It’s the end of the first month of the year – already the first day of February. A time to take stock. Has anything changed? Or is it same old, same old.
There’s such a buzz at the start of a year. New beginnings hold promise. Parties and celebrations, time spent with people you care about, less work, more play, excess in everything. It’s tradition.
But then comes the flop.
Let’s face it. It’s freezing cold and the days are short and dark. It’s tempting to just hole up instead of go to the park.
January is a long financial month. Many of us are broker than usual after Christmas spends.
There are bugs going round and our immune systems may be low following all that excess I just mentioned. Party time is over and it’s back to the real world.
For me, this translates as returning to those admin jobs I’d been putting off until after Christmas and discovering long-haul bureaucracy challenges I’d believed I’d finally hurdled have placed yet more obstacles for me to navigate (or do I finally give up this time? (‘That’ voice in head: Never!)). Then there is that realisation that although it’s marvellous (and necessary) to be on family leave, financially, it’s a strain.
I got myself in such a tizz I even missed a school open evening for my son. That didn’t make me very proud.
Heart on sleeve of my bobbly old jumper (it’s lovely and warm though), for the past couple of days, I have felt about as flat as a pizza base, with no energy. Like I mess up everything I touch.
So when my partner asks, ‘How are you doing?’ (not in a Joey way, by the way),
I tell him, ‘Trying. I’m really trying not to feel like a complete failure.’
He’s not somebody who talks much about feelings, except, weirdly, on the telephone. But today, he offered sage advice. I tried to listen with an open mind, to not think that because we’ve lived together for… a long time, I know everything he might say and nothing he tells me could possibly help anyway.
‘Well instead, why don’t you just accept the things that have gone wrong and work at change at your own pace. Because using your energy in trying not to feel like a failure is a double-whammy of making yourself feel worse.’Gus Gouldsbrough
That kind of made sense.
Time to reframe. One month out of 12 gone and what have I achieved?
I’ve done yoga every single day and sometimes, mostly, it’s been fantastic. Other times it’s been a struggle, but I’ve done it anyway (and so has he).
I’ve finally started a blog. That devil on my shoulder has occasionally whispered, ‘What’s the point? How do you justify using your time like that?’ And worse.
So I’ve reasoned with my pesky pest. ‘I’m starting to get my mojo on. One blog a week – not much to ask.’ And the deal clincher, every time. ‘I enjoy it.’
So here it is.
I wrote it yesterday, and today, I’m feeling a lot brighter. Could it be that following my own advice (and ‘his’) has actually worked?
If you’re feeling a bit stuck, here are 10 ideas on how to up your ante this bleak winter.
I hope you’re giving yourself at least a little time and energy to do what makes your heart sing. Can you think of what you’ve achieved in the first month of this year? I’d love to hear 🙂
Love and appreciate this. For me it’s baking that I turn to. I’m baking my apple cake this morning and I find the tactile rewards of handling the ingredients calming for some reason. The weighing, the melting, the rustle of baking paper and the resssuring solidity of the baking tray. The magic transformation in the oven. And the smells! Then the smiles and hmmms later from those I feed with it. Thanks for sharing your words – I’ll bring some cake soon x
Thank you Seonaid. I will always remember you coming round with the most thoughtful of surprise gifts for me at a time when I needed friendship the most. It was… a bottle of apple sauce, a cake dish, and a print-out of the apple cake recipe you’d baked and we’d enjoyed the last time we’d met. You’re a wonderful baker and a brilliant friend! Look forward to our next cake-sharing experience! X