297: 10 Ideas for Making the Most of “Between the Years”
Monday December 21, 2020

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“Have you noticed that something very special happens between Christmas and New Year each year? For a few days, a portal to another world opens up. Everything is quieter, less rushed, more gentle in this secret place. Peering through the doorway, I always imagine there will be snow, although the sky usually offers knitted fog and dull winter sunshine. Nevertheless, calm descends as we catch a glimpse of a slower life away from all the deadlines and to-do lists. I call this time ‘The Hush’, and I encourage you to savour it.” —Beth Kempton, from Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year (2019)

~Download the full audio episode here.

A soft place to rest. A window of time to catch one’s breath. The space to fully see what was, what is and what we wish it to be.

I sat down to read the concluding third of Beth Kempton’s festive book – chapters 7-9 – and devoured it in a couple of hours. While I do enjoy Christmas, I much prefer the Between the Years time. Perhaps because it is nondescript and open to individual tailoring. Perhaps because in 2009, the idea of TSLL blog came to be an actual place to share, write, connect and dare to dream in real-time. But so too can be the time leading up to Christmas as Kempton’s book inspires each of us to do, and in the future my approach to Christmas may change as it is now quite simple and until 2020 was filled with work; however, in this particular year, I am observing how it can be so much more, and I hope it will be someday.

One of the gifts given by 2020 in my life is the realization of what “living well” feels like. I have known from a distance and momentarily in person what it felt like, and this past year validated in vivid technicolor what doing so day after day could enable to blossom.

In the spirit of nurturing ourselves, healing ourselves and opening a door to a better year in 2021, today’s episode/post is shared with the intention of providing inspiration for you to do just that as you tailor the final week of the year – the Between the Years as my readers taught me last year (read this post from last year which was inspired by this aha of the term) – to nurture you, heal you, open your eyes to a better, more deeply contented 2021.

Inspired by Kempton’s book as well as additions of my own, I highly recommend Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year. Many readers have shared they choose to read it again as the holidays come around as a way to slow down, focus on what matters most to them and in turn, regarding the latter chapters, read just as the old year comes to a close to help them best start the new year in their own way.

1.Let Spontaneity be your guide

While throughout the year, we may try to limit the “should”s and replace them with natural inclinations, now it the time to practice the good habit of listening to what we need – rest, curious pursuits, lovely intimate conversations and self exploration, whatever is dancing about in your mind, heed it and it may just lead you to something beyond your wildest expectations.

2. Put the technology away (at least for a day)

Yep, put the phone down, the iPad down, the podcasts away (ironic that I am suggesting this), but on your walk, let Mother Nature be the soundtrack. Let your energy be your guide for when to sleep and wake, eat and be. Feel your way through the day and observe at the end of your tech-free day how you feel – your energy, your peace of mind, your thoughts, etc..

3. Plan a change of scenery, a getaway, for the eyes and being

Whether you can or want to leave your home for a couple of nights and days (keeping in mind that this year, it might be best to just remain home or in your local area), choose to do something or follow a different daily routine that piques your interest and soothes your being. I love to escape to the coast. A small inn, my own little cottage, plenty of space to social distance, and the boys especially love the new ground to explore and round-about freely upon. Simply going a different direction on a trail you’ve walked for years can give you a new perspective and feel fresh and new.

4. Carve out a day entirely for you to get your life situated

Kempton’s describes such a day as a ‘sort-out-my-life’ day, and it is apt and wholly rejuvenating when tended to fully. Essentially it is a personal business day to get your affairs in order – money, files, budget, stationery for ease of correspondence, and clarity about financial responsibilities moving forward. Editing, noticing, improving, correcting. All simple tasks to provide clarity about where you stand financially and how well you are standing. Do you need to be making certain reoccurring payments for this service that you never use? How can you reduce the debt on that one credit card faster, can you refinance? Etc., etc., etc..

