Wandering towards warmth

It’s at this time of year when I hear longings for warmer weather. From workers in the office building–a lot while in the elevator–to family and friends, I hear wanting cries and wishes for winter to end. February is akin to that last push toward a finish line; it’s a test of emotional endurance because you’ve made it this far yet there’s still a distance to go. When will this end? Let’s finish winter and get on with spring. Polar vortex aside, I’m still enjoying winter. However with daylight piling on, it’s not difficult to think about spring.

In no uncertain terms, sunny, warmer weather puts people in a better mood, especially during those first few days. What’s not to like? You get more vitamin D. The air feels gentler. The sky appears friendlier. The pace of life is calmer. The sounds and sights of life are no longer insulated: laughter, more people outdoors, car windows open, music escapes from said windows, smiles appear from once stoic, resigned faces and of course, fashion turns lighter as puffy, padded, heavy and scratchy attire is relegated to dry cleaning, the cedar chest or some other domestic sarcophagus to be opened later in the year.

Many of us in New England are already wandering toward and wondering about the warmth. For now, we can still huddle in our coats, don an extra layer, warm ourselves with a mug of Hot Toddy and make the best of things next to the fireplace or wood stove.

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North

A few days ago, the cold felt punishing. Yes, I have preference for cold versus hot days, but when the air is already cold at zero degrees Fahrenheit, then enhanced with a windchill of -15, well, that may be enough to reconsider that preference.

I’m fortunate that I can retreat to places where the cold and wind don’t feel as threatening. From the safety of these retreats, I philosophize on the dual sides of nature, of how something that can appear simple and beautiful and minimal can deliver a reality check powerful enough to humble any aesthete caught up in winter’s vanity.

Do you get the feeling that winter provides a sense of calm? The calm I speak of provides a level of reassurance. This winter calm is a metaphorical blanket, one which acts like a shield from unwelcome and sometimes sudden vicissitudes. Such a blanket stops–albeit briefly–the weariness of having to deal with things that keep us from finding a particular quiet.

And when the quiet is welcoming, the alone time is curative…

Future tense within the present

In the past several months one expression seems to echo in my comings and goings and it goes something like, “…well, there’s 10-minutes I’ll never get back…”

Typically it has an air of regret, of time spent that could’ve been used in a different or better way.

Let me shift the lens or the perspective a bit and instead say, “….the next 10-minutes has got be better than the previous ten…”  

January’s Light

My thoughts for the New Year?  Continue to take care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually and avoid people and things that don’t add anything to my quality of life…which I graciously extend to you and yours throughout the New Year…

Fade-free nostalgia…

What is it about nostalgia that some of us cannot jettison? A valid concern is that the yearning makes a mess of being-in-the-moment.  That same yearning can deny future possibilities when it turns to ruminating.  For some, nostalgia can magnify preoccupation.  Not good.

Kodachrome~Epson Scanner

Yet there are fragments of nostalgia that remain fade-free. Like writing/journaling and photography, riding a sport bike can be solitary, well, a choice by many, including myself. Certainly some of my own experience aboard two wheels can be marked as memorable [and mostly positive].

Kodachrome~Epson Scanner

As is fitting this time of year, nostalgia tends to swell, though more specifically with auld lang syne, those days of fond remembrance, of days spent from far-off times or even those more recent. It matters none because an experience that generates a fondness or even a light-hearted sense of joy is timeless. The decades can sometimes feel “like only yesterday.”

The distinction I’m trying to make is that auld lang syne speaks of a heart-felt time devoid of regret and rumination. Isn’t that what probes our memory at year’s end?  What have we forgotten? Whom have we forgotten?

My school of thought is that these fade-free capsules of nostalgia are not containers of events that could’ve or should’ve been. No, auld lang syne is more about preserving good things which matter: lessons learned, people who’ve made a difference, the unconditional, enduring quality of gratitude and love.

Before I make a mess of this post, I’ll let the poet Robert Burns weigh in. He’s the Scot who made this poem, this inimitable song, about as timeless as anything found in life. Click here.

 

 

Planning Overload

Okay, the end of the year, the last month of the calendar if you will, is chock full of messages hitting us from all kinds of channels.  I’m referring to advertising & marketing messages. I’m overwhelmed with it all.

“For a limited time, you can own this…..enjoy the 10 for only 1 dollar/euro at your local…..make this the holiday to remember with special offers from….common reactions are allergies to the active ingredient, cramps, blurred vision, moodiness, sleepiness and in some cases, death….”  WTF!?

However, what I find even more overwhelming is the myriad of marketing tactics, strategies, resources, research et al, that are available to each of us [the marketing professionals]. Ms. Cook’s comment, naturally, is taken with a grain of salt, but it makes you stop and think about “planning.”  And for the most part, I’m convinced that we’re all over planned. Coupled to the planning are the actions deemed necessary for said plan to be successful. I translate that to, being “overscheduled” and thus feeling more overwhelmed.

Whether it’s marketing communications and strategies,  or making plans for your children’s activities, a vacation, an addition to a home, etc. etc., I’m convinced that there’s much to champion in the less-is-more school of thought. To wit:

  • I’ll stick with Plan A because creating a Plan B or C is going to take even more time, more minutiae, workbooks, versions, hotlinks, B-rolls, post-production, trips to the copier, make more PDFs….OMG!
  • Regarding Plan A, I prefer to make smaller mods to line and action items. My options are: edit or delete. So what I have is still my original plan, but with tweaks
  • When my daughters were growing up, after-school activities were encouraged, but within reason. There was none of the practice/games after school followed by Key Club, music lessons, etc. that seem to be the norm for each school day, week in/week out
  • Less is more when it comes to time on hand. I didn’t drive to the ends-of-the-earth just to get them from one activity to another, then back home
  • Less is more: I pull into the garage with more gas in the tank; we eat dinner together; limit perfunctory questions and remarks wherever possible [what was the most interesting thing that happened today? vs. so, how was your day?]
  • Less is more: a lot less time in front of a screen [TV, computer, vid game, e.g.] and more reading, you know, a book

The end game is something I relish. I envision a plan not to plan anything at all.