Welcome to 2024! It’s been an exciting four and one-third days so far, with so much happening it is time for the Year in Review!


Did you make a New Year’s resolution to present yourself as mentally unstable?


No, Lily, no need for that. But I did make an open-ended resolution: to be more flexible.


Does that mean you’re doing more yoga?


More yoga never hurts in my opinion, 9, but I’m talking about a different kind of flexibility. I’m working on cultivating grace and ease in dealing with necessary changes to my schedule, and in responding to the mediocre yet unanticipated curves everyday life can throw.


For example: On December 26, 9:30 AM, I reported to the Walla Walla YMCA for one of two regular weekly swim times. I had some residual memory from last year of the facility getting crowded by out of town holiday visitors. This year the effect was compounded by Christmas falling on a Monday. The Y was closed on Christmas, so not only were there out of town visitors, there were the regular Monday swimmers as well.


Having three times the number of swimmers that would usually show up at 9:30 on a Tuesday was one thing. But when a powerfully-built woman squatting at the end of my lane aggressively barked “Can I share your lane, yes or no?” I was flabbergasted. The regular Tuesday AM swimmers are a polite group. We ask, we don’t yell. After a prolonged pause all I could think of to say was, “Just give me three more laps, then you can have it.”


Why did you get so scared?


Good question, 9. I associate aggressive treatment from another swimmer with a very unhappy year of seventh grade PE. When it was the girls’ week to use the junior high pool our teacher, not known for creative lesson planning, had us play water polo. She never explained how the game worked outside of having two teams and how to score goals. The teacher was as inattentive to her students as she was to her lesson plans. She didn’t notice for an entire year that the powerfully-built girl who always seemed to be goalie on the opposing team routinely wrapped an arm around my scrawny neck and held me under if I got anywhere near the goal.


I hated that so much!


On December 26 I was surprised to discover how much those episodes marked us. It is not at all like me to retreat to the showers with only half my usual laps completed, but that’s what I did. Another of the 9:30 regulars got out early, too. He said there were usually a lot fewer people at 2 PM swim, so. . .


That’s what I’m doing now. The year in review 2024 shows two full-length 2 PM swimming sessions in a relaxed environment with zero crowding.


That sounds like a big improvement.


Year in review: adapting to a new swimming schedule



It is, 9, though I miss visiting with the 9:30 people, also “getting it out of the way” earlier in the day. On the positive side, in addition to less crowding I’m done with work when I go to the pool now. (Lest you think I’m a slacker, I typically rise between 4 and 5 AM). As such, the day is “mine” when I get home. Instead of having to boot myself into productivity I can do recreational activities. Also, swimming in the afternoon seems to improve my sleep.


So, two points for flexibility!


What else have you done that necessitates this four and one-third day year in review?


(Drum roll, please!) I have graciously and without stress survived the first home repair of the year! While I was making dinner on January 3rd I noticed water pooling on the vinyl in front of the kitchen sink. Though I couldn’t figure out where the leak was coming from exactly (it turned out to be a pinhole leak in a fitting) I did shut off the hot and cold water valves as a temporary fix. Once everything was mopped up and dried off I finished making dinner and overrode the anxious voice inside shouting “We have a leak!” Dinner first, my resolved-to-be-gracious-in-unexpected-circumstances personae decreed. And so I did. Happily, it was a simply prepared meal and clean-up was minimal. Though it was a “boutique” dish washing experience I was grateful for the double sinks in the big bathroom- -one to wash and one to rinse.


The next morning I called the plumbing company, mentally prepared to be okay with it if I couldn’t get an appointment for a few days. Turns out, someone was available to do the repair that day! He was done by noon. This might sound silly to you- –


Big surprise.


But I felt like I was being rewarded on a cosmic level for my willingness to be flexible. I had even made an agreement with myself that if the appointment was scheduled during the (now sacred) 2 PM swim, I would be okay with that.


What about the new puzzle? Are you being flexible about that?


To my delight I am, 9. Lily, 9 and I are very good puzzlers, but the one my niece sent for Christmas is proving unusually difficult. I started it on New Year’s Day, 1,000 pieces of a picture called “Glow Chamber” from Archie McPhee. Since it was a holiday I permitted myself to struggle with the darn thing for a few hours. I got the edges put together, which felt like a major accomplishment, but looking at all those hard to differentiate pieces made my eyes cross.


Time to give up, or time for a different approach than my usual brazen it out method? Considering how I might address this unexpected difficulty I developed a protocol: If I feel like sitting down with the puzzle I set a timer for 20 minutes. By connecting the pursuit to time instead of results I’m no longer feeling frustrated about an activity that’s purely recreational.

Year in review: Maybe I’ll finish this puzzle by 2024 year end!

I’m cautiously optimistic that my flexibility resolution will result in less stress for 2024. For one thing, I am already seeing positive results! For another, the only thing I’m denying myself is habitual anxiety. Hopefully I’ll replace that habit with a few moments of mindfulness to assess and address unexpected situations.


Wishing you a positive year in review for these first four and one-third days, and every day.

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