Word of the Year 2018

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It started with a cookbook. Every week, I make a meal plan for the week, scouring the Internet for something new, something interesting, something I’ve never made before. This particular week, I was thinking of lasagna, and I had this sudden epiphany that, instead of digging through food blog after food blog to for some fancy pants quinoa  noodles with homemade goats cheese ricotta business, I could just use the no-frills recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook. Betty Crocker is such an old reliable that I got for a birthday – maybe 21 – as a mark of proper adulthood. Every home cook in America ought to have a trusty Betty Crocker. Sure, it’s unpretentious and maybe a little Mid Western in its taste palette, but darn it if everyone in my family didn’t love that plain old lasagna. And, so, for the past few months, I’ve been going to Ms Crocker for a lot of recipes, and she rarely steers me wrong. They’re basic, and they work.

The Betty Crocker revelation got me thinking about what else in my life I’m over-complicating. Buying too much nonsense, comparing my life to Instagram photos, and adding wholly unnecessary events to my schedule are a few of the things that came to mind. I just don’t need any of it. And so, for my word of the year for 2018, my focus is on “Basics.”

“Basics,” to me, means cutting back, both in terms of physical stuff and, moveover, in thought and actions that are unnecessarily complicated. For instance, Facebook was causing me a lot of stress. I was clocking a lot of scrolling hours, as I sat and fed the new baby, and it seemed to just multiply itself. The more I scrolled, the more I wanted to scroll. I realized how overwhelmed I was with just this jumble of information, much of it stressful news and a lot more of it totally unrelated to my life. I took Facebook off my phone, and vowed to leave it off next year, finding ways, instead of letting the information come to me in a more curated manner.

The habit I want to cultivate most this year is asking myself, “do I need this?” “How does this contribute to my life?” “Is there a simpler way?” I want to find the Betty Crocker approach to things, thoughts, and actions. Simple and effective.

That’s not to say that my 2018 has to be devoid of the fanciful or the wonderfully frivolous. That’s so often the stuff that makes life fun. But, I want to partake in this stuff with thought as to how it might enhance my life, not out of a sense of obligation or a desire to “keep up” socially.

I’m entering this year with the realization that I have plenty enough that’s really worth my time and effort – my marriage, my beautiful little girls, two blogs, friends and causes that I care about, good books and art. No matter how much information or how many opportunities are swirling around me, I don’t need to add any extra ingredients.

My best wishes to you for 2018. May you have the perfect recipe this year!

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