Get Up, Dress Up, and Show Up

Today I survived my annual bus stop cold weather initiation. It is a miserable, personal tradition that happens every year around this time. There’s one cold and windy (north wind, obvs) day  where I’m on time to catch a bus that is unfortunately early. Fuck. Okay, I’ll wait for the next bus. It’s rush hour so the next one should arrive in ten minutes. Totally not that long to wait. Twenty minutes later I’m freezing, warmed only by the fires of my growing impatience, still waiting because the next bus is late. I’m chilled and annoyed so I climb onto the first bus I see. An express. The bus meanders its way out of downtown, filling up with an ungodly amount of commuters. I’m squashing down any feelings of claustrophobia because there is no way I am getting off of this bus until it’s at my stop. Twenty minutes later, there’s a mass exodus of people streaming out the back door. My foot gets stepped on and someone smacks their backpack into my face. But I’m halfway home and all I have to do is wait a couple minutes for my transfer bus – except it came and went already. Leaving me with a 25 minute wait. Awesome. I spend these 25 minutes watching a series of slow buses drive by across the street, stubbornly refusing to get on one because at this point that would mean giving in. A student at the bus stop, also not dressed for the weather, asks me if I know when the U of M bus is coming. I check the app and pass along the bad news that her bus isn’t coming for twenty minutes either. She looks at me and says sadly “But I’m really cold.” As am I. I have lost feeling in most of my fingers and some of my toes. I’m not impatient or annoyed anymore – I’ve settled into acceptance. I may never be warm again. Finally the bus shows up and I sit down for a few minutes to warm up. I power-walk the 2 minutes from the bus stop to the house, unlocking the door without any sort of dexterity. The cat comes to say hi so I scoop him up to warm my hands. He doesn’t appreciate this.
The funny thing about my bus ordeal is that they are oddly invigorating. It’s a big shock to the system. Which I think I’ve needed. October doldrums have been hitting me hard this year. They sneak up on me every year around this time. It could be the cloudiness, the temperature dropping or the realization that winter will inevitably be upon us, but I have been struggling to get out of bed and to function in general. I try to figure out the cause – it’s probably that I’m too busy. I might need some me time and a long weekend to put me back to normal. Maybe it’s my diet. I’ll start taking a multivitamin and make sure I get more fruits and veggies in my diet. After a while though it becomes clear that I’m in a slump. And I think the problem is that I forget how to winter.
The problem with being in a slump is that it becomes so hard to push yourself out of it. It doesn’t help that both Mike and I have been sick. It’s tiring enough to get through the work day when you’re feeling ill, never mind trying to actively cheer yourself up.  Every time I go out of the house, it takes actual mental effort to do it. My inner monologue is a variation of: “Go, it will be fun. You LIKE this person. They’ll probably even cheer you up. Just put your pants on and go.” Eventually after procrastinating as long as possible, I drag myself from my warm, blanketed couch-fort and venture out. As I was looking for ways to motivate myself, I came across someone’s advice. Get up, dress up, and show up. So I’m going to keep it simple and keep saying that mantra to myself. And for the days that I don’t get out of the house, I’m back into knitting. I’ve already made a small blanket. My next project should be mittens – at least if I’m not leaving the house today, I can prepare myself for tomorrow.
If you feel like it, I’d love to hear how you’re doing at this time of year. You can reach me on Twitter, Instagram or leave a comment here. Stay warm, friends.

Shine On You Crazy Crab

Over the last couple of years I’ve spent many hours listening to various podcasts. One of my favorites is Call Your Girlfriend with Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. The podcast itself is well worth listening to, a mix of pop culture, current women’s issues and fun, but the reason I bring it up is because of something they call Shine Theory. The Shine Theory philosophy is ‘I don’t shine if you don’t shine.’ The basic premise is that for various reasons, women can be intimidated by other successful women. This intimidation stems from insecurity and fear, causing us to behave in less-than-nice ways to each other. We start thinking that the only way to win is to be the only woman in the room. What Friedman argues is that instead of giving into the urge to dislike or compete with other successful women, we should actively seek them out and befriend them. The more successful women we surround ourselves with, the more motivated we will be. I love this idea. My own girlfriends are a constant source of inspiration. Every time that I come away from hanging out with them, I feel energized and focused. I’m fortunate to have a lot of smart, funny, and successful women in my life. I do get those moments of insecurity when I compare myself to one of them. Sometimes I go so far as to wonder why exactly they’re spending time with me. The best way to shake these feelings off are to refocus on how happy I am for their successes. It’s much more fun to live vicariously through them as they celebrate their achievements.

What does all this have to do with Winnipeg? After reading about Shine Theory, I started thinking about the idea in general. This philosophy can apply at any level. How about locally? Winnipeggers have a crab in the bucket mentality. As in if I can’t have it, neither can you. There’s a kind of low level negativity that feeds off of mediocrity. This attitude is toxic and prevalent. It’s incredibly frustrating. Read any news comments section about The Museum of Human Rights, downtown revitalization, or any other positive local initiative. Workers who want more pay or benefits are told they should be satisfied with what they have. Businesses shouldn’t have any tax breaks because they might be too successful. Even on your daily commute, drivers try to prevent other cars from passing them. And to what end? This attitude doesn’t help anyone. Ultimately it hurts all of us. The more preoccupied we are with dragging other folks down, the less energy we save for making positive change. What we should be doing is recognizing that we all want to see our community work harder, do more and ultimately become better. No, you don’t have to support all things all of the time. If you don’t support a particular goal, then offer constructive criticism. Develop alternatives. Create options. Make your own mark. It is no one else’s job to make you happy and satisfied with your life or your community. That is up to you. If we get past the pettiness and insecurity, we can spend our time helping both ourselves and our city to shine brighter. The more that we support change-makers, the more positive the impact. As we inspire and support each other we can keep growing into a city to be proud of.

This is all well and great, but how can this be applied? After all we can’t all be Chipmans, Aspers, or Bulmans, leaving an obvious (and expensive) stamp on the city. We can start small though. One way to show support for local businesses is using the Local Frequency app. Whenever you make a purchase with cash or debit, the business can scan your app. 3% of your transaction will go towards your Local Points. The cash stays within our local economy while you save money. It’s free to download so there’s no additional cost to you. And while you’re at it, the list of businesses can also function as a road map to cool local places that you wouldn’t necessarily know about. Together we can fight the crab mentality. When someone signals to get in your lane, let them in. You’ll help them to get where they want to go.