I hate January. I didn't used to, or perhaps I didn't notice that I did. But certainly over recent years I have recognised a particular malaise that tends to accompany the arrival of winter's darkest month. It's all down to light for me I am sure. I am a light thirsty person. The first thing I do when I leave the bedroom in the morning is open all the curtains in the house. I cannot abide closed curtains in a house during the daytime. I want to let as much light in as possible and feel part of the world outside.
The late onset January resentment doesn't make sense really considering I grew up several degrees of latitude further north than where I now live - where daylight hours in winter are even shorter and it is dark by 3pm. And outdoor activities were restricted by Atlantic gales and horizontal rain most of the month. But always there was the lit fireplace. That dancing light and warmth in the epicentre of the home -the beating heart of winter days while the sun was temporarily on holiday in the Southern hemisphere. But in our present home we have no fireplace, so perhaps that's something. Maybe Scottish winters were never meant to be endured without fire creating a cosy, mesmerising haven to refuge in while winter gnashes its teeth outside. (Mental note to self: next home must have a fireplace.)
Sunshine is the ultimate energiser. It not only illuminates our world but also provides our bodies with essential vitamins and benefits we don't fully understand. So it shouldn't really be a surprise that its absence knocks things out of kilter somewhat. Not a good thing in a month when many are setting new goals and resolutions for how they are going to do life differently in the year ahead. And as someone who now works from home but who grew up in the wide open spaces of the Outer Hebrides my mood is peculiarly tied to what is happening outside my window.
I had great plans for establishing new disciplines from the get-go in 2015 - this was going to be The Year of Discipline! But January had other plans and just laughed me off. The new morning routine was swept away by irregular sleeping patterns. The get fit efforts took a left turn into the doctor's office with annoying ailments to be treated instead and the new long term work goals got forgotten in the familiar flow of the urgent but unimportant.
I washed up at the end of the month very much like a piece of flotsam in a January storm, not knowing how I got there exactly and feeling very unaccomplished and not at all enamoured with 2015.
But you know what? January ended.
It is now February and the increasing daylight has been pleasantly unhindered thanks to cold and clear weather allowing the sunshine to pour into the house each day, leaving us blinking and realising just how much spring cleaning will be required in due course.
Snowdrops are already blooming by the roadside and bulbs are shooting up in the planters - apparently unfazed by the snow gathering around them. Yes, Spring is around the corner! The long, dark waiting of Winter will soon give way to the creative energy of Spring and my malaise will be forgotten as nature works with me, instead of against me, to harness new disciplines and create new things of 2015.
Despite January's best efforts I still declare 2015 the Year of Discipline, because discipline is a process, not a one-time opportunity, by which we achieve new quality of character and standard of living. It's value is not diminished but, rather, enhanced by repetition. The more repetition required to achieve the discipline the greater the impact it will have.
So don't let January write you off - be pleased to find your self on the other side of it with the ability to try again and make February your ally in changing your life for the better this year. You can do it!
As depressing as the month of January can be, its quietness in the lull after Christmas can suit it to taking some time to step aside from the busyness of life to reflect on the year past and look ahead to making changes for the year ahead.
Below are some resources I found really useful as I took time to do that this year.
Donald Miller's FREE e-book Start Life Over
Blog post: How to Actually Do The Stuff You Say You Want To Do by Sarah Von Bargen
Blog post: How to Create More Margin in Your Life by Michael Hyatt
Devotional: Will You Go Out Without Knowing? by Oswald Chambers
Devotional: Why Cannot I Follow Thee Now? by Oswald Chambers