On Topic: January sucked, but February doesn’t have to

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

It’s February already — I know, hard to believe.

After a tumultuous 2020 — the first month of the new year was anything but relaxing. I propose we do something about that this month.

I don’t like goals, they stress me out, so we’re going to set ground rules instead — words to live by in the second chapter of 2021. These are just a few that came to mind, if there’s a rule you’d like to set for this month, let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

  1. No uprisings, insurrections, or attempts to overthrow anything — anywhere

Let’s go a whole month without violently storming a government building, mmk? I feel like we must have gotten that out of our system. Do you know that happened on the 6th of January, and not 3 years ago even though that’s how it feels? I think this is certainly an easy one to follow, but hey — I never thought it would happen in the first place, so what do I know.

2. Love more

Valentines day is exactly that — a day — but I feel like we all need a bit more love than 24 hours of flowers and chocolates can offer us.

Even if you don’t have someone you can show constant affection, there are other ways to love. You can love someone’s ideas. You can love someone’s artwork, or writing, or music. You can love the fact that someone held the door for you at the gym even though you were much to far away for them to have even considered waiting. You can love the meal you’re eating for dinner, or the smoothie you made for breakfast.

Most importantly, you can love yourself. It’s the easiest act of love. It costs nothing. It doesn’t take any extra time out of your day. It doesn’t bother anyone else.

3. Appreciate a culture other than your own

And go out of your way to do it.

It’s Black History Month, but if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that many Americans need much more than the next 28 days to catch up on the history around them.

A small example which shows just how easy this will be for you. I was in the barbershop getting my haircut over the weekend. The owner of the shop always has something different on the TV which sits centered on the back wall. Sometimes it’s Tarantino, sometimes it’s Seinfeld — but on this particular Saturday, it was a Netflix documentary about Latin American cuisine.

I was there long enough to see the better part of two episodes, the second of which truly pulled at my heart.

A woman in Salvador, Brazil married young with a dream of becoming a chef. Her husband had very little to his name — but that didn’t bother her — all she needed was him.

She would cook for the two of them, nothing more. Then, he got a construction job in a bigger city. She went with him, and was asked by the men in charge if she could cook for a group of about 50 workers, every single day. She had never cooked at that scale before, but accepted the challenge because it brought her closer to her dream. After weeks of shopping and cooking and serving dozens of people — it was time for her to get paid — but the men who hired her left her with nothing.

Heartbroken — she continued on.

She had her husband, she had her life, she had her dream.

Now I know that doesn’t quite sound like educating myself on another culture, but you didn’t see the food that she made. Damn. I was dreaming of tamales and black bean fritters at 10 A.M. — neither of which I’ve ever had.

Her story also represents one rarely found in the circle I grew up in here in New York. One of struggle and persistence. A story I would not have heard had I not been exposed to a documentary I likely would not have ever clicked on myself.

Seek out someone who lives a different life, and learn from them. I promise they have something to teach you.

4. Drink more water

Possibly the easiest rule to follow.

Avoid purified water (trust me) — I prefer something sparkling myself.

Add a flavor — or don’t

Whatever you need to do, just do it — you’ll feel better, I promise.

5. Be patient

2021 has to be better than 2020 — it has to be. But so far, it doesn’t feel like it is. I ask for your patience — both for your sake, and mine. Things will get better. Just be patient. You will be happier. Just be patient. Good things will come, bad things will go. The sun will shine, even if its rays fall on two feet of snow (an impending storm may be on my mind.)

Just give it time.

Finally…

6. Do more of what makes you happy

Reading. Writing. Playing video games. Exercising. Coloring. Shopping. Cuddling. Watching TV. Cleaning. Sleeping. Knitting. Doing Puzzles. Painting. Photography. Volunteering.

Whatever it is, do it.

If you have any ground rules you’ve set for yourself this month, let me know.

As always, thank you for reading.

Until next time.

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