January can be a difficult month, the cold weather and darkness can really permeate our souls and lay us low. Outside, things still look hard and predominantly brown, often damp. There are glimpses of Spring, tiny green shoots hiding amongst the rotting leaves and dark soil...but we often miss these gifts as our minds tell us that there are weeks of this cold and dark to endure, it's still only January and we have yet to struggle through February...
I've been this person, I've struggled with winter, suffered with the winter blues and not been able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
So I decided to write myself a sort of permission slip - permission to be happy, permission to be grateful, and glad, and optimistic.
It starts with asking yourself - what can I do to make myself feel like that? It's so easy.
Do something nice for yourself. Something that will make you feel good.
It can be the luxury of an early night, getting cosy in fresh sheets with a good book and an hot water bottle, it could be a meal out with a loved one, or coffee with friends, a long country walk followed by a hearty pub lunch, watching a feel good film....it's endless, once we begin to think about the things we can do.
Choose Happy - a recent artwork in gouache and metallic watercolour
On Sunday, I woke up with a very obvious sensation of gloom in my belly. I went downstairs and made a coffee, the long day loomed ahead of me with no real incentive to do much. The bare trees looked listless and dull against a turbulent rain laden sky...come on, I said to myself, this won't do - what could you do that would make you feel better today? What would make you happy? Lift your spirits?
As I wandered into the lounge with my mug, I noticed a new flower catalogue on the table that had arrived in the post and took it with me to the sofa to have a look at. The sight of those bright flowers, swathes of colour on every page, cascades of tomatoes, and tall canes dripping with bright green beans had the effect of lifting me out of my low mood and planning a trip to our local garden centre to buy seeds!
It felt really good to browse that catalogue, and get ideas for what we could plant and grow this year.
I ended up with a lovely pack of sweet pea seeds and some special long planters to grow them in. I watched a clever video by Sarah Raven on how to do it and feel pretty confident that our garden will look and smell amazing come summer.
All of this created a huge well of optimism, it enabled me to lift out of the heavy gloom and focus on something positive that felt good.
Feeling good is what it's all about - once we have committed to that, we will find ways to make it happen.
The rest of the day passed by in a heavenly lounging manner, culminating with a nice roast dinner. I also planned a lazy soak in the bath with some favourite oils, and dug out a new book to read.
As always, last thing at night before my head hits the pillow, I write down my gratitudes for the day.
I was really grateful for how the day had turned out, and how a bunch of simple things had made a grey day in January really pretty special.
The secret is to keep doing this, to ask yourself everyday - what can I do to make myself feel good today? Even if it's just one thing, that's OK. Tiny steps taken daily will help to build a more positive mindset which in turn leads to an happier, more positive life.
What one nice thing will you do for yourself today?