things i will do in january.

January 3, 2022

There’s a mouse, or something else alive, scrabbling around our living room wall. It’s almost a comfort at this point—though I wouldn’t want to meet it—that this unseen tiny neighbor is keeping warm after so many weeks in whatever warren it’s carved from the crumbling plaster and lath on the other side of the wall. It keeps inscrutable hours, seemingly nocturnal and diurnal, industrious and noisy and then suddenly silent.

Otherwise, the apartment was quiet today. Quiet, save for the audible sighs coming from my own constricted chest. Mercifully, I’m sick only with worry, about the virus and my three small children, but mostly worry about the possibility that we’ll be told to go it alone again. Buckle up, keep them home, carry on. As if any of that were possible the first time around. As if we haven’t all been left without life rafts.

We’ve taken down our paper garlands and stockings and our motley collection of ornaments, but the Christmas tree remains standing. It’s more fragrant now than ever, and wearing only its lights as decoration. I’m embracing it as an oversized talisman of a bright year ahead. Hope springs eternal, thank goodness, and I’ll take every pagan ritual I can get.

Today I whittled my inbox down to the essentials. I chased payments and worried over invoices. I put on a pot of beans. I tried to move gracefully from working in a quiet apartment with a scrappy mouse for company to navigating the converging energies of five whole humans at the end of their long days. I have told myself that seven year olds are unreliable narrators, that not every other mother at school has tested positive, that maybe these scratchy paper masks with seams down the middle and wires over the noses will mean we escape this surge unscathed, or at least negative. I have thrown away a microscopic toy gun given to my four year-old by a well-meaning neighbor. I have not felt sorry for it. I have washed pee from impossibly tiny undies. I have loaded the dishwasher and dabbed essential oils on pillowcases and poured a makeshift snifter of whiskey.

Other things I will do in January:

+ Light the candles.

+ Dip into summer jam jars.

+ Moisturize my feet.

+ Pot more bulbs.

+ Use my face masks.

+ Mend my mitten thumbs.

+ Reserve summertime campgrounds.

+ Allow my mind to wander.

+ Write the book proposal I couldn’t write last January.

+ Read the books I haven’t.

+ Forgive myself when I can’t.

You?

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32 Comments

  • Reply joy January 3, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Love your blog and wishing you the best year ahead!

    5
  • Reply ELIZABETH January 3, 2022 at 9:53 pm

    “navigating the converging energies of five whole humans at the end of their long days” = speaking to my soul! Thank you for this honest post.

    6
    • Reply Megan January 4, 2022 at 10:17 am

      This January I will, eat soup, use every beauty sample I was gifted, eat all the citrus, plan my garden for spring with maybe a new vermicompost?

      4
  • Reply Geri January 3, 2022 at 10:53 pm

    I feel like your blog is the only comforting, calming presence on the internet. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    46
  • Reply Terry January 3, 2022 at 11:52 pm

    A book???

    4
  • Reply Tara January 4, 2022 at 5:13 am

    Book proposal!! Oh boy oh boy can’t wait. Much the same over here. One blessed day of quiet. Started a new job. Much-needed fresh start. Bracing myself for it to all come crashing down in about two seconds. Woof. Shall distract myself by diving into your archives and plotting decluttering projects. Happy New Year anyway, friend!!

    4
  • Reply Ali January 4, 2022 at 8:37 am

    I just loved the quiet hopefulness of this. This January I will put on “real clothes” (aka something besides leggings or sweats) *most* days and will start training for a 1/2 marathon. I’m 43 with lots of curves and haven’t run any kind of distance since pre-kids (9+ years ago). Felt like I wanted a goal and a reason to get outside even when it’s cold out ❤️

    14
  • Reply Kristen January 4, 2022 at 9:15 am

    Erin, thank you so much for your raw honesty and your lovely, gentle reminders. I, too, will plant bulbs, light candles, stretch toward light and love and warmth. I’m so excited to hear there’ll be another book; I can’t wait to read it. Sending good vibes your way from Buffalo. Happy new year, dear.

    2
  • Reply Erin January 4, 2022 at 9:15 am

    You’re a beautiful writer.

    4
  • Reply Stéphanie January 4, 2022 at 9:26 am

    Exciting to hear about the book proposal! I love that you’re feeling hopeful as the new year begins. I think my favourite item on your list is the summer campsites! I am longing for the bright days of spring and summer, and making do with sunny days and string lights in the meantime. Here’s to hoping you and your family ride out the current wave unscathed.

    4
  • Reply Annie January 4, 2022 at 9:59 am

    I was serious when, at the beginning of the pandemic, I said my only goal for this time was to master the perfect smoky eye. I knew that it was too much to expect myself to learn Russian or whatever. I’m pretty good at eye makeup now. So, in addition to just roughly keeping my proverbial s*%t together at work and in life, I think this time around I’ll make a goal of trying to find one happy thing a day, irrespective of if that is snarfing a sleeve of sour patch kids, or reading a good book, or moisturizing my feet 🙂 —and then trying to remember that thing most instead of all the other stuff swirling about.

    6
  • Reply Taylor January 4, 2022 at 10:56 am

    Love this one. Doing all the same things over here. Minus book proposal; plus painting trim.

    2
  • Reply Audrey January 4, 2022 at 11:21 am

    This brought me to tears this morning. Beautifully expressed, Erin, as always.

