Category: New Year

Happy New Year 2022!

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Neil Gaiman

I wish you a very, very Happy New Year! May 2022 bring you and yours much joy and happiness!



What I’ve Learned This Year

You Are Here sign on yellow background, digital art by Mihaela Limberea
Digital artwork from my new “Inner Citadel” series

It’s that time of the year, so I’ve just completed my annual personal review. This is something I do every year, although in a slightly different form. I was thinking about publishing it here, but it felt too personal. I couldn’t. Maybe next year.

(I use this Year Compass form which is excellent; it supports multiple languages, and you can choose whether to complete it online (PDF) or print it and work on the hard copy. I recently found this one which seems good, too. I had already completed this year’s when I saw it, but I’m thinking of combining them next year, taking the best of both in one customized version.)

In the meantime, I thought it might be worth sharing some of the insights of this second annus horribilis. I think we all hoped that things would go back to some kind of normal this year, especially with vaccines available. But, unfortunately, it seems we were mistaken.

No matter, no matter; new year, new prospects, I always say, the ever optimist. So let’s get to it, shall we?

Top Three Things I’ve Learned This Year

  • I Need Meditation and Yoga to Feel Good.

This year, I struggled a lot with attention, or rather, the lack of it. Not being able to focus when working on a book (or doing anything, really) is stressful and anxiety-inducing. As I mentioned elsewhere, I had already reduced social media and news intake drastically but, obviously, not enough. So, I did an app audit and reduced the number of apps on my smartphone, deleting both the ones I seldom used and the attention stealers (you know which ones, don’t you?). I also took a time-out from social media (I’ve been sober for six months now!) and stopped reading the news. They have a way of trickling through anyway (especially the bad ones), and, fear not, I haven’t missed the news of the first woman to become Prime Minister in Sweden or the Omicron variant. I pruned blogs and newsletters as well, keeping a few core ones only (Austin KleonSeth GodinOliver BurkemanMason Currey, for instance). No TV except on Fridays and Saturdays.

And yet, I struggled. Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t meditated or done any yoga in some time. Like, in a long time. A very long time. So, I’ve just taken up mediation and yoga again, and I’m almost back on track! The wild monkey mind is not easy to tame, but I feel good about where I am at the moment.

If you haven’t meditated before, Pema Chödrön’s wonderful book Meditation: How to Meditate is an excellent place to start. It’s short and simple and beautifully written.

As for Yoga, Adriene Mishler has this wonderful YouTube channel called Yoga with Adriene, where you can pick and choose from a variety of yoga sessions, and they’re all free. If you don’t know where to start, she has a series of videos for beginners.

This is by far the most important lesson of the year. It’s incredible how these practices impact my mind (and body), something I tend to forget. I’ve now included yoga and meditation in my daily tracker to make sure I don’t fall off the wagon again.

Related

  • To Nap or Not to Nap? Naps Win. Of Course.

Partially related to the above. Whenever I could, I would nap after lunch since in high school (I’m not kidding). I don’t seem able to function optimally for a whole day without some rest. I don’t necessarily have to sleep, but I do need to lay on the bed for half an hour someplace dark and quiet. I did this at work, too, whenever I didn’t have any meetings or calls around lunch. I would eat a quick lunch then go and lay down for 30 minutes (the perks of working from home, long before Covid-19 taught the world how to). 

What did I do this year, knowing all this? In my search for efficiency, I started skipping my naps. More time for me and my book, yay! Only it became “nay”! The result was that I had more awake time, but I was too tired to do anything worthwhile (my house shines, though, there’s that). If naps were good enough for Churchill and Einstein, I guess they’re good enough for me, too. And I’m not alone to think that. I’m back to my post-lunch nap now, together with my cat, who seems to be the wiser of us. 

(By the way, I love that nap line from “The Darkest Hour” movie when Churchill is asked to meet the King at 4 pm, and he replies: “I nap at 4.” I was SO tempted to tell that to my boss sometimes when he wanted to have a meeting at 1 pm). There are so many great lines in that movie, brilliantly written by Anthony McCarten; here are a few more.)

