I remember when I was praised for being such a ‘polite little girl.’ Older aunts, uncles, family friends and my parent’s coworkers admiring my practiced inquisition as to how they were, or the eye contact and smile that were just second nature when it came to responding with manners when spoken to. I was taught manners as though it were a religion of its own. Sit up straight, don’t chew with your mouth open and be polite. Those were the rules. They were simple and clear. You don’t ignore someone who is speaking to you, say please and thank you, don’t interrupt anyone and treat people nicely. That’s what being polite is. It’s being nice.
Today, in a society so rarely face-to-face we’re forgetting to be nice. We’re defensive and suspicious, blocking out the world with headphones and commanding our attention away from those around us in our everyday lives. Rush hours of subways and buses crammed with people have their silence broken only by the squeal of the tracks or the dispersed chatter of groups of companions. Strangers brush arms and bump into one another as their jostled against the movement of the transit, but they keep their eyes glued to the floor, a phone, an advertisement on the wall or just stare, a dead-eyed stare at nothing at all. We shift uncomfortably under the gaze of anyone who looks at us and sometimes straight up ignore that rare person who tries to initiate conversation. As a woman, I’m guilty of not only ignoring a guy who tries to get my attention, but also going as far as to relocate myself to put distance between myself and the possible threat. That’s what people have become to us: threats or inconveniences. Instead of being polite first, we’ve gotten into the habit of being stand-offish and skeptical.
It’s hard to break this habit though, and it’s questionable if we’ll ever be able to revive this dying trend of politeness. We’re a society that’s become impersonal. Connections are made online, dates organized via text, jobs applied to over email, interviewers following the initial googling of a candidate’s name. We’re forgetting that to be polite isn’t meant to be flirtation. To hold a door open for someone isn’t the first step in courtship, it’s being considerate. Replying to someone and affording them your full attention isn’t a green light for romantic advancements, it’s being a decent human being.
I want to find the little girl who knew the difference without hesitation. Who not only understood what it meant to be polite but did it unconsciously, without fear of making a social faux pas. I want to be nice again.
I’m a morning person. Rise and shine. Early bird gets the worm. Good morning sunshine!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my sleep, but the minute I drag myself out of my pillow haven, I’ve started my daily break-up with my bed. That warm, inviting, never resentful bed – We have a fantastic relationship. Some may argue to ‘keep the dream alive…hit the snooze button,’ but I’m all about worshipping the non-committed relationship with my bed where we strictly sleep together. Those years of noon wake-up calls are long gone and I’ve adopted the old habits of the old. Moderately early nights and earlier mornings. Sleep is cradled like a forgotten nostalgia and I appreciate the nights when I can curl up with a book and make it a page in before my eye lids droop.
Waking early has awarded me with fantastic habits and a more-than-forgiving attitude to the world in the wee hours of the day. Weather permitting, (cut me some slack, I live in Canada), I get my run in first thing in the morning, get my dog out to burn some energy, have a hot shower and eat a real breakfast that doesn’t consist of timbits or cold, left-over pizza.
I haven’t always been so prone to early rising, and the habits of full-time work definitely helped to reinforce the rise and shine mood, but anyone can make the transition. One of my biggest secrets is my aversion to the snooze button. I know, its large surface area on most clocks is very tempting and those pillows and sheets that are perfectly molded to your body aren’t helping, but bypassing that seductress is key.
Having a life in the morning is something I committed to years ago and has stuck. Each time my alarm goes off I remind myself of that commitment and remember how much better of a person it has made me. I’m kinder to strangers, more welcoming to coworkers and happier to tackle my job. All commitments I am making this year need to hold this same dedication. Like waking early, the things I am promising to appreciate, value and do are sometimes a struggle, but can reward me with so much happiness. It’s all worth it. It’s better to not snooze.
Cheers to a year of keeping track.
Twenty one days. That’s how long it supposedly takes to create a habit. This blog is at the seven day mark, my nail biting has been a solid 24 years and yoga, twenty days!
For the past few years I’ve fallen off the wagon, climbed back on, slipped again, and so on. This is the longest, uninterrupted stretch I’ve lasted for in this daily routine. Let me explain something vitally important here. I suck(!) at yoga. I get uncomfortable in most poses, I need constant reminder to breathe and when people instruct me to smile through the movement, I look like I’m snarling. Practice, whether at home or in the studio, is something I need to coax myself into and it takes more willpower than I care to admit to not leave my mat and sob in the corner due to my sad lack of flexibility. At twenty days I still need pep talks and reassurance that I’m getting somewhere.
I don’t believe in this twenty one day nonsense. Waking up tomorrow with the sudden, vigorous need to do some Vinyasa, isn’t going to happen. Getting yourself to do better isn’t easy, and there’s never a definite cut-off to when you don’t need to work as hard at it. I force myself into awkward body twists and stretches because there is a calmness to the practice that I strive for in my life and the health benefits are undeniable.
The things that we work the hardest for in life are the greatest of our accomplishments.
Back to the mat I go.
Cheers to a year of keeping track.