This article was previously published in June 2017. True then, true now. Republishing with updates for 2018.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style” – Maya Angelou, American poet, writer and civil rights activist
June is my birth month, and dare I say it, the BEST month. I get excited about this month and I make no apologies. There’s just something about it. First of all, summer officially starts in June. Yes, I said it. Go June!!!! Why is there no such mantra? I guess I just started one then. “Can you believe it’s June already”? I hear people say all the time. As if the month suddenly leapt out from behind a tree. Be vigilant.
Geminis, sunflowers, sunshine summer solstice (Northern Hemisphere), winter solstice (Southern Hemisphere), Father’s day (depending on your country), Wimbledon (if you’re in England), barbeques, summer blockbusters official open season…..there’s a lot to love about June.
June is named for Juno, queen of all Roman Gods and Goddesses. ALL. June contains the summer solstice, the day with the most daylight hours of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (longest day/shortest night); and the winter solstice, the day with the fewest daylight hours in the Southern Hemisphere (shortest day/longest night). I refer you to Google for the long caveated academic version of this and other major random facts.
My birth date is June 6. “06.06”, I love it when numbers align. You can only imagine my JOY in 2006!!
June 6 as a date is quite famous. Most notably in 1944 as “D Day”, the start of the Battle of Normandy. The day 155,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy in France, beginning the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control during World War II. The largest seaborne invasion in history. History. Several films have been made, pick one to get the general gist.
Ok, back to present day.
I consider June 1 my “New Year’s day”. June is the month I become one year older and I live that age for another twelve months, so I face the month with purpose, pride and passion. I typically start off in some kind of mild panic – OMG, MY BIRTHDAY IS IN 6 DAYS!!!!!!! Surprise surprise Titi, it’s on the SAME DATE every year. GET A GRIP. In astrology, Gemini is symbolized by “the twins” and people under this sign are said to have a dual nature, need I say more? I have whole and entertaining conversations with myself. (Ps, it “almost” happened again this year when I decided I’ll have a get together, yes, you guessed it, I decided on June 1, just go with the flow….).
After I calm my inner neurotic twin, I steady myself and begin to think of the next 6 months (CHRISTMAS!) and 12 months (ANOTHER BIRTHDAY!), where I am now, where I want to be and what things I need to do to get from a to b.
2017 started off promising, I was still reeling on the high of 2016 (see 5 quotes and the countdown to a year – 2016). Then, mid-January, my mum went into hospital, died later in February and the year seemed to derail. March was spent planning for the funeral, April I travelled abroad for it. It was a struggle to focus and motivate myself on anything in those months. Goals? What goals?! I returned to my home in the US in mid-May. What to do, now that I can see the wood through all the trees?
The first thing I did was postpone a planned obstacle course race on June 2. I hadn’t trained enough and didn’t feel “ready”. If you know me, you’d know I’d run on a broken ankle if I have to (and I have, sort of, that’s another story). No excuses. I felt like I should do it so as not to disappoint my running buddy, and myself. But the logistics didn’t add up. You have to know when to say no.
Update for 2018, this year started off GREAT, I launched my blog on January 1, I had the urge to write, the idea flashed and I just went for it. One needs to assess and align to advance. June, the half way point of the year, presents the perfect opportunity.
Here are my 6 tips – 6 things you can do to help win your calendar year. I’ll also apply it to set me back on track to win my age/birth year.
“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision” – Dalai Lama, Buddhist Monk, spiritual leader of the Tibetan people
1. Start again
You have 6 more months and another chance. It’s NEVER too late to start again. I’m reviewing my goals, setting new ones and getting back into my fitness routine. There are races to book. The day after I returned from my international travel, I was back at my workout. Trust me. I agonisingly huffed and puffed my way through a muggy 60 minutes in the Texan heat. But I got it DONE. Take one step at a time. Did you start January with a new gym membership which is now on your “to-win” list? (By the way I say “to win” not “to do”). What will you do to win? Break patterns from the past. Forge ahead. Be determined.
2018 update – I joined a gym in February! I haven’t been in one since starting outdoor workouts 9 years ago so this was something new and different! I never thought I’d workout within walls again. But it was needed as I no longer had outdoor workouts to go to. Get over yourself Titi. I also joined a 60 day transformation challenge the gym was hosting, on the day I joined the gym, first I’ve ever done. I love a challenge! I just wanted to re-establish a fitness routine and get my energy levels back up. I ended up losing 5% body fat, learning new eating habits and transforming my lifestyle! Just start.
2. Drink more water.
You know, because the sun, June and all that. You’re out and about more, eating, drinking and whatnot. Hydration will sneak up on you and not in a friendly way. What with all the goal setting and walks you’ll be taking, building up a nice healthy sheen of sweat. Plus it’s just good for you. I have a colourful 20 ounce cup with a lid and straw. As soon as I wake, I drink a cocktail of warm apple cider vinegar and lemon water. That counts. There are many ways to get to any one destination.
2018 update – Yes, I’m still big on this! I was in Mexico in April, very hot as you can imagine. I took electrolyte tablets with me. I’ll take it in the morning before I head out the door, and I’d take a bottle of water with me when I do so I’m not caught out. I will run my first marathon later this year, I’ve stocked up on coconut water. Boost your hydration by any means necessary.
