Comfortable in the In-Between


It’s cold.  Everything outside my kitchen window appears dead or frost bitten.  My entire backyard is the color of bird seed.  Which reminds me, we need to restock the feeders.  The squirrels must be hungry.   (Huge eye roll from my last post.) We’ve had the slightest skift of snow.  The yard has a delicate, twinkling white powder dusted on the tips of withered leaves and dormant grass.  Maybe my yard looks more like Frosted Flakes than bird seed.

Waiting for the sink water to warm, I’m bundled in mismatched wool socks, sweat pants and a sweater.  My winter, around-the-house clothing makes me look like I’m 84.  I keep a tissue tucked into my sleeve so I’ve basically become one of the Golden Girls.   I don’t have a cold but I sneeze all day.  It must be winter allergies and all the time spent indoors.  I’m closed up with the dust and frankly, I feel a little dusty myself.  Perhaps new air filters or more frequent use of Pledge would help.

I can’t seem to warm up.  After removing dinner, I’ve been known to crack open the oven door and stand in front of it, rubbing my hands together as it cools.  My husband can remember his grandmother doing that sort of thing.One small step with a walker and I’m Sophia carrying around a pocket book. 

During this bitter cold day it’s inconceivable that my 14 year old daughter drifts into the kitchen, dressed as if she’s spent the afternoon off the Florida coast.  She glides her finger around the inside edge of a bowl I’m stirring then licks it off with a smack.  I watch her lean against the counter.  Her cheeks look warm, her hair is in a pony tail and nothing covers her long legs but gym shorts.  I meet her eyes, bright and sparkling like the iridescent snow.  “Put some clothes on.  You’re making me cold looking at you.”  My mother said that sort of thing, so at least now I’ve moved back one generation from Golden.

In January, all the days blend into the next one.  In my opinion, January has no sense of accomplishment other than taking swings at our resolutions and collecting financial data for Income Taxes.  January is not the most exciting month.   It’s when big companies send a few of their employees to trade shows in sunny destinations.  Their morale will get a boost and they’ll come back with an uneven tan, wearing ball caps and flowered shirts and pump up the rest of the team.   Maybe all of our resolutions have collapsed by mid-January.  Maybe we have zero motivation to gather tax paperwork or go to the gym so we end up scrolling Facebook and Googling random facts to appear productive.  Like whether or not you can burn calories by trying to stay warm.  Don’t bother.  I did it for you.  Not until you shiver.  Shivering burns calories. 

There’s no specific event in January.  Something to do where we can feel a sense of accomplishment.   Since last October, there was something *to do* every month.  A plan had to be in place to cram every, single event into your schedule.  But in January, we end up easing into the year, rolling off the couch from our Tryptophan and Glucose induced coma.  We lose the “Fired Up” punch of the first days of the year and start to think it’s too cold to go to the gym. I mean, there’s snow on the edge of the grass for Pete’s sake.  And apple pie for breakfast is okay because it’s basically a fruit filled pop tart.  Same diff.

January is a bluesy month.  One icy, wintry day after another. The freshness of the new year melts and refreezes into a couple of weeks of blah.  No more chestnuts on an open fire.  No more champagne and countdowns.  January feels like it’s going to start off strong but by the midway mark we’re just cold and cooped up.  And sneezing.  It’s the month of either/or.  EITHER it snows a blizzard and I have an excuse to stay in pajamas all day.  OR it warms up and I can venture outside and go for a walk without looking like Frankenstein doing the box step. One of those two events needs to happen or I’m going feel blah. 

Oh, Eleanor you poor thing. 

A circumstance needs to change so we won’t feel down.  What are we millennials? (I’m kidding.) If you were raised anytime before 1983 you know that sitting around thrumming your fingers on the table and staring out the window was okay for about 15 minutes but then you better do something to make yourself productive or your parents would help guide you to that end.  Waiting for someone else (or an event) to make a situation better for you was preposterous.  Are we the last of the generations that still expects something from ourselves?  We have to be productive!  Need wood? Go chop it.  Need money? Go work for it.  Need happiness? Give it away since that’s the fastest route to completely BLISS out. 

But you’re not feeling it, are you? 

Your body and mind are having none of that positive energy, go-getter nonsense.  If you’re not feeling love for yourself, how can we expect you to scrape together enough sunshine for someone else? You want your ambition back, but it’s buried under 14 layers of mismatched clothing and a bowl of chili.  All of your drive, love and desire escaped you.  But, my friend, my reader, I promise...It’s a season.  A wave and you have to be brave enough to ride it out. 

It’s possible that right now, in the middle of January you just don’t feel it. You’re cold.  You’re hibernating and you’re doing the minimum because your nose is red and you’re out of tissues.  It’s okay.  Forgive yourself.  Be kinder to your unproductive self.  Beating yourself up will not improve your morale.  Be a better friend to the the person in the mirror.  If you’re fogging up the glass, you still need to be here and you have a purpose to fulfill. You’ll come around.  You’ll push through.  Your insides will warm again and you’ll discover your fire, sparking all that wonderful, crazy incentive.  Be gentle with yourself.  We’re on a journey.  We can do this.

January is an in-between month and it’s okay for you to feel in-between too.