" pillow was a birthday gift from my aunt and cousin. The gorgeous dresser was my great grandmother's. My bestie transformed it with a new coat of paint and fresh hardware.
There are many other rooms, but this gives you a flavor for the coastal vibe I was going for.
3. Reserve a private movie screen
Status: No reservation and no gummy bears. When the Majestic Theater opened in Watertown, I was psyched. In the nine years I've lived in Watertown, there had never been a movie theater. I always went to Cambridge, Somerville or Newton.
At the start of this year, the Majestic was offering private rentals. You could reserve a screen for you and up to 20 friends (that made it possible to social distance inside the theater).
I was excited to do this and had a few friends on board to help share the cost, but due to COVID, the theater wound up closing for several months. When it re-opened and people were vaccinated, they started offering "regular" showings. I just didn't feel ready to see a movie with strangers yet.
I went to the Majestic two weeks ago to see West Side Story. It was my first time in a movie theater (any theater) since December 2019. It felt amazing to see a brand new flick on opening weekend and experience that excitement with other people. In case you missed it, here is my review.
While I didn't wind up reserving a private screen this year, it felt like a good step to go back to a movie theater in some way. I really do miss that activity and I am hopeful it can resume in a safe way in 2022.
4. Spotlight small businesses every month
Status: Same intention, different cadence. On January 4, 2021, I celebrated 12 years of Pop.Bop.Shop. In that anniversary post, I shared that one of my goals for this year was to spotlight small businesses in a bigger way. My original intention was to share one blog post per month that highlighted independently owned businesses you could support.
I started off strong, with posts in January, February, March and May (I fell short in April). You can revisit those here:
- 5 Boston Area Businesses to Support in January
- 3 Independent Bookstores to Support in February
- 5 Local Spots to Score Passover & Easter Treats
- 7 Local Businesses to Support on Nantasket Beach
But once my family arrived in Hull in July, I completely lost focus. I couldn't seem to jumpstart this again until holiday season.
For those who have been reading for a long time, you know that I do a holiday gift guide series every year. This year I focused 100 percent on shopping small. I did not include a single link to Amazon, Target, Walmart, Macy's or any of the other retail giants. Creating guides of beautiful gifts, that ship nationally, and could arrive by December 24 was a challenge, but one I was deeply committed to.
You can explore those guides again here:
- Holiday Gift Guide 2021: For The Hostess
- Holiday Gift Guide 2021: For The BFF
- Holiday Gift Guide 2021: For The Kiddos
- Holiday Gift Guide 2021: For The Parents
- Holiday Gift Guide 2021: For The Dog Lover
I closed out the year by doing a profile on T Lawrence-Simon of Cirque du Soufflé, spotlighting his incredible holiday treat collection.
While I completely missed the mark on the monthly post cadence, I'm proud of the way I prioritized small businesses over the speed and convenience of something like Amazon. These shops and artisans are what makes our communities special and unique. I don't want to lose them to two-day shipping.
My final three resolutions were things I hoped could happen this year. When I wrote these in January, I had no idea if they could be achieved or not.
5. Enjoy more moments of self-care
Status: Still dreaming about spa days. One of the things I missed most in 2020 was spa days with my girlfriends. We used to plan trips to local spas or book spa appointments on our vacations and it was always a highlight. I was especially eager to get back to Essential Therapies Day Spa in Bolton, MA, a place I have gone many times and always leave feeling happy and blissed out. I often dream about their sauna, hot tub, and hot stone massage.
Spoiler alert: I did not make it to the spa. Any spa.
After I was vaccinated, I did get a few pedicures this summer. Four to be exact. It was a nice way to unlock that relaxed feeling, without having to go all in on an hour-long massage or body scrub.
When I flew to Miami in November for Thanksgiving, my mom treated me to a massage with her massage therapist (who is fully vaccinated and came to my parents' house for the session). It was so wonderful that I almost cried.
I know these things are a luxury. I work really hard and this used to be one of the ways I rewarded myself. I hope that in 2022 it feels safe to start doing some of these things again more regularly.
