Month in Review: January 2023


A new year begins! I devoted a number of posts to reviewing my reading from last year, which was interesting for me, at least. Check them out here:

Along with general plans for 2023, I announced a new challenge that I also seem to be doing mostly for myself, but with a few friends interested — see the Spiritual Memoir Challenge if you’d like to join us. (It only takes one book!) And I took part in a new-to-me meme, Shelf Control, sharing my intention to join the #LoveHain readalong hosted by Calmgrove. I also announced a switch to The StoryGraph for my personal reading record. Please be sure to let me know if you’re on there as well so we can be friends.

Aside from all that housekeeping business, there were the books I completed in January. As you can see, I’m really making an effort to read books representing more countries of the world — and so far, succeeding. I also finished my first spiritual memoir, about which I had mixed feelings — post coming soon. However, the book I enjoyed the most this month was The Monsters We Defy — I’ll seek out more books by this author for sure.


I started focused work on German again this month with a new italki tutor. She uses stories that she’s written to teach vocabulary and grammar, which is an approach I enjoy. At this point in my life, I have a hard time memorizing isolated lists of words and rules. Give me context!

I also went back to the German learning resources of Deutsche Welle and saw that they have done some reorganizing and expansion. This site is really excellent — and totally free! — and I wish there were the equivalent for English. I started watching the telenovela “Jojo sucht das Glück,” which is silly but entertaining, incorporating quite a bit of useful language practice. If anybody is learning German, I highly recommend this site.


It’s cold and dreary here in Switzerland, but there isn’t much snow. My son is checking out different school possibilities for next year, which may or may not mean we will need to move. Things are a bit unsettled, so I’ll be glad when we’re able to make some decisions.

I shared about my new impulse to write and send out my writing for possible publication — I’ve had some success, as detailed in this post. And I may have some even more exciting news to share soon…I completed a book project, and it’s under consideration by a publisher. Wish me luck!

At the turn of the year I started a Spiritual Direction program that has been very nourishing and inspiring. I have been thinking about this for a long time, and although I have to get up in the middle of the night for the class meetings twice a month, I decided it was worth it. The first year is focused on personal spiritual formation; I appreciate the emphasis so far on slowing down, experiencing silence and deep rest, getting in touch with one’s body and feelings, and finding a holistic balance in life. Other spiritual trainings I’ve been part of have sometimes not been so balanced or healthy. I look forward to where this two-year program may lead me.

How has your year begun? Anything new and interesting?

Spring already?

Linked at The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, the Sunday Salon at Readerbuzz, and the Monthly Wrap-up Round-up at Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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30 thoughts on “Month in Review: January 2023

  1. Good luck with your writing submissions and persevering. I loved reading your Pomegranate poem, it was evocative and very accomplished, finding the right home/match for your work through a little research is so important.

  2. The Deutsche Welle site looks worth exploration, thanks! German has so far escaped my linguistic attentions even though I regularly sing choral music by Bach, Brahms and other German composers. And good luck with your book project!

    I’ve long wanted to read The Unvarnished Gospels a translation of the four main texts of the Greek New Testament shorn of later editorial additions such as chapter and verse divisions and associated exegesis, so I may at some stage join in your spiritual meme.

    1. If you want to try learning German, DW is a great resource! I also benefited from the Pimsleur courses, which are completely oral and helped me get a feel for the language.

      The Unvarnished Gospels sounds fascinating, I am always interested in different translations. It’s not a memoir, but bring it on anyway.

  3. I like your Spiritual Memoir Challenge. There is a fellow in my writing class who is working on his own spiritual memoir, and the memoir I am writing has elements of that, too. I will look into your challenge more closely.

    I hope to get back to my Christian meditation group this week. I saw that one of my favorite retreat sites is hosting a retreat at the end of the month. I’m considering going.

    1. I would love to do an in-person retreat. I’ve been doing so many groups and events online, which has been good in so many ways, but just doesn’t replace actually being there. Enjoy it if you do go.

    1. Thanks! I think Japanese would be so hard too, although I’d love to dip into it just to see what it’s like.

    1. Do you like StoryGraph? I do miss some of the social aspects of GoodReads, although it seems they might be adding some more opportunities to interact, down the road somewhere. I’d be in favor of that.

  4. I am so happy to hear how your year has started, very hopeful for your publishing endeavors. I like how your spiritual reading is going.
    Thanks for keeping us updated.

  5. your program sounds wonderful. I signed up for a four year one this past year, and I am absolutely loving the nutrition and relevance it offers for day to day living.

    Best wishes with your poems and a book–which congratulations!!

    I’ve been reading D.E. Stevenson’s Five Windows on your recommendation in a past post, and really enjoying it! I’m going to look up the monsters we defy as well!

    1. I’m glad you have found a good program too. And those are two good, though entirely different books to check out. I hope you enjoy them both as much as I did.

  6. Sounds like your year is starting off with a bang! Somehow I’ve missed your blog in previous wanderings but I’m glad I’ve found it now. I spent some time wandering around and noticed that we seem to have similar reading preferences and you’ve got so many books mentioned that I don’t know. Which is just the BEST! I’ll be back for sure!
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

    1. Nice! I’ve just checked out your blog too, it’s always wonderful to find another companion on this reading journey.

    1. I just can’t do the dry way any more. My brain is resisting it. Fortunately I’ve gotten to the point where I can actually read simple texts in German and I don’t have too many gaps.

    1. Lately I feel like I’ve been mostly an armchair traveler myself, but hopefully will start to get out of the house more.

  7. How excited that you completed a book project! Good luck with where it will go from here! Your spiritual direction program sounds so good. It’s wonderful to give yourself that gift.

    My February book for Spiritual Memoirs is “In Search of Buddha’s Daughters.” It’s been fascinating to hear the stories of Buddhist nuns.

    1. Why thank you! It doesn’t mean the goals will get accomplished, but I do like having something to look forward to each year.

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