Moer Notes // 2023.
In which she tries to do a recap of 2023, midway through January! HOW CAN YOU RECAP WHAT IS NOT YET FINISHED, BUDS? So now, we are bold and we recap.
Welcome to Moer Notes, Hannah’s monthly recap post — turned annual for this endeavour into attempting to recap 2023.
It’s going to be a scroller, so no preamble - let’s dive in and LET’S GO, PALS.
A category to capture what I’m proud of in my journal, or what I made in the kitchen, or what I have taken time to create lately.
2023 was the year I said, “I’m going to cook.” The goal was to cook 52 meals and document them. I started off strong doing this on my personal Instagram account… until about June, when my summer social media malaise1 struck.
Husband Dave primarily does the cooking in our house, out of his love for having good food. And he does it very joyfully and with great delight. But the unintended consequence is I was getting a little lazy with my own cooking habits, and I didn’t love the way that felt. Plus, I was up for a new challenge!
I didn’t hit the full 52 meals, and that was fine by me. Because working towards the goal got me where I wanted to be: a place where I’m appreciating cooking and making it a part of my day to day life. It got me into the habit and rhythm of being in the kitchen once a week. And it turns out, I like spending the time with a silly little show, some vegetables, and our knives.
A few recipes I made on repeat this year:
Turkey Enchilada Skillet from All the Healthy Things
Greek Meatballs from All the Healthy Things
Shawarma from The Lazy Genius
A very yummy kale salad from Half Baked Harvest but I am too lazy to go find the recipe
A blend of a few different Mexican Street Corn Salad recipes, but this is the one I come back to most often
I have so many words to say about this, that maybe I’ll share here or maybe just for the pages of my journal… but I loved this form of making this year.
A category to explore what is unclear and difficult to understand; what’s been a thing or two that is keeping me from seeing clearly and moving forward?
It’s social media.
If I’m ever writing a different answer for this category, it’s probably because I don’t want to repeat that it’s social media… or because I’ve gotten rid of social media.
It’s social media that clouds things for me. It’s my own bad relationship with social media that’s keeping me from seeing clearly. It’s social media & my unclear and vague boundaries around it.
I wrote a post this year about thoughts that just flitted in and out of my head. So many of them casually talked about my dislike of my relationship with social media, “I opened up the deactivate setting on all my social media profiles, looked at all of them for three minutes, and then quickly closed out of those tabs.” “More and more, I find myself saying out loud, ‘I’m more interesting than this’ when I’m in a social media spiral. Or when I sleep in. It’s sometimes working.”
And yet - here I am, nine months later, with a virtually unchanged (if not worse) relationship with it.
I am too susceptible to the numbing out that social media provides, and too easily influenced to put living my own life on the back burner in favour of watching the lives of others.
So in 2024, I’m vowing to take drastic action on this. I refuse to spend another year thinking, “I have to come up with a different answer for what’s not working than social media.” It’s just boring.
A category to look at what I’m trying; what habit, rhythm, routine did I try in my day to day life?
Boldly, I chose what no person has chosen before - putting down all habits, rhythms, and routines in favour of crying a lot!
No. Well, maybe. I digress.
Here’s the rhythm I did love: in the late fall when Survivor started, I started watching it weekly with my co-workers. The catch? We’re a remote company and don’t all live in the same spot.
We’d get our lunch together, send each other a picture of the meal, and then get set up on our TV’s. We’d sync up to play at the same time, and then chat the entire time in our THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN CHAT. We put little fire emojis up for our Slack statuses, and it was so nice to have a weekly connection rhythm with co-workers that was outside of work.
With Survivor being on hiatus right now, we’ve still been meeting up. For now, we pick a favourite episode of Brooklyn 99 that we watch.
Am I maybe making the case for you to have a TV club with your friends? MAYBE I AM.
A category to be a (maybe) brief look at what I’m reading, what I’m liking, and what I’m screaming about from the rooftops.
I read 99 books this year (one short of my goal of 100 - and I’ll be honest, on the true evening part of New Year’s Eve… as in 11 PM in the Pacific Time Zone… I was till making a concerted effort to meet that 100 book goal!) Here are some of the standouts for me this year.
PS. Some of these have content warnings that I think are looking into… but I forget about the details of books pretty soon after I finish reading them. I’d recommend looking up content warnings on Storygraph.
