Sure I run a whole gratitude blog where I post daily items of gratitude…
But I’m feeling like a bit of a fake.
Because I realised some time ago, that I wasn’t really feeling the whole ‘new year new decade new me’ business.
I wasn’t excited.
I wasn’t happy
I wasn’teven hopeful.
That realisation stunned me. Hope is one of those vital things I hold onto, the thing that keeps me going amidst troubling times and difficult days.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not depressed or anything. I just think I’ve hoped for things before and been disappointed time and time again… and with my life in a current state of limbo…
Well, how could I be hopeful, when I didn’t know what to hope for? What to expect?
Why would I hope for anything when firstly I didn’t know what to hope for, and secondly I didn’t want to be bitterly disappointed?
I was saddened by this fact. How could I, the glass half-full gratitude girl, have fallen off the appreciation train, and wasn’t even looking forward to 2020?
So I set up a little project. Away from the public eyes of the world wide web, I started to do my own brand of gratitude, counting things to make me happy… in the privacy of my home.
Just for me, myself and I.
Call it a meditation. I lie down in bed at night and form an inventory of the day that has passed… and in my counting I find, things that I don’t tell anyone about, but things that I’m grateful for.
I’ve been doing it for less than a week now. But I’ve been making progress, and already I feel happier.
I feel more hopeful.
I am feeling more grateful again 🙂
What is the point of me telling you all this you might ask?
It’s many things.
Firstly, even positive, glass half-full people suffer from doubt and insecurity. Don’t be fooled into thinking the rose-coloured glasses through which they present their life makes them perfect… far from it.
Secondly. You can start any day you want to make your life better. You just have to decide when you want it to be better.
Third. You don’t even have to wait for a new year, a new decade… You can start any day, any second.
Life is waiting for you now, and if you keep putting personal growth and learning off, you may forever be putting your life off.
I’ve always said, you don’t need to wait for a new year. Be assured that whatever resolutions you’ve made yourself for the new year… if you find you can’t stick to them longer than a month, week or day…
Christmas has always been one of my most favourite times of the year. There are carols, festive movies, everything is red, green, gold and sparkly, and let’s face it, by December Melbourne weather is starting to show us some decent warmth.
Holidays are near, and LOVE IS ALL AROUND.
I know and I feel that to be true. But I’ve been thinking a lot about another group of people.
It’s the time of year where people start talking about a fresh start, a new beginning. More so now because we’re not just entering a new year next year, but we’re entering a new DECADE.
People don’t just get together and celebrate Christmas work parties and KK catch ups with friends… celebrations occur. The end of the year brings good news in work and school results, people use the timing of festive happiness to celebrate and bring forth happy news from other areas in their life…
All in all, this December I am seeing a lot of good news stories.
And I LOVE it.
But there are not all who love it.
And by that I mean that they are not loving anything, nothing at all.
I feel particularly this year for the people who are struggling.
There are people in hospital who don’t know how they are going to get through the month, relying on machines to help them live… let alone wasting time thinking of what New Year goals they are going to break in the second week of January.
There are people who are missing loved ones that have departed. This Christmas may be the first for them without someone they love, and seeing Christmas cards in stores and Hallmark moments being broadcast all around as the ideal Christmas with the perfect family, would make this such a hard time.
Then there are those that are estranged from family, and that all too common question “Where do you celebrate Christmas?” makes it almost a disappointment to speak that they aren’t spending it with family. Having people nosy into your personal business, isn’t the merriest of feelings.
The approaching new year also makes you reflect, and often people don’t like what they discover. Looking back at the year that has passed can make one feel like a disappointment if they feel they haven’t achieved what they set out to… the absence of a goal or achievement can be hard to swallow, and a bitter reminder that a year has been lost. Looking forward to a new year then can be overwhelming, and a fresh start mentality is difficult to focus on and is far from their mind.
This year, I am really feeling for all those who are struggling.
