No goals. No intentions. No resolutions. No reflections. I know December 31st can be a time for all of those things, but this year I’m trying to avoid all of that. I know it works for MANY folks, which I think is wonderful. Me on the other hand? I’ve been working overtime in ALL of that and quite frankly, it’s made me kind of tired. I recently read this article and found myself in every single bit of it.

On my phone, I have every weight loss app and mile-walker app you can possibly imagine. Have I lost weight? Negative.
On my phone, I have a meditation tracker to remind me (every day) that…I haven’t meditated.
On my phone, I have articles saved to read later and… I haven’t read them.
On my phone, I even track how many hours I’m on my phone (specifically scrolling Facebook and Instagram if we are being honest) and that amount of time is atrocious and embarrassing and do you think I’ve limited my time because of that app? Nope.
On my phone, I have THREE email accounts linked and check them regularly. Yes in the car. Yes in the Doctor’s office. Yes, with my kids. Yes, to all of everything.
On my phone, I use the SIRI voice text to send messages constantly because in my 3+ hours of online activity, I somehow lost the ability to pick up the phone and have a conversation with anyone.
On my phone, I am bombarded with calendar updates and requests and alarms and notifications of the meetings about to start or are coming up the next day.

On my computer, I have articles upon articles saved about how to live more holistically. How to be less stressed. How to be present and balanced. Then I send those articles to my phone thinking I’ll read them there, but do I? Nope.

On my phone AND computer, I’ve “saved” books I need to read or listen to and the truth is, I haven’t read a book cover to cover in I can’t tell you how long.

So how in the world CAN you be less distracted, live more holistically, be more present with all the tracking, monitoring, reminding, and distracting things buzzing and ringing all around you? I honestly have no idea. Normal me would immediately begin to delete every single app, put my phone in a drawer, restrict all access to Facebook, and quit all of it cold turkey. Guess what? That never works either.

And because I’ve gained 40 pounds over the last two years, my first reaction is to immediately start every weight loss app, count every single calorie, track every single step, plan every single meal, and buy every app to remind me to do those things. This is my pattern (and I’m sure many of yours). Don’t get me wrong. It works for a little while, but then I fall back into the patterns and I’m back where I a started — mad at my phone, mad at cheese dip, mad at my work schedule, mad at how busy the world is, mad that I can’t get a break, and mostly mad at myself for letting myself get mad. Especially when it comes to being mad at cheese dip because how in the WORLD could anyone be mad at that?

When New Year’s comes around, it’s even harder for me to resist making plans and goals and intentions and restarts and ALL of that. New Year, New You… you’ve heard it before. That’s why I’m trying to do something a bit different (more on the “do” part in a second). I’m not making lists of things I’m not accomplishing or could do better. I’m not downloading apps to track whether or not I’m meeting daily diet and fitness goals. I’m not beating myself up. My therapist says, “Do you ever just stop ‘DOING” and just focus on “BEING?” I don’t even know what that means because even in this well-meaning post, I reference what I’m DOING differently this year (See? Still doing.). “Doing” IS “Being” in my mind, but clearly I’ve created so many to dos and downloaded so many apps that ALL that work of DOING something isn’t accomplishing much of anything. It’s just distracting me from actually doing the hard work of staying present and being okay with where I am and who I am while still working to know better and do better.

With ALL of that said (yeah, I really just got on here to tell you about the recipes I tried this week, so thanks with sticking with me up until this point), I’m thrilled to share some really good recipes I made for our family lunch last weekend. I have NO idea how many points they are and I didn’t even look at the calories. I knew I WANTED black-eyed peas and collards and cheese grits and cornbread and so I made ALL of that and have enjoyed every bit of it as leftovers this week.

First up: Collards.
I hand-picked these collards at Jones Valley Teaching Farm (because, well… I work there so don’t go getting any ideas). Now, let’s pause and give ALL PRAISE TO THE INSTANT POT. Why? Because my collards cooked in 35 minutes, that’s why. And they were soooooo good. I used this recipe and also used smoked turkey wings. They were absolutely delicious and sweet and tender and hit the spot. Oh and speaking of Jones Valley Teaching Farm, today is the LAST day to make your year-end gift:

Next up: Pioneer Woman’s version of Hoppin’ John. I served it over cheese grits instead of rice. I mean, why not? Here’s the link to the recipe:

Next up: Cornbread: I use the same recipe every time, every year, and will do this forever and ever because of how much I love love love it. Edna Lewis’s Sour Milk Cornbread’s recipe is the best and you can find it here. You can also find it in The Gift of Southern Cooking.

And finally the Cheese Grits: I use McEwen grits cooked low and slow with chicken broth, water, and a little half-and-half. Added some smoked gouda at the very end.

However you decide to bring in the New Year, I am sending light, love, and peace your way. These aren’t easy times, which means space and grace and love is so important right now. A friend posted this poem today and it rang true to me and I hope it helps lift you up as we hold on tight to whatever comes our way next year.

CONTINUE: a poem
By Maya Angelou

My wish for you
Is that you continue
To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness
To allow humor to lighten the burden
Of your tender heart
In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter
To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined
To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you
To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely
To put the mantel of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless
To take the hand of the despised
And diseased and walk proudly with them
In the high street
Some might see you and
Be encouraged to do likewise
To plant a public kiss of concern
On the cheek of the sick
And the aged and infirm
And count that as a
Natural action to be expected
To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel to
Say your nightly prayer
And let faith be the bridge
You build to overcome evil
And welcome good
To ignore no vision
Which comes to enlarge your range
And increase your spirit
To dare to love deeply
And risk everything
For the good thing
To float
Happily in the sea of infinite substance
Which set aside riches for you
Before you had a name
And by doing so
You and your work
Will be able to continue