Welcome to 2021. 

What we call things does not affect the thing. It surely affects us, though. Just having a new name for the year benefits our state of mind.

Some thoughts of preparing ourselves for the new year. This will certainly be a year of change from 2020. I don’t predict or prognosticate, but I do think that we’ll see a change in the pandemic for the better. Probably the change will happen before we realize it. Hopefully the vaccine helps.

I shun New Year’s Resolutions. I bet yours are already broken 😉 . I do reflect on the past year–changes, successes, changeable mistakes. Mostly I look at subtle changes that help see become a better human. I’ll try a few out on you.

Eating

Did you pick up the dreaded “Covid 15”? That is, 15 excess pounds–or more? 

Start being the kind of person who naturally and normally eats a little less for each meal. Energy-boosting snacks become almonds, peanuts, apple slices, and the like. I buy little packets of green olives from Thrive Market and keep some around for a snack. Save sweets, salty processed snacks, and colas for “cheat day” if at all. Some people allow a cheat day once per week. Usually it is Saturday, dubbed “Faturday”. Drop sodas, both sweetened and “diet”, from your shopping list and clean out the refrigerator.

Follow Michael Pollan’s advice from Food Rules: An Eater’s Guide:

  • Eat food;
  • Not too much;
  • Mostly plants.

Exercise

If you haven’t already, start moving. Be the sort of person who walks more or takes up jogging or running. Of course, exercise within the bounds set by your physician. But most of us can walk briskly. Make 30-60 minutes a day part of the daily routine. If your body is up to it, throw in a few sprints a few times per week for a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout. That helped me lose a few pounds.

Buy some dumbbells and check out some YouTube instructors. I use lighter weights for a couple of shoulder exercises and curls and extensions for the biceps/triceps. Then heavier weights for standing rows and squats. Throw in some bench pushups and 30 minutes of Yoga stretches and ab work. 45-minutes to an hour three times a week in your bedroom (assuming the gym is still on limited availability) will work wonders.

Mental

Pick up a good book and read it. Be the type of person who expands and strengthens their mind. Take notes so that you think about it. I read a variety. Lately I’ve been reading memoirs of successful women–Madeline Albright, Kara Goldin (Hint Water). I’m reading Jared Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday right now. Just finished How the South Won the Civil War by Heather Cox Richardson–a well written history of the US. Also 10% Happier by Dan Harris and The Practice: Shipping Creative Work by Seth Godin. That was within the past couple of weeks. (Note: all links are to bookshop.org which supports local independent book stores, I don’t have an affiliate account.)

Spiritual

Feed your spirit with appropriate reading. I usually suggest January as a time to read the Proverbs from the Hebrew Bible. (Old Testament to most Christians) There are 31 chapters. Do a chapter a day for a month. Or perhaps the Christian book of James (another Wisdom writer). This year, I am reading an ancient Wisdom teacher from a different tradition–Tao Te Ching and Hua Hu Ching. It’s good to see how alike we all are in our pursuit of spiritual growth and peace. I mean all cultures and all epochs. From 5,000 years ago to current Wisdom literature, there is a steady current.

Stop, pause your busyness. Meditate and pray at least once per day. Maybe twice–morning and evening. Do this and after several months people will probably comment about how calm you have become. Trust me. That has been true for me. If you think this is too “foo-foo” for a manager or engineer, then I suggest the Dan Harris book (above). That is the story of a driven network news person who learned to slow down and probably saved his life in the process. Oh, while still excelling as a network news host and reporter.

Peace to you all for 2021.

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