My (now) occasional columns are originally published on the Armchair Mayor News, this one included.
I saw the tiniest hummingbird the other day, while on the morning hike. No bigger than a (small) dandelion flower, it was hovering around a Saskatoon bush. I got home and promptly put up the red hummingbird feeder in the backyard.
It was a week ago that it happened. It was a windy day, so I tried to blame it on that, because we always try to bring sense and logic into the happenings that rattle us.
The loud bang was indeed rattling, more so in that early morning silence. The pup dashed in her safe spot in the bedroom, and I ran outside. It was a robin!! Of all things that could’ve happened, a robin hit the window.
The sun is shining, and spring is in the air. It’s beautiful and yet there’s the heaviness of the last few weeks… While fully aware of the privilege of being able to walk, breathe deeply, and recharge my reserves through a morning walk in the woods, or through writing and reading, I am perpetually humbled by the feeling of helplessness in dealing with the many big problems unfolding in the world.
It’s been almost two years in the making. I am now ready to share with you the project I’ve been working on and mentioned a few months back.
There is a story behind it, and I keep returning to it whenever I get bogged down by the questions and worries that are inherent to any new beginning. Of course, new beginnings are where we get to learn that daunting, exciting and admittedly, scary, can morph into one.
I wrote this back in 2016 and it’s just as relevant today. Of course, little boy was being dropped off to Forest School back then, and now he is a teenager taking himself places. But the rest is all there…
It’s only fitting that the robin came flying by the side of the car as I am driving slowly on the dirt road after I dropped little boy off for Forest School somewhere in the grasslands for a day of exploring.
It is March 8th, and that’s Mother’s Day back where I was born.
No bells and whistles, no marketing campaigns to make you buy this and that for mom. Flowers, yes, the grownup men bought flowers for their wives, and kids like me picked snowdrops, tied them with a nice little ribbon and presented them to Mom. No Hallmark cards, but carefully hand drawn cards featuring snowdrops as well. They were easy to draw and the earliest of all flowers. I always thought that was quite a feat for how fragile they looked.
Take February 13th for example. It’s early morning and the sun is shining. Pup and I start on a morning hike with the intention to get to the top of a particular hill above the woods. I mean, what better day?
These days the trails are a mix of ice and crusted snow which makes for a good challenge in some parts, but if hikes are to be likened to life, at least occasionally, then the tougher sections are but good reminders of what our journey is about.
After stopping to take in the view, again, (and to roll on the crusty snow, again), we make it to the top. On the day that bears the number deemed unlucky, pup and I find ourselves in sparkling morning sunshine and with front seats to admiring birds in flight from above (the ultimate ‘bird’s eye view’ one could say, pun and all).
It’s been many months since I deactivated my Facebook account. I do not miss it, and as much as I would like to, I cannot delete it fully because there are people I care about who are for now communicating only via Facebook messenger.
The social media rundown
Be as it may, the bad noise is gone. By that I mean the tsunami of fake information and rants spreading like wildfire leading to nowhere but high anxiety, and the countless posts of what should be private information. Oh, and there is also the marketing, incessant and shameless, which I do not miss. That is to say, I do not intend to return. Ever.
This month I am also taking a break from Twitter. Again, the noise can be too much at times. It’s different noise and I like being connected to like-minded people and their worthwhile words and ideas, but breaks are good. They make room for thinking and most importantly, they clear some much-needed space for other pursuits. Or more of the ones we always say we need (more) time for.
You may be wondering about the other platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn. I am for now set on a weekly post on Instagram and a weekly review of a few informative accounts. Since I am also keeping updated on a few science and self-improvement podcasts, any extra time on the same would mean a higher risk of falling into virtual rabbit holes which there are many. As for LinkedIn, I use it as the name implies: to link/connect with other professionals and/or professional groups.
Yes, our relationship to social media is a complicated one.
One resolution and a few steppingstones
It’s that time again: the yearly opportunity to start on something new (or pick up that dropped self-improvement project) to improve quality of life. I am not much for a laundry list of resolutions because I know it’s easy to get amped up and then drop one too many, but I do like a fresh start towards one or two long-term goals, and I know consistency pays off. So my one resolution is to be consistent on whatever I embark on.
For example: I want to be able to take part in the next polar bear swim (January 1, 2022) so my steppingstone is a daily cold shower (starting at 15 seconds and working towards two minutes). Since I already have a morning routine of breathing and stretching, I can pin this one on. And don’t let the 15 seconds fool you. That’s where math fails: 15 seconds under cold water does not equal 15 seconds of warm water shower. Still, cold water exposure has many virtues, and I will expand on that in a later post.
My next one and the big news I hinted at a couple of posts back is that I will be starting on a new path after spending the last year and a half studying for it. I have become a certified nutritional consultant (CNC) and that means, among others, that a new website with science-based nutrition information will be launched soon and, most importantly, that I can embark on a journey that I long dreamed of: disease prevention through healthy nutrition.
A long-term goal if there ever was one. The steppingstones in this case: reading, writing, and keeping up-to-date with the latest research on nutrition topics I will highlight in regular blog posts.
My inspiration to work on building good habits comes from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits – An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (Penguin Random House, 2018).
My inspiration source for minimizing social media presence is Cal Newport, author of many books on focus and productivity, including Digital Minimalism – Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (Portfolio, 2019).
The inspiration for embracing the cold showers is provided by Wim Hof, also known as The Ice Man (and that says is all, though he does more than that).
A refreshing book I discovered this past year and enjoyed reading was Ultralearning – Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition and Accelerate Your Career (Illustrated, 2019) by Scott H. Young. Never stop learning!
On that note…
If you have books or people who inspire your journey towards a more balanced life (I know that may mean different things to different people), please feel free to share. Knowledge is delightful, more so when shared.
Here’s to a good year and here’s to being present, curious, and kind. Most of all, grateful.