A few of my friends do a November gratitude thing. They consciously acknowledge and share each day some things for which they are grateful. I figure it can’t hurt and it might help. I’ve been enjoying reading their gratitude posts. So far I’ve noticed that turning my mind each day to the good bits makes me smile, and even on bad days, there’s always something I’m grateful about.
Here’s a few of my first posts:
“Today I’m grateful for teamwork and getting things done. This weekend we managed to cover the boat in shrink wrap for the winter and move the shed so my mother could have more light in her window. Thanks Jeff and Sarah for working to keep boats and houses in order.”
“November is gratitude month and today I am grateful for working with very smart and hard working colleagues, for Sarah who made dinner while I zoomed the day away, and also for a mother who came home from the doctors with oat cakes.”
“Continuing with theme of gratitude, tonight I am thankful for my smart, generous, creative and caring graduate students, for warm sunny fall days for outdoor in-person office hours, and for the technology that allows us to meet as a group safely online. “
“Gratitude is more than simply saying “thank you.” Gratitude’s amazing powers have the ability to shift us from focusing on the negative to appreciating what is positive in our lives. Everything in our lives has the ability to improve when we are grateful. Research has shown that gratitude can enhance our moods, decrease stress and drastically improve our overall level of health and wellbeing. On average, grateful people tend to have fewer stress-related illnesses and experience less depression and lowered blood pressure, they are more physically fit, they are happier, have a higher income, more satisfying personal and professional relationships and will be better liked. “
It seems everybody has good things to say about gratitude.
It’s good for everyone, it seems. Well, almost everyone.
“There are some notable exceptions to the generally positive results in research on gratitude. One study found that middle-aged divorced women who kept gratitude journals were no more satisfied with their lives than those who did not. Another study found that children and adolescents who wrote and delivered a thank-you letter to someone who made a difference in their lives may have made the other person happier — but did not improve their own well-being. This finding suggests that gratitude is an attainment associated with emotional maturity.”
Have you tried a gratitude habit/practice before? What do you think? Did it improve your mood/well-being?
Nat’s post about walking in the rain prompted me to take action. Now, I’m no Nat. I meet my very modest step goal most days but I try not to care. My Garmin watch gives me fireworks when I’ve met my step goal and I smile at this little mini celebration but when it asks me to increase my goal, I decline.
About eight months ago I wrote a post about the wonders of walking that asked what if you can’t walk. I can walk but not very far with my damaged, waiting to be totally replaced, knee. There are still reasons to walk, even it hurts, and lots of studies show that walking won’t make the situation worse.
So I do walk a fair bit still thanks to Cheddar the dog but increasing my step count isn’t among my fitness goals.
But Nat’s post inspired me in another direction, the direction of dry feet and dressing for the weather. Like Nat, I’m well kitted out for winter. I have all the gear I need to stay warm on my fat bike, on snow shoes, or while walking Cheddar in January. But rainy weather? Not so much.
I don’t mind winter when it’s here. In January the days are getting longer, there’s snow to play in, and often there’s sun. But November? Ugh. Dark, cold and often rainy, November is my toughest month. I’m on record as hating November.
Given the pandemic, I don’t need any extra anger or resentment in my life. I need to make friends with November. First step, getting better rain gear. I’ve got an excellent rain coat that I bought while on sabbatical in New Zealand. But I don’t have good rain boots. My calves are too wide for traditional knee high rain boots.
The boots needed to be bright and cheerful, because November. And short, because calves.
Here was my short list of choices:
In the end I chose the Pride boots. I thought seriously about the pink fishing boots but they aren’t available in my size.
But I need to tell you a thing I love about the Pride boots. They’re available in two different kinds of sizes, wide and narrower. Not men’s and women’s.
I’ve written before about gendered sizing, about lady backpacks and women’s bikes, and why they drive me up the wall. Why not just wide shoulders, or long torso? Why tie things to gender even they’re not about gender at all? If some men fit women’s boots and some women need men’s boots, then it isn’t really about gender, is it?
Thks. Hunter boots for getting it right.
Now, assuming they fit, these boots likely aren’t enough to make me love November when it gets here. But I just have tolerate November and likely I will tolerate it better with dry feet.
Thanks for the prompt Nat.
Enjoy your walks with Michel and Lucy. Cheddar and I will be thinking of you!
This year I’m working from home. The challenges are different. I can see that it might be dangerous to work all day and only think about leaving the house in the dark.
