Finding Joy in January

Why the bad rap’s totally unjustified…
Finding Joy in January - The Cardiff Cwtch

Hey look at us; who would have thought? Not me! Because the fact of the matter is that anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve got a long history of ripping on January. Historically, I’ve hated it. I’ve called it the worst month of the year, the most depressing month of the year, and if there’d ever been a petition to bin January then my signature would have been right at the top. I mean, let’s be honest; at face value, there’s not a lot to like. It’s dark, it’s gloomy, there’s all that new year/new you pressure, all the Christmas fashion’s on the floor in the sale section, and – let’s be honest – the bank account’s always in a state of recovery this time of year.

So I was more than a little bit surprised when the other day (in the middle of cleaning my bathroom – that’s when all the big thinking in my life happens, clearly) that so far, I’ve actually really enjoyed January. Even though, I haven’t really done much. I haven’t booked any holidays, I haven’t eaten out (other than a massive fry up round the local garden centre cafe), I hadn’t even hit the Sales until last week. I’ve just been quietly doing the things I enjoy – like cooking, writing, walking – and since Sunny decided to relax the crazy hours he was working before Christmas, we’ve had more time to piss around on the PlayStation and goof around with Bungle. There have been zero plans made, zero events attended… and zero expectations.

And that’s the trick to it, I think. Zero expectations.

The trouble with January is that there’s a huge amount of pressure to blast out the other side of Christmas and into the new year at a hundred miles an hour. It’s all about movement – about setting goals, making plans, booking holidays, and this year I just didn’t bother with any of that! Not intentionally, I might add; the truth is that it was a busy Christmas and I was absolutely knackered come January 1st. I needed a break – a couple of weeks just to breathe – to slip back into a routine. I didn’t want to throw myself at a hundred miles an hour into anything other than my baggiest jumper, the left over Christmas chocolates and season one of The Witcher. Normally I’d have slapped my own wrist after a couple of days and had a bit of a word with myself, but this year I decided to just allow that slight pause and not expect too much out of January – and I tell you what, it’s been the best thing I’ve done for myself in a while.

Finding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff Cwtch

The only slightly “January” thing I have done is that I’ve started documenting on my phone – through my camera roll and in my notes – the little things that I’m grateful for every day. Small things, like late breakfasts on the weekend, frosty mornings walking Bungle in the field, a bargain Sezane shirt dupe for £5, home improvements and playing board games with my family. I knowwwwww – whenever I’ve seen people mention Gratitude Journals in the past my eyes have rolled so far back into my head that I could see my own brain. But after a heavy 2019 the only thing I’ve been craving for 2020 is more of the little things I enjoy – and writing them down and taking pictures of them just serves to remind me what those things are. That way I can make time for more of them – which is exactly what I’ve been doing so far this January. No big plans, no expectations, just small moments of gratitude for the things I love. 🙂

Finding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff CwtchFinding Joy in January - The Cardiff Cwtch

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂

New Year, No Pressure

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A couple of days before the New Year a bunch of daffodils sprung up and bloomed in our front garden – which is weird, because traditionally daffs have got at least another month or so of underground snoozing to go before they’re expected.  But nope, these guys are up and ready to go.  You know, as if they’re raring to smash 2018.  I mean, if they were human they’d have quit smoking, organised their bullet journals and vowed to go vegan by now.

And it’s not just my eager daffs, during the first week of January there’s always that pressure to get up, get going and – like a crash test dummy on their first day of work – throw yourself at 80 miles an hour into a brand new year.  There’s that fresh page right in front of us and the chance to start over and reinvent which is exciting…

…But also TERRIFYING, and comes with a huge amount of pressure (if you’re a writer then you’ll know how terrifying empty pages are!).

I wish I could say that I had the same January Get up and Go attitude that my daffodils have, but the truth is that it takes me a bit longer than that.  For me, January has always been a massive struggle.  I used to dread the trudge back to school and the old routine after spending time with my family at Christmas, and I’m always falling foul of the January Blues.  It’s a dark, cold and miserable time of year; not exactly the easiest month to feel motivated to get up early and get crack-a-lacking on those goals, amiright?

For people like me, the expectation that I’ll wake up on the 1st of January bright eyed having switched into a new mindset overnight is completely unrealistic (…the truth is that I spent the first couple of hours of 2018 with my head down a toilet… but I digress…). And yet the pressure to do that is everywhere, so it’s easy to beat yourself up when you wake up in January and just want to groan and bury your head under the covers instead.

My January Self-Care Kit: Plenty of reading material, fresh flowers to brighten up the house on dull days, lots of candles and fairy lights, hot tea, sticky buns and lots of time spent with the beardo and Bungle ♡

I’m not saying that I’m not excited for 2018, believe me, I really am (2017 was one of my favourite years so far 🙂 ).  But I’m going to need some time to ease myself into it, and January seems like the perfect month for some self care and self reflection.  I’m going to hold off on the resolutions and goal setting until February at least, and spend the month quietly feeding myself instead.  Not with food exactly (although there are still two Chocolate Oranges in my kitchen cupboard that I’m very excited survived Christmas…), but with all the things that I’m going need to inspire that fresh mindset when Spring arrives.  I want to read, I want to write, eat good food, go exploring and then come home and cwtch up somewhere warm and cosy with a cup of tea.  Unlike those eager daffs, this girl needs just a little bit more time sleeping underground before she can be expected to bloom.

What’s in your January Self-Care Kit? 🙂

How to Suckerpunch the Seasonal Blues

I’ve always hated January. ‘Tis the season for suicides, self-help books and all round scrimpage after the festive blow-out. Boring. Even when I was a kid, the day the Christmas decorations came down and went back up the attic was downright distressing. The house was stripped bare – of both the tinsel, the food and the family members who had come to stay – and the dark winter mornings and evenings became a little darker and drearier without all the fairy lights. Everyone and everything suddenly sobered up and went back to normal, and I hated that.

I always found going back to school so much harder in January than I did in September. I fought it. Hard. I didn’t want to go anywhere, I just wanted to stay at home and watch videos all day with the family tub of Cadbury Roses. And not much has changed! As soon as January – the old foe – returns, all I want to do is eat my weight in Cadburry’s Buttons and then hibernate in bed with Netflix.

Whilst it’s completely normal to get a dose of the morbs this time of year, there are a few tricks I’ve picked up over the years to help me grin and bear the gloom, and get over the January Blues.
Continue reading “How to Suckerpunch the Seasonal Blues”