Break the ice.

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It’s winter.

There’s a news flash for you.

But I like stating it just like that — as a fact. As in, this is what the calendar says.

You can probably scroll through your Facebook feed and read the commentary about what the cold means to certain people. Screen shots of subzero temps. The constant care and keeping of exposed pipes. Early morning commutes in five layers of clothing. Is school delayed or not?

I’m there, too — hoping for a wave of 32°+ temps. Telling myself I’ve had enough fulfillment from tidying our house and conquering Laundry Mountain. I’ve gotten frustrated and blue this month with what I start to think of as “weather jail,” but instead of letting that set in my mind like concrete, I’m always looking for ways to challenge that. To see it differently. To do it differently.

My coaching group met on Sunday and we were talking about a lot of ideas —  happiness being among them. I remember saying that happiness and taking care of yourself begin with attitude and are followed by action.

Happiness is not something that arrives like springtime (although I will welcome that time with wide open arms). We can think it will or that it should come in the form of an event, a way we want a person to behave, a number on a scale or in our checking account.

And you may get a lift, a burst of satisfaction or some relief from any of those things, but I’m interested in cultivating the lifelong practice of true happiness and contentment. I could dive into some of the deeper particulars of this, but I’ll save that for another time.

Right now, I feel like what I want are bite-sized jewels of inspiration, consideration, interest and just plain fun. Things to focus on to shift into the attitude of creating and enjoying — something to break the ice of winter and cozy up to the warmth within us.

I’m a big believer in process as much as I am in taking big leaps. It’s the little things (like I’ll share with you in this post) that make up a life. It’s the little things that inspire a pause to consider something different, take action and fan the flames of happiness.

So here’s a list of my ideas for breaking through the ice — take whatever you want or need and leave the rest. Have any you want to add? Leave them in the comments and share those cozy embers.

  • Go to a coffeehouse and stay to enjoy your cup. Watch the people. Sit by the fire. Listen to the music that’s playing in the background. These places and winter go together; I’ve found it’s truly an oasis in the cold — you can see it on the faces of people as they step inside — everything from relief in their eyes to the makings of a smile.
  •  Watch a TED Talk. TED (Technology Entertainment and Design). TED talks are all about sharing and spreading ideas. There are over 1600 of these 20 minutes-or-less ideas online. You can learn about anything from creativity, stuff you didn’t know about orgasms, leadership, innovation, the benefits of failure — I can go on. Check it out, find your favorites and see what moves you. Yes, orgasms.
  • Meet inspiration up close and personal. When you tell yourself that you’re wasting time online, tune your attention into finding an inspirational event or speaker in your community (or somewhere close by). There are tons of free things happening — sometimes you don’t even have to seek it out. I am going to see breast cancer survivor Jill Brzezinski-Conley speak for free tomorrow night here in Louisville, and that came from a link a Facebook friend shared.
  • Those recipes and ideas you’ve been collecting on your Pinterest boards? Make them. Do them. Create them. I often hear women say they “waste time” on Pinterest and do the downward gaze of shame when they talk about how much they love to take some time to curate boards of beautiful images and ideas. It’s okay to do something just because it’s lets your mind play and dream. It might be even more fun to try some of those things out. I have a board dedicated to things I’ve found on Pinterest that I’ve cooked, created, tried or experimented with in some way. Give it a go with your stuff (or feel free to borrow mine).
  • Read an old letter or email that you love. I keep a folder called “Personal” in my Gmail account and in our family file cabinet where I keep these kinds of correspondence. They can be anything from a hilarious one sentence review of a Girls’ Night Out from a friend to a card sent to our family after my husband took care of a friend’s funeral. Those captured moments in time just help you remember who you are and the miracles that are everywhere, all of the time.
  • Take a different way home. And talk to yourself in your car. See something different. Sometimes I do this out of necessity when I see a traffic snag in my neighborhood and I pride myself on my old-school knowledge of hidden alleys and side streets that help me thread my way home. And with the invention of Bluetooth and hands-free talking on your phone, you can process your day with yourself or give the piece of mind you really wanted to give that snarky co-worker in the comfort of your car. Yeah, so if you see me in traffic and no one else is in the car, I’m just talking to me. And God.
  • Move that body. If you run or walk outside and it’s cold, change it up. Can you drop in at a class in a gym or club? Find out — I bet you can. There are a bazillion different websites and Pinterest boards with ready-made workouts that you can do in your home with no equipment except your precious body. Jumping jacks, squats, lunges, pushups, planks, burpees. Just start throwing down in the living room. My children love feigning that I’m crazy when I do this. It’s my duty as their mother to provoke them. And set an example.
  • Change up a room. My teenage daughter reminds me how much I used to love change my room around when I was a girl; she still does it in her bedroom. I can remember my eight or nine year old self moving my bed, inch by inch, to another corner of the room. I’d move the dresser next to the window. I loved the feeling of a “new” space in a familiar place. It just made me think differently somehow. When we painted our bedroom a couple of years ago, Grace advised us to move the bed to an opposite wall. Totally changed the space in a fresh way. That was awhile back…time to follow my own advice again, I think.
  • Make plans. Meet up. One of my dear friends had an impromptu birthday gathering in the lounge of a local restaurant earlier this month. It was fun just to get out of the house with friends and meet some new women. And all of us went around our small circle to offer the birthday girl the gift of how she’s been a gift to each of us personally. It was just beautiful. A cold January weekday night that was full of warmth and inspiration. Choose to invite others to meet up and celebrate just because.

There’s an Einstein quote I love, and it’s becoming a way of life for me — no matter what season we’re in:

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