January. The Longest Year Ever.

“January seems like the longest year ever.”

I chuckled as my husband recounted this opening line from an acquaintance during a work meeting. Truth be told, I could echo the very same sentiment. This year, no doubt, started on the right foot. January 1, 2024, landed on a Monday; meaning we had a fresh start to a new week, a new month, and a new year.

But as the days and weeks have passed the excitement and anticipation of that fresh start has seemingly started to fade… for me at least. As reality sets in and life happens, it’s easy to feel like the hold you had on that built-up excitement is starting to loosen its grip.

This month, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Zoey girl. She was an 8lb terrier-mix that my husband and I adopted 9 years ago. Zoey was a very anxious dog. She formed an attachment to me early on and we joked that I was her emotional support human. She admittedly drove us a bit crazy with her incessant barking, but we loved her deeply.

Zoey had been in pain for some time, and we knew the time had come to put her down after a recent trip to the vet. Our vet looked at my husband with kind eyes and said, “When a dog has given up the fight, they lose the light in their eyes. And unfortunately, Zoey has lost hers.”

It was heartbreaking sitting in that sterile exam room, holding my precious Zoey, and feeling life leave her little body. However, we knew we had made the best decision for her and are thankful she is no longer suffering.

Around this same time, I was pulled over for speeding on the way to take my daughter to preschool. She was quiet in the backseat of the car while I explained to her what was happening. I thought I had handled the situation well, and that my daughter understood, to the best of her ability, what was going on. That was until my husband told me that she asked him with a face full of worry if I was a “bad guy” because the police “came and found mommy.” I made a mental note that, perhaps, we should lay off of Sheriff Callie’s Wild West for a while!

Since bad news typically comes in threes, I will round out this saga with a note that just this week I was pulled aside by my daughter’s preschool teacher to tell me that they have had a problem with her hitting other kids…

January, the longest year ever.

They say it takes 5 positive interactions to overcome the emotional toll of a negative interaction. And to spare myself, and more importantly you, dear reader, a doom and gloom ending to this blog, I will attempt to lighten the mood.

As part of my 2024 professional development plan, I recently started reading Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear. The author shares a framework for how to make small changes each day to get 1% better and ultimately form good habits over time. Though I haven’t delved too far into the book yet, I want to share with you a list (in no particular order) that I was inspired to write with 24 seemingly small things I am prioritizing/taking into the rest of 2024 in an effort to make it the best year yet.

  1. Slow mornings
  2. Fresh flowers
  3. Waving to my neighbors
  4. Random acts of kindness
  5. Good books
  6. Candles
  7. Baby snuggles (from my niece)
  8. Family walks
  9. Hand-written cards
  10. Herbal teas
  11. Saturday morning trips to the Farmer’s Market
  12. Phone calls to friends
  13. Bike rides
  14. Time with my grandparents (I still have all 4!)
  15. Picnics by the water
  16. Board games/movie nights
  17. Investing in myself professionally
  18. Family traditions
  19. Daily stretching
  20. Fresh seafood
  21. Working primarily within my 9-5
  22. Exploring my new town of New Bern, NC
  23. Gift-giving (my love language)
  24. The word “no”

I have this list saved on a note on my phone for easy reference, so whenever I feel like I am “losing the light in my eyes” (metaphorically speaking) I can come back to these things that have proven to lift my spirits at any given time.

Have you made a similar list for the new year? If so, I’d love for you to share it with me if you feel so inclined so we can hold each other accountable: sara@armstrongmcguire.com.


Sara Littlejohn is the Administrative Coordinator for Armstrong McGuire. Learn more and catch her other musings in her bio.

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