Coping With January


January can seem very anaemic after days of Christmas colour. It's easier to cope with dark mornings when there is feasting to be done. Once that's all out of the way though the reality of work, school and cold, desolate days can be hard to deal with.

I have several strategies to help me cope with January.

Firstly I remind myself that it gets lighter slightly earlier each day. I get up at about 6.30 and by the first week in March it will be getting light when I wake up. Yes, it's a while away yet but it will be here before you know it, look how fast Christmas comes round!






Secondly I have a therapeutic clear out. It's a good thing to do at this time of year, it's forward looking and positive. I'm not a hoarder so I never have very much to declutter but there's always something taking up space which could be better used for storing yarn or gin.

This year I have thrown out all my children's school reports. Yes really.
Every single one from George's very first one in summer 2000 to Tom's most recent report from sixth form college in November. I was very interested in George's school progress when he was five but in 2015 what George was learning in 2000 no longer interests me, and when I realised that the last time I read his reception year report was just before I filed it in June 2000 I knew there was no point keeping it or any of them. 'Does anyone want their school reports? I asked 'Nah' they replied. You won't be surprised to learn that I have not kept any baby clothes, first shoes or locks of hair either. I do have plenty of photos though including ultrasound scans of all three babies.

A thought - You could always scan or photograph school reports and file them on your computer. That way you get to keep them and create space for yarn and gin.





My last strategy for coping with January is to look for colour. There always is some, as I found at the end of my monochromatic walk around the church this morning.

Despite what my husband thinks I did not adjust the colour on this robin's breast.




Comments

  1. I agree - my January therapy has included some de-cluttering. Roll on those lighter mornings, it felt as if I were getting up in the middle of the night this morning!
    The robin and woodpeckers are welcome splashes of colour in my garden too.

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  2. I always de-clutter in January too, and also in the summer. A twice a year purge is very therapeutic ( not counting f 'the bag for the charity shop' which has a constant drip feed all year long) x

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  3. That's a great idea - I too went to the churchyard this morning and spotted (and snapped) a few little Forsythia flowers. Not usually much of a yellow fan but I do seem to seek it out at this time of the year. Plus, robins always give me the slip so I don't even bother trying.
    It is a good time for clear-outs and organising. It always makes you feel virtuous and you feel a sense of accomplishment, even if the clear-out is on a relatively small scale. Even better, I find, when I take things to charity shops and they're more often than not touchingly grateful for my unwanted items.
    I can't wait for it to get lighter. I love winter but these short days - no thanks.

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  4. You've made me laugh - thanks, Sue!

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  5. Such a great post! January is definitely not my favourite month of the year, but I love your lists of positives. The photograph at the end is especially wonderful!

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  6. A really interesting post, Sue. My strategy this year is this: instead of wishing it were spring, I will embrace the winteryness of the month - food, yarn, blankets, books, the things happening outside, and try to be cosy. I often get quite down at this time of year but finding good things helps enormously. I like your strategy. One thing I learnt about moving house is how exhilarating the big pre-packing declutter was. Happy New Year to you Sue and your fabulous blog (which I always read, even if I don't have time to say hello with a comment). xx

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  7. Ha! Love the gin and yarn thread running through your post - perhaps two of the most effective strategies in your list! ;-) x

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  8. thank you for this post - cheered me up! i love decluttering, though The Husband is a hoarder! What a good idea to look for the colour (and gin and yarn) to keep January bright :)

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  9. It does always help to look on the bright side when it's cold and bleak. Scanning the school reports and storing them on a computer does seem like a good idea if you don't want to keep a hard copy if for no other reason than your kids might like to look back at some point in their lives about their progress at school and how they developed. May you find more colourful things in the month of January.
    Anne xx

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  10. I live with a hoarder who has passed down the hoarding gene to the offspring. There is always something to declutter here. I quite like January but I do look forward to longer daylight hours. The robin photo is priceless, just perfect for Christmas cards next year! It is such a beautiful bird. I hope you'll find plenty of space for gin and yarn.

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  11. I am nursing a bad back and feeling very sorry for myself. Standing at the computer guarantees that I only spend a short time here. How fortuitous then that you had put up that post to make me laugh (carefully).
    Is gin good for bad backs?

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    1. Lucille, gin is good for everything. Hope you feel better soon.

