Saying thank-you and goodbye to an ordinary year.
After the sadness of 2020 and the weirdness of 2021, I am grateful that, in my life, 2022 felt mostly like an ordinary year. In a good way.
Practicing habits steadily
There were fewer days on which I got out of bed later than 6 a.m. than I have fingers and toes. It’s my golden hour, the time when I can meditate and journal without interruption, set an intention, decide what matters most for me that day. Often, it means being a little shorter on sleep than I desire, but it’s still worth it. In 2023, I will work on earlier bedtime — with a little help from my kids.
Lacing up my running shoes at least four times per week to go to OrangeTheory or for a run outside was another consistent habit throughout the year. On the rare occasion when I had to miss a workout because my husband couldn’t be home with the kids, I thoroughly enjoyed doing nothing instead. Setting a fixed routine and sticking with it is how I get exercise in. When I am home at my desk, I can’t say that I wish I was at the gym or running… but once I am there I have a good time, and I am always glad I did it. In 2023, I will continue doing the exact same thing.
For years, I have known that I needed to do batch cooking on weekends to enjoy less-stressful weeknights, but often failed to follow through almost half the time. Busy mom life, you know. To maximize my accountability, I created a Plant-Based Batch Cooking Club for my clients. It forced me to show up for every scheduled session, and oh! was it worth it. There never was a batch cooking session I regretted, plus I got to hang out (on Zoom) with really nice people while we each cooked really good food. In 2023, I hope to be joined by more people because it’s such a transformative habit!
Every Sunday, I booked my Focusmate sessions for the week. Putting them into my calendar brings me clarity about the time I actually have to work on any given week. In 2023, I will do exactly the same.
Savoring the fruit of five years of work
The highlight of my year is publishing my first book, Flow in the Kitchen: Practices for Healthy Stress-Free Vegan Cooking. The book brings together the ideas about plant-based cooking I have developed over the past five years, including my focus on mindfulness, joy, and confident improvisation on weeknights.
The process of publishing and promoting the book brought me enhanced clarity about how I think I can continue to mentor other home cooks into steadily preparing healthy vegan meals for themselves and their loved ones. I am humbled by all the people who have come together to help me in reading early versions, designing the interior and cover, teaching me about self-publishing, writing reviews, and cheering me on. Sharing my message and meeting new like-minded souls on the podcast trail has been thrilling so far and I look forward to continuing in 2023.
The new year will be the beginning of a new creative cycle for me. I will continue exploring the same themes as before — cooking, nutrition, mindfulness, service, and compassion — in a more intentional way, finally feeling grounded in what I can bring to those who want to read or listen to me, or cook alongside me in the kitchen.
Joy in light community
In my mid-forties with children in elementary school, in this post-covid era where many still hesitate to step indoors with others, I find myself mostly surrounded by immediate family. Though I have a few friends, most of them live afar and/or are equally engrossed in a similar stage of their life. I do miss the pleasure of vibing on a shared wavelength with close peers in person, but in 2022 I decided I would create opportunities for joy in light community: getting together with neighbors for a yard sale or ice cream social, virtual team meetings with online colleagues, in-depth podcast conversations (in French!) with distant acquaintances I may never reconnect with again, hiking up an island with twenty women at a retreat, vacationing in side-by-side cabins with families who have kids of similar age. I cherished those moments and love those people.
In 2023, I will continue nourishing those connections, creating opportunities to get together and say “yes” to light community.
Surrendering to beauty
Humanity’s ugly side has been on prominent display again this year, from the brutal invasion of Ukraine to the destruction wrought by supercharged weather events amplified by human-driven climate change and environmental degradation, among other depressing events. My home town of Vancouver was again hammered by a prolonged heat wave and weeks of smoky skies. I feel a combination of gratitude and shame that we were able to enjoy conditioned air in our home.
In previous years, such events triggered me to slip into a dark mood. This year, I made a conscious effort of reminding myself to practice gratitude and train my attention on the beauty that remains, against all odds, in the world and in humans. I invited music to roll through me and uplift my spirit. I squeezed my daughter’s hand as we floated mere meters away from a group of sea turtles, marveling at the privilege of being allowed into their orbit. I found pleasure in reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid to my son as he snuggled and giggled with me on the couch before bedtime. I surrendered to the beauty of the sky’s colors at sunrise.
In 2023, I will make a conscious effort to continue noticing what is beautiful around me. I will grow the space for appreciation, creation, and contemplation. I will cultivate hope in the countless acts of love and service that we can practice every day.
May the rest of 2022 be kind and may you find joy within and around in 2023.
Brigitte Gemme is a healthy vegan cooking mentor, meal planner, and author. After a PhD in sociology of higher education and a 15-year career in research management, she got impatient with the slow pace of planet-friendly change and decided to help individuals live a gentler life. Brigitte’s book Flow in the Kitchen: Practices for Healthy Stress-Free Cooking may help you find peace and joy in cooking. If you need help deciding what’s for dinner, check out her meal plans at VeganFamilyKitchen.com. She offers one-on-one digital coaching for cooking and productivity. If you need personal guidance and accountability to embrace a gentler lifestyle and better habits, consider signing up for a free week with her on coach.me using coupon code BRIGITTEWEEK. Brigitte loves nothing more than helping more people make a habit of eating more plants.