January Calendar Blog

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021     Marie Sontag     Start the Conversation

Below is a screenshot of my January calendar page. If you’ve discovered this blog page, you’ve probably signed up for my bi-monthly calendar pages by providing me your email. If not, click this link to sign up.

Usually, I’ll send you one email with two calendar pages every other month. Since I’m off to a late start for January, however, I’ll send January’s now, followed by a second email for February in about a week. After that, you’ll only receive an email every two months with links to download the next two calendar pages. I’ll limit the bi-monthly email to the download links of the next two calendar pages, along with a link to a blog about the elements I chose for that month. That way, you can choose whether or not to read the bi-monthly inspirational post depending on your time constraints.

The links to the bi-monthly inspiration posts will provide an explanation of the elements I chose for those two calendar months. Most months, the posts will be much shorter. This one’s long in order to establish my goals for the year. Here’s January’s example:

THEME: Forward. In January, I want to move forward toward my goal of optimal health. I plan to take small steps each day in these four areas: how and what I eat, sleep, think, and do. To accomplish this, I’ll focus on a verse of Scripture and a quote from George Orwell whenever I look at my calendar page.

WORDS: “..forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…” Philippians 3:14, (ESV).

“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell

This month, these words are inspiring me to own my past choices as I make mindful daily decisions in the four areas of what and how I eat, sleep, think, and do. I’m convinced that making mindful \decisions in these areas will impact my future long-range goal of optimal health.

For example, each Monday this month I’ve copied “lean and green” recipes into my AnyList app, linking these recipes to the days of the week when I will cook them. The recipes I’ve selected serve four, so I can cook one day and have a healthy meal already prepared for myself and my husband the second day. For our other meals, my husband and I started a healthy lifestyle program that supplies us with all the protein, vitamins, and minerals we need the rest of the day. The app also lets me click on any recipe ingredient I need to purchase, automatically adding it to my grocery list for the week.

Music: The music I’ve chosen this month is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. In 1880, the composer produced this piece to celebrate Russia’s victory over Napoleon in 1812. The overture was to be performed at the opening of Russia’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior (picture on the right).

Listening to the overture helps me remember my January goals. For example, the photo below shows Napoleon’s army fleeing after its failed invasion of Russia in 1812. As they fled, the French left behind many artillery pieces. The weapons were too heavy to drag through the snow. Can you find an abandoned cannon in the picture? It’s been said that, as the French retreated, the Russians trained their enemy’s weapons on them from the rear.

Over the past few years, I’ve made poor choices regarding my eating and exercise habits. They’ve now come back to bite me in the rear, resulting in less than optimal health. This month I’ve taken small steps to put a few bad habits behind me, replacing them with new, do-able ones. These new habits will impact my future goal of becoming the best “me” I can be.

The 1812 Overture opens with a strain from a familiar Russian Orthodox hymn, Lord, Save Thy People. During the first  2:12 minutes of the overture, Tchaikovsky reminds his fellow-citizens of their glorious, united past. The hymn beckons Russians to recall a time when, as a nation, they looked outside themselves for national unity and, with upraised voices sang:

Lord, Save your people
And bless your inheritance;
Give victory to our
Orthodox Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich
Over adversaries,
And your protecting cross
To your habitation. 

Tchaikovsky gradually increases the music’s tension. This serves to remind his listeners will face struggles and hardship in their efforts to maintain national unity. By 3:49, a snare drum beat (a musical cue for forth-coming military strains) precedes the overture’s “fighting” or leading motif.

If you’re old enough, you might recall Quaker Oats’ use of this motif in commercials advertising their Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice cereals. “This is the cereal that’s shot with guns.”

At 5:41, notes of the French national anthem creep into the music and gather speed, signaling the French have gained an upper hand, until 7:05 when strains from a Russian folk melody are introduced.

Eight minutes and thirty-five seconds into the overture, a tambourine ushers in a well-known Russian folk dance tune, At My Father’s Gate. This melody reminds its Rusian listeners of their deep folk roots. For me, the quick notes of this whimsical tune and the picture at the top left symbolize the Russians’ resilience as they fled to the countryside when the French army entered Moscow. As a bitter Russian winter set in and the weary French soldiers took up residence in Moscow’s vacated buildings, Russian citizens and soldiers snuck back into the city. Engaging in guerrilla warfare, they burned the enemy’s quarters to the ground.  The people were willing to sacrifice their capital in order to regain control of their country.

I cringed when, at the beginning of January, I gave away my bag of chocolate chips I’d bought the previous month in order to make cookies. Removing all the sugary and highly- carbrohydrated foodstuffs from my cabinets and fridge was painful. But, for me, it was a necessary step in establishing new healthy lifestyle habits.

What do you need to “burn,” or put behind you, in order to move forward toward a goal of thriving in 2021?

Battle music resumes at 9:10. Strains from La Marseillaise once again rise above the fray. The Russian folk song and dance melodies resurface at 10:44, but the French national anthem returns again at 11:10. A counterpoint of these melodies play until, at 13:19, chimes clang and brass instruments bellow out Russia’s national anthem, God Save the King (Tsar).

God, save the Tsar!
Strong, sovereign,
Reign for glory, For our glory! 

The bells, represented at the top right of the calendar page by the belltowers of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, continue to announce Russia’s victory over the French. At 14:22, the “cannon” motif breaks in with a percussive flourish. God Save the King then takes top position above the cannon motif as the two themes weave a climax punctuated by live cannon fire. Chimes resound at 14:56, heralding the overture’s victorious completion.

Throughout January, I’ve fought battles with my resolve to establish healthy lifestyle habits. There have been moments of victory, and moments of defeat. As I move into February, I look forward to cherishing moments of victory as I continue along my path. I hope you’ll join me. Here’s a QR code that will provide all these links in one place for January and February.


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