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  12. I like to de-clutter but can also be a bit of a hoarder . I still have my birthday cards from the age of 1 through to 10 and don't think I could ever part with them but other things like books clothes etc all get passed either to the school or charity shops . I always manage to find the room for more wool though :-)

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  13. Well, I'll take your weather over mine. We have so much snow, they declared a snow day. That hasn't happened here since 1980. (Canadians are so tough, we don't do snow days. ;))

    Glad to know I'm not the only one who doesn't keep baby clothes, etc. My friends all think I'm heartless. Happy New Year, Sue!

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    1. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one too! I'd love some snow.

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  14. Snow much wished for here too. I quite like the washed outness of this time of year. Makes me feel like I could be taking part in some sort of Scandicrime...
    Ax

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    1. On the side of the polis I hope......

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  15. Anonymous8:04 pm GMT

    Thanks for the post. I always enjoy reading them. Yarn and gin made me laugh. - Linda

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  16. There is always, always, some colour.

    I never keep all the reports etc., either. Space for gin, and/or paint tubes, is far more preferable.

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  17. The photo of the robin is gorgeous. I like a good declutter too, I shall be clearing out some picture books this month I think. Although my littlest boy likes to cling to everything as if his life depends upon it I need to get rid of some of the more babyish toys and books. I really love winter, I don't mind the dark at all, although it's always good to welcome spring.

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  18. I've been photographing all of the boys' artwork and junk modelling and archiving it that way for many years. It's great to look back on, I'm not downing in glue and yogurt pots, and the gin is able to remain put.
    Leanne xx

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  19. I've embarked on a mega declutter this January but I have to admit that if/when I unearth any reports I'll find a corner for them.

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  20. Bird takes my breath away. A real boost vicariously, as i dislike winter intensely. Thanks for your strategies. Must try.

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  21. Nature always comes up trumps :-)

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  22. That robin photo is to die for, Sue. And paring down to the bare minimum was a huge bonus of moving overseas -- I'm not sure I eliminated the boys' report cards, but I finally discarded mine!

    January is usually pretty good for me (February is trickier, because where I come from, nothing starts budding until March), but we'll see if that changes now that I'm living in a land of less sunshine. For now, I'm busy trying to wrap my head around that fact that forsythia is already blooming - !!

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    1. My forsythia has flowers too, most unusual. The crocuses usually get going in February, and the hellebores but they may all be a little later in your part of the UK.

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  23. You are sounding most perky and optimistic!

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  24. Lovely post, I too find the lack of light and colour hard for the next few months but glad I have a dog so I have to go out for a walk, the fresh air dose me good. After Christmas there is nothing like a good clear out. I have set my self a challenge to photograph as many birds from January to March when the wild flowers start coming out, this will keep my mind busy over the next few months, so just love your photo of the Robin.
    Amanda xx

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  25. It always fascinates me, what items people keep or throw. I'm a hoarder and sentimental to boot, and could never throw out reports, baby clothes or first locks but what really interests me is why do people keep the things they keep? Why do we have that urge to store for posterity or throw without self recrimination? We are such strange and interesting mammals, don't you think?

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    1. I do think so Evi. The funny thing is I'd probably be fascinated to read old school reports belonging to my ancestors and be glad that they were kept. I hate weighing myself down with clutter though.

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  26. The bedraggled Robin, poor thing, looks so vulnerable.

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  27. I too have been cheering myself up with a bit of a Purge, though I'm still holding on to school reports, mine as well as children's (children's bland and boring, mine much more entertaining). All the colour seems to have been sapped from the world here today, but you've inspired me to go out and look for some - thank you.

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    1. Part of the reason I ditched the children's reports was their blandness. Mostly they were descriptions of the curriculum covered that year and reminders of extra resources available online. I've written a fair few reports in my time and that is what is required. I'm not really interested in what my child learns but I am interested in how my child is perceived by teachers and classmates. My school reports were much more personal and as you say entertaining.

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    2. I noticed the change over the years my children were in school. I used to look forward to the end of the year when we'd sit down and read their reports together, but we gave up when they became less about the girls as individuals and more a checklist of academic achievements.

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  28. Sue, my clearing out enthusiasm seems to rise in January, and I embrace it.

    Seeing sparks of brilliant colors during January also brings cheer. So simple, but so splendid.

    Best wishes for 2015. xo

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  29. ' Yarn and gin ' .
    I like your priorities .... and the dishevelled robin .

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  30. Yarn and gin should always take precedence over mere slips of paper!

    Recently my mother in law pulled out all my husband's old school reports to show to our sons when they visited her, they were fascinated and later asked my mum if they could see mine, but she hasn't kept any. On balance I think I'm quite relieved about that ;)

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  31. Yarn and gin sound perfect for coping with January. Or any month come to that.