    2
  • Reply Sarah January 4, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    This January I’m asking for the structure I need, in order to keep clearing space (psychic space, emotional space, physical space). I’m prioritizing my sleep. I’m taking purposeful time to reflect.

    All of which to allow room for joy and room for possibility when it shows up. Trying to focus on holding things (figuratively) in an open palm.

    Did last January happen? Was that even real? I’m having a hard time believing in anything that’s not right here in front of my face. BEST OF LUCK with the book proposal!! Always excited to see what you have to say.

    4
  • Reply Britt January 4, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    Your writing is such a comfort and I’m so excited about the possibility of another book!

    2
  • Reply Hilary January 4, 2022 at 1:25 pm

    I will continue to walk and run and try to keep my family physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. I have an ambitious reading list for this year and a stock of handmade-by-me beeswax candles to make dark winter evenings more cozy. We’re also making summer campground reservations, stalking the places we’re hoping to visit as the spaces become available.

    5
  • Reply Jenny January 4, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    “As if we haven’t all been left without life rafts”, this sums it up for me. I am on edge for every school email and the rush of chats by panicked parents on school chat threads as the news of quarantines trickled and poured over me throughout what I had hoped would be an easier fall. Now with my littles fully vaccinated, it feels like the goalposts may yet slide away. Just hoping they can go to school, I can go to work, and we can all proceed from this foggy era of pandemic parenting…. We will ski this month, we will also plan our camping, and mostly we will practice our resilience together.

    7
  • Reply BRIONY January 5, 2022 at 5:20 am

    I will go to yoga, meditation, and kung fu regularly, read lots of good books, exploring new interests, continue to work on growing lots of greens to eat in large square pots on wheels, find and make new vegan and vegetarian paleo/keto recipes, drink more water, and strengthen the ability to empathise and forgive.

    5
  • Reply Mila January 5, 2022 at 7:39 am

    The grace of this post; thank you.

    3
  • Reply Sara January 5, 2022 at 8:48 am

    I needed this post yesterday. Thank you. Your blog is a comfort in many ways.

    2
  • Reply Lauren January 5, 2022 at 5:22 pm

    I have to tell you that I re-read your book right before January every year. Thrilled that you are working on a proposal!

    4
  • Reply steph January 6, 2022 at 3:14 pm

    love this. my new years trip to see family was derailed by covid. i unwillingly got that writing retreat i’d been dreaming of all year and on the last day of 2021 when i felt so tired and worried i wrote this tiny list. 2 for 2022: rest, grow. (wake up, repeat.) more here: https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/2022/01/0067-2-for-2022.html
    this january i will recommit to my exercise routine – winter is my favorite time to run. buy concert tickets for the spring. finish my apt deep clean. start all those projects i dream up (thanks for the mitten reminder). take the ornaments off my eucalyptus tree and finally finish my studio setup. i love this time of year: stark cold brings clarity, darkness makes way for rest and extra time for creative projects. wishing us all a brighter and hopeful new year 🙂

    4
  • Reply Sue January 7, 2022 at 8:21 am

    Beautifully put. Another book from you would be amazing, good luck with it.

    Me … I will continue on my healing path. Eat well and move forward on my No Spend Year. It’s a good Challenge to keep my mind focussed and use up all that I have acquired over the past few years. As things simplify even more I will breathe freer again.

    5
  • Reply Mollie January 7, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    This is the most beautiful thing I’ve read in this pandemic…maybe, ever? Thank you, thank you.

  • Reply Ray January 8, 2022 at 8:01 am

    My family and I Will get over our cold this january, paint our bedroom walls, continue renovating the bathroom, start on the office, plan the extended vegetable garden, and visit some Friends and family now that we are all freshly immunized.

  • Reply Elizabeth January 8, 2022 at 10:38 am

    Well put, as always. As a fellow Brooklynite, where do you buy your paperwhite bulbs? I used to get robust ones from Manhattan’s flower district but I’m avoiding the subway… and the ones from my local hardware store tend to be unreliable bloomers. Thanks!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 11, 2022 at 11:01 am

      ugh; i’ve had good luck at grdn in the past! this year i went the hardware store route and only ended up with one that fully bloomed! time to get more!

      1
      • Reply Elizabeth January 18, 2022 at 9:35 am

        Thank you! GRDN it is. Good luck with your next crop!

        1
  • Reply Mickey January 10, 2022 at 7:20 am

    This January, I am more uncertain than ever of what I want to be doing and where I want to shift my life. There is no wind in my sails, my lungs are empty and I seem to have misplaced my oars. All I know is that in January I want to make this home of mine 0.1 percent cozier. Maybe with bulbs. Maybe with some textile art. Maybe just by giving this place a good dusting.

    2
  • Reply Jasmine January 11, 2022 at 1:52 pm

    “forgive myself when i cant” is something i absolutely need to get behind this year. and there is something about having a little mouse ravaging the inner walls of the house and providing some white noise while you go about your day. hope this year is a good one for you x
    minae ♡

  • Reply LINDA January 20, 2022 at 11:26 am

    Your unique writing style is so relatable and comforting. Well done!!

  • Reply Malvika February 10, 2022 at 12:00 am

    Such a cozy and comforting read! I enjoyed that. Thank you for posting!

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