family · health · Seasonal sadness

Sam is making a conscious effort to acknowledge gratitude, #NationalGratitudeMonth

November is not my favourite month.

That’s an understatement at the best of times and now there’s a pandemic on.

Serious mood improvement measures are called for. In Cate’s blog post about self-care, I even mentioned candy. I’m bringing out the big guns. I’m also trying to get more light in my life.

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. “

I read up on National Gratitude month too.

See National Gratitude Month is an annual designation observed in November.

“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.

See 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round.

  • Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
  • Gratitude improves physical health.
  • Gratitude improves psychological health.
  • Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
  • Grateful people sleep better.
  • Gratitude improves self-esteem.

And if 7 weren’t enough benefits, this list has 28!

See 28 Benefits of Gratitude & Most Significant Research Findings. Is there anything gratitude can’t do?

I also read a thing from the Harvard Medical School about the health and mental health effects of gratitude. Again, there’s a lot of perks for the grateful person.

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?

fitness

COVID MoodCoaster

Not that my moods didn’t swing from time to time before, but now they are subject to the shelter-in-place amplification factor.

On any given day the non-stop voice in my head drags me along on her wild ass rollercoaster ride, hands flung up in the air, hair a streaming tangle in the wind …

You’re so ridiculously lucky to be able to play out here in the snow on these beautiful mountains. Look at that view. Breathe that air. Oh *&%@, who could possibly keep their balance on this ungroomed mess. You’re the biggest loser on skis. Don’t ever ski again. You are so Zen after that new breath meditation. You’re cruising right down the middle of The Middle Way. Is it seriously snowing again? Will spring never come? If you have to shovel one more load of snow, you should just give up forever. That was the most delicious bruschetta on homemade sourdough bread ever. That ricotta couldn’t be creamier. You are such a glutton. It’s so fun Zoom-ing with friends & family. You could cry from how much you want to hug them. All that Zoom yoga, Zoom meditation, Zoom Laughing Club (that’s a clown class) and Zoom dance parties is so innovative and fun. How can you stand looking at yourself as a small, horribly self-conscious little square on your computer screen? What overly-contorted and wrinkly facial expression will you make next? That was the best Zoom planning meeting ever. You’re super jazzed about the workshop idea. So exciting. You are so not maximizing this stretch of solitude. Your life has no meaning. Just give up. If only you’d become a doctor, then you might at least have been useful. Yay, you get to take Pete’s virtual yoga class (your favourite San Francisco teacher whose class you never get to take, because you haven’t been in SF in ages). Happy body, happy body. Those unpolished toenails on your yoga mat are disgusting, never mind your sad old feet. Don’t ever wear sandals again. Well it doesn’t matter anyway, because you’re never going to wear sandals or proper shoes again, because you’re never going to be able to go anywhere except the grocery store ever again. That was the most delicious salad ever. Could those roasted veggies you made last night have been any better? Are you really washing dishes again? Don’t you want to just throw all the dishes off the back deck? 9:20 p.m. time, your deliciously cozy bed awaits. You can cuddle up with your partner and listen to your cat purr on your pillow. Are you seriously tired already? Get a life. Oh, that’s right, there’s no life to be. Those new superhero name that you and your partner riffed up for yourselves are hilarious. Your stomach is going to hurt from laughing so hard about The Snowbank Buster and The Avocado Mangler. You’re so lucky to be sheltered with him. Could your cat be any cuter? Be grateful, you ingrate. Be grateful. You’re not being grateful enough. Grateful. Resentful. Happy. Depressed. On top of the world. Sinking into a morass of anxiety. Grateful. Self-hating. Filled with vitality. Don’t want to get out of bed. Grateful. And then…

Is anyone else at the amusement park, too? Please say I’m not alone.  

cycling · fitness · season transitions

Argh dark, but also wow fall rides: Themes from Sam’s past autumn posts

When you’ve been blogging for six years you notice trends. It’s September and I’m nervous about losing the evening light. I’m sad about losing some of my favorite activities. And worried about the effect of fall dark on my mood. I’m also happy about riding in the fall, cooler temperatures, no big goals, and beautiful colours.

Those are feelings now and they are also frequently the topic of fall blog posts through the years.

So the themes from my fall blog posts are:

1. September sadness:

See Struggling with September Sadness and The night is (soon to be) dark and full of terrors

You can get a sense of the flavour of fall sadness by reading this piece The Summer That Never Was. It beautifully connects end of summer melancholy with thoughts of mortality.

I suspect that the way I feel now, at summer’s end, is about how I’ll feel at the end of my life, assuming I have time and mind enough to reflect: bewildered by how unexpectedly everything turned out, regretful about all the things I didn’t get around to, clutching the handful of friends and funny stories I’ve amassed, and wondering where it all went. And I’ll probably still be evading the same truth I’m evading now: that the life I ended up with, much as I complain about it, was pretty much the one I chose. And my dissatisfactions with it are really with my own character, with my hesitation and timidity.

2. Autumn and evening dark: The pictures at the top are from the last weeknight of Snipe racing. We barely got two races in before we lost our wind and our light. It’s too dark now in the evening to make it worthwhile to start racing at 6:30. There are some weekend afternoon races but the regular Tuesday night club races are done for the season.

Last week I got caught out on my bike without headlights. I forgot how early it was getting dark now. I won’t do that again.

Partly for me it’s also about driving. Because of my eye condition, I can’t drive at night. When night comes before work ends, my life can feel pretty limited. It’s a good thing I ride my bike well into the winter. I’m also walking distance from work, downtown, and the mall.

You can read about Fuchs Dystrophy, a condition that makes driving at night tricky here, The four eyed athlete. It’s also the subject of a profile over at The Disabled Philosophers blog.

So what’s my plan?

I’ve got my bike ready to go with lights.

Sarah and I have planned a September canoe trip.

I’m going to sign up for swimming lessons.

I’m thinking about this CBC piece on end of summer sadness and the positive effect of thinking of September as a new start.

I’m going remind myself how much I love to ride in the fall by actually doing it. Because amid all the fall sadness there’s also quite a few expressions on the blog of how much I love to ride my bike.

How about you? What feelings and thoughts so you associate with fall?