29 gifts

Every January, my slightly-above-average whining abilities grow to superhuman, x-men mutant power strength.

This year’s self-pity key messages include: “Christmas is over,” “I’m exhausted,” “that wasn’t a real vacation,” “I’m sick,” “I’m overweight,” “our 113-year-old house is draughty,” “my arms aches from shovelling,” and the classic “there are three long months of winter to go.” Blurgh. Cough. Sigh.

When I was 12, my mom rarely let me spend more than 10 minutes being surly and grumbly. As soon as she heard a complaint or sniffle, she started singing this song:

So, with the grouch anthem bouncing around in my skull, I’ve decided that instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’m going to:

  1. Focus on the positive. Like my friend Kristin, who keeps reminding me of life’s gifts.
  2. Cleanse. JF and I are officially off wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine and booze for two weeks.
  3. Clean the house. I’m obsessively tidy, but the place hasn’t been scrubbed down since early December.
  4. Exercise. I’ve bought some purple shoes. Now I have to use them.
Purple, adidas running shoes - squeaky clean

My new, squeaky clean runners. Talk about incentive!

To start thinking positively, I’m emulating a former colleague. On her birthday, she makes a list of highlights from the year gone by – with one bullet for every year she’s been in the world. Here’s my new year take on her tradition.

In 2013 I…

  1. Finally achieved my dearest wish: slowing down and moving back to Simcoe County
  2. Discovered that for good friends, the road from Elmvale to Toronto (and vice-versa) isn’t so long
  3. Celebrated eight years with a handsome, kind and smart man
  4. Bought a big, beautiful, draughty house
  5. Cleared said house of wallpaper
  6. Watched the sun rise over the north rim of the Grand Canyon
  7. Accompanied one of my dearest friends down the aisle
  8. Gained a “new” car and travel buddy
  9. Celebrated my sister’s engagement to an amazing person
  10. Hiked to the highest point in Zion National Park in excellent company
  11. Had a great time making ugly clay bowls at the Gardiner Museum
  12. Joined a book club
  13. Performed with two great choirs – I even did a small solo
  14. Grew my hair long
  15. Explored Ontario on weekend trips with JF
  16. Planted a lilac tree in my own garden, to honour mémère
  17. Went on a wine and pizza-fuelled road trip with college friends
  18. Took a graphic design course at OCAD
  19. Took on some exciting new volunteer roles
  20. Found a great (and local!) job
  21. Started a blog
  22. Had my avo over for dinner for the first time ever
  23. Saw my dad finally find true love
  24. Rode the barf-inducing Polar Express at the Elmvale Fall Fair
  25. Hosted a few good parties
  26. Flew to New York with some great people
  27. Discovered lululemon tights
  28. Had the Rebelo cousins (age 8 to 25) over for the weekend
  29. Got and decorated my first Christmas tree

Reading this list banishes all of that whiny goop from my heart and reminds me that I really am tremendously, astoundingly lucky.

If you’ve got the early winter blues, I recommend blessing-counting. It works just as well as your granny promised.