Don’t let the door smack you in the a$$ on the way out.
So, January is not my best month. Never has been. Some of my darkest days have been January days. I’m not entirely sure what comes over me, but it’s been compounded by the fact that both of my kids have their birthdays are in January. I wrote about this last year too. I love my kids with the intensity of a thousand suns. I want to love celebrating their birthdays. But the truth is, I am always in survival mode. I do what I need to do to get through the festivities with a plastic smile on my face before collapsing into a stupor of relief afterwards.
Another part of the problem is that the world takes off in earnest in January. My Google reader filled to bursting with posts about resolutions, goals and plans for the new year. People seem to head back to their work, their lives with new gusto while I struggle to get out of bed in the morning. My January doldrums were not improved this year by a head injury I’d sustained in late December, or by the family of mice that took up residence in our kitchen cabinets and took a week to do away with. We also went to New York and spent two weekends skiing in Keystone, which added a huge element of fun and excitement to the month, but also served to push me further and further behind in my attempts to get back into the saddle of life (pun intended).
Supposedly, Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” After years of enduring bad Januarys, I finally had an epiphany: January won’t change, but I can. In this spirit, I have created my own 5 commandments of January as follows:
- Treat January as an extension of the holidays. With two kids celebrating birthdays in January, this is really true. Parties, presents, planning. I cannot expect to re-enter the normal flow of life with two seminal events to celebrate in the same month.
- Do not take on any new or extra commitments. Because everybody else seems revved up with new goals and new energy, opportunities for new challenges and experiences abound. Many of them are extremely worthwhile and hugely tempting. The lovely Kat Apel, for example, hosted the Month of Poetry in January. I participated for five days and then fell off the face of the earth. Then I felt terrible, both for reneging on a commitment and for failing to support a friend. From now on, no matter how tempting, I just need to say no to putting more on myself this month, even if it’s something fun.
- The New Year begins February 1st. No more New Year’s resolutions/goals for January (see #1). The real new year will begin for me on February 1.
- Focus on family. It’s not my kids’ fault that they were both born in January, with birthdays ten days apart. Even though the birthdays come right after Christmas, they are still a huge deal to them – rightly so. My fatigue, seasonal depression, eagerness to get back into a routine, does not change the fact that they need and deserve to be celebrated this month. I’ve always managed to pull off their parties and festivities, but this year I made a couple of decisions in the name of expediency/making it easier for myself that ended up disappointing my daughter, even though she put on a brave face. This leads to my last commandment, which speaks to making sure I have the energy reserves to support these four, which is:
- Be kind to myself. I need to give myself permission to keep things at a slower pace. Read books, take naps and hot baths. Cook nourishing food. Drink tea. Meditate. Exercise. Write. If I nourish myself, hopefully I will be able to provide birthday celebrations for my kids that I enjoy too.
Do you have months that are historically difficult for you? If so, what are your strategies for surviving and thriving?Categories: Birthdays, Family, Health/Fitness, Parenting, Winter · Tags: birthday parties, Birthdays, Family, New Year's, Winter