My Top 10 Reasons To Revel In The Fact That It’s January

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Do you have a case of the winter blahs right about now? If you live anywhere in North America for the exception of Vancouver, California and Florida, it’s damn cold outside and the afternoon sunset can be disheartening at times.

Yes, it’s January and it owes us nothing more than the cold, dark days that are upon us.

With our climate being like this for a few months each year, we Canadians, and some of our American neighbours in more northerly states tend to grit our teeth and bear it. We hunch over and scurry from the warmth of our cars to the warmth of indoors like we’re in a platoon on the front line moving from bunker to bunker. We tend to place ourselves in the mindset that these are the months “to survive” or “get through” until life can really begin again in April.

In January, it’s so easy for us to create a subtle level of suffering by arguing with what is. We tend to wish it was later in the year – we tend to wish it was a warmer season – we tend to want the present to be the past because the future (April, where for art thou, April???) will be so much better.

As the thermometer dipped to around -20 degrees celsius this past weekend, it was tough to find the love for dear January, but it also reminded me of the extremely powerful shift in mindfulness if you can find that very love. Bemoaning January is no different than wanting it to be Friday, wishing the day was over, or wishing someone was different. Viewing January (and the other winter months) as an enemy creates a subtle discontentment within us that can linger throughout our days and end up being a form of chronic stress that compromises the level of health, peace, and overall enjoyment we desire for our life.

Even if it is January, can you see the present as your friend, rather than your enemy?

Can you raise your awareness and consciously choose to accept or heck, even enjoy the unique gifts of January? Lord knows this month offers very different things than it’s summerly counterpart, July. When you’re doing the scurry from your car to indoors, can you catch yourself grumbling, stop, and make that shift to creating another thought that in someway accepts or celebrates WHAT IS?

I shall give it a try right now and more importantly BE MINDFUL of these things if and when I catch myself grumbling as I do the scurry from my car to the indoors.

I present to you…My Top 10 Reasons To Revel In The Fact That’s It’s January

#10: Sales – I ordered Jack Wills shirts (my fave UK brand) online when I was pleasantly surprised by big markdowns on their website and I scored Banana Republic dress pants for like $50 each the other day…sweet.

#9: Sports – I’m like a dude the way I love to watch sports on TV (except for football and hockey) so this time of year rocks my spectator world…PGA Tour starts again, curling championships, Australian Open tennis…oh, sports…how I love thee.

#8: Curling – one of my favourite sports to play is the winter sport of curling…thankfully I have the other drinking sport of golf to amuse me during the other half of the year.

#7: Awards Shows – I don’t LOVE them, but they are a guilty pleasure-like form of entertainment on a Sunday night when all the other channels have football on.

#6: Availability – I actually have time and my friends actually have time to hang out – do you notice how many times throughout December you say to your friends, “let’s get together in January when it’s quieter.”

#5: “Parks & Recreation” – one of most favourite TV shows has returned…I thought it had been cancelled back in the fall, but now some shows premier in the new year…odd, but just happy that the hilarious Amy Poehler is back on the tube.

#4: Space – I live in Kensington Market here in Toronto which is a popular area that packs the streets, cafes, and stores with both tourists and locals during the weekends. However, right now, the cold and snowy days aren’t as inspiring to “spend the day in the market” so there is much more space to walk, dine, and shop on the weekend when I usually tend to wait for Monday –  Friday to roam around the area.

#3: Organizing – and it’s not even because every frickin’ magazine tells me to do this in January.

#2: The Quiet: Due to the colder weekend days, this time of year has me wanting to be out and about less and gives me extra permission to be at home doing productive things or not. When it’s “nice out” there is a pull to get out there and DO stuff, while Mr. January and Mrs. February gently whisper to me on Sunday morning, “It’s all good if all you do today is a yoga class, pick up some groceries, and then plunk yourself in front of the TV to watch the final round of the golf.

So, I realize that I only have 9 reasons to revel in the fact that it’s January…silly me to try to be just like David Letterman. So, why don’t you end this list for me – leave a comment below and tell me your favourite thing about this month that we tend to see as something “to survive” or “get through”. Together, let’s cultivate peace in our lives by accepting what is…the cold, dark days that are upon us.

Big Love,

susan

If you enjoyed the post, click on the “LIKE” button below to spread the good word on Facebook.

Do You See The Perfection Of It All?

Monday, January 17th, 2011

I was recently at a convenience store and my purchase came to $3.00 even. I opened my wallet and saw a $5.00 bill, but before I handed it over to the cashier, I checked my change pouch to see if I had the exact amount in coins. It turned out I had a toonie and a loonie at my disposal, but for some reason, I felt compelled to keep the coins and pay with the $5.00 bill. I had this strong, yet unexplainable feeling that made me think it was a really good idea to spend the bill and gain the extra toonie.

Later on that day, I was walking down Spadina Avenue here in Toronto and a man standing near a parking meter asked if I had change for his $5.00 bill. He needed coins to pay for his parking spot – change that I now had because I spent that $5.00 bill to make that $3.00 purchase at that convenience store earlier on. I happily exchanged my coins for his bill.

