Today has actually been really sunny and fairly mild, so I almost changed what I had decided to blog about but, really, it’s not just about the weather. Almost everyone seems to hit a bit of a low around this time of year. There’s even a name for it: the January Blues. And, of course, next week we all have a very special day to look forward to: Blue Monday. It’s 16th January this year. Apparently it is calculated using a series of factors in a (not particularly scientific) mathematical formula. The factors are: the weather, debt level (specifically, the difference between debt and our ability to pay), the amount of time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take charge of the situation. Cheerful stuff! (Actually, 20th January might be a worse day in 2017…)
After all the tinsel, celebrations and overindulgence, it’s time for the lights and decorations to come down and the reality check of the bank balance. We might be past mid-winter (and I have already noticed the days getting longer!) but it’s still a time of getting up when it’s cold and dark, getting back to being frantically busy after a bit of a holiday lull, and driving home from work in the dark. Of course, not everyone had time off over Christmas, but I can only imagine that makes this time of the year a little bit worse. And for those who were ill over most of the holiday period (which seems to be almost everyone I know, including me) recovery is not helped by murky weather, even if it’s not been all that cold. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I wish I could hibernate.
On the other hand, it’s just January. It will pass.
There are things that I love about this time of year.
- Days like today when it’s really bright and sunny (even if it’s much colder) are a real joy; the quality of the light at this time of year is really special
- Celebrating several January birthdays within my circle of friends and family
- The sense of starting a new year: it’s always going to contain something unpredictable and wondering where it might go brings a sense of excitement (and sometimes foreboding)
- Getting back to healthy eating (hmmm…mixed feelings on this one I suppose!)
- Planning holidays (although I’m a bit devoid of inspiration this year)
And then there’s our covenant service. As I didn’t grow up in the Methodist church, this still feels quite new to me – and a wonderful way to start the year. Our service this morning was a celebration: for the church as a whole and for each of us as individuals. The covenant prayer is a challenge – much like the New Year resolutions we might have set ourselves a week ago (and might have already broken) – but, for me, there is something about the ‘intentionality’ of making a resolution, or saying the covenant prayer. I truly believe that God honours that intention – and helps us to live up to it.
I’m actually also enjoying this month of Simplify 7. Being back to work this week has meant I haven’t really had much opportunity to spend any money anyway. There have been some things I have gone without – and there will undoubtedly be many more. You would think I would be getting used to it by now, but with each month of Simplify 7 I am still surprised at how much difference these little steps make. Knowing that I can’t buy something I want (at least during January) actually feels quite liberating. That’s counter-intuitive, I know, but I can only speak (or write) as I feel. And a definite ‘no’ feels much better than a ‘maybe’ or an ‘only if..’ I might not feel the same if this wasn’t my choice, but I’m learning, nonetheless, that sometimes it’s good not to have what I want, just because I can. Maybe it will help me deal with the fact that I can’t have August in January – and that it can’t be Christmas every day!