  • Connecting with Friends in More Meaningful Ways

I think of myself as a person who values friendship and friends; in fact, being a good friend is one of my core values. I thought I was a good friend; I know I’ve tried. But how was I a good friend? 

If we take birthdays, I would always make sure to send a message to a friend on their birthday. Note I said “send a message” (as in DM), not send a card or make a phone call. We’re all busy, I was busy, and I thought my friend was busy too, so a short and quick message to congratulate her was an efficient way of dealing with that. 

But was that a good way of keeping in touch? Since many of my friends are scattered on four continents now, social media is the only way to keep track of what’s happening in their lives. I could see their updates and would occasionally comment on something, and then I’d, of course, send a DM on their birthday. Even at Christmas! I was a good friend, wasn’t I? Wasn’t I?

I thought about this and realized it was a superficial way of being a friend, more like a social obligation. So this year, I’ve started creating personalized birthday and holiday cards (now you know where that Freebies section came from) and writing e-mails with a few more lines than “Merry Christmas”! Handwritten letters would be much nicer, of course, but I need to be realistic. I feel that what’s important is writing more than a DM and more than once or twice a year. And making phone calls as we used to, despite the logistic challenges of different timezones.

Does this make me a good friend? I don’t know; you’d need to ask my friends. But I think I am a better friend at least.

As I’m planning 2022 now, I’ve added reminders in my calendar to reach out to friends every now and then, not only during holidays.

… and Three Tiny Thoughts

  • The more I write, the more inspired I am.
  • Perfectionism is a subtle form of arrogance.
  • Sometimes optimism is just wishful thinking (if not plain stupidity).

Related Posts


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The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first edition of The Zone this year! New Year’s Resolutions, Adam Grant on procrastination, new books & movies, the ultimate e-mail structure, and more in The Zone No. 12.

  • Tom Whitwell’s list of 52 things he learned in 2020 is so interesting! Some of my favorites:
    • When Ibn Battuta visited China in 1345, facial recognition was already in use. All visiting foreigners had their portraits discreetly painted and posted on the walls of the bazaar. “If a stranger commits any offence… they send his portrait far and wide” [Ibn Battuta]
    • Euro English is an evolving pidgin English used by EU administrators, for example: using ‘Handy’ to mean mobile phone (from German), ‘Non?’ to turn any sentence into a question and unusual plurals like ‘expertises”. [Lindsey Johnstone]
    • In Warsaw’s Gruba Kaśka water plant there are eight clams with sensors attached to their shells. If the clams close because they don’t like the taste of the water, the city’s supply is automatically shut off. [Judita K]
Coffee mugs and cinnamon rolls on a wooden table. Photo by Mihaela Limberea.
Take a break!

Dear Person I am Writing To,

This is an optional sentence introducing who I am and work for, included if the addressee has never corresponded with me before. The second optional sentence reminds the person where we met, if relevant. This sentence states the purpose of the email.

This optional paragraph describes in more detail what’s needed. This sentence discusses relevant information like how soon an answer is needed, what kind of answer is needed, and any information that the other person might find useful. If there’s a lot of information, it’s a good idea to separate this paragraph into two or three paragraphs to avoid having a Wall of Text.

If a description paragraph was used, close with a restatement of the initial request, in case the addressee ignored the opening paragraph.

This sentence is just a platitude (usually thanking them for their time) because people think I am standoffish, unreasonably demanding, or cold if it’s not included.

Closing salutation, Signature


My Zone

A Quote I’m Pondering

Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.

Elizabeth Gilbert

From My Photo Archives

A horned ghost crab on the beach at sunrise, Fregate Island, Seychelles. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
A horned ghost crab on the beach at sunrise, Fregate Island, Seychelles.

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To read more The Zone posts, click here.



