Winter is Coming
My husband saw this and messaged me immediately because I’ve been dreading winter since May. It’s ridiculous, I know, to worry that far in advance, but hear me out.
The COVID second wave is likely, which means heightened anxiety, and also, more COVID. The allure of quarantine life will likely have waned. Everyone you know will have sniveling noses and barking coughs, and no one will distinguish between a winter cold, seasonal allergies, a reaction to the terrible air quality from the fires, or worse.
And, we will all be indoors, with nowhere to go, breathing recycled air, snow falling, dropping temperatures, no end in sight. I’m picturing a Shining situation — basically, a lot of us losing our sh*t. Oh, plus an election cycle, so some of us won’t be able to hold it together for that reason alone.
So, let’s get proactive, shall we? The time is now. Put a reminder on your calendar: You have two weeks to complete the list. Don’t delay, or you’ll get caught in the holiday shuffle, and next time you look up, it will be 2021.
Read this in its entirety, bookmark it, and tackle each step, one-by-one this week and next. That way, before the Halloween, full moon, turn the clocks back situation (insert maniacal laugh here because you probably weren’t yet dreading that day), you’ll be safe, cozy, winter-prepped, and ready for anything. Well, not anything; we aren’t tempting fate now, are we?
Oh, and as the original article points out, if money is tight or you are already feeling maxed out on time and resources, deep breaths and plan anyway. I know it’s tough, but I’m a big proponent of planning, even if you don’t know how to execute, even if it seems out of reach, or in less than ideal circumstances.
We’ve got to reinforce the habit of making the best of it, and often our subconscious knows how to do things our conscious mind can’t, and the universe has our back.
Parents, you’ve likely stocked up on OTC meds and first-aid supplies, but revisit your stash. Don’t forget tissue, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, school supplies, printer ink, or paper. And if you’ve been putting off ordering new laptops, the prices will likely drop again momentarily, before spiking again closer to Christmas.
Do you know about Dealsea and Woot? While not perfect, because the deals last for about two seconds, and if you aren’t vigilant, you’ll miss them, when it works, or you happen to be staring at your phone as an alert pops up, you can pick up big-ticket items for insane prices. Don’t obsess, but try it. Who knew laptops fluctuated by a few hundred dollars daily?
Don’t underestimate saving on the big stuff. Everything is negotiable, and the recommended retail price is a thing of the past. The resale and upcycle markets are too hot for that.
Next, schedule any outstanding checkups or annual wellness exams, spend against this year’s health insurance deductibles to maximize your benefits, and flu shots for everyone. Don’t overlook vitamins, glasses or contacts, and perhaps a dental visit.
Hire a coach (heeeeey!), find a therapist, or at minimum, buy an inspiring journal, and download the Calm app.
If you have space, get a chest freezer, and fill it up with staples. If you don’t, clean and organize your pantry, or takeover a coat closet, and choose shelf-stable foods instead. Pick up a few comfort items and essentials at Costco or Sams, like hot cocoa, coffee, tea, flour, pasta, canned fruit and vegetables, and rice. (It’s not about hoarding, and it doesn’t undermine the principles of abundance).
Look at your calendar for the balance of the year. First, drop in all important dates, occasions, deadlines, and reminders. Next, prioritize them. Pick 3–5 max that matter most to you and the family, and reverse engineer them, so you hit home runs.
We often take on too much, when typically, if we orchestrate a few key moments, it sets the right tone for everything else. Simplify. Eliminate distractions. Focus on what matters. Knock it out of the park.
While you are at it, plan for the holidays and any 4th quarter birthdays or anniversaries now. Order gifts, outfits, party supplies, etc., well before the holiday window to avoid markups, expedited shipping, and out-of-stock issues.
By the way, if you were thinking of doing family photos this year, hustle, or you won’t get them back in time for your cards. If not, no big deal; this is the year for candid shots.
If you have a big family, a fully packed schedule, or both, meal planning will help. I know! I resisted for years too. It’s not sexy, but now that I’ve given in, it does make life so much easier. Rotate the breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and even snacks that your family loves, which are easy to throw together, making Instacart and meals a breeze. For example, we do poke bowls twice/week. Kids are happy, parents are happy, and they are nutritious too.
If you aren’t going to the gym because of high-risk family members, find one outdoor and one indoor workout that can be your go-to no excuses favorites for at least 90 days. Schedule your physical time and track your progress. Streaks and results can be very motivating.
