Finding January

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January is a month that seems to arrive very abruptly year after year.  No matter how many times I tell myself that I am ready for the return of quiet routine and the familiarity of home, the dead of winter always hits me like an ice storm.

Photo by Studio Eiler @studioeiler

This awareness reoccurs year after year, and I’m left anxiously dreading the month of January and its quiet shadows and cold, monotonous days. This past year was no different — there I was at the end of December, anticipating the arrival of this feeling that knocks on the door every New Year’s Day and somberly says, “I’m baaaaaaaaaaack.”

The feeling arrived right on time, but this year was the first year that I said, “No.”

Okay it wasn’t that easy, but I had to put my foot down.  Thirty-one days is way too long to dread! There had to be another way to get through this month.

And that was all I needed to see clarity in the storm.

“Get through?”

I am trying  to “get through” 31 days of my life just because they are a little dark, cold, and quiet?

Dark, cold, and quiet.

These words swirled around me like the January ice that continued to encompass my mind.  The longer I was alone with these three words, the more promise and light I found in their meaning. Dark, cold, and quiet.

In my life, January has always seemed to linger like a dark, quiet shadow, but I have always found darkness to be quite enchanting and mysterious. I was determined to find a different perspective to take on the month of January.

Instead of rushing into the new year with goals and resolutions, I have allowed my mind to wander as freely as the snow flurries outside my window.  I have embraced the muffled quiet of the outside world as the snow blankets the roads and sidewalks.

January has been a time of hushed observation. I’ve taken in the new forms of scenery through bare trees and snow-covered parks and beaches. While it seems as if the quiet world is hibernating, I have discovered new sounds and fresh views of familiar scenes. I’ve found it breathtaking just how far you can see in the distance through the stripped branches of the trees.  These views have allowed my mind to wander further without being enclosed by the thick leaves and tall grass.

Have you ever walked around during the winter in a place that would normally be bustling with activity on warm day? I’m still having trouble finding the words to describe being alone on the beach looking out at the sheet of ice that is currently muffling Lake Michigan.  I teetered carefully on ice covered sand that would have already been stepped on by thousands of others on a summer day. This mesmerizing view is one that is best experienced in this cold, deserted winter season, and one that I will now look forward to each year.

Some days are darker and colder than others.  These are the days I have looked forward to the most; days when I can light up the darkness with candles, soft lamps and favorite movies. Nights when I can I warm up the cold with the perfect cup of tea or hot chocolate under blankets and heavy sweatshirts.  These piercing, cold days have made me feel gratitude towards the comforts that bring warmth into my life — my home, my friendships, my family, and the memories that linger from the holiday season.

This year I have allowed the January freeze and allowed it to give me a new vision of what its days could be for me each year.  Days of flurried, untamed thoughts. Revived visions of the surrounding outside world. A slow pace with less pressure and more calm.  A stillness that takes more effort to notice during other seasons.

January hit me like an ice storm just as it does every year.  From this January forward, I vow to embrace the freeze just as the ground, the lake, and the trees do each year.  I have found my January, and somehow feel a little warmer than I did before.

Wishing you zest & light,
Stephanie =)

 

 

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30 thoughts on “Finding January

  1. Stephanie,
    Another thought-provoking piece!
    I have always enjoyed walking the trails at Bi-C Park in the months of January and February, as long as I am dressed appropriately! The snow is beautiful and it is so quiet. It was my time to reflect.
    It has been too cold but I am looking forward to walking outside again in the next few days and…I plan on taking my coffee with me.
    Keep writing!
    Love to you!
    Judy

    1. Thank you, Judy!! Oh I love that trail! I’ve actually only walked it in the spring and summer, but I bet it’s beautiful with snow covered trees and the quiet winter air. Even better with a warm cup of coffee =) I hope you are able to enjoy it soon! Happy January!

  2. This is such a lovely post, as are all of yours! It is hard to look forward to January sometimes after spending such beautiful holiday moments in December, but I agree with you- dreading January is not the way to go! I have been feeling very similarly, but I have realized that while I am not as busy, it is a nice time for me to relax and unwind from the chaos of the fall. It is a reset button- time to reset priorities, schedules, and goals for the new year ahead! While the cold is sometimes hard, I do love to get all snuggled up with hot cocoa or tea and watch one of my favorite movies surrounded by the glow of beautiful candle light! Thanks for this beautiful post! Hope your week goes really well! Stay safe and warm!

