Observations

Off to Nurture

Today is the day I go to Nurture for the weekend. I’ve been to several of these retreats now, and each time, I return home changed. The first one was the most significant change: I came back, said goodbye to a toxic relationship, and felt my confidence bloom as a result. The others I’ve attended have created smaller, subtler changes, but I always feel calmer and more myself afterwards.

I don’t know what will come up for me this time – things have been less dramatic lately than they’ve usually been leading up to previous retreats. And yet I know it’ll be a big shift because it always is. There’s really nothing like spending time with like-minded, soulful humans to make you take a step forwards in your life path.

No matter what, I’m excited to be back in that peaceful place on the lake, where all you can hear is the noises of nature and your friends giggling inside. It’s just snowed here, so it’ll be pristine, and white, and blanketed. I, too, will be blanketed for much of the weekend! Because while we’ll be hard at work chopping, prepping and hosting, I also feel determined to make sure that Sonja and I both feel as though we’ve had a retreat of our own as well.

We leave at 3PM today, and I’ve consciously cleared the whole day for myself to settle in to the Nurture spirit. I’ll be playing our playlist, puttering around my house, making good food, packing up the last minute items, and spending time reading quietly. Nurture is full-on, so today will be full-off.

Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll talk to you on Tuesday!

Be Realistic

I’m going away this weekend for Nurture, a twice-annual retreat for creative women. This is my fourth time taking part as the “creative producer” which is a fancy way of saying “on-site support staff”. I help with all the logistics, the setup, the food prep, the orientations, and of course making sure everyone is having a wonderful time throughout. It’s beautiful, and magical, and also, yes, very tiring.

I’ve been experimenting more lately with calendar blocking, in an attempt to proactively stop myself from being overworked and harried on any given day. I don’t always remember to do it, but when I do, it works wonders. Today, for example, I have built in tons of rest time for myself, essentially from 3pm onwards, to prepare and get ready for the busyness of the next few days. I also took off all of Monday after we get back!

These decisions are an accumulation of knowledge that I’ve gained from my last few times participating in Nurture. It takes a lot out of me, so it’s important to rest & recover in any way I can. It’s taken me a while to really start protecting my time because I am never realistic enough about my capacity. I have resisted the fact that I clearly need to rest, before and after. I need to have very little to do! I need large swaths of time to recover. Especially as an introvert, this is essential.

I think this is an issue for many of us: we aren’t realistic enough about the demands on our time and what they’ll require of us. We aren’t realistic about how much buffer we need between things. We aren’t realistic about how much time it will take to recover from something. We don’t give ourselves space to breathe and process the events of our lives.

I think we resist because we don’t want to accept our limitations. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, who seem to have limitless capacities for productivity and excitement. Our culture makes us see rest and downtime as somehow “less than”: there are no accolades or much praise for taking a nap! It’s up to us to change this narrative. It’s up to us to own our capacity and honour it. So that’s what I’m trying to do today. Do less, so I can do more. Be realistic about how much rest I really need, and then give myself that space and grace. Wish me luck!

Snow Day

We got tons of snow here yesterday in Toronto, and it felt like we were plunged right back into late January when the streets are slushy, it’s dark before 5pm, and you only walk around with your hood up. As I shared yesterday, this is NOT my favourite time of year, and the season seems to get longer every year (case in point: today is November 12th and we have inches of snow on the ground). But I’m trying to embrace it, and get into the spirit of the season.

I think one of the ways I can do that is by giving myself more snow days. I work for myself, so this is a real thing that I can do! I used to love snow days when I was in school, because things were cancelled and life felt quieter, and space opened up where there wasn’t space before. These days, very few things get cancelled unless I cancel them, and I don’t want to cancel things like client calls or office hours. But I’m still declaring today a “snow day” for me, even if I have things I need to do.

I think the key to a good snow day is giving myself permission to hibernate at home for the day. To put on my coziest clothes and make copious amounts of tea. To make hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meals. To only venture out for a beautiful walk in the snow. To enjoy the quiet that the extra insulation of snow can bring. To take breaks and blast the space heater and put on my wooliest socks.

Today is a snow day and the second day of my Operation: Survive Winter project. Dare I say that I’m excited? I’m excited. Time to embrace hibernation as a solid strategy for enjoying winter!

Let It Snow

I woke up this morning to my Alexa telling me that today we will have a high of zero degrees Celsius. A HIGH OF. The low is -7 degrees, and it is November 11th. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but in my memory it’s rarely this cold this early in the season. We typically get one solid snow in November, and then no more snow until later in December. Sometimes we don’t even have snow on Christmas!

But here’s the thing about winter: it’s coming, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it, no matter how hard I try. I don’t like winter, I don’t like being cold, and I don’t like the dark. And yet I live in Canada, where I want to be because it’s close to my loved ones. Every winter, when things get colder, I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place: miserable because of the weather & lack of sunlight, but not wanting to move away.

I’m realizing just how easy it is for me to be negative when the weather is in the negative degrees. I hate that it’s true, but this weather puts me in such a bad mood! And yet that is actually not sustainable, considering that we’re about to be in for at least four straight months of cold weather, if not more.

So here is my commitment to myself: do what it takes to be happy this winter. Do what it takes to stay warm. Buy better thermal underwear. Get more candles. Winterize your windows! Get another space heater and one of those SAD lights. Make copious amounts of tea every day. Play that Fireplace video non-stop.

I may actually make myself some resolutions about this, to turn it into some kind of fun project: Survive Winter 2019-2020! Obviously ideally I would not just survive, but thrive, but let’s not get too carried away here. There are lots of things I can do to enhance this (very long) season, so I intend to do them. Wish me luck! And if you have any ideas for enjoying winter, send them my way!

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