Welcome to November! The temperature is shifting to cooler weather; the days are getting shorter; pumpkin spice is beginning to shift to more holiday-inspired fare. Most importantly, we are nearing the end of this cycle around the sun. Another year come and gone.
For this November, I’ve decided to do a bit of a mental, physical and spiritual reboot. Let’s discuss!
For the entire month of November, I have pledged to:
- have no judgement towards others (or myself!)
- no alcohol/drugs
- eat more healthily
These are the three principles of the challenge. Now of the three, the no alcohol/drugs is a cinch – I barely drink and don’t use drugs. Eating more healthily is a bit trickier, but one of the main reasons that I have taken on this challenge. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve come to realize that I have been more indulgent than I should be, given my status as a Type-1 diabetic. Occasional cookies, and donuts, and chips, and ice cream, and pop… became more regular than occasional. I’m not going to be too hard on myself on this point; we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and whether we realize it or not, are all suffering through trauma from it. I use food to deal with my trauma. So my challenge for November is to cut out all junk food (chips, pop, chocolate, candy, etc.), to not eat at any fast food burger joints, to not order pizza, and to be more conscious of my portions. It’s a good challenge, for sure.
The biggest challenge though comes in the form of holding no judgement over others, or over myself. Stop and think to yourself – how many times a day do you consciously, or unconsciously, judge what someone else has done or said? And how about what you have done or said? I’m sure none of you have ever been out during this pandemic and seen someone walking around with their mask under their nose and thought to yourself, “C’mon…wearing a mask isn’t exactly rocket science,” or something of the like? As a western society, we have been ingrained on judging what others do to the point that it’s entirely unconscious most of the time. Did you ever look someone over and wonder what they were thinking when they picked out their outfit? Did you see someone in line in the grocery store who was of the larger persuasion, and noticed that their cart was full of chips, pop, ice cream, and frozen dinners and thought, “no wonder you’re that size”? Just a few examples. Can I go an entire month without judging others? I’ve already noticed myself missing this objective on a couple of days this month. But that’s the entire point for me. I’m noticing the judgement. That is the first step towards changing that mental pathway. I’m noticing the judgement and not judging myself for doing it.
In addition to these three items, the goal is to do at least five additional items from the following list each day. It doesn’t have to be the same five items every day; rather you can do as many of these as you choose each day how ever many times over the course of the month.
- Drink 2 liters of water
- No social media for a day
- Meditation / relaxation for 30 minutes
- Reading for 30 minutes
- Listen to an audio book / podcast for 30 minutes
- Move – be physically active for 30 minutes
- Journaling for 30 minutes
- Do a good deed
- Consciously take a day of rest and do nothing
- Get a massage or other treatment
- Yoga for 30 minutes
- Clean the house for 30 minutes
- Yardwork/gardening for 30 minutes
- Make a significant mental switch
- Be creative (write, draw, colour, etc.) for 30 minutes
Imagine that – if you were to do only the three “mandatory” items a day, then you’d have done 90 consciously good things for yourself over the course of a month. If you do the three and add in five extra items per day, that’s 240 good actions in a month. All geared towards you! How much good would that do for your body? For your mind? For your soul? This challenge is intended to make you be more conscious of what you are doing, thinking, and eating. We are so often on auto-pilot that we aren’t aware of our actions or thoughts.
François had launched a challenge that was going to be run from September 11 – October 11. I joined along in September and did the first week or so before realizing that my wife and I were going to be on vacation in Quebec City for a week smack dab in the middle of the challenge. (More on that in a coming blog post.) Given what the intent of the challenge was, this became a quandary. Knowing full well that I would be indulging more than usual while we were traveling, it did not make sense for me to do the first 2/3 of the challenge, pause for 7-10 days, then resume. Instead, I opted to wait and do the challenge throughout November.
I’m one week in, and holding strong. My intention is that once November is over, I’ve ingrained some of these habits so that I will not just resume my previous pattern. No, I will not continue to cut out all junk food, desserts, and treats, particularly with Christmas just around the corner, but I will be more mindful of what food choices I am making.