On the 19th day, some grace (and a few more things).

Whether you’re following along day by day or only intermittently, by now you’ve likely picked up on a recurring theme in the work of the December Sanity Journal, and that theme is close examination of the people in your life and how they make you feel (more on this, later in the post). You might even remember that the sanity journal posts started on the 4th, not the 1st, both because I didn’t have things ready on the 1st AND because 4 December is the birthday of two dear friends, people who bring joy, laughter, and sparkle into the world. (Remember my 2022 resolution: sparkly friends only; no assholes.)

Today, 19 December, is the birthday of two more dear friends who also bring joy, laughter, and sparkle into the world. Know what else they bring?

Acceptance.

Yes, today’s spotlight is on someone who makes you feel ACCEPTED exactly as you are in the world. If you’re up for doing a little extra work on this one, then take a moment to reflect on what it is that this person accepts about you that you believe other people might not. You’ll mostly likely think of this attribute, whatever may be, as a flaw or deficiency. Consider, then, the difference between the feeling of acceptance and the feeling of indulgence. Accepting is different from enabling, just as it is different from judging.

If you’re taking this day-by-day and not peeking ahead, then here’s a forecast: there are five more of these “person who makes you feel…” sheets, each with just one word, like the first five. And to give credit where credit it due, these worksheets were inspired by one of the yearly planning sheets from Ink + Volt, which will be familiar to anyone who’s followed along here for years. I love these year-end/year-ahead planning sheets and the way going through them helps me organize what’s in my head.

But what I found last year, as the slog of 2020 carried forward into the slog of 2021, was that I couldn’t complete even one of the four sheets in a single sitting. It was just too much. This year? Same thing. Giving one long list of “awards” to the “characters in my story” (“Most organized;” “Zen master;” “Most fun to be with;” and so on) felt — to me — the opposite of calming, settling, and inspiring.

And that’s why there’s only one word on each of the “person in your life who…” sheets, of which there are 10 total. Because maybe you, too, already have enough chatter and noise around, so focusing on just one feeling, just one person might feel like a reprieve.

And maybe a little grace.

A few other things, that I neglected to include yesterday:

Atlas of the Heart. Here’s a true confession: I grew tired of Brené Brown after “The Call to Courage.” Don’t misunderstand here; that talk is a favorite, and one I’ve gone back to multiple times. But the book and the coaching and the podcast that followed all sounded, to me, kind of like a record stuck on repeat. If you felt a little like that, too, then her new book, Atlas of the Heart, will be a real delight. It’s different from her other books (and work) and enjoyable in a new way. I’ve been reading it in the mornings during my quiet kitchen time, which is just about the only part of the day I get to have truly to myself. For folks who pre-ordered the book from local, independent booksellers, Brown did a live Q&A that included some funny behind-the-scenes stories. My favorite? During the pandemic, she, too, got hooked on Louise Penny‘s Inspector Gamache series. And in one of those books she discovered the Buddhist concept of “near enemy,” and specifically that pity is the near enemy of compassion. I’m going to leave that one right there for you to ponder. (Do get/read the book; I think you’ll be glad.)

Childproof. You know that phenomenon of buying, say, a new car and then seeing that same car everywhere? Well, that’s how I feel at the moment about my focus on parenting — both at my work-work and in recent writings (of which there will be more, in January). EVERYBODY’s talking about it, or so it seems to me. And that feels like acceptance, affirmation, and truth. The newest entry in this category is a podcast called Childproof, brought to you (and me) through Dan Harris’s Ten Percent Happier empire. The first episode dropped last week, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s even parenting-adjacent (meaning, there are people in your life whom you care about who are parents). Give a listen and let me know what you think.

Calendars, NFTs, Motherhood, and #ArtHarder. This will be a bit of a jumble, but you’ll get through it, and it might even make you laugh a little, at my expense, which is actually the point. When I was designing the 2022 small desk calendar for Larksome Goods, I took a very different design approach using art that I created digitally instead of on paper. My son walked by one day while I was working on the images, and he asked if I were making NFTs. (Simple answer: no, because I haven’t taken the time to figure out exactly how to do that and because, also, … .) And that question led to a really interesting discussion about real and virtual worlds generally, and the sneakers he wanted to buy years ago for $200 that are now going for thousands of dollars, and the virtual sneakers that are also going for THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, and what the world’s going to be like in 20 years and how that scares the shit out of both of us, even though he’s in his 20s and I’m in my 50s.

And so, in response, I decided to make cookies, just exactly like The Mom of Bold Action, because I make pretty good cookies, and because my son enjoys eating home-baked, cookies, and also — and this is actually the real reason here — because I have wanted to try something art-y with cookie decoration but haven’t made the time to try it until now.

What I’ve wanted to do, for several years, is make stamped cookies, inspired by this post from Iron Orchid Designs. DIY cooking decorating for beginners! Surely I could do that, right? I can bake cookies, I can make royal icing, I have a steady hand. This would be a PIECE OF CAKE. And I would have pretty cookies!

cookie decorating for beginners with IOD stamps
Here’s what the cookies are supposed to look like (photo links to original post on Iron Orchid Designs)

Pretty, right! So pretty. Piece of cake.

Not.

But here in the real world…

But they are, in fact, delicious. And they’re a great reminder, to me, of why trying new things is good for the mind, spirit, and soul. Also: Cookies are real things that real people enjoy, things my son and I will enjoy again this afternoon in between doing a bit of house-cleaning to get ready for Christmas and continuing to ponder the mysteries of the universe, real and metaphorical.