The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition

  1. Welcome To The Zone!
  2. The Zone: No. 2 – Oct 22, 2020
  3. The Zone: No. 3 – Oct 29, 2020
  4. The Zone: No.4 – Nov 5, 2020
  5. The Zone: No. 5 – Nov 12, 2021
  6. The Zone: No. 6 – Nov 19, 2020
  7. The Zone: No. 7 – Nov 26, 2020
  8. The Zone: No. 8 – Dec 3, 2020
  9. The Zone: No. 9 – Dec 10, 2020
  10. The Zone: No. 10 – Dec 17, 2020
  11. The Zone: No. 11, Dec 31, 2020 – Special Edition
  12. The Zone: No. 12 – Jan 7, 2020
  13. The Zone: No. 13 – Jan 14, 2020
  14. The Zone: No. 14 – Jan 21, 2020
  15. The Zone: No. 15 – Jan 28, 2020
  16. The Zone: No. 16 – Feb 4, 2020
  17. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

Welcome to this special, end-of-the-year edition of The Zone! Banksys perfect illustration of 2020, various ways to exorcise 2020, books of the year picked by Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and others, the lost day of Kiribati, and more. Happy New Year!

I think we all agree that the most merciful thing you could say about 2020 is that it is over. There were glimpses of light and moments of joy, of course, and those we should cherish. Here’s the last list of the year. Have a wonderful weekend, stay safe, and be kind to one another. I’ll be back next year!

  • How to exorcise 2020. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking about exorcism these days. I’m tempted to use the Colombian tradition of burning the “old year” (año viejo). It seems fitting, somehow.
  • The most striking images of 2020, selected by BBC Culture. It’s fascinating how one year can be gone so quickly and so slowly at the same time. We happened to be in Australia during the devastating bush fires, and we believed that would be our most dramatic memories of the year. All that seems to be so far away now; bush fires merely an inconvenience.
  • 1,273 People Share Their Best Life Lessons from 2020. From Mark Manson’s excellent newsletter Mindf*ck Monday. He asked his subscribers: “What have been your biggest lessons from 2020?” And 1.273 people answered. It’s fascinating reading. I found that the best blogs and newsletters (and Manson has both) have great readers, and very often, their comments are as interesting as the article.
  • Austin Kleon and Seth Godin‘s end of the year book lists. These men are responsible for many of my book purchases. It’s a good thing. Austin Kleon has a great newsletter, too, by the way.
  • The Smithsonian Magazine‘s editors picked 25 favorite articles from the year we’d rather forget.

My Zone

Most Popular Posts in 2020


A Quote I’m Pondering

Yes, I’ve always been a dreamer, and yes, I have always tried. And dreams are special things. But dreams are of no value if they’re not equipped with wings and feet and hands and all that. If you’re going to make a dream come true, you’ve got to work with it. You can’t just sit around. That’s a wish. That’s not a dream.

Dolly Parton, in an interview in Bust magazine


From My Photo Archives

Red and blue reflections on ice. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

The red walls of the Lidingö Boat Yard reflected on the ice.


Winter collage by Mihaela Limberea

I wish you a very, very Happy New Year! May 2021 bring you and yours much joy and happiness!



Any New Beginning Is Forged From The Shards Of The Past

Winter landscape in Winterthur, Switzerland. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

Any new beginning is forged from the shards of the past, not from the abandonment of the past.

Craig D. Lounsbrough
Rose hips covered in snow. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Neil Gaiman

Tree branches covered in snow. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.

Benjamin Franklin
Trees covered in snow. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

With the new year comes a refueled motivation to improve on the past one.

Gretchen Bleiler
Trees covered in snow. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art—write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

Neil Gaiman
Winter town panorama . Photo by Mihaela Limberea

May Light always surround you;

Hope kindle and rebound you.

May your Hurts turn to Healing;

Your Heart embrace Feeling.

May Wounds become Wisdom;

Every Kindness a Prism.

May Laughter infect you;

Your Passion resurrect you.

May Goodness inspire

your Deepest Desires.

Through all that you Reach For,

May your arms Never Tire.

D’Simone