    1. Yes, Erin, I agree. It is so nice to have some time to relax and simply reflect. It is definitely also a GREAT excuse to stay in, watch movies, and drink hot chocolate! Sometimes during the warmer months I feel this constant pressure to be on the go and filling my time. It’s nice to take these colder months to slow down and just be at home. Thank you for the thoughtful comment!!

  3. love this post and how you approach January.. love the photos too..
    for me, growing up in southern India and now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, January does not hit us with the same intensity as for you but yes, the feeling that another year has passed and what have we done is there, and i am working on it to ensure i have something to say next january with pride!

    1. Hi Vidya! Yes, this is so interesting! Even if the weather isn’t cold and gloomy where you live, I am sure the feeling of quiet sets in after the busy New Year, and the feeling that another year has passed. Wishing you a very happy start to the year!

  4. January and I are NOT friends. It’s always the most miserable time of the year for me. It’s actually improved more now that I live in California and the weather is so much better, but it’s still a time of too much stillness for me and little to look forward to (unless a vacation is planned).

    Your pictures capture the mood of the month well!

    1. Caren, I have always felt the same way about January! I’m sure it did get a lot easier living in California where it is at least warm and sunny. Maybe I need to plan a little trip somewhere warm each January! haha Wishing you a Happy New Year! Thanks so much for stopping by Citrus & Sun!

    1. I agree, Indrani. There is so much going on over the holidays, and then it is just very quiet and still. I hope you can find peace and reflection during this time! Thank you so much for reading =)

  5. Even though I have always more energy and determination with the beginning of the year, January always seems like the longest month of all. I don’t know why… It’s tough in Ireland when there’s so few warm sunny days, and January is usually pretty bad. Missing the heat so much!

    1. January does feel especially long! I normally start the month off with energy and determination, too, but have a hard time keeping in throughout the month. I’m definitely giving myself permission to to rest and take a break after the busy holiday season. How beautiful Ireland must be! I hope the sun finds you soon! Thank you so much for reading, Anna =)

  6. This year where I live it has been a really cold one. People complain about it but I love. My winters are normally in the sixties but this winter seasonal it actually really cold, I feel that is what its suppose to be.

    1. Yes, I completely agree, Luci!! Winter doesn’t feel right when it is too warm! It really helps me appreciate the seasons when the temperature is true to the time of year!

  7. Love your thoughts on this. Winter has always been hard for my heart, but last year I finally just let myself settle into the season and all that it had to teach.

    Thank you for your words.

    1. Thank you so much, Jeana. I am sorry that winter has been hard on your heart in the past. I love what you said about settling into the season. I think this is such a wonderful phrase to use. When we allow ourselves to settle in and be at peace with our surroundings, our heart becomes happier and our mind is calmer. Thanks so much for sharing and for stopping by Citrus & Sun!

  8. Stephanie,
    I love that you took what was a dark and depressing time of year for you, and turned it into a positive! Yay for you. 🙂 I am trying to do that in my life too, but it’s been a struggle. Still, we don’t give up.

    1. Thank you, Patricia. I have really tried to make this January a little different than the past, but it is definitely difficult! Winter is hard, but yes, we don’t give up and we must keep enjoying all of the those little moments in between. Thank you for stopping by Citrus & Sun! Wishing you a beautiful rest of January!

  9. Beautiful and lovely, while you people have your Winter, we have Harmattan over here. while you are finding January we are adjusting our-self to know if we can blend in or rather pretend as is this harmattan does not have any effect on us.

    1. Hi Oyibo! I was not familiar with Harmattan so I did a little research. This sounds like it does take some adjusting during these months!! Thanks so much for sharing, you taught me something new today! =)

    1. Thank you so much! This kind of change comes slow, so don’t give up!! I’m still working on certain anxieties in my life and learning how to manage them. Thank you for being so open!

    1. Thank you, Esperanza! I appreciate that feedback so much. Yes, I am on both sides of winter, too. It definitely depends on the day! Thank you for reading!

    1. Thank you so much!! Yes, we must not give up and continue to stay positive throughout these cold months =) Thanks for stopping by Citrus & Sun!

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