A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny // This was the latest instalment of the Inspector Gamache series and I could not put it down. It does what all my favourite Gamache books do - tie a longer story and a larger narrative together in a thrilling way. I spent a Saturday morning with this book and had no regrets, just screams.
The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn // I love Kate Quinn historical fiction, and this was another incredible one from her. Maybe it’s because I finished it in Mexico, but it was a remarkable and well researched read.
True Biz by Sara Novic // Immersive and outstanding. This was another, “I can’t put this down” book. I didn’t read much literary fiction this year, but this was a stand out.
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Centre // I’ve been working my way through the Katherine Centre backlist and I’ll be brave enough to say that not every Katherine Centre book is a win for me. But this was. Skip the Netflix adaptation — they missed out on all the richness and elements that made me cry from the book.
The Life Council by Laura Tremaine // Reading this book was like a constant “Ping! Ping! Ping!” of lights going off. It both named feelings I have about friendship and gave me ideas for how to do friendship better.
Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano // It’s that books that talk about sisters and have subtle Little Women references are it for me. I cried reading this tender book. Again, I didn’t read much literary fiction this year (note for 2024: but much of the literary fiction I did read ended up on this list of favourites…) but this was a lovely stand out.
Happy Place by Emily Henry // When Emily Henry is coming out with new books, I am buying them and reading them. A friend and I were talking about this book the other night and she said, “It just made me feel achy, but in a good way?” That was exactly it. And… I cried so much reading this book that I woke Dave up at 12:30 am (after he’d been asleep for two hours).
Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J. Ryan Stradaal // I have yet to experience a J. Ryan Stradaal book that hasn’t just sucked me into a quiet, midwestern story. An autobuy and autoread author for me.
How to Stay Married by Harrison Scott Key // Another book that took me by surprise. I found this when I was browsing at a bookstore, and ended up getting it out from the library. The author is both honest and hilarious, tender and thoughtful. I am nosy, so a marriage memoir feels totally right for me.
All My Knotted Up Life by Beth Moore // A book where I finished it, teared up, and immediately got my mom the audiobook so we could talk about it. Beth Moore gets very honest - but what took me by surprise is how emotional her talking about her relationship with Jesus made me. It was an incredibly beautiful and well written memoir (with some awful hard parts to her story that she had to recount).
The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Potson // This was one of those “Bookstagram has it everywhere books, so will I even like it?” books — and I very much so did. There was something about the main character’s journey that so deeply resonated with me, I couldn’t put it down. I love the magical realism in Potson’s writing — but it’s always secondary to just massive love.
Congratulations, the Best is Over! by R. Eric Thomas // I love R. Eric Thomas’ writing - it is always making me laugh and cry and think in quick succession. Immensely grateful for the gift his writing is to me.
The Book of Common Courage by K. J. Ramsey // I picked this book up on a whim, and when the second poetic reflection was something that tenderly hit on a piece of my faith… I could not stop with it. I loved this walk through Psalm 23.
A category to clock what I’m noting from my life; what are the notes from my journal and the things in my life that I’m taking note of?
This was the year I probably wrote the most I ever have about music.2
It’s also the nostalgia of having lyrics as my MSN status, or writing all the lyrics to Swing Life Away on a sheet of paper in high school. Loving music, screaming about lyrics that resonate… that’s always been true. This was just the year I put it in my journal.
I did Taylor Rank, I wrote down the lyrics to a song that kept making me cry, I wrote about my emotional connection to the two Taylor re-releases we got this year, I wrote lyrics to songs that kept making me cry on the drive to yoga, I wrote about nostalgic songs that kept making me cry on a drive, I wrote about a new Donovan Woods song.3 I also opened up and hosted the mix CD exchange again — and while I didn’t journal about it, it brought me so much joy to be participating with pals in music.
It was fun and felt like tapping into a part of me that loves the songs, but really truly deeply loves the lyrics and exploring all my emotional connections to music.
A category to look at my spending habits; what did I buy, if anything? (And maybe, what did I wish I bought?)
I had a few focused and intentional no and low spend months, but I did also get some things that I was just so thrilled with. If I was going through a small, medium, and large purchase categories, here are some things that would be in those categories.