I am not a professional, and I don’t know what to do in every difficult situation… but as a person who has gone through hard times, I can offer some personal advice…
Take every moment at a time. Don’t look too much into the future and worry about what’s to come. Just focus on doing the best you can at this point in time with what you have.
Focus simply, on gratitude. Focus on the little things, and on what you DO have. Think about the roof over your head, the comfortable bed that you sleep in, and that person who calls you because they love you. These are the things worth thinking about. These are the things that matter.
Stay off social media. Reading other people’s ‘highlight’ reels is not going to help. A word of caution: if you find yourself comparing your life against someone else’s, remember that what someone posts is just one moment in time, and it provides absolutely no backstory or context of actual reality. Most of the time these repetitive highlight reels come from serial posters, who require self-gratification in the form of constant likes and comments… that is, they are suffering for some reason and need their ego inadvertently stroked to make themselves feel better… They need the attention constantly on them or else they risk suffering a meltdown.
Feel proud that you have beautiful things that you could share, but you don’t. It’s called self-command and privacy.
And as much as I do love this festive season… this too shall pass. It all does. Just hold on. Hold on knowing that like one of my favourite quotes:
“Good times and bad times have one thing in common, they never last forever.”
Don’t be disheartened by this quote. Feel humbled you are able to grace this earth.
I hope you have a great festive season, and just remember… moment by moment.
It hit me one Saturday morning during a work shift, as I left the warm confines of my place of employment to walk down the road and grab a coffee. Feeling that fresh air, that Winter chill on my face, reminded me of the time I felt it last year, and suddenly I was down memory lane, remembering the things about Winter you choose so hard to forget when it is done and dusted for the year.
So, then, I tried harder to remember. What fascinates me about this time of year, is that once it is upon us, it’s actually not that bad. It’s the anticipation of it – that is the shits, and one of the major factors of making the entire season that much more unbearable.
Hey, calm down… I’m not like, a ‘Winter ambassador’ or something! I am the first to put up my hand and forge ahead with the get-rid-of-Winter fan club. I wouldn’t say I HATE it, since that is a strong word, that I HATE to use (see what I did there?) but I do in fact, detest the coldest of seasons to a degree that once the longest day has come and gone in January, I am in slow grief over the gradual dissemination of Summer.
But like I said above: it ain’t too bad. I’ve been most surprised by my own attitude towards it, in finding that there are actually plenty of great things to enjoy, and celebrate, about the coldest time of the year! You don’t say!Let me hear it! Well ok then, here is my list of things to get your blood boiling…
(And don’t fret, this isn’t one of those bullshit ‘buy a really good coat and scarves’ nonsense post. We all know that we need more than layers to make up for the fact of Winter, duh).
1. But First, Coffee.
And so one of my fave coffee quotes signals the beginning of this Winter Warm-up list. When else to drink, and enjoy coffee most, than in Winter? Not only does the caffeine hit give you a burst of much needed non-hibernating energy, but it is WARM, and therefore, heats you up from the inside-out. This is a super simple and accessible way to keep you happy, buzzing and hot, ALL DAY LONG. Make it at home, or buy it out and about… really, this one is a no-brainer.
2. To café, OR, to café…
And, how to get to your hot coffee? Why, you enter a café of course. Just picture it: you are in the freezing winds, walking briskly to your café of choice so as to remove yourself from the unnerving elements, when you finally, step inside, and –
Ahhh. That moment.
You know that moment, when the feeling of cold is replaced by the scent of coffee beans, and you are away from the outdoors, but can still see everything including all the fools still stuck out in the real world? And you’re ‘in here?’ and about to get a coffee? Yeah that’s great. Café-ing it, not just for coffee, but for anything in Winter – be it brekkie, lunch or any other fare – is a beautiful way to while away the day. Choose a good one, a cosy spot, and watch the world go by… just see if you don’t feel better about Winter when you put yourself in this supreme predicament…
3. Walk This Way…
On a contradictory note, on those cold and still Wintery days, sometimes it can be somewhat, what is the word, rejuvenating! to take a nice long walk.
