Wellness Finds of 2023
2023 was filled with salad days, but no, I didn't actually eat any greens
I’m holding my favorite Christmas letter in my hand now1. It’s printed double-sided on green paper. Otherwise, there are no frills or special graphics. The reliability of its arrival and accurate, thorough accounting of each passing year are what I love most. I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who could send out an annual Christmas letter — those people seem like they’ve got it all figured out. But, after the hell that was sending out wedding invites (spreadsheets with addresses are just not my thing), I’ve sworn off ever having a Christmas letter.
And then came Substack…let’s give this whole Christmas letter thing a whirl!
So where did the year go?
To Oleta State Park, to 6 a.m. boxing in Little Haiti, to pickups, to tracking the UFOs, to my promotion at work, to swimming with sea turtles in the Caymen Islands, to Fairchild Gardens, to raising butterflies, to that Costco inflatable pool in the backyard — thanks, Grandma & Grandpa! To sleepless nights, to an Elsa birthday for Lula, to a Bluey hand-foot-mouth birthday for Olive, to being (mostly) done with diapers, to celebrating 7 years of marriage (NGL, hard). To Oct. 7, to memorizing a favorite poem, to touching stingrays at the science museum, to Chicago for Thanksgiving, to trying to limit my screen time, to journaling on the front porch at daybreak.
To my family’s every day, which consisted mostly of us walking/scooting/biking around the neighborhood to find bugs, caterpillars sticks, nests, birds, cats, and dogs. Maybe we’d spot a friend or pick up a good book at the library down the street. We kept things (mostly) simple and tried to do and spend less.
2023 = the salad days.
Speaking of salad…
I didn’t eat any. I tried really hard to cook more at home, but I ended up mostly eating mush from the Instapot, pizza, and spaghetti with chicken nuggets. Strawberry was our family’s most popular “veggie” of 2023. I thought of buying some A1G, but reason was able to stop my wellness spiral (finally) and kept me from spending $80 a month on powdered greens. I opted for some frozen broccoli instead.
There were so many other wellness learnings this year. I’ve realized that any time you’re buying an actual physical product, it will most likely not bring you the quick “wellness” you’re hoping for. It might help you and it might make the entry point into that aspect of “wellness” easier for you, but if you’re also simultaneously watching your budget, it will more often bring you more stress (and clutter) than good.
For example, $70 vitamins did not help my kids sleep better. They stressed me out (the research, the initial money spent, remembering to cancel the subscription, etc). What was great was doing a free Cosmic Kids Bedtime Yoga together, trying to limit naps for my 4-year-old, and taking the Dr. Becky sleep workshop, which reminded me that my daughter was in a tough “in-between” nap stage that will eventually pass (soon, I hope...).
I succumbed to dozens of things that didn’t bring instant relief (like the $50 weighted stuffed animal I thought would relieve all my family’s stress), but here are some of my BEST wellness finds from the year:
Practicing 10 min of Tai Chi when I wake up with the Daily move in the Calm App | Attending group events that center around us sharing BIG ideas | Using group fitness classes as meeting grounds for friends I’ve been wanting to get to know better | Reading (free!) library books while I’m enduring a long bedtime to make it something I look forward to | The Recovering substack and staying (mostly) alcohol-free this year | Swapping my $70 moisturizer with a $4 alternative from Aldi | Replacing Noom for the Monarch app to track expenses instead of calories | Getting rid of my scale (the world didn’t end!!) | Reading Fat Talk | Journaling daily to clear out my mind | Brainspotting therapy through Alma | Ghia NA drinks | Striving to make more eye contact| Reading Big Magic and believing in my capacity to live life as a creator | Putting my phone in a festive Frango chocolate tin when I got home to limit my screen time.
My Christmas wish for all of you is that you never lose your sense of self, and if you have, that you spend 2024 getting it back.
You won’t get it back by purchasing something on Amazon. It won’t come in a bottle of serum, wine, or green juice.
It’s in that hobby you abandoned when you were a kid, it’s that crazy idea bubbling in the back of your mind that you should tell someone about, it’s in the boredom you wade through when you put your phone down and don’t overschedule your weekend. It’s in the connections we make with the people who matter most in our lives, it’s in the connection we rebuild with ourselves.