A little over two years ago, I pitched a piece to Fast Company on ways to stay happy during winter. I intended to give advice such as “listen to music” and “exercise.” Then I happened upon the work of a young researcher who visited the far north of Norway to write about the (relative) lack of seasonal affective disorder. She learned that inhabitants of the far north had a different mindset about winter. It wasn’t something to endure. It was something to enjoy. The result of our interview was a piece called “The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter.” That title, much like “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast” turned out to be total click-bait. It became the most-read article in the leadership section that year.
Anyway, I have been trying to take my own advice on this. January is close to done. It is not my favorite month. It has been cold. It has been snowy. Yesterday was cold and snowy, with the wind adding a certain bitterness to the march up the slick driveway to get the mail (after mailing off oodles of tax forms. Good times. The IRS is the only organization I know that still uses carbon copies.*). It has been dark. People have gotten sick.
And yet! It has not been a bad month. Not at all.
For starters, I embraced the idea that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” With all my winter gear, I’ve been able to play outside with my kids in the snow and sleet and 13 degree temperatures. I ran outside 3-4 days per week, thanks to my Polartec pants. (I was on the treadmill the other days).
As for one of those outside runs: the Embarcadero! I took two trips this month, one to San Francisco, and one to Mont Tremblant outside Montreal. While neither was exactly a vacation (the first was work for me, the second for my husband) I snuck in some good stuff. I ran in a foggy morning along the waterfront in San Francisco, and took myself out for Peruvian seafood. In Montreal, I got a massage, and went in the outdoor hot tub several times.
Work is going startlingly well, given how distracted I’ve felt with snow school closures, the plethora of kid activities, and various household administrative stuff. I don’t think I have worked a full 40-hour week this month. I feel frustratingly behind on many things (like email — sigh). But the podcast continues to grow. Each Tuesday spike (when we release a new episode) is higher, and we crossed 100,000 downloads.** My agent sent in my time management fable to my publisher in December, and I learned this month that it’s a go, for publication in February 2019. And the speech-booking — oh my. Lots of great opportunities!
We’ve been doing some fun winter activities too. My husband and I went out for two seasonal-based tasting menu dinners, which were both incredible. There is seasonal food in January no less than June! We’ve done family excursions to science museums, and the orchid show at our area botanical gardens, and celebrated the little guy’s 3rd birthday. While he is still a handful, and not an easy child, he is getting better in so many ways, which I am grateful for.
And I’ve been reading Moby Dick! Crossing another one off the reading bucket list. Cold days are good for curling up with a book (or reading a book at gymnastics, as is more often the case. But I can curl up in bed at night, which is nice.).
Anyway, a good January. Mostly. A January of sometimes screaming at people to get into their coats and mittens because we are late again, a January of counting minutes on weekends when the kids are fighting, a January of frustration when I’m spending two hours of my “wild and precious life,” as the poet Mary Oliver might put it, trying to get the 3-year-old to bed. But when you expect the worst of a month, the good comes as a nice surprise. Like when it only takes 5 minutes, rather than 20, to get the ice off your car.
*If you were born after 1984 or so, you may not know that this is what “cc” refers to.
** 110,000 actually — but who’s counting? Other than me, I mean.