3. Stop and smell the roses.
The rose is the birth flower of June, it symbolizes love, passion and devotion. Roses come in a variety of colours – red, pink, yellow and various shades in between; each with a different meaning. Roses are a classic beauty, expressing promise, hope and new beginnings, with a fragrance so divine. Yet it is beset by thorns symbolizing defence, loss and thoughtlessness. The rose is a confusing and complex flower. Life can sometimes be the same too.
You’re on point one day, losing track the next. Give yourself a break! The thorns of life will always be there. When you start feeling frazzled, go for a walk. Meditate. Run. Watch TV. Get a massage. Listen to music. Call a friend. Have ice cream. Whatever floats your boat.
Just remember to switch off and recentre now and again! Sometimes, typical Gemini that I am, I try to do everything and be everywhere and I wonder why I’m knackered half the time! Then I remind myself…..be still, inhale, look at the pretty rose bush….
Ps. Yellow is a lucky colour for Geminis, it denotes joy, happiness and optimism.
2018 update – I started my blog, this blog! “T is for Titi”! I had the idea last year then got a bit discombobulated with events and lost the steam for it by overthinking it. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t writing…. ….poetry, short stories, life stories, film reviews! Writing creatively in some form or another. I was the one in school who could hear lyrics and write them down for people! In one of my previous jobs in UK Government, I used to write speeches for Cabinet Ministers. My colleagues would moan at the missive and I would relish it. On January 1st, I had the urge to write, I didn’t think about the what/why/how/what ifs, I just created a site and did published my first piece – “One year in a day” in which I am well pleased. Now I have a platform to pour my words in, to capture and share my thoughts and tips. A place where there is no time and I can lose myself in my head. My centre.
4. Make time for friends and family.
Give people six months to like you and get you a nice Christmas / holiday / Kwanzaa / Hanukkah gift. Very important! Who has time for a returns queue?
Ok seriously. How do you strike a balance between love and duty when it comes to family? Tricky subject. You don’t want to get drawn into drama that is not yours but you don’t want to risk being called unfeeling or have your legitimacy called into question (and remember, the gift). Or maybe you are still annoyed about someone’s shenanigans at last year’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or other family / friend event. Earlier this year I had to collaborate with extended family members who I don’t always see eye to eye with. Other times I felt more connected with friends. I carry out my obligations with love, irrespective of what I get back.
Make time can also mean no time. Just be true to you and to them.
2018 update – I hosted a “spring brunch” in April, because, brunch. Twenty-five friends attended – my “Ambassador family”, colleagues from around the world who, just like me, came to the US as ambassadors for our company and then relocated; my “fit family”, friends of friends who are now friends. When you live away from home, from family, you make friends, you make a family of your friends, you create a new home. Celebrate who you’re with and where you are.
5. Check your finances.
Why? What do you mean “why”? You are half way in the year, take stock of what you have coming in. If you don’t have a budget, plan one. If you’ve slacked on your budget, plan another. There are vacations to go to, holiday gifts to buy (wink, wink), something to fix in the car / house now the weather has changed. June is the best month for weddings (did you know that????), so you either have your own or will be going to one soon. Or just returned from one. Pay into that emergency fund so that when there’s an emergency, you’ll have the funds to pay (or buy new shoes). Get your savings in order. As the wise Lord Eddard Stark advised us all (give it up for Game of Thrones y’all!),”WINTER IS COMING”. Don’t be caught out in the cold.
2018 update – never has a truer word been spoken! I bought a house at the end of last year, returned from an amazing vacation last month, I’ve even had to fix the car in between that! I have a marathon in Virginia later this year. I’m getting wiser with money. Be sure I’m taking stock of my finances! Property taxes won’t pay themselves.
6. Be inspired by the ordinary.
Last year (2016), I had a fabulous birthday party in Uptown Dallas. I didn’t pay a dime for the venue. It cost way LESS than a lot of fabulous parties I know. It’s a party as long as the people you love are there and happy to be there. We get drawn into the “what are you doing this weekend?” or “where are you going on holiday?” interrogations of our social lives and it seems we all have to be doing something “fun” or “exciting”. But by who’s standards? Keep up with yourself not with the Joneses. Haven’t you seen babies having the best time with an empty box and not the expensive toy that was inside? Aha? Yes? I have fun doing anything or nothing but I always have to remind myself, as one who is easily distracted by the shiny, just enjoy doing the anything or nothing because sometimes nothing is the something you need to do to find joy.Birthday photos from across the years!
2018 update – Birthday photo from 2017. It was a Tuesday, so I decided to have dinner with a friend. I opened up the invite a few days earlier, if you want to eat, I’m eating, join me etc, it was a school night after all. I dressed up (it’s my birthday and my right by law), friends turned up and WITH A CAKE. Oh Joy. It was fabulous!
Now much older, I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy celebrating my birthday! I use it as opportunity to get friends together. Six years ago, I arrived in the US six days before my birthday, I had dinner with the one person I knew, Rang. A year later, I was surrounded by lots of people, new friends. I celebrate where I am, the new life I have and the friendships I’ve made. There’ll always be “stuff” going on….noise, distractions, obstacles. Take one day out of 365, one “ordinary” day, and make it spectacular.
We are in June. JUNE BABY!! I’m alive, I’m well, I’m making strides to where I want to be, I’m going places! Definitely much happier in myself than a year ago. All is right with the world. Go forth and celebrate you.
Happy birthday to me 🙂
“When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. It’s very simple” – Paulo Coelho, Brazilian lyricist, novelist and recipient of numerous international awards
Photo credits – cover and stock images (Pixabay free image), roses (birthday flowers to myself), all other photos – mine