After packing away the Christmas tree and wrapping up the year with a beautiful new podcast episode from Beth Kempton on the New Year’s Revolution, my thoughts have been filled with how to embrace a more seasonal, slower pace this month. I’m not sure if slower means filled with less or it is just appreciating the happy moments more. Perhaps both? Whilst days can be as busy as ever, we are certainly not dashing about in the car from place to place in the way we used to and this has encouraged longer breakfast times, slower starts and the occasional, glorious, unapologetic, mid-afternoon nap. Whilst pandemics rage outside, we are fortunate to be enjoying the calmer comforts of a safe, warm, (mostly) happy home. I think the slower pace suits me. It definitely suits the children and with all the misery outside, I am truly grateful for that.
That said, even as coronavirus seems to have taken steroids and gone beserk, the media have still found the space to fill consumers with the usual ‘new year, new me’ narrative. My adverts and op-ed news columns have exploded with promises of tighter abs and more peachy glutes, veganuary and juice detoxes. Reading these pieces, I am struck by an enormous disconnect to what was once a routine part of my year – starting a year off feeling “strong and healthy.” It is hard to remember a year where I did not fully subscribe to the new year fitness craze, as every local gym (and my bank balance) will testify to.
But not this year.
If 2020 has taught me anything, it is the importance of accepting who I am and what I want, rather than subscribing to popular opinion and jumping on every attractive looking bandwagon that rattles past on my newsfeed. I’ve been doing that for many years and it hasn’t brought me happiness (or more peachy glutes I might add).
It is January – one of the coldest and bleakest of mid-winter months. Nature is sleeping, the ground is frozen, the light is low and in short supply. My inclination is to behave like a hibernating bear – hunkering down, staying warm, growing layers of fur and topping up my layers of happy kilos. Absolutely nothing about January is making me want to put my trainers on and head out for a run, less still trip over myself doing burpees and star jumps in my living room. No thank you.
Here in the northern hemisphere, this is not seasonal behaviour, not in keeping with our natural biological and seasonal rhythms – it is simply a way to make advertisers sell more products by encouraging us into believing we must be improved or “fixed” in order to have a successful year.
I don’t believe that I need fixing. I am just fine the way I am. Perhaps minus some of the fur.
As I sit here with a steaming hot mug of tea, I’ve been considering my word for the year. I’ve seen some other people talking about this and I like the idea of simply choosing a word and with that word, defining a theme for the year. It’s not restrictive and it doesn’t place pressure on me to be or do anything but it does encourage me to live more in accordance with the way I want to rather than being swayed by every attractive wind that blows through.
One word immediately came to mind after the storms I went through in 2020. I didn’t even have to think about it. The word popped into my head and never left, and that word is:
If I can move through the year in a state of relative calm, accepting and reflecting on events as they come and go rather than reacting feverishly to everything, then that will be a great improvement. I think that finding or more accurately, choosing calmness is akin to finding contentment.
To live seasonally, is part of this. Listening to my body and mind, giving myself what feels intuitively right and grounding myself in the seasons is a part of what helps me to feel calm. That’s not to say that I don’t think about what I eat or how much I exercise during the winter months but it more to say that eating hot, hearty, wholesome food and choosing winter walks and restorative yoga poses is much more in keeping with this time of year, the things I love and that bring a greater sense of wellbeing.
During the bleakness and darkness of winter, I simply want to practice deeper levels of appreciation for the little things, slowing everything right down to the basics done really well.
Crisp winter walks in woolly hats, steaming hot mugs of tea in bed, taking in beautiful pink sunrises and sunsets from the windows, my mums recipe leek and potato soup bubbling on the cooker, tart and bitter homemade marmalade slathered on hot, fresh toast, endless evenings living a thousand lives and loving a thousand loves through the pages of not yet discovered novels and guilt free weekends in pyjamas. These are the things I think January was made for. This is what my January was made for.
The light will return in due course, the days will stretch a little longer, the air will feel a little warmer and the birds will once more sing their songs on the ledge outside my window. As sure as day turns to night, winter will turn to spring and with it, my energy levels will increase as they do each year. At this point I will turn my attention to activities that both spark joy and also require more activity but until then, you will find me in my hibernation cave with my bear cubs, drinking tea, watching Netflix, playing games or napping at any and every opportunity.
However your January looks and feels, I wish you a very happy and calm New Year and hope that you stay home, stay safe and stay well.