Life Story

a year for the more/less approach

The MORE/LESS approach to resolutions has always struck me as tepid. If you want something, resolve it! Declare it!

However, I think this is THE year for it. Goodbye, for now, to the “read 50 books” and the “host a friend once a month” that I had on my carefully specific list last year.

Once I set about writing mine up I realized I had many mores and only a few lesses. For the things that were under my control of 2020, I’m really happy with the year I had.

I didn’t dare to go so far as to put things like Dinner Parties on there. I didn’t want to risk disappointment that swiftly.

here’s what I came up with…

everything bagel spice

MORE cocktails: Nine years of pregnancies and breastfeeding really stymies the quest for cocktails. They just phase quietly out of your life for a long while, and you even stop being curious about them. I’m ready to be curious and try new things this year. Ivy Mix’s book Spirits of Latin America and David Leibowitz’s Drinking French look like the perfect places to start.

MORE help with cleaning: as you may have observed, we moved our family from a tiny apartment to an enormous farmhouse. My cleaning standards are extremely low, but I do like things to be cleaned every 10-14 days or so. And it’s a lot of work. Constant, necessary work. I also like to bake bread, make dinner from scratch, read aloud to my children every day, read to myself every day…you get it. So I think I’ll get some help with that this year. Not, like, for the rest of my life. But this year.

LESS judging: An unexpected side effect of the pandemic is how banally we began judging one another. They made THAT decision. She did WHAT. It takes a lot of work, this judging, and I’m not sure it’s really worth any of it.

MORE hugs: Hugs are great and I think we can still do them.

MORE tidy corners: We rented out our house over the holidays, and as a consequence I had to deep-organize more than I had in the past few months (I also had to move my entire closet to the attic but…worth it!). Many of the nooks and piles I dealt with were things I knew where they were going, I just hadn’t done it yet. Like–this goes on the shelf in that closet, but I haven’t put it there. Or–we don’t really use this but we’re saving it so I’ve just decided to stare at it for six weeks.

So I finally put things away or gave them away and I was startled by how dramatically everything visible actually looked better. Results! Quickly! Lesson learned.

LESS seeking perfection: this is a fairly cliche one and it runs off the tongue so quickly you may not realize what you’ve said you want. But what I want is to accept things in their less-than-perfect state as a way toward poking into what they are currently are. Resolved: my family is perfect. This blog post is perfect. My hair is perfect. The way I spent my day was perfect.

MORE long emails: I deleted instagram from my phone for January (and maybe February!). Within a few days, my envelope of emailing-energy had filled up. I reply to notes now, sometimes within 48hrs! And once I write a note and send it off, I have that feeling of expecting a reply. Such a fun feeling and I’d forgotten all about it.

MORE flowers in the garden: Joe and I have found that we really love growing flowers. We love looking at them and savoring them. We liked them more than most of the vegetables we grew this year. So, more flowers.

if you’d like to share some of your thoughts for this year, please do! I found it heartening/startling to see many of my private thoughts echoed in this cheerful poetry by Adam J. Kurtz, and I was thrilled to hear DesignMom is writing a parenting book.







  • Jayme Cherry

    So happy to see your post in my inbox this morning! I have also taken some time away from IG to start the new year, and was sad to think I was missing out on your beautiful photos – what a relief to know that you’re on a break as well! Love the thoughts on less/more and I could benefit from taking a page from your book (esp the part about “less seeking perfection” ?). Happy New Year!

  • Julia

    I was surprised to find that I, too, feel the same gratification growing flowers instead of food. (My garden has lead in the soil, unfortunately, so we can only grow food in raised beds with bagged soil.) After 4 years of trying all kinds of flowers, I think I’ve settled on a smattering of dahlias, marigolds, and zinnias, which clash in a most satisfying way with the perennials (German irises, hostas, azaleas, autumn sedum, and some ephemeral early spring blooms). Perhaps I’ll plant a few more startlingly tall cosmos, too…

    • Rachael

      yes! Love all the ones you mentioned, I was was surprised to find how much I like the calendula blossoms. Similar to zinnias in their delirious vigor. And flowering tobacco, “Nicotiana alata,” is really fun–glamourous and swishy.

    • Rachael

      We didn’t! Drove to the Midwest to see both sides of our family. Rented the house so a neighbor could distantly-host her children for the holidays.

  • Hope

    Was curious about your absence on Instagram and am happy to learn it is intentional and that all is well in your corner of the pandemic world. 🙂

  • Taylor

    R, I love this so much. Yes–judging became way too easy and I am dropping it for real! Yes–long form emails are so much more fulfilling. They might be my favorite ways of communicating right now (beating Zoom and Texts). I also dropped instagram as you know, mostly because it never returned on the expectation that I would feel any more connected to my friends. I miss the pretty pictures … rarely.

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