January ain't what it used to be

i was out walking at 5.15pm yesterday - and IT WASN'T QUITE DARK!

The days are lengthening.

It wasn't quiet either - the birds were singing at full volume, louder and more mellifluous than for some time.

And it wasn't cold. In fact I was too warm in my coat.


It felt like spring. And my heart skipped and my feet followed and I gave thanks for the feeling of spring and the pleasure of the hint of spring. Grateful to the Lord for all His blessings and lovingkindnesses.

Yet it doesn't feel right. Surely January ought to be cold and dark and gloomy; a long month of drabness and gloom. A month of feeling blue and SAD. (Seasonally adjusted depression). And that's why we've looked at hugging and at having a January survival kit.


Marion sent me this lovely remedy:

I found a recipe for dark January days in the Message version of Eccl. 9 - not a book I generally linger in.

Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.


i love that! So I looked it up and read the next few verses too:

Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!


Carpe Diem!

January 2014 isn't perhaps the type of January we've come to expect. Yet many of us can sometimes have those SAD feelings at this time of year: so on the blog we've looked at living as well as we dare, getting enough sleep (or hibernating!) and realising that lots of hugs and cuddles can have a very salutary effect upon us - as well as being rather fun sometimes. At least three hugs a day!

Then there is the summer to look forward to - planning a trip, and especially, planning a Pilgrimage, to walk the Via Francigena in Tuscany! A vacation with a difference  - led by my husband and me. Come too? Walk from Montalcino to Viterbo, or from San Gimignano to Montalcino.


I love, too,  the idea of special things to do at this time of year.

I read on a blog somewhere ideas for establishing routines/traditions that you do ONLY during the dark winter months — enjoying the season for what it is. The two ideas that I can recall at the moment are stringing white twinkle lights on your mantel and turning them on as soon as you get home (or when it turns dark) and routinely dining by candlelight. Very cozy, which sounds like a good theme for January!

We love cozy!  So retreatants over these past two weeks have been dining by candlelight, and there are twinkly white lights in the morning room which cheer us all each evening. And log fires in the sitting room (and in our private snug) 

And lovely scents - 

Another beat-the-January-blues idea — buying special hand cream/lotion/soap, scented candles, bath salts, etc., in scents that are pleasing and cozy — and use them only in the winter months (and it so happens that post-Christmas is a good time to get them on sale!). I think this goes along nicely with the “live as well as you dare” theme! 

Come on retreat soon and enjoy all of these things: 

There's Hotel de Chocolate and Writers' Weekends coming up - book soon as there is limited availability

And what not to do?

On the list of things NOT to do can you please add: lounging in front of the TV watching indiscrimately any daft old programme at the same time as munching on junk food and drinking too much alcohol.. Very bad habit to get into but easy to fall into this trap in the Winter evenings..  So one vote for enjoying countryside and writing poetry and a NO vote for tv !

So there's a choice - yours and mine, as Mandy wrote:

It is a conscious choice and when I allow myself time for a hot bubble bath, pjs and bed at a sensible hour with a hot water bottle, it is so much better than when I listen to the lure of social media or reading just a little more. Thanks for the reminder that we only need to be who God calls us to be.

And perhaps the best comment?

Sometimes its good to have someone else remind you(i.e. you!) to enjoy the good things in life rather than feeling guilty for it. For me it would include regular times with my husband and making sure I get time on my own - with God and also just space to 'be'…. For light January reading I highly recommend Alexander McCall Smith books - all the ones set in Edinburgh. they are light hearted, easy to read and fun. I am also going to read Tim Keller's 'The Meaning Of Marriage' this month so hold me accountable on that one! I look forward to hearing more ways to survive……  Surely one fun thing is day trips to see your granddaughters?!

Those little granddaughters hug the best! So I'm seeing all three of my granddaughters this weekend. 


What are you doing to help alleviate the bleak midwinter? 

Have you booked your retreat at The Vine?  And don't forget to sign up to have news and blog delivered straight into your in-box - see the top right hand corner for the easy sing-up!