Gerrad’s blog: Holiday countdown extravaganza

December 23, 2014

By Gerrad Downs

Gerrads slider - Dec

The holidays are upon us now, and probably in full swing. I know that by the time this post goes live, I’ll be on vacation for a week in Nova Scotia spending time with my in-laws, and I’m actually legitimately excited about that.

But that is not what this post is about, it’s about making those decisions that you’re scared about, and doing things just outside of what you’re comfortable with.

I have been spending the last few weeks working on cold calling schools to generate some interest in speaking, and that has been so far outside of my comfort zone it has been frightening, or at least it was at first. With a bit of practice, it’s become routine and I’m feeling a bit better about cold calls as I move into the new year. But it doesn’t necessarily take a big thing to push us outside of our comfort zones, a slight change in routine and we can be thrown off and taken by surprise, so my wife and I felt we needed to switch things up this year for the holidays and we headed out east to Nova Scotia for a change of pace.

This last year has been difficult for us, and as the year winds down, we find ourselves on the other side of things, taking stock and reflecting on how we did with everything. I decided the best way to take stock and reflect was to write down a list of all the things I want to do differently for the upcoming year, and recognizing some habits that don’t necessarily help me out, or impeded my ability to live presently. These aren’t bad or good habits, just things that didn’t work for me. So without further ado, here is my very clichéd, very New-Year’s-holiday-countdown-of-changes-to-routine I am going to make for 2015.

5. I discovered a new passion: sports themed paintings. In the last couple of months of 2014, I’ve been painting sports logos, because I love hockey and baseball (among other sports), and I’ve always been interested in doing something with that. The more I do, the better I seem to be getting good at it. This seems like a good fit. I’ve done resolutions before that seemed to have gone nowhere. I was learning guitar, and plateaued after about two months of YouTube videos and semi-regular practice. I wasn’t able to find time for lessons or know anyone who had free time to practice with, so my interest waned and my guitar started to collect dust. However, painting has gotten its neon claws into me, and I’m enjoying practicing with new techniques and even getting good at it. It also helps that my wife and brother-in-law both have an extensive background in visual arts, so I have some fantastic support from them.

4. Fewer video games. For me, video games have been a comfortable escape, especially after growing up with Nintendo (both regular and Super) and PlayStation, so it’s something that has been with me for a while. They have been a nice way for me to relax and unwind, but I have seem to have fallen into a routine where that’s the only thing I do. I’ll be changing that up.

3. Going off the last one, I’m going to be more active. There seems to be this cliché that all New Year’s resolutions revolve around getting into shape and working out, but this is different — I swear! I was an avid runner, and I haven’t been in that routine, and if there is one thing that I find that eases my mind, it’s the routine.

2. Simple: read more. I have had four books on the go for the last year, and now they’re just waiting to be finished. I am inclined to say that this also falls under a routine-type goal. I’ve already started to make it a routine to read a bit each night before I go to bed, and I’m going to finish those books, and then keep it going. I’m taking recommendations.

1. Continue to be present. Of course I need to finish with something poignant. The whole list is a reminder for me to shake off old habits that have been pulling me away from others, and pushing myself to do something greater. It’s so easy to become solitary, ignore the rest of the world, and limit your experiences. One thing I’m looking forward to on my holiday trip (besides spending time with family) is going to see the Bay of Fundy, one of the seven natural wonders of North America, and a place that I’ve always read about but never actually been to. I’m finally getting to see it. The best part is this is something my wife and I hadn’t planned either. We just said “let’s go out east and see what happens.” It’s scary because it’s a gamble, but it’s when you don’t know what is going to happen that wonderful things can occur.

So, dear readers, take the time this holiday to look back and find new things to do this year, and don’t be afraid to make the changes you want to.

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