Chin Up

Chin Up
December 16, 2020 Arlie Laroche
Sunset on the farm in the winter.

Undeniably, it’s been a rough year.

It’s pretty easy to be consumed with anger, frustration, disappointment and even rage in response to what is going on around us.  I’ll be the first to admit I have felt all of those feels!  And with many of our usual outlets having come to a halt (Christmas parties, gatherings with friends/family, concerts, trips, etc.) what are we to do with all that negative energy?

We know ignoring or stuffing the emotions down isn’t a good idea.  It’s important to acknowledge them and work through them, but our emotions don’t change the circumstance, in fact sitting too long in some of those negative emotions can even make things worse.  Isn’t prolonged/incessant worrying just meditating on a negative outcome?

Many things are still in our control.  And I have found a few things I thought I’d share that are helping me get through.

Embrace the slow down — I’m usually running in a hundred different directions, taking on way more than I can handle and I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in that!  With work commitments, kids activities and social events life was becoming a bit of a blur and it can be tough to slow that down when you get into the rhythm.  2020 has given us all a collective pause.  The present is a gift that we now have more time to appreciate.  Simple things like cooking a good meal, taking a walk, snuggling your pet, playing a board game with the kids – these are things I was too often breezing past before and they can bring just as much (often more) happiness than the big stuff.

Find the lesson – What if we choose to welcome what the year has brought by asking ourselves what can I learn from this?  Hardship is a teacher.  In times of crisis there is always a lesson or a strength built and an opportunity to grow.  This crisis has identified weak points in ourselves, in our communities and in our society.  How can we learn from them and become better for it?

Get comfortable with quiet – In my high school years I lived just with my father, who was a busy farmer (my mom and sisters lived elsewhere) so I spent a lot of my teen years out on the farm, alone.  Although I am eternally grateful for the environment I grew up in I also found this somewhat isolating and even as an adult I like to keep a full schedule and be with people a lot.  But I am getting better at enjoying being alone and this year especially I have started to embrace it.  If I head out for a solo cross country ski I can really feel the power of being alone in nature.  It’s in these solitary moments that you really notice the wind rustling the trees, the glittering snow, the smell of pine trees and the song of the birds.  Of course going out for a ski with a friend is great too but if no one is able to join you don’t have to use that as a reason to stay home!

Embrace opportunity — When you’re always on the run you might think of something you’ve been meaning to do or would like to do but that’s about where it ends.  We all have those things on our to do lists that have been there for months, even years and the more we get used to sloughing them off the easier it becomes!  These days when those things are coming up for me I try to propel myself into acting on them right away.  It feels so good to be getting them done and the more I do, the more I want to do.  In the summer my work schedule is so busy so the winter is a great time for me to tackle things like small renovations, an online course I’ve been wanting to do, catching up on my accounting and R&D, and de-cluttering the house.  Nothing is off limits, when you awaken from the stupor of routine.

Gratitude — Gratitude is not a reaction to a circumstance, it is a practice.  It’s easy to be grateful when everything is going your way but if you can find reasons to be grateful when things aren’t going so well that is when the magic happens.  To look for the good and celebrate it, every day, in 2020 of all years, has the potential to radically change the perspective.  I started a gratitude journal and some days it’s big things but more often it’s just little, mundane things, like good coffee, a beautiful sunrise, a good yoga practice, a visit with a friend.  To list a few items each day grounds me with glimpses of beauty and joy and trains me to look for the good.

All of these things are free and available to you right now.  Of course what works for me is not necessarily going to work for you but I just thought I’d share in case anything really stands out.  Please share your thoughts on how you are managing and finding the good!

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