As I walked away, I couldn’t help but smile at the small reminder and newest piece of evidence I had just received that everything that occurs in our life serves some sort of purpose and therefore, is perfection. Whether it’s the good, the bad, or the ugly…or the mundane for that matter, I often see proof that what unfolds in our life ends up to make sense down the road.

I once had a lunch time speaking engagement and let’s just say, the lasagna won – 500 people in the audience and not one person heard a word I said. Everyone was too busy talking and eating their lunch to notice the blonde woman bouncing up and down on the stage. A horrible experience, but it was a grooming of sorts –  I learned to set myself up for success – I learned to never accept another speaking engagement while people were being served and eating a meal. The bad or the ugly is tough, but it isn’t random.

The challenges come to us for many reasons – our growth, our learning, or to send us in a new direction. Speaking of a new direction, think back to that person(s) in your past who you dated, fell in love with, and then who ended up breaking your heart into a million pieces. NOW think of all the reasons why you’re soooo relieved that you’re not with them anymore! See! There’s some of that evidence of the perfection of it all, right there!

As the great comedienne Ellen Degeneres once said, “I believe that everything is perfect even when it isn’t.”

I don’t think we necessarily have to figure out HOW something is going to make sense later on, but rather, I do think we have an extraordinary opportunity to enjoy our lives more by having the faith that IT WILL make sense later on. That faith comes from living with awareness – noticing and remembering the small perfections of life such as paying for something with a $5.00 bill so I could help someone who needed coins for parking.

If you have a story that illustrates the perfection of it all, please take a few moments to post it in the comments section below. More stories like mine can only increase our faith that all is well!

If you enjoyed the post, click on the “LIKE” button below to spread the good word on Facebook.

Big Love,

susan

Do You Put Yourself In The “Ideal Performance State”?

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

I have a big, dark secret to confess. I LOVE CURLING! I’ve been a die-hard curler and curling fan for almost 25 years now. I might as well tell you that I also have a massive passion for golf – I play it as much as I can and watch almost every PGA tournament on television. In fact, the only reason I have the hundreds of channels that I do is because I originally wanted access to the Golf Channel. The reason I mention my love of these sports is because the sporting world shall be the illustration I use to describe the immense powers of lightheartedness and playfulness in anything we do.

As I mentioned, I have enjoyed the sport of curling for many years and have worked hard to execute the standard curling delivery with very few flaws. At this point, I’m going to hope that you’ve caught at least a few minutes of curling on TV and can picture how someone throws a curling rock down a sheet of ice. With my strong desire to be great at the sport, I have a past history of taking my curling performance VERY seriously and have been VERY hard on myself when I miss my shots. I also have a past history of this when I play golf, but I’ll stick with the theme of curling for this part of my post.

Have you ever wanted something so much and that desire for success ends up bringing about a bunch of tension, stress, frustration, etc.? Do you ever end up experiencing all kinds of stuff that doesn’t help you perform well at all? How does it usually turn out?

In my experience, I never play well when I take the game too seriously and want success more than air  - it usually ends out to be a messy display of irony.

In the past couple of years, my athletic endeavours (and lack of stretching) have caught up to my thirties-something body and mild/early arthritis has set into both of my knees. My left knee has been quite the trouble maker over the last few months and has made executing the curling delivery a much bigger challenge than it needs to be. In fact, my knee got so bad that I couldn’t bend and slide at all. Because I didn’t want to miss out on playing my weekly game with my very fun team mates and because all four players on the team MUST throw two rocks in the game, I decided to execute an ugly replica of the curling delivery that involved me pushing the rock while WALKING down the ice. This display was the most ridiculous thing I and everyone else on the ice had ever seen. I spent the entire game cracking jokes, laughing, and in a twisted way, enjoying the challenge of the weird-ass delivery.

And I made almost every damn shot.

As my success with this newly coined “walk the rock” delivery was unfolding, I realized that my relaxed mindset and playful nature was allowing my mind and body to do what they can do. I didn’t have any of the mental or physical tension that can (and typically does) interfere with my ability. With my make-shift curling delivery, I was placing myself in what sports psychologist, James E. Loehr, calls the IDEAL PERFORMANCE STATE. James studied the performances and outcomes of athletes for many years and determined that when their mindset fills their bodies and minds with stress and tension, the performance is much lower than when they are relaxed, lighthearted, and HAVING FUN.

The legendary golfer, Fred Couples, described the IDEAL PERFORMANCE STATE a few months ago during a television interview. He told the reporter that he plays better and is seeing more success on the Champions Tour (formerly the Senior Tour) than the regular PGA Tour because he finds himself laughing and having fun more while he plays along with his old pals versus taking things quite seriously at the PGA Tour events.

Think back to a time when you watched a team or an individual athlete win a major championship or olympic medal. When the reporter asked them how they felt during the game, they most likely described aspects of the IDEAL PERFORMANCE STATE. They most likely talked about how they felt relaxed and had fun.

Think back to times in your life when your light has shone the brightest. I would bet big dollars that you weren’t trying too hard and taking it too seriously – you were probably some version of Freddy out there playing with his peeps from the glory years.

Are there opportunities in your professional and/or personal life to try a lighter approach and a more relaxed mindset? If you sense that taking something(s) too seriously is interfering with your ability, remember my success with “walk the rock”…release your expectations and have fun with every step!

Big love,

susan