Check coats, gloves, hats, boots (my son’s feet grew how much?!) before there’s a mad rush on winter gear. Don’t give your kids all the overwhelming options. Instead, do you want blue or green boots, gloves or mittens, snow pants, or a snowsuit?
Have you checked your windows, your furnace, your flashlights, your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? What about your tires, windshield fluid, and ice scrapers?
Then, if you haven’t DIY’d a mudroom, entrance locker/armoire storage solution, you have time. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and there are hundreds of inspiring photos on Houzz and Pinterest.
Hang some decorative hooks, shelves with decorative storage, chests, cubbies, or any organizational system will work. Make it easy for the kiddos, and it will save your sanity and theirs not to be scrambling, hunting for the match, and stepping over piles by the front door.
While you’re at it, create a cozy room or cozy area in your house, a quiet space where the family can retreat for alone time, snuggle time, reading time, or rest. Oversize furniture, lamps, throw blankets, a soft rug, and maybe a small fountain or candle can set the mood.
You don’t have to buy anything new. Repurpose things from around your home, pairing them differently, or mixing it up. It’s good to have a new fresh feeling when the seasons change. Along those lines, have you smudged lately? You might try that after a deep clean.
Review your work-from-home configuration and audit your learn-from-home arrangement. Do you have the right tech? Is your connectivity working out? Can you order another router, a booster, or plug in directly? Do you need stylus pens, headphones, mics, or webcams? What about lighting, desks, or chairs? Any incremental improvements will boost productivity. Maybe set some micro-goals that help your mindset while you’re at it.
Does each person have a dedicated device? Are the passwords and login information saved? Are all the apps downloaded, and do you have a clipboard with essential details and scheduling nearby? Do the kids know the teachers’ preferences and expectations? Do the teachers know the same for the kids? What about you and your boss, colleagues, clients, or team? Are you all on the same page?
Make a wish list or vision board to remain focused. On Fridays, for example, we research a destination that’s on our bucket list. We watch a couple of travel videos, learn about food, culture, attractions, etc. It’s like a pretend vacation that reminds us the world is a big, beautiful place that we want to explore again (someday).
Sometimes, it’s just a list of books we want to read (do you know about the free Libby app?), movies or shows we want to watch, or enrolling in a new course that looks amazing. Stuff to keep us engaged and anticipating the future. Sometimes, it’s activities that will help, like cleaning out all the closets, purging all the baby stuff, updating the photos, organizing our inboxes, hiking all the trails, or reevaluating our budget.
According to Vice, ask yourself:
Is there anything you can do now to feel a little less anxious about (gestures tiredly) everything?
Look, if there’s something you’ve been putting off — making a will, coming out to your family, getting a printer, registering to vote — maybe do it ASAP, in relatively OK times.
We must capitalize in “relatively OK times.” When we are tired, freaked out, sad, under pressure, or scared (especially scared), or not in OK times, it’s challenging to make good decisions or muster the drive to take on anything extra.
With a little extra time and daylight now, go outdoors. Breathe deeply. Get your heart rate up. Watch the sunrise or set. Notice the trees. Appreciate the changing seasons. Count your blessings.
Don’t binge Netflix, stare at a screen, or scroll absentmindedly. Soon enough, we will be trapped indoors and you can catch up on your shows, read all the books, read all the blogs, catch up on everything you’ve bookmarked. Now is the time for doing.
Doing doesn’t mean busy for the sake of busy. Doing can be intentional. It can be a means to an end. It can be a way to clear the head, make progress, and create a better future. Do in the spirit of the energy you want to put out there.
If it’s easier to understand from the opposite vantage point: the energy with which we do something infuses the outcome, so focus on the high-vibe feelings of the result, and channel that energy accordingly.
How to Think Differently About Long-Term Goals
I wrote this sitting under our maple tree — Happy Fall!
Lastly, make a community outreach plan. Think about how you’ll connect with your personal and professional communities, neighbors, friends, and extended family. Maybe you send a weekly newsletter or do a weekly live.
Maybe you text your Top 10 once a week. Perhaps set up a private FB group, enjoy a running Marco Polo chat, or ask your kids to create original art for the grandparents and great grandparents each month. Do what works for you to spread the love, not the germs.
A gentle reminder to fill your cup, to replenish your reserves. You don’t always have to give. You can ask for what you need too, or simply reach out to chat.
Take time for those you love, take time for your family, take time for yourself — it’s food for the soul, especially in winter.