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  32. You sound just like me! All the stuff like that I had, except photographs have gone! I did ask the boys first and even gave them a few bits in carrier bags but its all gone!
    Julie xxxxxxx

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  33. Nooooo you didn't!! Sue!!!
    Sigh. I don't keep any school stuff but the reports... we recently found Miles' and the boys loved to see how daddy wasn't all As like they thought...

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  34. I think the old hand written reports are worth keeping, they seem more personal and teachers weren't afraid to write what they really thought! But these modern 'fill in the blanks' where the only thing obviously different is the child's name are pretty rubbish. Sadly I had my children too late in life for the original type. xxx

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  35. What a beautiful wee robin. We have a very friendly one that comes to our garden and right up to the back door. More room for yarn is always welcome.

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  36. Usually - alternate years only - we would be all of a doo-dah about getting ready to go out to New Zealand to stay with our son and his family, but this year we are going in December to have Christmas with them. So I was expecting January to be very grey, but to be honest, I have roused myself from my bronchitic stupor and been clearing out - in a small way - and am looking forward to my foray into the scary world of gardening! Yes! And getting back to marmalade and jam making which I haven't done for years. Oh retirement, how I do love thee! I still have a few report type mementos which I find hard to throw out but never look at ...... one day .....

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  37. One of the many joys of moving down to the SW from the NE is that signs of Spring appear so much earlier here, and help us through the dark and dismal days of Jan-Feb. Already we've seen lambs and snowdrops - hard to be gloomy when they are out!

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  38. I like the idea of more space for gin! My new year hasn't quite started as planned as I've been signed off work with a chest infection for at least a week. After pneumonia last winter I thought I'd seen the last of illness and was excited about moving on in a new year. That said, sitting at home and relaxing with the cat isn't so bad and I'm thinking about all sorts of DIY, crafting and cookery projects to make this year a good one! x

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  39. I found this poem, by a famous Latin-American poet, Juana de Ibarborou, and I immediately thought of you. I searched for a translation, but could find one. So I attempted my own, I hope you enjoy it and helps you cope with January :)
    I will post both the original Spanish and the English translation:
    OLOR FRUTAL
    Con membrillos maduros
    Perfumo los armarios.
    Tiene toda mi ropa
    Un aroma frutal que da a mi cuerpo
    Un constante sabor a primavera.
    Cuando de los estantes
    Pulidos y profundos
    Saco un brazado blanco
    De ropa íntima,
    Por el cuarto se esparce
    Un ambiente de huerto.

    ¡Parece que tuviera en mis armarios
    Preso el verano!
    Ese perfume es mío. Besarás mil mujeres
    Jóvenes y amorosas, mas ninguna
    Te dará esa impresión de amor agreste
    Que yo te doy.

    Por eso, en mis armarios
    Guardo frutas maduras,
    Y entre los pliegues de la ropa íntima
    Escondo, con manojos secos de vetiver.
    Membrillos redondos y pintones.

    Mi piel está impregnada
    De esta fragancia viva;
    Besarás mil mujeres, mas ninguna
    Te dará esta impresión de arroyo y selva
    Que yo te doy.

    (de Raíz Salvaje, 1922)

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  40. FRUIT SMELL

    With ripe quinces
    I perfume closets.
    All of my clothes
    Have a fruity scent that give my body
    A constant flavor of spring.
    When from the shelves,
    Polished and deep,
    I bring out an armful
    Of white lingerie,
    The room fills up
    With a garden fragrance.

    It seems as if my closets
    Had the summer imprisoned!
    This perfume is mine. You will kiss thousands of young and loving women,
    but not one of them
    will bring about the feeling of wild love
    I give you.

    That is why, in my closets
    I keep ripe fruits,
    And in between the folds of intimate apparel
    I hide, with dried bunches of vetiver grass,
    Round and half-ripened quinces.

    My skin is impregnated
    With this lively fragrance;
    Thousand women you may kiss, but not one
    Will give you this impression of creek and forest
    I give you.

    ( from Wild Root , 1922 )

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    1. How wonderful! Muchas gracias so much for translating this gorgeous poem Dot. I would love to scent my linen with quinces but I fear my house is just too warm for the quinces to keep well.
      I learnt Spanish at school and although I've forgotten most of it I do remember how to say it properly so when I am alone in the house I will say Olor Frutal out loud.

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  41. Yes, January is a rather dark month, and I like the sweet bird you found with the orange breast. I think any time is a good time to declutter. Good for you for throwing out the old school reports that no one wants.

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