What Will You Make This New Year?

It’s a cozy, quiet Sunday morning. I type near the Christmas tree, a sleeping pup curled at my feet and a YouTube fire flickering noiselessly on my TV because my apartment doesn’t have a fireplace. Outside, the world glistens, covered in its first true blanket of snow.

These Midwest mornings, the ones that stretch from Thanksgiving Eve to the early January of a New Year, are my very favorites. Perhaps because I feel as though I have permission to ponder, and rest, and dream.

As I type, I study the ornaments on the tree. Each heralds a different time, sharing their stories in concert thanks to these strong, evergreen branches. Today, remembering the stories, even the sad ones, feels magical. That is not always the case. Some years, I’ve endured the holidays feeling absolutely no spark of hope at all. And to those of you who have navigated that kind of Christmas season this year, I just want to affirm that I see you and I honor the courage you have given to show up and muddle through.

That’s so much of what these last two years have required of us, isn’t it? A prolonged pandemic keeps nudging us toward a new kind of normal, and we all keep doing our best to show up with what we have and muddle through.

In my latest muddling efforts, I’ve been clearing some space to be creative again.

For the first 16 months of the pandemic, I championed Netflix, sweatpants, and macaroni and cheese.  Now, I’m choosing writing, cooking, more connection, and still sweatpants. I’ve started to slowly curate a podcast featuring kind and honest conversations with people who love to make things. I enrolled in a memoir writing course to complete the first draft of a manuscript I’ve been wanting to finish for a while now.

And to be frank with you, I don’t have a lot to show for my efforts yet. It’s just 15 minutes to an hour each day that I’ve called mine: not to scroll Instagram, not to watch a Friends episode, but to play and create.

But, in this small shift to my daily rhythm, I’ve found that the community and conversation my art has inspired with others has been life-giving—not because we feel so confident that our work will find a grand stage or lead to acclaim, but because we all acknowledge that we are better people when we risk creating.

As this old year comes to a close and we find ourselves gifted with the opportunity to begin again, I wonder about the ways you would like to bring beauty to this new year. I wonder what it would take to bless that impulse for as little as 15 minutes a day.

Maybe we can muddle our way towards making beauty together. Maybe our cozy, quiet, still healing world is offering us this gift.

Katy (Johnson) Stafford dreams, writes, and occasionally podcasts in the messy middle of life. Newly married, Katy is spending her 30s embracing hope, longing, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called In Love, a memoir about loving your life beyond white picket fences. Occasionally, she also shares her thoughts here.