Friday, 4 January 2013

Cross Promotional Bonanza...

Hello Friends,

Happy New Year! I recently got a plumb gig writing for Saskatoon Well Being Magazine. Find them online here or, if you're in Saskatoon, pick up a free copy at any of the locations listed here. So proud to partner with these folks. My first entry below!

Hello Saskatoon,

Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many entries for Saskatoon Well Being Magazine.  While I am no expert in the field of well being (I'm more concerned with, well, being), I know a thing or two about living your Dreams.  I agree with the maxim, "If you believe it, you can achieve it!" with the all-important caveat that you must lower your expectations significantly.  For instance, we can't all be millionaires, but you can easily save 50 dollars a year if you stop buying soap (simply carry empty freezer bags around and fill them up with the low-quality liquid soap offered in most public restrooms).  Do without soap for 10 years?  Boom, you've got 500 dollars.  You're not a millionaire but, Saskatoon, you're well on your way.

I once heard that the difference between a Dream and a Goal was a Plan.  I also believe this notion to be true and it is the crux upon which I will base my column for this magazine.  This time of year, we put a lot of Dreams out into the universe.  A new year is a blank page for many of us; a fresh start.  We're often inspired to put pen to paper and write out a list of well-intentioned New Year's Resolutions.  I wonder why so many of us start every January by effectively shooting ourselves in the foot?  It's not that we're lazy, but rather that we set impossibly high standards, then beat ourselves up when we can't reach them.  Well, not so for me.  Not this year.

Dream:  Keep all of my New Year's Resolutions for 2013.

Goal:  Achievable.  I remember track and field in grade school.  I was not an athletic boy, unless you consider my truly heroic intake of chapter books.  Not every kid had to compete in citywide competitions but, as I recall, every kid had to practice every track and field event in gym class for weeks.  I wasn't thrilled about any of this, but I certainly enjoyed the first round of the high jump.  High jump, if you'll recall, is the event where a bar is raised higher and higher in front of a giant plush mattress and the participant would jump over the bar.  Anyway, I don't know if this was provincially mandated or if we just had a sympathetic teacher, but the first round of high jump had the bar set lower than the giant plush mattress!  This meant that you got to take a running start, leap with abandon and land, unencumbered, into softness.  If that's true athleticism, I was thrilled to be a part of it.  I could never clear the bar set any higher than that and I hated every other aspect of gym class, but, boy, I loved that first round.  My point is, nothing is daunting and everything is achievable, if the bar is low enough.

Plan:  Make 10 resolutions that will be nearly impossible not to keep.

1) Lose some weight, then gain it all back plus a bit more.

2) Think about planting a garden.  Settle on thoughtfully touching a tree while out on a walk.

3) Read 10 books.  Or one magazine.

4) Go to bed the same time every night and wake up the same time every morning, except for those times when I'd rather stay up or sleep in.

5) Don't engage in conflict with friends or coworkers, but plot elaborate revenge fantasies that eat up time during my morning commute.

6) Buy pants one size too big and give myself the freedom to “grow into them."

7) Hold a door open for somebody one time.  That makes me a mentor.

8) This calendar year, try to get divorced just once, if at all.

9) Drink more water!  Increase my intake by adding more ice cubes to my cocktails.

10) Watch a meaningful film like Hotel Rwanda, Schindler's List or Weekend At Bernie's.

"But James", I hear you rudely objecting, "Aren't achieving such easy challenges inherently disappointing?  One doesn't feel any sense of satisfaction this way!"  To you I pose this question:  do you get more satisfaction from accomplishing a difficult task or from crossing said task off a list?  You could lie and say it's about the challenge, but liars never prosper.  It's about the list.  People love to tell you everything they did in a day, even if the tasks themselves aren't impressive ("I woke up, made coffee, did four sit-ups, looked at the cat, cried in the shower and checked my email, all before noon!").

Look, unless you are born into poverty, work in a horrifying forced labour scenario or attend several outdoor music festivals every year, your life is as easy or as hard as you decide to perceive it.  So why not be easy on yourself this year?  If we're all captains of our ships, shouldn't we do all we can to ensure smooth sailing?  Join me on a new adventure, Saskatoon, and let us take baby steps together.  Let us greet the year with an open mind, open heart and freezer bags full of soap.  Let us take leaps of faith and land in softness.  Let us be well.

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