January 11, 2017

Winterizing Your Mind, courtesy of Vivian Swift

I'm going to admit it straight out: January is my least favorite month. The excitement of Christmas is over, and the sudden stillness left in its wake feels deafening. It always feels to me like the year picks up speed from the start of the school year on through to Christmas, then it just stops. I am mostly an introvert, and you would think I would find it peaceful to have some downtime after all the hoopla. I do...for a couple of days. I take down all the Christmas decorations and feel like I can breathe in my living room again. Clear surfaces! Space!

Then I start drumming my fingers. I look outside. Same as before: deep snow and building tops. I read [another] book. I send my children to school and pick them up again. Only 5 1/2 more months to go before school gets out. I usually love school--when I was in it, and now that my kids are in it. Except in January. It just feels like a long, long, road from here to summer, is all I'm saying.

(For some reason, in Fall Semester it seems that we hardly ever have a full month of school, what with all the breaks. In comparison, Spring Semester is just relentless. It's 2 months longer to begin with, and you get very few breaks. Oh sure, there's a 3-day weekend here and there, but other than that, get that nose to the grindstone and good luck.)

I make my resolutions and goals, I put on multiple sweaters, I make soup. I put laminated snowflakes up on all the windows, just to give us all (me) something pretty and interesting to look at. Somehow I get through it every year, but not very gracefully. More like stoically.

So when I encountered this idea of "winterizing your mind" in Vivian Swift's book, I latched on to it. THIS is what I need in January! I'm going to try it. I may even report back at the end of the month. (Scroll down if you don't want to hear about the book first!) It's from her book: When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put.

It was one of my Christmas presents, and I was so happy to see it! This is one that has been on my list ever since I happened upon another of hers: Gardens of Awe and Folly.  Like that one, it is all hand-lettered words, with sketches, watercolor paintings, and asides throughout.

So this one--as the title suggests--reads like a journal. It's divided up into months. Each month's section has a timeline page, of sorts, listing various weather events or outings. Then each one also includes little tidbits here and there about enjoying the month you're in, random asides about clothing or neighbors or cats, memories from her travels, important keepsakes, etc. It's just a lot of fun. I sat right down on Second Christmas afternoon and read it cover to cover.

[Um...Second Christmas? Let me sum up: we went to Utah and Idaho for Christmas this year, but we only brought along stockings, because trying to bring everything else would have made us all (okay, mostly my husband and I) crazy. Plus, no room in the van. That meant the day after we got back home again was Second Christmas! Ho ho ho! Opened all the presents and had a "proper breakfast," per my daughter's requirement, although she agreed cereal and scrambled eggs qualified.]

It's quirky, and probably not everybody's cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

So for all of us enduring January rather than enjoying it, I quote from page 5:

How To Winterize Your Mind:

One: See the sun rise and set every day.
The average night is 13 1/2 hours long. We spend most of January in the dark. Don't miss a minute of daylight.

Two: Learn how to draw a tree.
Now is the best time to see what a tree REALLY looks like. Draw one a day.

Three: Put something beautiful in your room so that it's the first thing that you see when you wake up. (She has a list of possibilities. I'm thinking of my own.)

Four: Mend something with your hands.
Sew it, glue it, nail it, FIX IT.

Five: Seahorses, ladybugs, wooly bear caterpillars, and dragonflies do it--HIBERNATE.
Life is but a winter dream.

Today's sunset was worth a very cold moment on the porch with the camera.

What do you do to get through January?


  1. I love this posting, Linnae, and have put the book on my 'must have' list. I've started a new journal to help get me through January and think Swift's book will assist me in this endeavor. P. x

    1. Thanks Pam! Though we come from very different backgrounds, I have the feeling Ms. Swift and I could be good friends--or at least good neighbors! :) Have fun journaling!