New Year, New Blog (Well, Sort Of…)

By Jessica Friedman

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I am not gonna lie, I love the beginning of a new year. I love using this as a time to do an annual checkup on my life, to look over the past year and evaluate what went well and what didn’t, and to make plans to make the new year my best year yet—and 2017 was a pretty spectacular year, so 2018 has some big shoes to fill.

In years past, I have shared my resolutions on the blog as a way of at least trying to hold myself accountable. I also love when you guys tell me what your resolutions are. It makes me feel like we’re in this together. I didn’t do that last year, and I failed big time at sticking to my goals. (Yes, let’s blame it on the missing resolutions post. It doesn’t have anything to do getting married. Which is, you know, only the biggest resolution of my life, so whatever…)

But I’m determined to be more successful with my goals this year, and over the first week of 2018, I sat down to ponder and pray about where my life is and where I want it to go this year. One of the things that stood out to me was, a bit surprisingly, spending more time on Jest Kept Secret. This beast of a blog has been in my life for about a decade, and in that time, it has served first as a home for my writing and then as a journal of my travels abroad. Each has been a good thing at the time, but I have never wanted it to be just a writing blog or just a travel blog. I want it to be a celebration of life, and all of the many things and people and places that make it wonderful.

So as I’ve continued to ponder that first little prompting to develop JKS a little further, and prayed about how exactly that should take shape, I was directed to think about the things that I think make life worth celebrating. The things that bring me joy and help me get out of bed in the morning. I made a list and checked it twice, and I came up with five principle elements that I believe make up an abundant, joyful life. In no particular order, those are:

My first degree is in Recreation Management, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to understand why I would include recreation on my list of the qualities of an abundant life. Besides, Jest Kept Secret has always been about having fun! My favorite forms of recreation are travel, horseback riding, and exploring nature, and I’m looking forward to trying new forms of recreation this year.

I fell in love with art the first time I picked up a crayon. Whether it’s drawing, painting, photography, video production, graphic design, hand-pulled print making, embroidery, or writing fiction, if it’s creative, I love to do it. I crave opportunities to create things with my hands. I lose myself in them and don’t ever regret the time lost.

And I love seeing the creative talents of other people, visual and otherwise. Part of why I love traveling so much is because it exposes me to so many different creative voices–visual artists, performers, culinary geniuses. I love to see people lost in their own creative passions, and I want to celebrate them and inspire my readers to pursue their own creativity.

I am a firm believer in the principle that the earth has “enough and to spare,” but only if we do our part as wise stewards. We are commanded to “multiply and replenish the earth,” but I think society in large part ignores the “replenish” part. This is why I am a strong advocate for sustainable agriculture, and why later this year, I’ll be starting a business that will support sustainability efforts in the farming industry. Jest Kept Secret will focus more on what we can do as average consumers to practice sustainability and good stewardship in our homes and communities.

I love to learn, and while I’m obviously a fan of higher learning, I believe that our learning should not end when we leave the walls of a traditional classroom. Opportunities to better ourselves through education are all around us, and I want to explore those in greater depth. After all, “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” (D&C 93:36)

I haven’t been super shy about my religion on this blog, but neither have I made it a real focus. This is a real shame, considering the fact that my beliefs have had the single greatest impact on the joy, peace, and abundance in my own life. When I started exploring the direction I wanted to take Jest Kept Secret, this was the one aspect I felt most strongly about.

For those of you reading this who aren’t Mormons, don’t worry: this isn’t going to become an overly preachy site or anything like that. I’m just going to be a little more open about things the things I believe. I welcome all questions, and please know that all are welcome to discuss their own beliefs just as openly (so long as the discussion remains civil and respectful). I believe in religious freedom for all, and I look forward to discussing different perspectives on spiritual subjects with readers of different faiths—or no faith at all, you are welcome, too!

And because I know you’re super duper curious, some of my personal resolutions for the year are:

  • Start two businesses (more on this soon, I promise!)Here’s the “more on this” I promised, at least for part of it. 😀 😀 😀
  • Complete 2 creative projects/month
  • Read 36 books

What are your resolutions for the year? And what would you most like to read about on Jest Kept Secret?

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