I have a confession to make. I’m normally a happy person, but for some reason I was crabby and a big ol’ mope most of January. At first I chalked it up to the cold, constant darkness and unfavorable weather.*
I even read somewhere that the third Monday of January is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, though that claim has now been proven false. However, fact or fiction, that day has come and gone. The holidays are over. Christmas lights are down and trees are stuffed in garbage cans. The groundhog has yet to come out of his hole, and we Minnesotans know shadow or not we’re going to be faced with frigid weather and snowy days at least until April. Plus, it’s dark…all the time.
Life sure seemed like the weather outside, and I felt like hibernating. My day went something like: get up in the dark, go to work in the dark, come home in the dark and do it all over again. I guess it does change depending on weather—sometimes traffic is better than other days, but most of the time it sucks.
After a good month of heavy sighing and sulking I realized nothing was going to change unless I did. The more I blamed everything and everyone else; I realized I was the common factor. Talk about an awakening.
So what did I need to do? Figuring that out was the hard part. But I did. And it was called: change. Gulp. That word is scary and sometimes really hard to accept but I knew my first step had to be changing my attitude. The next: changing up my day-to-day. After all, I’m one who needs variety.  
So I did something crazy. I pulled out a journal and started writing down my bucket list, otherwise known as the things I want to do before I ‘kick the bucket’. I allowed myself to write down any dream or goal that came to my mind, however silly. It was a fun little project and in no time I had a page full of things to keep me busy. I raked through the list once more and took out the extreme ones. Appearing on Oprah, making the cover of Shape and flying to Tahiti would have to wait. I took the goals that seemed attainable and focused on them. I started off slow, adding one every week, and before I knew it, life seemed different, challenging, fun and adventurous once more...and the snow…well, it actually looks pretty.
The changes that worked for me:
Find a new hobby
My mom raised my brothers and me to eat healthy and spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking and reading up on the latest, healthiest foods. She makes some mean tasting dishes. It wasn’t until my husband Karl and I married that I started using all the cool kitchen gadgets we received as wedding gifts and started to enjoy cooking. I also have a bit of an obsession with health, nutrition and fitness…and magazines. In these ten or so magazine subscriptions I get are recipes. Really healthy recipes. For the past several years, I’ve been ripping these out and storing them for someday. Just last month I decided, why not start cooking these today? What am I waiting for? One of my goals listed in my bucket list was to make a collection of our favorite recipes, with pictures and post them on a blog. I’ve been doing just that and friends are starting to follow along and cook healthier too! Follow along if you’d like. I’m still a beginner, be gentle. 
Now this is some healthy cooking!

Now this is some healthy cooking!

Try a new activity
I’m someone who wears a lot of layers (and sleeps with three comforters), even in the summer. And I’ve been known to drink hot chocolate in 90 degree weather. Bottom line: I hate being cold. So for me to face the outdoors when the temperature outside is below freezing is a long shot. That is until Karl received a pair of snowshoes from his dad for Christmas. He suggested I buy a pair so we could go together. They were shipped to me and he took me out to Murphy-Hanrehan Park where we didn’t just follow the nicely packed trails, we instead searched for white tail buck deer off the beaten path and got poked by branches and fell down every few feet. However, the funny thing was…I loved it. I was sweating, the sun warmed my face, my heart raced and the fresh air filled my lungs. It felt awesome to be outside again, doing something new with my partner in crime. Fresh air will do wonders.
Nothing like falling in fresh snow and getting attacked by trees. All in good fun.

Nothing like falling in fresh snow and getting attacked by trees. All in good fun.

Play with new people
I love volleyball, but even playing with the same people week after week, starts to feel consistent and routine (no offense Biggie Talls!). So a friend of my sister-in-law asked me to play on her team. A new team? Different people? What? I timidly responded, “okay”. As I walked into the gym, I felt nervous. The keyword here: I felt and I noticed. But I met new people, made friends and we ended up winning the tournament.
Put health first
My normal workout routine for the past few years: stair stepper, two to three times a week, programmed to cardio burn, set to level 11, twenty five minutes. That’s it. No wonder my body hit a plateau and I was going batty. Like us, muscles need variety too. My gym closed down last year and I signed up at Life Time Fitness. In the meantime I kept doing my same workout but had referred my brother and sister in law and earned two free trainer sessions, which I tried out last month. He’s kicked my butt, plus showed me all kinds of cool, fun moves. Now I’m doing different workouts and noticing my body taking on a new shape. I also took the time to find out my inner age and at what heart rate zone my body burns fat versus sugar. I find myself enjoying walking through the doors knowing I’ll be expecting the unexpected.    
Go on an adventure
Cleaning, cooking, laundry, paying bills, etc. Unfortunately they all need to be done and aren’t going anywhere. Most of us don’t have the luxury of hiring help. Yet, we can take a break from it. Go somewhere new. Take the weekend off. Go on an adventure—plan for something so you have something to look forward to. The dust will always be there. You, on the other hand, won’t.
Set the bar high
Dreams take hard work and dedication. Set a big one for yourself for the year and go after it. Mine: publish my women’s fiction book. Last year I wrote and finished. This year I’m doing what I can to make my dream a reality. If you’re dreaming it, I think there’s a reason for that. Write it down. Hold yourself accountable and make it happen.
* I fully accept that I chose to live in Minnesota and need to suck it up [the cold weather] because the other three seasons are amazing.
What's on your 'bucket list'? Would love to hear it! Share below.

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