Every night, I take my pills and put on my hand cream, my husband and I set our alarms, the lights go out, and one of us says “what’s your good thing?” It’s a bit of a race, since whoever says it first doesn’t have to answer it first, but we do both answer it eventually.
During particularly rough weeks, the answer might be something as simple as “My lunch was pretty good” or “It’s finally Friday.” On more exciting days, I might note that one of my pitches was accepted or an agent requested my proposal and he might mention finishing an arduous project at work or Trump finally being evicted from Twitter (now that was a good thing). Either way, we can always find something good that happened in the 15 or so hours we were awake – even if sometimes it feels a bit like panning for gold.
If you know me (and especially him) at all, you might be surprised we practice this little gratitude ritual. We both loathe toxic positivity and roll our eyes at ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ signs, and gratitude practices often veer into both those camps. I was shocked when, about a year ago now, I told him I was going to start doing this every day and he offered to join me. We’ve been together for six years now, but he still surprises me.
The benefit of our ‘one good thing’ habit isn’t always clear. Plenty of evenings, we seem to kind of plow through it like a chore. But sometimes it’s an opportunity to revel in a truly wonderful moment from that day, or express appreciation for each other, or look back on a crappy day and realize something good did happen. It’s a chance for a perspective shift, without the pressure of requiring it.
I want this newsletter to be a little bit of that: a reflection on some good things, in my life and hopefully in yours as well. So I’ve changed the name (which I kinda hated) and dumped the logo (which I was never particularly confident about), but the content won’t change, really. It’ll still be focused mostly on writing, with a nod to the books I’m reading and a moment of random joy at the end – but the type of content is less important to me than the feeling it gives you.
I hope it can be one of the little good things in your day.
My first paid pitch commission went live this week: an essay about how the sizing practice of One Size Fits Most (née All) is harmful to us all. I loved writing this – the editor really encouraged me to dig into my natural voice, and she also helped me deepen and expand my perspective. I did have to push through a lot of anxiety about baldly stating my size (and the many other sizes I’ve worn throughout the years), but, as usual, the vulnerability was worth it.
I also adapted my guest post on the Fairest newsletter into a Medium article about how to find a writing community. If you’re on Medium, I’d love to connect over there!
What I’m Reading:
I frequently have an audiobook and an e/print book going at the same time. Right now I’m listening to So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo – I’m late to the party on this book, but not on Oluo, whom I’ve been following on social media and reading for years. Her book is excellent, and I’ll try not to sleep on her new one: Mediocre. As for print/e, I’m juggling a couple of titles at once there too. I’m about 1/3 of the way into Trick Mirror, by Jia Tolentino, and while it’s great it also gives me some major essayist insecurity, so I’m taking it slowly and alternating with The Office of Historical Corrections, by the extremely talented Danielle Evans. Oh, and I just finished Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird for my writers’ book group, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it!
A Random Joy:
In a bid to fight the sloth that my year of anemia started and the pandemic cemented, I’ve started a new habit of taking a 20-30 minute walk around our neighborhood every day. This has not only improved my mood and given me a recurring opportunity to listen to my audiobook, but it’s also reminded me what an architecturally diverse and charming area we live in – just look at the entrance to this nearby park!
Now if only we could afford the time and money to mimic the stunning landscaping our neighbors have mastered…maybe someday our yard won’t look so raggedy!