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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Month: February, 2013

Day 86: Presence Day

I took a yoga class tonight and mistakenly heard my teacher wish us all a “Happy Presence Day.”

It registered quickly that she actually said “President’s Day,” but I like “Presence Day.” I’m taking one starting now. And since it’s already pretty late at night, I’m taking one tomorrow, too.

If you’d like to join me, below is our Presence Day regimen:

  • At three different times throughout the day, close your eyes and take three long, deep breaths. Don’t worry about your emails, your phone messages or the meeting you may or may not be missing. Everything will wait for three breaths. During each inhale, feel the air slowly draw in through your nostrils, breeze down the back of your throat and gently fill your lungs. On the exhale, let your ribs relax and your shoulders melt as your breath softly releases back out your nose. Three times.
  • When you feel the urge to interrupt someone, take one of those deep breaths and be quiet instead (also, unclench your jaw). As the person speaks, try not to think about what you want to say. Just listen. When they’re done talking and you’ve really heard it all, let two full seconds pass before you reply. You might be surprised what comes out.
  • At least once, put your hand on your heart and search for your heartbeat. It’s okay if you do it in the guise of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance—whatever works. But don’t move your hand until you’ve found that beautiful rhythm and enjoyed it for a while.
  • Smile when you don’t feel like smiling. And not one of those tight-lipped everybody-knows-I-don’t-mean-it smiles. A real one. That tiny, light-hearted muscle movement will help you pull back from whatever darkness you’re headed towards and focus on a present, much more pleasant action.
  • Eat at least one piece of fruit and a veggie of your choice. I don’t think I need to explain why this is a good idea.

There’s really no way this can turn out badly, so let’s try it and see how it goes.

Enjoy your Presence Day!

Day 85: Girl Scout Cookies

As a continuation to the continuation about happy things Midwesterners can think about while they wait for spring, this is the perfect time to post about Girl Scout cookies. In central/southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, it’s currently cookie season (as if you didn’t know). 

I bought cookies yesterday from a lovely young woman in her last year of Girl Scouting. As she stood outside the grocery store in downright bitterly cold weather, she cheerily told me how much she’ll miss the program when she graduates, and that my Thin Mints were lovingly “pre-frozen.” She then explained to the gentleman behind me why cookies cost more this year and what she plans to do with the money she earns (a trip to France with her troop). She was smart, articulate, outgoing and a good saleswoman (“You know, a couple of packages of Trefoils would be very tasty with those Samoas.”).

If you’re wondering whether or not you should support Girl Scouts by buying cookies, the answer is yes. The girls in green sashes and brown vests are doing more than peddling delicious goods; they’re learning how to be leaders.

Day 84: Febsgiving

To continue yesterday’s post about happy things Midwesterners can think about during the next million years (six weeks) of winter, I’d like to recommend Febsgiving.

Febsgiving is exactly what it sounds like: Thanksgiving in February. By the time February rolls around, most of the good winter holidays are over (excluding President’s Day, of course). So, getting a group of good friends and/or family together for a delicious meal, lots of wine and an arsenal of funny YouTube videos is the perfect way to cure the winter blues.

Here are some reasons why Febsgiving is wonderful:

  • No one expects you to be anywhere for most of February, so there are no turkey tradition scheduling conflicts. Just pick a day and invite the funniest and nicest people you know.
  • You can screw it up and no one cares. Forgot the cranberries? No problem. Never defrosted the turkey? Womp womp. Maybe your new Febsgiving tradition is peanuts and SpaghettiOs. It’s still a special day.
  • You can start looking forward to it as soon as the ball drops on January 1.
  • Once you have more than one Febsgiving, it’s officially an annual event, so you can look back on Febsgivings past and reminisce. Remember when Uncle Andy took his shirt off and danced to every song by Death Cab for Cutie? That was an awesome Febsgiving.
  • It’ll give you the same warm fuzzies you get from all the other lovely winter holidays.
  • Pie.

punpkin pie

Day 83: It Was a White Christmas

Here in the Midwest, we’re in a period I affectionately like to call “the worst time of the year.” The novelty of our dramatic winter has worn off, but we’re nowhere near the end of it. Our cars are covered in brown grit, our skin is visibly aching for vitamin D and all our good boots are covered in salt stains.

But, there are glimpses and tiny promises of spring emerging. If you’re a Midwesterner like me (and threaten to move to the coast every February), here are some happy thoughts to tide you over for the next 6+ weeks.

  • It’s still light out at 5 p.m. It’s the kind of bright evening light we haven’t seen since October. And it’s only getting lighter from here.
  • If it’s just a little bit breezy outside and you stand shivering on the street corner for long enough, you can catch a momentary hint of spring wafting past your nose. It’s worth the wait.
  • Sweaters are on serious sale right now. If you buy one (or two!), you’ll get at least a month of good mileage out of it before packing it up in your winter Rubbermaid.
  • All of that piled up snow will become welcome moisture for the trees and plants in a few short weeks.
  • The birds are starting to stir in the mornings. It’s possible that the birds have been stirring in the mornings all year long, but they’ll get pleasantly louder soon.
  • In six months, you will experience a moment of longing for the cozy blanket of winter. We’re swiftly approaching less cozy times, so you might as well snuggle up now.

Leaning tower of snow person

Day 82: Sample Valentines

Not sure what to say today? Here are some sample Valentine’s Day wishes you can share with your loved ones.

To the friend you see all the time:
You are the coolest. Thank you for drinking that bottle of wine with me last week and for always telling me when it’s been too long between showers. #besties

To the friend you haven’t seen in a while:
Hey, you. I miss you. Come visit me soon and we’ll go to the park and pretend to be robots just like the good old days when we were nine. Me-Malfunction-Without-You.

To that person you just started dating:
We haven’t been dating long enough for me to comfortably say anything other than that you smell good. Have a great day!

To that person you’ve been dating forever:
You still look good in those sweatpants, babe. Also, I saved you three pieces of chocolate.

To your parents:
Do you remember back in 1999 when someone hit the side of our house with a car? That was me. Love you!

To your kids:
One day, someone will fall in love with you and you will fall in love with someone. On that day, the “someones” might not be the same people. Don’t sweat it.

To yourself:
Treat yourself today—to some chocolate cake, to a spin class at that fancy gym, to the new sweater you were eyeing last December (it’s on sale now!). You rock.