In the northern hemisphere I am sure it has something to do with the lack of light and although the days are getting longer, the mornings lighten painfully slowly. I thought, may be, it was just my impatient perception so I looked up the times of sunrise and sunset in January in the UK and found that it wasn't just my impatient perception at all. The shortest day is 21st December but in fact it goes on getting darker, in the mornings, through to the end of the first week of January. It then sits broodingly static until slowly, minute by minute, the sun reluctantly rises, a bit earlier, each day. This pic was taken this morning about 7.45 am - the sky is lightening but it's still not properly light yet and it's already more than two weeks into January.
In the afternoons it's easier going and the sun sets noticeably later each day, but the lack of light in the mornings, I find, sits like a dead weight on everything, especially now we are back to the ordinary early morning timetable of work and school.
This year, that timetable seems to have hit us amidships, with GCSE mock exams for H and I have been trying to carve out time to support him with testing him on his revision as well as juggling all the normal stuff. This means if you ask me what is for supper this evening, you may well get a strange answer from a muddled mind that is full of trying to recall the vagaries of irregular Greek verbs and the properties of sundry metals in the periodic table. Physics revision testing is safer (for me anyway) - I never understood a word of physics while at school and I don't now so all I can do is follow the text book, word for word, which leads to some exasperation from H when I say, "No, that's wrong." to an explanation he gives, because it isn't word for word what is in front of me but is (apparently) another way of saying the same thing. You could fool me.
Anyway, the January blues which always affect me, have been bad this year. I usually combat them with various strategies, some of which are more successful than others.
An inveterate pattern hoarder, this is the time of year when I scour bookshops, magazines, Amazon and the Internet for new crochet and sewing patterns to add to my collection. I try not to remind myself too sternly that I will probably never make half these things. The possibility hovers that I might and that adds a glimmer to a dark morning over breakfast. A glimmer that can be extinguished by feeling guilty that perhaps I shouldn't be spending the money on yet more books and knowing that anyway I have plenty of patterns I haven't made, already in the bookcase.
I click on emails that promise sale yarns or fabrics at fantastic prices and wonder whether just a teensy weensy pile of yarn or two might not lift a grey and rainy day somewhat. Annoyingly, half the colours I want often seem to be out of stock or worse, permanently discontinued. Good for my bank account; not so good for my mood.
I try to look at my day to day routines in a kindly and positive light. Sometimes it works, sometimes it so doesn't! If anyone, for example, knows a kindly and positive light they can throw on putting in order, what seem to be unending piles, of apparently identical, black socks or sorting the rubbish for the recycling bin that is overflowing yet again or washing muddy footprints off the floor for the umpteenth time, I'd be glad to hear it!
Last Saturday I read an article in The Guardian here about the importance of mixing routine things with new variants which added some welcome grist to my mill and made me feel better about my acquisitive pattern habit and one or two of my other strategies. In fact the more I think about it, the more I think this article is onto something.
We need routine - it gives a stable structure to life and routine actually smooths the path of daily living, often, more than we realise - but we also need the motivation and energy awakened by curiosity about the new and untried. I feel guilty about being a butterfly sometimes who flits from one enthusiasm to another but I'm coming to realise that being a butterfly does not necessarily mean, (or at least does not just mean!,) I have the attention span of a gnat - it's a source of energy and interest that keeps me buoyant in life's flotsam and jetsam. And that butterfly needs feeding to stay alive and well.
It doesn't matter that some of the things I dip a toe into may not end up being permanent fixtures or a life passion. What matters is lightening the mix of daily grind with things to explore and be inquisitive about. New patterns, even if I don't make them all? Yay! New ideas? Bring 'em on! New skills? Why not? New challenges? Give them a whirl! New projects? Start planning!
... I am toying with the idea of taking up horse-riding again. I rode a lot as a child but it's one of those things that's fallen by the wayside.
... I am determinedly exploring lovely non-English blogs like Haken en Meer, even when they are in languages I can't speak. I don't know a word of Dutch but, much to my satisfaction, I've even managed to order the book co-written by this blog's author, Claire and and her friend Saskia, "Haken en Kleur" from a Dutch website. Once I'd worked out that "bestelling plaatsen" meant "place your order" not "other bestsellers you might be interested in", that is! It hasn't actually arrived yet but checking the post for its arrival, is, for the time being, proving cheering.
... I am sitting light to feeling guilty - about the cost of a few books, spending time hooking or sewing, eating cake, that sort of thing.
Life is too short and too sweet not to live it as enjoyably as possible, within reason.
... I am wondering, (you may feel, slightly against better judgement!), about joining in with Sonia of Fabricandflowers who is running a homemade knicker swap here. I had no idea you could even try making your own homemade knickers. I know, I know, I may be a bit old for this kind of frivolity but then, who says? I am going to make a trial pair first before I commit to making any for a swap. According to the Trixie Lixie website video, it's a doddle, but we'll see! I do not anticipate giving M&S's underwear department a run for their money!
... I am thinking of braving the challenge of sewing clothing in jersey fabrics or crocheting those beautiful doilies I see everywhere in blogland, in very fine thread and with a crochet hook with the diameter of a hypodermic needle, both of which have I have felt, hitherto, have been beyond my powers. But I repeat, "Sez who, Mrs Tittlemouse"?!
Life seems brighter all of a sudden! Now where are those piles of socks? I may be ready for you! Even cleaning the kitchen floor no longer seems such a miserably repetitive chore. In common with the rest of the world, I am still asking questions of myself about my job, but that too is weighing less heavy. There are all manner of frivolous novelties in my head from making homemade knickers to crocheted snowflakes, to hang on a winter twig, to walking in my new pink flowery Hunter wellingtons along the flooded paths and fields in the mornings. A few metaphorical rainbows in the January skies, like this real one, this afternoon.
If you too are finding yourself assailed by January blues and the going feels heavy, I recommend some inspirational dabbling and trying of new things to change things up.
(As well as tea and cake of course! With which one can't go wrong!)