“The day and time itself: late afternoon in early February, was there a moment of the year better suited for despair?”
I’d like to think myself an optimist most days, but for twenty-nine days in February I struggle. The winter months just don’t suit me. Once the anticipation of the holidays and my birthday have passed, the thrill of that first beautiful snow ebbs, and the grey gloomy days seem to outnumber the sunny ones, my inner pessimist prevails. I have two choices: I can wallow for an entire month and make myself and everyone around me miserable, or I can search out and embrace the positives to get me through the tail end of the winter season. Most often I choose the latter. Reading Anne Bogel’s recent blog post (The things that are saving my life right now) made me realize that it’s embracing the little things that save me from February’s despair as well. So in the spirit of optimism (and the knowledge that spring is just a little bit closer every day), here’s what’s saving my life right now:
1. Burning things. We’ve been lighting a fire almost every night. It’s so cozy, and something about having a fire just draws everybody into the family room. We’re also on a candle kick, lighting them every night as well and picking up good and lovely ones whenever we spy them.
2. Taking a reading break mid-day. I used to only read just before bed at night. Thanks to another of Anne’s brilliant suggestions, I stop what I’m doing about 45 minutes before Elena gets home and take a reading break. Not only does it give me something to look forward to, it helps my end-of-day attitude tremendously. I lovingly refer to the hours between after school and bedtime as the second shift – it can be so busy and long! You wouldn’t work a double shift without having a little break, right? Take the break.
3. Football. Even though my Colts haven’t played since early January, playoff football gets me through the rest of January and part of February. When the Super Bowl is over, I have the NFL Combine (my hometown of Indianapolis always plays host) to look forward to.
4. Podcasts. I’m relatively new to the podcast game, but seeing a new episode of the podcasts I love pop up in my notifications always gives me a little thrill. My favorites right now are Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Death, Sex and Money, Serial (though not as gripping as last season) and What Should I Read Next.
5. Drinking all the hot drinks. In warmer months I typically only drink a cup of coffee in the morning and water the rest of the day. By February I’m drinking a cup of coffee first thing, a cup of tea when I get in from walking Eli to the bus stop, a cup of decaf tea during my afternoon break, and often a cup of cocoa, tea or a hot toddy before bed. A book, a warm drink in my hand and a fire? Maybe February isn’t all that bad.
6. Trip planning. No matter how dreary it is in Indiana, I can be California dreaming in an instant as I plan our upcoming trip. We think we’re going in early May, which is oh-so-close!
7. Great British Baking Show. The kids and I are hooked on this British baking competition streaming on Netflix. We don’t even know what half the things they’re making are, but they all look amazing. The personalities are fantastic, and there’s none of the bad manners or tacky, over-the-top drama of our homegrown reality shows.
8. Chocolate Covered Almonds from Trader Joe’s. I have the dark and milk chocolate mix right now, and I’ve also had the Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds. (Which I can assure you are from the devil, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.) I have no problem eating my February grumpy feelings through a handful of these puppies.
9. Working out. I can eat my February feelings (mostly) guilt free by keeping up with my Bikini Body Mommy workouts. I wrapped up the 4.0 Challenge last month, and now I’m tackling the 6 Week Mini-Challenge. In roughly 20 minutes a day I can squeeze in a workout, and I’m always in a better mood when I’m done.
10. Silly hats and warm scarves. If you can’t beat the weather, you might as well look good in it. I’m in love with my Colts knit beanie hat, and will wear it in the house long after I’ve come in from outdoors.
What’s pulling you out of the winter doldrums right now?