The month of September is like December and June: fast-paced schedules and jam-packed with action. September is also the sign of a new year (more so than January, for me). Perhaps it’s the “back to school” feeling that stays with us since we were kids. Even though I’m no longer in school and neither are my children, the feeling never really leaves. In many ways, it’s a time of new beginnings.
With new beginnings and the transition from summer, I’ve concluded there truly is no graceful entry into September. For many years, I approached it with a mindset that I was going to conquer it: to be super organized and not let the “back at it” take over. I was determined to change chaos to calm and roll with it. With planned lists, personal/business/family calendars, and business projects underway, my family watched in the sidelines (eager for my goal to be successful), but my attempts never worked. Schedules and commitments were what they always were: if we were lucky it reached controlled chaos.
So this year, after some time off at the cottage this summer, I decided to embrace the “ungracefulness” of September and focus on what I could control. For me, the most key, critical item is how I treat my body through the demands of “back to school” season, which at this stage of life is simply “back at it”. With the percolating in my mind, I listened to a podcast late August that involved Tim Ferris and Maria Sharapova, which coincidentally provided added motivation and structure to my thought process. At points in Tim’s interview with Maria, she commented on the demands of her schedule, and how she moves through it and realizes where she “has to and needs to” be at certain times in both her professional and personal life. She speaks about elements that ground her, and the energy she focuses on expending with relationships around her. Although a lengthy pod cast, there were parts that resonated with me.
As I sketched out “what I could control” notes, here is what I concluded about September, and chose to put into action:
- Sleep: I know from experience that I am no good to anyone when I am short on sleep. Sure I can handle the odd night here and there with a shorter run – but for the most part, to be on my game I need 8-9 hours. I noted the time I would have to start my day the next morning and worked backwards. I even set my iPhone to remind me 30 minutes before I needed to head to bed.
- Wine: No – not more wine! Rather, while I love “3 sips of wine” each night in my tub, I also know 3 sips can turn into a full glass very quickly. And, although a glass can be relaxing and support falling asleep quickly, it can also interrupt a good night’s sleep. I didn’t want to wake up with a groggy feeling, so I decided to limit enjoyment of wine to weekends only, and to avoid it from Sunday to Thursday. My 3 sips of wine in the tub have now become a glass of San Pellegrino in a wine glass, and it has been fantastic!
- Meditation: We need time to breathe, and it only takes 10 minutes first thing in the morning. This has been and continues to be my daily ritual (see Freedom of a Quiet Mind for how I get into morning meditation). Morning meditation sets the stage for the start of my day, and it is essential.
- Caffeine: Who doesn’t love morning coffee? It’s the first thing I do to start my day, but one cup usually leads to another, which then leads to an afternoon cup (followed by the mid-afternoon lag…). I do love a morning coffee, but I’ve limited my caffeine intake to just that one cup when I wake up – and it’s not even a mug size! I instead opt for a cafe size and a single shot. Once my first cup is over, the next beverage is hot water with half of a freshly squeezed lemon. It satisfies the need to drink something hot, lends a refreshing kick, but spares a jolt of caffeine (which can cause increased heart rate and interrupt a good night’s sleep).
- Water: I’ve always been conscious of drinking a lot of water, and even more so now. I have been making myself a jug of diffused water before bed (so it’s ready in the morning). I love using cucumber, lime, and fresh mint – it’s invigorating and helps me stay hydrated during the day.
- Liquid Mint Chlorophyll: My daily detox! I’ve used liquid chlorophyll for some time and make it my daily mid-afternoon drink. Instead of an afternoon cup of coffee, I have my water with 1 Tablespoon of mint flavoured liquid chlorophyll. It has many benefits and is also my afternoon pick-me-up.
- Exercise: We need it – no excuses! My programmed workouts (from Geoff my trainer, more at Sweat it Out) are a must. After the day of meetings or racing around, my work out centres and energizes me. On alternate days, I will go for a walk or a bike ride in the evening. Having our family pet, Chloe, is a perfect reason to get out and walk each day. She’s the best companion you can ask for especially after a challenging day. She listens intently and does not provide any comments back – only her love!
- Stretch: By the end of summer, I needed a massage. In the meantime, a great stretch to my body, or using a body roller on tight muscles for 10 minutes before bed does wonders. With a few extra minutes, I will do a couple of simple yoga moves as well. It is incredibly relaxing and improves circulation just before bed, meaning your body is lest restless.
- Food: Last but not least, is what I am eating. Although our family practices (for the most part) a plant-based eating regime, sugar still creeps in. I considered doing a “re-set” in the form of a cleanse, but instead decided to mainly focus on refined sugar intake. I have eliminated it as much as possible, as well as gluten. We have also adopted making our own sprouts. It’s super easy and so healthy to top off a gluten free sandwich or salad with. All of these choices have done wonders for my digestive system and vitality.
I’m now into my third week, and with the exception of Book Club night and Paige’s birthday, I’ve stayed true to “what I could control”. I feel energized, and thankfully not overwhelmed (…so far!).
Just as this stage in life is about embracing graceful moments, seizing our September is about finding a little more grace in the chaos. Go easy on yourself, and choose to control what you can while enjoying the privilege of having plenty to do. Why? Because we can!
You can pick up your Chlorophyl, Sprouting Jar and Seeds at either Vita Health or your local health food store
Denise is wearing Lorna Jane lifestyle wear
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