“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 1
Those lines always express my own ambivalence about the holiday season. It is hectic, festive, de-stabilizing and once it ends, there is a feeling of being letdown as the new year starts. Similar to returning from an exhilarating vacation. Now, what?
The ebb and flow of my daily routines hardly seem adequate. But it may be exactly what I need. Otherwise, how could I appreciate the difference? But, the temptation to spice up my humdrum everyday life by filling every moment with activity, interactions or entertainment is great. And yet, it is the opposite that leaves me space to recognize the wealth and beauty of every moment of life I am given. So, I go back to five basics to keep me awake.
• Starting each day with an intention. (Whatever first floats into my mind’s sphere before even getting out of bed. My day always runs better when I use this simple practice.)
• Taking 3 in and out breaths. (If something or someone unsettles me during the day, I breathe three times before responding to ensure I am consciously doing it.)
• Collecting happy moments as memories. (At the end of the day I may have 3 -5 of these precious souvenirs. I write them down at the end of the day. By the end of the week I have as many a 35 examples of the beauty in my not so humdrum life.)
• Allowing pauses during my day that refresh me. (I have created many choices. Meditating. Stretching. Walking. Reading something for the sheer pleasure of it. Giving thanks. Enjoying a fresh ginger tea; slowly savouring the taste and fragrance. Listening to calming or invigorating music.)
• Looking for ways of staying out of my own ruts. (Walking/driving different routes, eating new foods, meeting new people, going to a movie or reading a book I would not think of trying, wearing something that is “not” me, taking a course in a subject that I know little about, doing something on the spur of the moment, etc. The possibilities are endless.)
Just writing about his makes me feel energized. Here’s hoping you find something that you can use when you need an boost.