5. Carve out an entire day to “sort-out-your-home”

In many ways I feel a kindred connection to Kempton as her approach to how to relish in these final days of the year align nearly exactly with my own. Her suggestion for a “sort-out-your-life” day and a “sort-out-your-home” day have been highly productive and help for me in years past.

A handful of her concrete suggestions are being adopted this year happily to hopefully reduce unwanted simple, yet annoying stresses throughout the year: checking and replace smoke alarm batteries, cleaning the fridge, tending to any semi or annual home maintenance jobs to free up time later in the year.

6. Give yourself a “me” day

Void of any ‘have-to’s, designate a day to fully go where your curiosity, your predilections, your body and mind need you to go. Usually my me-day, if I am at the coast which I will be this year, involves visiting a bookshop, perhaps an antique or second-hand shop, multiple long walks on the sand listening and witnessing the waves rise and recede. Preparing a simple seafood dish paired with a glass of white wine, I turn on a cozy British or French program and not once do I peer at the clock.

7. Spend an afternoon or morning checking in with your life

Reflecting, recalibrating, reaffirming or reforming.

What will be let go, planning momentous events, giving your life space, honoring your heart’s path, honoring the path of those you share your life with.

Follow Kempton’s Life Map of the Year that was. I will share freely, I don’t usually follow directions by authors to fill “this” in, complete “this” written task, as I do about it in my own way inspired by their directive, but again, Kempton speaks my language in her approach to Between the Years and I found this particular template incredibly helpful to visualize the year chronologically, breaking down the energy and cause and effects which resulted and overall, see the themes that emerged. So much can happen in a year that we can sometimes forget what we were worried about, what brought us delight and relief and everything in between. Find her template here and print it out to discover a treasure or two as to how you might want to adjust your journey forward into 2021.

8. Read Chapter 8 of Beth Kempton’s book

Discover oodles of reflective questions offering the opportunity for you to answer and explore your responses. Your honesty is the key to a better year.

9. Revolve rather than reinvent yourself

“Besides being a dynamic and powerful call to arms, the word ‘revolution’ — from the Latin revolver (‘roll back’) — invites us to sweep away the layers of expectation, worry, conformity, convention, even comfort, and see what is waiting to be born this [new] year. Instead of making random resolutions, we will practise nourishing rituals. instead of setting ourselves unrealistic goals, we will articulate beautiful dreams, then work out how to bring them to life.” —Beth Kempton

Shedding the layers of the world that don’t fit us well because they constrict, limit, constrain or inhibit our life force from being expressed and reveled in each day of our lives, this is why we must revolve rather than reinvent. We are already ourselves wholly if we would only share ourselves with the world. That’s the gift we can give ourselves in this last week of the year, this Between the Years.

10. Be honest about what you yearn for

Kempton helpfully brings readers to the awareness regarding what we think we want versus what we actually want. For example, we may think we want a large family or children, but when we explore more deeply and honestly, what we may actually be yearning for is the love, the community, a sense of feeling needed and being able to nurture others. It doesn’t mean that we cannot have a large family, but having a large family does not guarantee such an outcome.

The crucial honesty you must have with yourself is why you are seeking or being drawn to what you are being drawn to. For myself, a place of permanency brings peace for my mind to create and wander, not being worried about the rent being raised, the landlord visiting my home every six months to make sure I am caring for my rental something reminiscent of a parent checking on a child. My independence in this instance, my feeling of being grounded is what enables me to fly and explore. Again, this is what I yearn for and why I yearn for it, yours will be unique to you. Enjoy the journey of exploration of yourself and what tugs at your heart.

Between The Years. Space and time to find hope for the new year. It exists and we can find it, and when we do, our personal new year has amazingly bright potential.

