Early Lessons From 2019

Do you realize we’re already knee-deep in January? Just yesterday, we were ushering out 2018, welcoming in 2019, and dreaming up impossibly lofty resolutions. How’s that gym membership going?

I ended last year with a reflection on what I’d learned, so I’m jump-starting this one in similar fashion. Because believe it or not, these two weeks have already left an indelible mark on me.

Bake joyfully and frequently. I’ve earned a reputation as a food writer, which means I’m an avid admirer of the culinary arts. But do I know my way around the kitchen? If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll find I’ve been dabbling in baking quite a little bit of late. The idea is simple: I love experimenting with recipes using healthy ingredients on hand. A few days ago, I eyed a tub of Greek yogurt in my fridge, along with a couple of fragrantly ripe navel oranges. Surely there was a low-guilt cake out there that fused the two in happy harmony, and Google led me to it. I whipped it up. The next day, inspired by the use of olive oil and yogurt to craft a spongy cake, I made two different iterations. And they were fabulous. That chemical reaction transforming a liquid batter to a springy dessert has me transfixed, and I’m going to keep repeating it.

My orange yogurt cake

Two other cakes I baked using yogurt

Reunite with long-lost friends. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to make friends. As an adult, you’re more judgmental and less forgiving of others, so striking up new friendships is admittedly a challenge. Skeptical? How many genuine friends, with whom you have no business interests or ulterior alliances, did you snatch up in 2018? I’ve been reminiscing about old friends and acquaintances of bygone years, and in many cases, I can’t even recall why or how a communication chasm came to be. The other day, I decided to put my pride aside and surprise a friend with a visit after nearly a seven-year absence. She was overjoyed, picking up right where we left off with not a single grievance to air. Now that’s friendship.

Create a fun routine. Doesn’t it bother you how much the general populace abhors Monday? I’m always irked that that day of the week gets such a bad rep, but clearly it indicates people aren’t happy to return to work. Fine. Slate a standing date on Mondays to help you warm up to the day. Maybe order takeout from your favorite sushi restaurant. Schedule a DVD night with your partner or posse. Make Mondays synonymous with happy hour, or a pub crawl. And heck, why not do the same on the other days that are equally dragging in their mundaneness? Set your own rules.

Shed the baggage. A friend recently convinced me to download an app that monitors your Instagram followers – whether or not you follow them back, who recently unfollowed you, that sort of thing. I took grave offense when I realized which accounts didn’t reciprocate my follows, especially as these are people I rub shoulders with often at social functions. It haunted me, and I even set up a poll via Insta Story to understand how others grapple with similar situations. Long story short, I shouldn’t even care or waste a minute on a character analysis. People who are interested in what you have to say will stick around – the subscription is free. And those who don’t might either discover they share no common ground or simply be looking to embellish their ratio of "followers" to "following." It could be that feeble. So just let it go. You don’t need that kind of meaningless negativity in your life.

Don’t lose sight of your dreams. In the din of it all, it’s so easy to forget what you’re here for. Because trust me, 20-year-old you knew exactly what she wanted to do, how she’d do it, and where she’d be by age 30. She was relentlessly determined. Precisely eight years ago, I packed my bags, boarded a flight from LA, and sought to settle in the land of my ancestors. It’d been a dream I’d nurtured since I was a bright-eyed teenager. And even though that dream had been deferred on several occasions, I was hell-bent on realizing it. I did, beating the odds, silencing the cynics, and appalling just about everyone. That dream was relevant to me then, but it’s important to periodically evaluate whether it remains viable and conducive to my happiness now. In brief, take the time to assess whether your desires should continue to form the stuff of your dreams. Because we change. Our environments change. Circumstances change. And it’s imperative that we embrace that change and adapt.

Here’s to a 2019 filled with continuous learning, friendship, fun, focus, and not giving a damn about the frivolous things that don’t matter.


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