Hello, January. One of my least favorite months. But, since it is my last month before our baby arrives, I am going to soak up every moment that I have to myself…and fill it with thick fantasy books!
Here are the books I hope to read this month!
The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang
I devoured The Poppy War in December and immediately flagged it as one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. I plan on doing a full trilogy review once I am done … and I have a feeling I will finish The Dragon Republic and The Burning God this month! It’s so good, friends. Pick it up if you haven’t already.
The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black
In a previous version of this post, I listed The Cruel Prince as a January 2022 read … well … I flew through the first one and now on to the second! I am excited to see what happens in this trilogy. The Cruel Prince was … dark and pretty messed up. Loved it, honestly.
Rule of Wolves (King of Scars #2) by Leigh Bardugo
While I was not a fan of King of Scars (more on that later), the ending did pique my interest and encourage me to finish the duology and the Grishaverse series. I am going to go into this one cautiously optimistic …
Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology #1) by Sue Lynn Tan
The cover alone has me hooked, but I have heard nothing but amazing things about this book. It has a strong female lead, magic, monsters, adventure, romance … I simply cannot wait to get my hands on this book.
The Burning God (The Poppy War #3) by R.F. Kuang
I can only assume once I finish The Dragon Republic I will need to pick up the final book in this trilogy. Kuang is also releasing a new book in August called Babel, and I cannot wait for more of her work!
This particular blog post has been tough to write because let’s be honest … I am having a very hard time welcoming a new year right now. I think we all are, right? With the new variant spreading across the world and its existence impeding on the safe and happy arrival of our baby, it’s hard to stay positive … especially when I decided that my theme for 2022 is “Joy.”
What I am trying to achieve in 2022 is very similar to this picture here. We are all at the top of this hill looking down at a vast, dark, impossible void. While I don’t want to pretend it’s not there, I do want to take moments and turn towards the sun, stretch out my arms and welcome some light and positivity where I can. I write this very carefully. I don’t want to lose sight of where we are in the world and how much work we have to do. I am luckier than others, I know this. I want to play a role in making our world a better place, but I also recognize that I cannot be an active member of society if I do not take care of myself. It’s a privilege, and I struggle with that awareness.
The world just feels heavy again. I thought we were moving in a positive direction, but now another variant is making me afraid. I am afraid to leave my home again; I am afraid to get sick; I am afraid to get my loved ones sick; I am afraid that my baby will get sick. How can I find joy in so much darkness?
I think that’s why joy is the right theme for 2022. I am determined to find some light in this darkness. My daughter’s arrival in 6 weeks will be the ultimately light, and I don’t want that to dim. I want to also be a positive light for her and most importantly, a positive light for myself.
If you’ve been around for a while, you know that each year, I choose a theme. Back in 2015, I took some advice from Gretchen Rubin and decided to form habits rather than create resolutions in the new year. Since then, I have purposefully stuck to my themes to live a happier life. And it’s worked.
In 2021, my theme was to spark creativity, particularly in my writing, my home, and my music. Looking back at this year, I met my theme in many ways. While I wrote an entire Master’s thesis this spring, I also updated my blog regularly for the first time in a long time (yay!). I also participated in NaNoWriMo and started my first book! We have continued to add our own special touches to our home, and this year, I discovered a love for gardening, a new creative outlet. I learned new songs on the guitar, and I even posted a few singing videos and participated in virtual cabarets with my friends. While I didn’t start my own online bookmark store (oops), I am proud of what I achieved this year.
2022: A Year of Joy
As I enter a new chapter in my life, I aim to live as joyfully as possible. I’d like to embrace and experience joy through many outlets in my life, and I’d also like to spark joy for others, whether that is through my writing, performing, or charitable acts. As a mother, I believe that if I am taking steps to feel happiness, my daughter will also feel that joy through me.
When I think of a year of joy, I imagine adopting a few practices:
Meditation and Yoga: As a new mom, I want to make time for myself to feel grounded and calm. I plan to mediate for 10-15 minutes per day (with the help of the amazing Calm app), and practice yoga at least twice a week. While this may be difficult with a newborn, I am grateful that I have a partner who can help push me to meet these goals.
Practicing Mindfulness and Gratitude: While these are somewhat synonymous, I do want to break them down separately to explain my intentions with both. I recently read in Breathe Magazine (highly recommend) that it’s important to pause during your most mundane routines and find joy in those moments. Whether it is making a pot of tea or feeding my baby on the couch, I want to teach myself to stop and be mindful of the simplicity and peace in those routines. Meditation and yoga will help with mindfulness, and being mindful will help me feel gratitude, an emotion that I aim to focus on every day to help boost my happiness. (See this post).
Exercise: As someone who regularly combats anxiety and depression, exercise has always been a lifesaver. This pregnancy has been a little rough with round ligament pain and sciatica. I’ve been advised to avoid rigorous activity, and now at 34 weeks, walking is a painful task. Once I am healed after giving birth to our daughter, I aim to slowly get back into exercising, working out 2 times a week and increasing that to 4-5 times a week. I miss my Peloton, and can’t wait to get back in the saddle (literally).
Planting: I mentioned that I discovered a love for gardening this past year. In 2022, I want to continue plant and beautify our outdoor space. I am excited to bring our daughter outside, breathe in the fresh, spring air, and get my hands dirty. Planting seeds and watching them grow throughout the spring and summer will bring me joy, and it will also help spark mindfulness and gratitude. I love feeling connected to our planet.
What about you?
What are your goals/habits that you’d like to form in 2022? Please share in the comments below.
Happy New Year to my readers. Be well. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being you.