Happy New Year, friends!! I don’t know if it’s the fact that my kids just went back to school after an insanely long 3.5-week winter break, or the fact that we are entering our third year of pandemic life, but so far this January, I just feel tired. (Unlike my kids, which - as evidenced by this photo - are fully of nonstop energy!).

We had a really sweet time celebrating Christmas and Evie’s birthday with my family (who traveled from Virginia and California to be together at my parents’ house in Brentwood). The kids got to play with their cousins, which was really fun. Mostly, I cooked lots of meals (and cleaned lots of messes!), baked cookies and played hide and seek with the kids, watched movies (Frozen II and Encanto are current favorites) and during our unexpected snowstorm this past week, we sledded and played in the snow. It was wonderful and exhausting and everything in between. Ha.

But today, I happily sent them to school wearing their new miniature KN95 masks and I am finally relishing a few moments of peace and quiet to process the beginning of a new year. Sitting at my desk, sunlight streaming in, finishing a cup of reheated coffee, I’m thinking about a word for this year. Rather than resolutions, which are so quickly discarded, I like to come up with a word as my theme for the year.

Last year, my word was AND. That might seem like an odd choice, but it has proven to be perfect for this season. The pandemic has taught me is to embrace the duality of life. The fact that life is never either/or (wonderful or terrible, easy or hard) but always both/and. In the midst of truly trying circumstances these past 2 years, with the constant threat of illness, loneliness and social isolation, cancelled plans and civil unrest, I’ve learned to find the beauty in simple pleasures. In phone calls with dear friends. Long walks listening to a good podcast. Holding a steaming cup of coffee, inhaling the aroma, and savoring that first sip. Letting my kids crawl into bed for early-morning snuggles. I’ve learned to embrace the fact that life is beautiful and heartbreaking, often at the same time. That being a mom the biggest honor and the biggest challenge of my life. And acknowledging that I can be both really grateful and really frustrated all at once. AND.

I was listening to a Martha Beck podcast the other night that was talking about how improv comedy begins with two words: “Yes, and…” Basically one person makes a statement: “There’s a lion under the couch!” and the other person might say, “Yes, and it’s bright pink!” Then the other person continues the story with another “Yes, and it’s about to pounce on me!” and they go back and forth, riffing off of each other, continuing the story. They don’t know what’s going to happen at the beginning of the routine, but they know that they will make it through by repeating the words “yes, and…” along with a big dose of imagination and humor.

So it seems fitting, given that my word last year was “and,” that my word for this year will be YES. After several years of deferred hope, I’m ready to say yes to some of my dreams. To say yes to some projects I’ve put on the back burner. I’ve blamed the pandemic and lack of childcare for staying stagnant, but honestly, it’s been my own fears and insecurities that have held me back the most.

So this year, I’m ready to say yes to writing my next cookbook (first step: write the proposal!). I’m ready to say yes to running a half marathon. And I’m ready to say yes to returning for a visit to my beloved France. (Please, Covid, calm down already!) Those are a few of my goals for this year. Obviously, I know I need to hold them loosely - who knows what this pandemic will do next - but I don’t have to let fear stop me from even trying. So maybe this will be a year of improv comedy for me. “Yes, and…” I’ve got the flexibility down (we’ve had to the past 2 years!), but I’m all for more laughter, more imagination. Bring it on. What about you? What are your dreams for 2022? Did you choose a word? Share it with me here! And do tell me if there’s anything you’d love to see on The Yellow Table! I’d love to hear from you :)



(Photo by Abby Saunders)