Yes, the air can be biting. Yes, the cold will still seep through your clothes. But there’s something about a fresh, freezing-cold walk that awakens the senses, both physical and mental, as it is often when I am walking in the cold that my creative mind is switched on. I don’t know why, but a brisk walk in Winter allows me to daydream and plan for any future blog posts (how this one came about) much more efficiently than in Summer. Maybe it’s the fact that other than getting into a heated area immediately, there is no other thought trying to take up head space like it does in Summer, where I would be planning future events and social gatherings, and the things I’ll be doing for the next 3 weekends. In Winter, it’s just Winter, and my creative thoughts are allowed to fly beside the recurring thought of ‘get inside.’
I don’t like to be in the cold, and yet a walk like this brings about a whimsical dreamlike effect to my walk, where I find myself observing, being in the moment, and smiling often. I’m not wishing myself out of this hellhole, I’m just smiling. I’m not trying to prove a point… Next.
4. Stay IN
Although I absolutely love Summer, there is one thing that gets tiring by the end of the season: the constant go-go-go. Summer makes you feel like you have to be super-efficient and on top of the world, heading to every social event, enjoying every ounce of sunshine, waking at the crack of dawn, and starting a new body-building course when you’re not preparing your new gluten-free, dairy-free, animal-free, everything of any joy or texture or enjoyment-free diet. It is FULL on.
But Winter allows you to just chill. Hibernate like a bear, and in doing so, drink all the hot chocolate/tea/coffee before doing so. If there is any season where you should feel the least guilt about doing nothing, and where you should completely and utterly embrace the act of doing absolutely nothing, it is Winter. It’s okay, you will be at it again in a couple of months time…
5. Pimp up your home
But, if you absolutely HAVE to, you could always forgo sitting around and chilling on the couch, with doing something around the house. Just as our sanity and ‘me time’ gets neglected in Summer, so too does the house, and house ‘stuff.’ You know those odd jobs. The broken door handle. The 3rd light bulb that has been burnt out in the lounge room for 4 months. The pile of boxes that hasn’t been broken down into pieces. That heap of junk in your garage that you know a charity would love, but alas, Summer time.
In Winter, it is ALL possible. Case in point. We had bought new door handles from Bunnings to replace our old ones, as we wanted to spruce up the 80s-style house we had recently moved into. They remained untouched for months and months, ALL THROUGH SUMMER, and it was only when the cold hit, that Hubbie finally started replacing them.
Winter is the best time to look outward-in. Look around you and see what needs a little TLC, and then proceed accordingly. Home improvements, up-dos, renos – whatever it is, you will feel soooo much better for it, and not at all like a lazy bear once you are done.
6. Go OCD, mofos
And for those of you like me, that love to sort and clean and organise… well, what are you waiting for? Use these cold months to file away. File to your freaking hearts content. Label and shelve and box. Store those photos in chronological order, organise your home family videos, and clean up your menu folder so that you don’t have crappy old recipes in there that you won’t even sniff at again. There is no better feeling then tackling a long, put-off job, and I swear, as Winter ends and Spring begins, the sense of accomplishment you feel in knowing everything is sorted and ready for another season/year… GOLD. GO you OCD peeps, GO!
Ok, so this is kinda parent-specific. But, you don’t need to be a recently-acquired trampoline owner for a cheeky monkey princess like I have, to jump. You probably do need a child of some kind, so if you don’t have any of your own, borrow one – like you probably have a niece, or nephew, or know someone who would LOVE for you to kindly offer their brood a day out? (You will be on their Christmas card list FOREVER, I promise you).
But my point is, be childlike. Jumping is not only fun, good for you, and is healthy (hey, exercise), but it warms you up too! And if you think jumping is only for kids – 20 seconds on the thing and you will remember what a jumping extraordinaire you used to be 20 or so years ago… and then it will be the kid trying to get you off the trampoline, not you, them.
