I started 2018 with Difficult Women and the 2nd Women’s March (this time in Indianapolis instead of D.C.) It felt fitting to kick the year off with unyielding women. If there’s been a theme of my year it is that: I have tried to surround myself with passionate, strong-willed women who believe in something. Many of which I’m blessed to know in real life, some online, and some within books.
After an especially hard 2017, I spent a lot of this year trying to figure out what’s important to me - the things I’m willing to accept, the things I can let go of, the boundaries I need to set, the things I want to give my heart to. I’m not sure I got there, but the mere act of making decisions based on my own desires was revolutionary.
It’s been over three years now that I have spent hacking away at emotional barriers and dams, but this year the cracks finally got big enough to let something through. In realizing how much I had emotionally repressed or ran away from, it has been exhausting feeling a full range of emotions. But it’s also been an exercise in being kind to myself - and that’s a win.
I wanted to go into more depth in reflecting on this year, but the truth is 2018 is the year I lost my best pal of over 16 years. Cocoa came home with me when I was 10 years old, and as an only child, he was my world. When I moved to Indianapolis, he came with me. He was my support before I even understood what depression was. That dog was, and is, the love of my life and I still mourn him constantly. It’s hard to look back on the year without thinking about that loss.
Moving into our new house felt too empty without a pup to come home to, so the summer after we said goodbye to Cocoa, we met Bleu. He is the smartest, sweetest, most hilarious dog. I think Cocoa would approve.
Because of work or loss or not being in the mood, I took a lot of breaks from reading. And I was okay with that. At the end of 2017, I wrote the following, and I think I did a good job of reaching that balance.
Reading doesn’t have to revolve around documenting. I love having a public record of the stories I’ve read and lived in. I love taking notes about how a book made me feel in the moments after I’m coming down from a post-book high. But. Reading happens whether or not I take a photo of it. And sometimes that sort of reading is necessary: the type of reading done without pressure to articulate. It's a balance I strive to work towards in 2018.
This year I read 65 books, 53 of which were by women. I was disappointed in the number of poc I read, ending the year at 20/65 (I almost didn’t share because it’s something I’m ashamed of considering the value I place on supporting authors of color). But I plan to channel that disappointment into doing better in 2019.
I ended the year with James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, a book that is still way too relevant for the amount of time that has passed. Again, it served as a reminder of the work we have to do and keep doing and doing and doing.
Anyway. For now, here are some of my favorites of 2018:
10. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
9. The 7.5 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
8. Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
7. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
6. Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
5. Brotopia: Breaking Up The Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang
4. The Book of Essie by Meghan Weir
3. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
2. The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
1. And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O’Connell
This morning, I pulled tarot* for the next 12 months and one for the year. The King of Cups, my draw for 2019, is like a breath of fresh air. I couldn’t have asked for a better card to meditate on in the coming year.
“King of Cups represents mastery over the realms of emotion, creativity, and the unconscious. You have gained control of your feelings and can accept them without allowing them to get the better of you… If you are being challenged personally, the King of Cups suggests you need to remain emotionally mature when faced with negative energy from others. Be firm on your personal boundaries, stating what is and is not acceptable on an emotional level.” [biddy tarot interpretation]
Thanks for taking another trip around the sun with me. Happy 2019.
*to me, tarot is an incredible tool for mindfulness and introspection. i use the cards to help me examine parts of my life or to force me to look at a situation in a different light. i do believe they give guidance - but not necessarily in a divine way.