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~Enjoy TSLL’s Quiet Holiday Playlist for Jazz & Classical Music Lovers (no lyrics)


Petit Plaisir

Luscious, Flavorful Tomato Soup

Thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Lusciously Rich Tomato Soup

Simply LuxuriousSimply Luxurious
Adapted from NYTimes Cooking recipe and now made with my own garden's tomatoes! The perfect amount for a household of two people to be enjoyed for two or three days.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 Servings (bowls of soup


  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter high quality, high butterfat percentage
  • 2 medium sweet onions diced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes OR 8-10 home grown tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fleur de sel
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup half and half


  • If using your own tomatoes or tomatoes picked up fresh at the market, quarter them, and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes.
  • In a Dutch Oven on top of the stove (medium heat), or in a large sauce pan, cook the onions in the butter for about 20 minutes until nearly transculent.
  • Add the flour to absorb the liquid, but do not let the onions brown – about three minutes.
  • Add the canned tomatoes (and all of their juices!), chicken broth, sugar, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Stirring from time to time to remove any tomatoes that may become adhered to the bottom of the pot. (uncovered)
  • Add the half and half. Cook just long enough to reheat after the soup was momentarily cooled with the addition of the half and half.
  • Remove from heat (or turn off the gas) and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth or to your preferred consistency. (If you do not have an immersion blend, simply us a stand up blender, adding small batches to the blender, pureeing and then repeating until done.)
  • Serve with a drop of half and half and enjoy. 🙂 (I enjoyed mine with a Croque Madame :))

SPONSORS for Today’s Episode:


  • use promo code CIAOSIMPLYLUX for a 20% discount on Cortina Mules through Dec. 31, 2020

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #297
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8 thoughts on “297: 10 Ideas for Making the Most of “Between the Years”

  1. Oh my goodness!! My FAVORITE time of year is the week between Christmas and New Year’s day! I do not have to wake at a certain time and rush into my day, I am usually exhausted and sore from 2 weeks straight of non stop baking and cooking (self imposed..but all the goodies make people smile) and am ready to slow down and be still. I fill in my next year calendar with all the birthdays and special reminders. I write down my thoughts about things I would like to try or things I would like to change in the coming year. I take down all the decorations and sweep out the old year and get everything in order for the new. I tend to make sure there’s nothing around that I truly do not want anymore and maybe move things around to freshen up the house. Great post! Enjoy your “between the years” time!!

  2. My birthday falls on December 27, so I’ve always cherished the “between the years” time. It’s my week to hibernate, rest and reflect not only on the upcoming new year, but also my personal new year.

  3. I cherish these “between” days. Recognizing and celebrating the accomplishment of another successful holiday season. Reflecting on the past year – where I’ve grown, how far I’ve come. And, Yes!, pondering the potential of the upcoming year. Deep thoughts with a stillness, a quietude, an anticipation, an expansive space to think them.

    Thanks for the great post.

  4. This is such lovely episode, Shannon, especially in a year when many of us have to redefine Christmas due to the current circumstances.

    I have spent this unusually quiet December pondering on what Christmas means to me and how I will redesign the holidays for myself and my children in a year that brought both a divorce and the passing of the last family member of my grandparents’ generation. You are an angel stepping forward with just the information I need.

    I will certainly put this on the top of my Christmas reading list and even start tonight with some Christmas jazz playing in the background and a vin chaud in my hand.

    Wishing you a a lovely Christmas, Shannon, and a happy re-emergence in 2021. You are a source of great inspiration to your community. ?

    1. Your enthusiastic and hopeful perspective is heart-warming. My thoughts are with you as you and your family have been through a year of change, but you sound well and I have no doubt 2021 will offer a change of great awesome discovery and deep contentment. Often it is after going through such hardship, the other side is feels even more alive, rich and wonderful. Wishing you well and your description of settling in with your simple luxuries sounds lovely. Thank you for sharing with us all. xo

  5. I loved listening to this quietly whilst completing some work. Betwixtmas is my favourite time of year as there are no deadlines or plans. Usually it involves lots of books, leftovers and relaxing. It’s hard to make plans this year as things have changed again here in the UK but I’m already percolating some ideas for things we can do within the rules. Merry Christmas.

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