(Hubbie going wild with baby girl)
8. A good book
So, a no-brainer. Totally. But when else is it more acceptable and necessary to snuggle up with a book and lose yourself within its pages? Never, ever, EVER. Even on holiday, you should be doing things and seeing things, but at home, in Winter? Perfect reading weather.
Whether it’s at home, on your lunch break, or on the train, waiting for your doctors appointment (that brisk walk/jumping probably gave you a little cough, ahem*) or at the park while the kiddies play, there is really no better time to invest in a good book.
So a totally acceptable place to read is in bed, but if you’d rather not even do that, you can just sleep. I know this is such a ‘Duh, Fred’ point, but still, it HAS TO be said. Fred.
Sleep ’til your big hearts content. Of course this is totally dependant on whether you have a paying job or go to regular schooling (most of the Western population), but in your down time, this is a perfectly acceptable hobby. Yep. Even if you have kids that don’t let you breathe, just pull them in, throw a blanket over your heads, and once the hilarities have died down, watch them fall into a slumber. You will be there too soon, don’t worry.
Sleep on the bed, sleep on the couch… wherever you wish. Just make sure it’s comfy and inviting, there are plenty of blankets, and a real nice place to rest your head. Ahhhh.
10. Shop ’til you Drop
Let’s change tack and ramp it up a little, to my favourite past-time! Like seriously, how annoying is it in Summer, when you need some new clothes/shoes/pillows/coffee beans, and you head into the confines of a multi-level shopping centre, but it’s a stunning, and I mean STUNNING day out? You don’t want to miss out on that, and stay indoors most of the day? This is so especially true for us Melburnians, as sunshine, even in Summer of all seasons, can be soooo fleeting.
But in Winter? Hell, bring the shopping on! You won’t miss out on ANYTHING because its so cold and miserable out! YAY. Shop to your hearts content, in fact, shop for all seasons, and stay ahead of the pack.
How miserable is the above photo? Okay well it is oddly pretty in the dim light, but you know what I mean… I am not really missing out. It’s taken from my work window… do I wanna go outside? Hell no!
Work is actually not too bad, and you can almost be grateful to be in the confines of work, when it is so shit-faced outside. You will never be sad being at work during Winter, unless of course you had to get up at 5am like me, and are staring out the kitchen window at 7am thinking of Hubbie and baby girl asleep and warm in bed… damn.
TRY to be grateful for work while you can, in Winter, at the very least.
12. Let’s go to the beach
Your welcome. Ok so maybe not Summer-thumping-beach-vibes weather at the mo, but you know where I’m headed.
This may be a bit left-of-centre for some, but for me being fortunate enough to live BY the beach, not so. But either way, a trip to the beach is for most in our fair country, accessible and do-able.
Why should you do it, you cry? Cold, winds, uninviting waters…
What do you think? I’m not telling you to jump in. No, hell no. I’m just saying that the ocean views bring about a sense of calmness, of peace, of reflection, and retrospection, and the waters don’t even have to be still and unrippled. No. They are in fact most beautiful and spectacular when they are savage, wild and unleashed, ripping against the shore or pier or rocks, and showing you the brutal nature of Mother Earth herself.
Rug up and try it. See how your mind feels afterwards.
13. Do something NEW
While you’re out and about at the beach, how’s about you keep trying new things, and enrol in a course of some kind. (Like not literally walk down the road, just think about it). Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Like maybe, learn a new language? Try your hand at some knitting? Learn how to cook like a chef? Drive a manual car? For some creative pursuits, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home – just log in and you’re connected.
Doing something you’ve been wanting to do for a while is not just fulfilling, as you are catering to yours truly, yourself, but you are putting yourself out there in a vulnerable position. Only when you are vulnerable, can you really learn anything. Since everything is on the down-low in Winter, there is no time like the present to focus in on yourself, and give something new a go. Time to study, reflect on where you want to go in life, and centre yourself both spiritually and mentally, is the perfect cold-time creative pursuit. Just try. You won’t lose a thing.
