21 Things to do in 2021 – Part I

Did you know that January is named after the Roman god, Janus?  The god of

  • beginnings
  • gates
  • transitions
  • time
  • duality
  • doorways
  • passages
  • frames
  • endings

He is usually depicted as having two faces because he possesses the ability to see the past and the future.  Since this month is considered our doorway into a new year, what better time to look forward?  Whether you choose to make resolutions or wishes for the new year, consider listening to The Happiness Lab podcast by Dr. Laurie Santos to hear her take on this.  #goodtidbits

We often start a new year hoping to make big changes in how we look, feel or act, and I’ve often talked about the new year as a “New Year, New Me” concept.  A new year doesn’t bring a new me or a new vision, though.  Moment of truth: we don’t need to reinvent ourselves, strive to be something completely different, or be extra disciplined in who we are.  What if we instead followed our curiosity this year?  Last year, I made plans, and I also learned to be flexible and patient with those plans.  Every day, I had to remind myself to see what the day had to offer. Every day was different.

#1 Choose your word for the coming year.

For 2020, I chose the word “Create” as my word of the year.  I wanted to get back to the heart and soul of why I opened a photography business: to create something that was new and different while capturing milestone moments for clients.  I wanted to put my hands to work and create new things with renewed effort.  Could I have done this without a word of the year?  Of course!  When following our curiosity, we should absolutely follow the things that call to us.  I wanted to create more, and by proclaiming my mission to “Create” as my word of the year, it reminded me what I was working toward. I wanted to create more than I consume. (My word for 2021 is all kinds of fabulous… more on that later).

#2 Create an ideas list.

Action brings wisdom, and the best way for me to figure out what I wanted to create was to start with a list. Not a checklist, more of an ideas list.  One year ago, my husband and I made a 20 in ’20 list.  It was the 20 things we were going to do in the year ahead.  We got to 3, maybe 4 things.  And while grow a garden full of our favorite foods may not have been on the list, we enjoyed the bounty of tomatoes, jalapenos, and more. Create a garden is never on the list, but we have done this together for years. It’s easy to take for granted the activities you enjoy, and I am genuinely grateful that my husband gets the garden going, and then I get to harvest and cook from it.

#3 Print out 5 photographs you love.

We all have those photos.  The ones you look at, and you can feel the sides of your eyes crinkle, as your mouth pulls up into a smile. Is the photo a memory of a favorite person, place, or thing?  Don’t simply save it on your phone.  Print it today and put it somewhere you can see it all the time.  (There are health benefits related to smiling.)

Lattice Photo Display is where you can enjoy your summer photos long after summer ends.

(c) Lowe's

#4 Throw out 5 photographs that do not make you feel good.

Seriously. Do this one if nothing else.  Throw out 5 photos, 5 dresses, 5 of anything that does not bring a smile to your face.

#5 Frame a fave photo.

If you’ve printed out 5 photographs you love (and thrown out five that you do not love!), it’s time to pick a favorite to get framed.  You can make this a big project and put it on your wall so you can see it across a room or make it small and sweet for your desktop.  Either way, frame this photograph for you to enjoy.


Barbara Bell Photography near Chapel Hill creates photos for you to treasure for years to come. This images of the Sir Walter Cabinet is from their 100th Anniversary celebration in 2019.

#6 Connect with your people.

The idea of grabbing coffee or meeting a friend for lunch may seem out of place in a COVID-19 world. I am hoping they’ll (safely) return in 2021. What I have learned this past year is how lovely it is to connect with clients, friends, and family over Zoom, What’s App, FB Messenger, and FaceTime.  If there’s a camera, connect with your people.  It was so lovely, as well, to bring back the traditional phone call.  (Although someone did point out how ‘one-dimensional’ it was compared to a video chat. She had me laughing with this!)  Just because we live apart, doesn’t mean we have to stay apart.  We all need to stay connected.

#7 Move.

Maybe not cross- country, but move you. I walk our dog, Whitby, in the nearby woods 3-4 days a week, and it always amazes me how even a walk as short as 20 minutes can make me an optimist.  I come up with new ideas, new ways to solve old challenges, and answers to questions that have been on my mind.  While a 2020 goal of mine may have been to swim more, that was soon scrapped in favor of walks with Whitby.

His goal list looks more like this: walk, eat, nap.

Barbara Bell Photography captures all the furry members we call family in our pet portrait sessions.

#WhitbyBell taking a nap with his own puppy dog.

Stay tuned… we’ll share all 21 things to do in 2021 in this month’s blog posts.

[If you subscribe to our newsletter, you’ll get these in your inbox this week. Drop me a line if you’d like to be added to our newsletter.]