January’s Hidden Gems

Margot Bishop

With the holiday season neatly over and the first weeks of winter under our belts, try for some hidden gems that are truly just for yourself. Not being selfish in a bad way but taking time for self. There is an old expression: every day, in every way, I am getting better and better. Try for those things that make you feel better about yourself. Do not try for big or impossible or impractical things. These types of goals seldom work and are often very discouraging when they fail, as they often do, through no fault of the person. That is why I never make New Year’s resolutions. I prefer the power of positive thinking. It is a lot more fun and encouraging and gives a great sense of self worth. A much better way to start a new year.

What things could be our hidden gems? What would we like to do for ourselves? Baby steps are better when trying something new. Start small, and if you really like the activity, then you can make bigger advances. Deciding something is not as interesting as it was when you started is easier to stop if you do not have a lot of effort put into it, and there is no shame in stopping something if you want to. After all, this is something for your self.

What to do? How about going for a walk? With the mild weather and no ice under foot, going for a walk around the block has been easier than in most Januarys. If there is a January thaw, it will pass, so take advantage of the weather while it lasts. If you do not like to walk alone, find a neighbour with a dog and offer to walk with them. Very quickly it will become a habit and something to look forward to.

Bird watching is a great pastime. Either Miners’ Marsh in Kentville or the Guzzle near Evangeline Beach are wonderful ‘birding’ spots. There are good field guides at the library, or use the internet to look up and identify the specimens that you see. It is a hobby that you can either do alone or with people in your bubble. With the good photos that can be taken with cell phones, you can capture your observations and then share and compare them with others. Just think, you might be the first person to observe a rare (or seldom seen in our area) species. How cool would that be?

Maybe learn a new skill. Knitting or crocheting or simple sewing projects are all fun ways to challenge yourself and add another accomplishment to your list of positives. Learn from a patient baker or cook, one or two simple-to-make but wonderful-to-eat dishes. Then wow your family and friends.

What about trying a new language? Not conversational or perfect grammar, but just a few words and phrases. It is fun and gets the brain working in a different way. It will help with memory retention also. Surprise and interest your family when you ask them for a cup of tea in Gaelic. My ancestors are Irish, French, and Flemish, maybe that is a good place to start? Or get a pen pal—what we used to call a person living in another country that we started a letter-writing relationship with. Now with so many nationalities living in the Valley, we have a perfect opportunity to get to know people from other cultures, but with the restrictions on meetings, maybe you will have to resort to the internet. Newcomers’ clubs are fun, but also are suspended from meeting just now. Check things out in your area.

You could start some seeds indoors. Many herbs are easy to grow in little pots on your windowsill. You could use a grow light and be as fancy as you want to be or just use a wide mouth jar and some cheesecloth and grow mung beans for your stir fry. Anything goes. If you cannot visit with fellow gardeners in person just now, visit on the phone or social media. All positive contacts with friends and family can and should be extended to those people that you do not see on a regular basis, but probably would love to hear from you.

There are computer tutorials and board game nights at most libraries. Check with your local library to find out about and register for some free classes or activities. There is even a recording studio upstairs at the Wolfville library. Board game nights are fun with the family as well or movies or card games.

All of this can help with early evenings and a sense of winter blues. I have also tried the only stand-up tanning booth in the Valley at The Golden Tan in New Minas. It is only $1/minute. Remember every day, each day is actually getting longer with more and more daylight. Spring is less than three months from now, less than 11 weeks, but there are things you can do this winter season, with help from your community’s recreation department. They lend equipment. Just call and find out what is available, and go from there. Yoga is good for you and fun. There are classes locally and it is also on TV. I have friends in the construction business, and also a couple of retired police officers, who say that they start their days with yoga. The regime has now become a way of life for them.

Remember to be pleasant during these trying times. A smile and a kind word will go a long way to cheer not only yourself but another person. St. Teresa (our lady of flowers), believed that it was the little things that mattered.

Sometimes the best things that we can do for ourselves are very simple but hard to do in our busy lives. Take time for yourself, read a book, have a nice soak in a bubble bath, have a nap, go for a walk, or sit back and do absolutely nothing at all. Positive thinking for your ‘self’. Another old expression comes from Shakespeare: to thine own self be true.

Please stay safe, wear your masks, sanitize your hands, and think good thoughts. We will get through this together. Positively.