I’m going to try to make sure I leave the house during the day to get outside in the daylight even if I don’t have anywhere particular to go. Cheddar doesn’t care about goals. He’s just happy to walk. Or run!
As usual, September is a blur. That’s true in both non pandemic and pandemic times. I’ve been a student, then graduate student, then Professor, now also Dean. September is always a blur for me.
This one was especially busy with lots of time with students, in my role as Dean and Professor, both physically distanced on campus and virtually on Teams/Zoom. The university is a hectic place as we carry on mostly remotely. So many meetings!
We’re also busy navigating our slow and cautious return to campus as a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic begins which will likely mean drawing back, restricting our activities further, and staying at home much more than usual this winter. There’ll be no warm weather biking for me in January. In a recent post Cate asked what we’ve been doing to nourish our soul, given that we are heading into a tough winter.
Well, I spent September working hard, but also riding my bike, visiting with family outdoors, taking care of some basic needs (haircut and dentist) and reading fiction. I’ve been trying to appreciate fall for what it is, rather than worrying about what’s to come. Less anticipatory sadness more now is all we have. Thanks Nicole!
Sarah and I have been spending more time at the farm in Prince Edward County. That means loops around Big Island and racing the Osprey Nest to Osprey Nest Strava segment we created.
I’ve also started working on campus, one day a week. That means I’m bike commuting again, which I’ve missed.
Here’s my office on campus, my outdoor office hours, and an empty (usually bustling) student plaza.
Despite being busy I’m still riding lots (for me). I might make 5000 km this year.
I’m trying to think like a Norwegian about winter: “ People in Svalbard (at 78 deg north) had a more positive mindset than the people in Tromsø (69 deg north), who took a more optimistic view than people in Oslo (60 deg north). In other words, the positive wintertime mindset is most common where it’s most needed. These positive attitudes were apparent in Leibowitz’s casual conversations; indeed, she says that many of her friends struggled to understand why you would not enjoy winter. They embraced the possibility of skiing or hiking in the mountains, and savoured the chance to practice koselig – a Norwegian version of Denmark’s hygge – which might involve snuggling under blankets with a warm drink in the candlelight. Far from dwindling in the dark, Tromsø’s community flourished in the long polar night. “There is this interaction between the culture that you’re part of, and the mentality or mindset that grows out of it,” says Prof Joar Vittersø, Leibowitz’s collaborator at the Arctic University of Tromsø.”
“The noons are more laconic and the sundowns sterner. November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.” Emily Dickinson
Christine’s post this morning reminded me that I need a plan for November. November looms.
Regular readers of the blog know how much I hate late fall. I won’t even link to all my dark and fall hating posts. There’s too many. But here’s one that rolls them all together.
In 2016 here’s how I described November, “November kind of just pounced on me, tackled me to the ground, and pinned me before I even had a chance to tap the mat.” Each year, I struggle with November. In 2014, I set specific November goals. In 2016, I gave in and set my sights on December.
What’s wrong with November exactly?
Brief recap: It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s wet. And there’s no snow yet to play in.
That’s my annual seasonally affected whine. It’s saved by Christmas (bright lights) and then by the new year (increasing light, bigger plans and ambitions) but November often feels to me like one long, slow, dark miserable month.
It’s best when I ride anyway and get tough but I don’t always have the stamina for that.
It’s also, just in terms of training, a weird time. Back before the fittest by fifty challenge with Tracy, I just tended to go into the fall as long as I could and then give up completely until after the new year. November was my annual fitness dark valley.
During the challenge I moved my serious bike training indoors come end of October and stuck with a plan.
Now I’m not quite sure where I am here in 2018. My evenings are often busy with work commitments so I can’t sign up for regular indoor bike training. Training on my bike at home on the trainer happens later, when I’m keen, but I’m not there yet.
This year I made a plan for the early fall and pledged to tell new stories. I took swimming lessons and that helped. But they’ve ended. It’s darker and colder and my resolve is wearing thin.
So I need a plan for November and biking. Might be indoor spin classes at lunch a couple of times a week. Might be adding a 10-20 km loop to my morning commute or riding at lunch hour. Might be doing more consistent lower body strength training that’s not just rehab of my miserable left knee.
I don’t know yet what my plan will be. There’s a few days left in October yet. But I know I need a plan. And I’m working on it.
Is there a month you hate the most from a fitness point of view? What’s the challenge? How do you cope?