6. Return to indoor dining
Status: Massive disappointment. At the beginning of 2021, the thing I was hoping for most (besides being reunited with my family), was the ability to dine out again. Restaurants are one of my biggest sources of joy, and that had been taken away in 2020. While I was more than happy to order takeout and delivery to keep supporting my favorite places, it just wasn't the same.
I wanted to sit inside a bustling dining room. I wanted to hear wine recommendations from a sommelier. I wanted to try new, seasonal dishes that had just been added. I wanted to swoon over dessert options.
In January, I shared with you a list of restaurants in Boston, New York and Miami that I hoped to return to. In Boston, I really only dined inside if that was the only option or the weather forced it. It was never a case of, "Oh! I can't wait to go back to that place." It was a text to a friend saying, "It's pouring rain, should we reschedule or would feel comfortable dining inside?"
Locally, I dined at Brighton Bodega, City Works, Committee, Commonwealth, Condesa, Il Casale, Legal Harborside, Painted Burro, Posto, Pressed, Sarma, Seasons 52, Shy Bird, Source Pizza, Strega, and Uncommon Grounds.
Down on the South Shore, I sat indoors at Caffe Tosca, the Sand Bar, and Trident Galley & Raw Bar.
In Miami, I returned to Doc B's, but thankfully was able to sit on the outdoor patio. I also tried a new place, Planta, which offered outdoor seating too.
I never made it to New York City. There was a time in my life where I was in New York every 6-8 weeks. It feels insane to have not been there since February 2020.
Sometimes I find myself on Instagram late at night, scrolling through the pages of restaurants I adore. I can't wait until we're in a reality where I can say to a friend, "Hey, want to go to Double Chin tonight?" and not have to worry about the weather, sitting inside vs. outside, whether or not the staff are wearing masks, etc. I want to fast forward to a time where dining out is fun and carefree again.
7. Vacation in Palm Springs
Status: California Dreamin'. In June 2018, I went to Palm Springs, CA with four girlfriends. It was one of the best trips I have ever taken. We had a gorgeous rental house, a private pool with day beds, we ate fantastic meals, we went on fun day trips, we drank endless cocktails - it was just perfect.
At the start of 2021, when vaccine availability was on the horizon, I was dreaming about where I could fly to once it was safe. I had my eyes on Palm Springs.
Unfortunately, I never made it there. I only took one plane trip in 2021 and it was to Miami for Thanksgiving.
The girls I traveled to Palm Springs with are a group that I vacation with at least once per year. As our discussions continued throughout the year, it felt like wherever we went when the COVID cloud lifted, it should be epic.
We started planning for a small island off of Turks & Caicos and had hoped to go the first week of November. With COVID cases climbing again, we made the smart decision to postpone.
Now, we have our sights set on St. Lucia for 2022. I am praying that it can happen.
I'm still lusting for Palm Springs, and I know I'll get there again. It just may be a few more years before that return trip can actually happen. In the meantime, I am still following all the restaurants, bars, and hotels we visited on Instagram, so I get little bursts of desert joy through my phone.
There you have it! My year-end report. The final tally is:
3 resolutions complete
#1 - Commit to a meditation practice
#2 - Decorate the Hull house
#4 - Spotlight small businesses
2 resolutions in progress
#5 - Enjoy more moments of self-care
#6 - Return to indoor dining
2 resolutions yet to be tackled
#3 - Reserve a private movie screen
#7 - Vacation in Palm Springs
I've been doing a lot of thinking about whether or not I'll share a resolutions list for 2022. I recently saw a tweet from writer Sarah Lazarus that said, "No New Year's resolutions. It is the circumstances turn to improve." That pretty much sums up how I feel.
While I'm pondering what to do, I wanted to take this moment to say thank you. Thank you for reading along and joining me on this journey. Since I started sharing my resolutions here on the blog six years ago, I've had so many meaningful conversations with readers about our shared hopes for the year to come.
I am wishing all of you a happy, healthy and safe 2022.
*Insight Timer image courtesy of UX Collective, Majestic Theater image courtesy of Arsenal Yards, West Side Story image courtesy of the New York Post, Cirque du Soufflé image courtesy of Chef-T.com, and St. Lucia image courtesy of Country Life. All other photography by Molly Galler.