Small: Y’all, it is so silly, but my Pentel Energel Clenas (particularly this one in 0.3 size brought me an immense and embarrassing amount of joy. And these silly little wavy glass straws - I drink almost everything with a straw, and these ones are fun and cute. Full send.
Medium: After years of coveting the journal covers of friends from the Internet, I finally got a Galen Leather cover for my journal. It’s the perfect choice for my journalling & life. Right now, I’m journalling in a Stalogy journal, which has a soft cover. If that was going in and out of my bags, I would have surely dented and crushed the cover by now. With this cover, that never happens. If I end up giving into planner FOMO that I suffer from, I know I will almost always have an A5 notebook on my person to keep using this cover. Also, I invested in high quality shoes and boots this year. No regrets.
Large: We renovated the floors and our upstairs bathroom. It feels so different and also, every step we take to make this place more and more of our home is a step I’m just thrilled about. I’m excited to be done that phase and am looking forward to spending more time enjoying our house this year instead of whining because everything is out of sorts.
A category to do a little self-reflection; how did I show myself a little self care?
Many of the things I’ve already mentioned were the ways I took care of myself this year: cooking more, being intentional with no-spend months, spending time in my journal.
Perhaps the best way I took care of myself is also the thing I need to remind myself all the time works for me - writing is the way I care for myself. Taking it to paper with a pen - even if it means sometimes my hand ends up hurting a bit - is the way I take care of myself. It’s worthwhile and good to take the time to write, and it always gets me unstuck and inspired.
I was taking care of myself any time I was making collages with all my little paper pieces. I was taking care of myself when I journaled in coffee shops with buddies, or when I journaled in restaurants.
Some say sharing is caring, but may 2024 be the year I make “writing is caring” into a real thing in my life.
A category for gratitude; literally answering the simplest and also maybe hardest question of what am I grateful for?
What was I grateful for in 2023? So much.
A new niece and nephew, & having special time in Ontario to meet (& snuggle!) them both. A week in Mexico to read on a beach and drink margaritas. A new job. Rich friendships. Meeting a long time best friend in person. Adventures and road trips and asking ourselves, “Why don’t we do this more often?” Getting to have all my family in Edmonton for a weekend. Turning 30. Running. A film camera that exceeded my wildest expectations. Watching two of our best friends get married and loving every moment of that. Winning fantasy hockey in a truly unbearable fashion. The Edmonton Oilers. Our church and the people we have there. The golden colour leaves in the fall. Any time Edmonton was in bloom. Living semi-close to a river. A house we intentionally made our own. AND THIS DOES NOT EVEN SCRATCH THE SURFACE OF IT.
Anyways. A lot.
A category to name what stood out to me; what’s a quote that I just had to write down this month, or a post I saved I absolutely want to include?
Here’s to lyrics I cried reading out loud in my therapist’s office in April.
“The college kids are gettin' so young, ain't they?
They're correctin' all the grammar on a spray paint
And I even gave up drivin' after nightfall
I got tired of the frat boys with their brights on
This is good land, or at least it was
It takes a strong hand and a sound mind
It makes me smile to know when things get hard
You'll be far, you'll be far from here
And while I clean up in the yard
You'll be far, you'll be far far from here
So, pack up your car, put a hand on your heart
Say whatever you feel, be wherever you are
We ain't angry at you, love
You're the greatest thing we've lost
The birds will still sing, your folks will still fight
The boards will still creak, the leaves will still die
We ain't angry at you, love
We'll be waitin' for you, love
And we'll all be here forever.” - You’re Gonna Go Far, Noah Kahan
And that’s all from me! Honestly, if you haven’t done an intentional look back at the year yet, I highly recommend you do it in chunks and stages. 2023 held a lot - look back on photos, journal notes, cards you got from buddies. You’ve got lots to mine from if you want to do a year in review — and January feels like the perfect time because you have all of 2023 to review, instead of most of it in December! I said what I said.
You know, the social media malaise where you’re only interested in consuming content, not creating it.
The one album / music experience I didn’t write about was one of my favourites of the year - The Beautiful Letdown (Our Version) with every song covered by someone. The Beautiful Letdown by the Jonas Brothers and This is Your Life by Noah Gundersen are absolute favourites. GUESS WHAT IS ON TAP FOR 2024… writing about that album. Thanks mucho.