14. Cook up a storm!
While doing something new, you may want to try your hand at some new recipes.. or old, whatever tickles your fancy. But what I love about this coldest of seasons, is the deliciously warm dishes to match. Or should I say, warm you right up. Whether it be a vegetable curry
a cauliflower soup
or some yummy baked goods
there is nothing quite so inviting on a cold Winter’s night, than to indulge in warming, delicious and comforting, Winter-specific foods. Slow-cooked meals, lasagnes, roasts… the list goes on and onand on. And the upside? When you are buying Winter-y things like cauliflower for your soup, you are buying in season, so it is cheaper! Winning 🙂 Go foodie mad.
15. Catch up with some old ‘friends’
Now, I don’t mean ACTUAL friends, and boy would it be appropriate here if I actually loved the show of the same name. Instead I’m talking of your movies and your DVD box sets. Plop yourself in a comfy place, and get ‘re-acquainted.’ I feel forever-guilty whenever I sit on the couch – I always feel like I should be doing something more worthy, more important, and being a Mum makes the feelings more so. This is an activity I rarely indulge in.
But this Winter, I am really going to take it on board… and what better way to feel better about the blowing winds outside, than to be laughing/crying/hysterically shaking, over the antics of some old faves.
You don’t even have to have the DVDs. Shows like Sex and the City are on repeat on TV, there are streaming devices, and have you heard of Netflix? People even ‘download’… I’m not condoning it, I’m just saying, ok?
It’s never been easier to catch up with, or watch a brand new series to get stuck into. Need tips? Some of my old faves:
Angel. An amazing series that is 5 seasons long, and is totally worth investing your life into. Get ready to have your soul literally ripped apart, thanks Joss Whedon (no really, thank you!)
Dawson’s Creek is actually on free-to-air Go! at the moment. My face when I realised this? Bliss 🙂 I know it’s a teenage show, but it’s one of my ol’ faithfuls, and besides, the actors were probably my age when they filmed it, so….
my current must-watch on TV, Shark Tank. This is splendid in every way. Seeing the investors rip through and tear to shreds some of the up-and-coming entrepreneurs and inventors, is just brilliant. You must watch this show.
So grab a warm drink, snuggle up on the couch (child or partner is optional) and chill-ax….
16. Bust a move.
Exercise. I know I know, it’s not bikini time, and it’s probably the only time of the year when there is no pressure to be beach-ready… but it doesn’t mean you can’t devote time to yourself to be healthy.
Still not sold? You don’t even have to leave the house. There are a world of gyms, gym classes, personal trainers, and get-fit programmes out there, and there as just as many exercise DVDs! Find what tickles your fancy, and do it in the privacy of your own home.
Do as I do, and pop on some trakkies, put on that old Zumba DVD, and get dancing! Exercise gets you going and warms you up at a time when it is so easy to be sluggish and sloth-like. And you know what I was so surprised to find? Even one session a week (baby steps) has given me increased flexibility and energy to run after a certain 3 year-old rascal. True story.
17. A ‘warming’ drink
I couldn’t bulk ‘warm drinks’ with ‘coffee,’ as coffee is just too damn important to me to be watered down like that… but I conclude with the option, that if you don’t like coffee, maybe tea is more your fancy?
Or maybe a spicy chai latte can rub you totally up the right way
No? Vino? There’s nothing like a good glass of red to get the fires burning
Wanna get more creative? I give you, a combination of the last two options, Gluhwein…
Which is German Mulled Wine. It’s a whole lot of fabulous spices and wine/alcohol, warmed up, and you will create some GREAT memories in the making and drinking of it, let me assure you.
If you can’t be happy with a glass of wine/mug of tea/brew of gluhwein, while the winds are raging outside your window, well then YOU CAN’T BE SAVED!
So, how did I go? Have I given you renewed (or maybe just NEW) inspiration to totally LOVE Winter? We may be about half-way through the coldest of seasons, but living in Melbourne, we ALL KNOW it’s going to totally screw us up right up ’til November,if we’re lucky.
So guys. Pick a point and get to it. If you think I’ve left anything out, drop me a line!