Battling Winter Despair

On the elevator this morning, a man I see all the time but have never spoken to asked me why I was so cheery.  Apparently, I had wished him a hearty, cheery, happy good morning and it had shocked him into speech.

I’m pushing back against despair, I found myself saying in a cheery voice, even though it’s never really a good idea to say things like that to total strangers, because it makes them think you’re a weirdo.  It’s true, though. Another thing that’s true is that the more miserable I am, the cheerier I get. Oddly, and wonderfully, this man did not push the emergency button and jump out of the elevator. Instead, he lifted his hand in that high five gesture you don’t see very often around the court where I work. We slapped palms, compatriots in the battle against winter despair. Now that’s something I can say with absolute certainty I’ve never, ever done in an elevator before. But it made me feel better (and my next greeting wasn’t quite so scarily cheery.) I am not alone in working hard this January to push back despair.

Really, don’t you think January can be such an awful month? There’s so much RAIN around here, and all the warmth and good food of December has come to an end and things just seem so much colder and grimmer than they usually do.  What to do?

Look around you, I think. It’s time for one of those beauty-in-small-things assessments. I suppose in a pinch, I could try alcohol, but that’s frowned on around my office even more than high fiving in the elevator. So, today, I photographed things in my office that make me feel okay — peaceful even. Settled. And this made me like my life a little bit more than I did when I walked in the door that morning and even kept me from weeping when it started to rain… again… and hard … right around lunchtime.

doing their bit

These women never, ever moaned about the rain.


So drink your tea, eat your whole wheat toast with honey, your vanilla Brown Cow lowfat yogurt, and your bloom

Inside, things are blooming.print

Pretty soon, it’ll be spring.


22 thoughts on “Battling Winter Despair

  1. You go to London. The weather will probably be dreadful. And the night will fall around four in the afternoon. When you come back: tadaa! it’ll be spring already in comparison.

  2. Ah, January! Always feels like a cold shower to me after the warm blanket of December. I compensate by rather optimistically watching for early signs of spring (buds mostly, still fast asleep) and enjoying warm things: good coffee during the day, my beloved and the cat in the evening and a lovely little “51” glass of 12 year old Highland Park just before bed.

  3. Oh BlogLily, me too! All the things you mentioned, plus sending my brother home to warm Africa and the bosom of my whole family while I linger in cold Europe and play that this is where I want to be for the rest of my life.

    However, like you, I try to see the good and I’m seeing: happy children, weather mild enough for a walk along the river and friends who comfort me and gather me into their love. So, it’s not too bad, but then sometimes, it is.

  4. January is a horrid month, much like November when one begins to realise how much winter lies ahead. I watch every evening as the light lasts a tiny bit longer. And this year I’m trying to read only lovely cheerful books by writers like Elilzabeth von Arnim that transform the inside of your head into a nice place to be, no matter what the outside world is doing. Sending big hugs, dear BL xx

  5. My mother always thought that January was such a difficult month because we tend to date its beginning from Christmas, so it seems to go on for ever. But every day the light lasts just that little bit longer and that for me is a miracle. Along with looking at the buds on the trees that are a promise of what we are moving towards that is what keeps me going.

  6. We’ve recently had some freakish January weather. Including 3 below zero for a day or so, followed by 3 tornadoes and 3 almost 70 degree days. It’s back down to 20 with rain and fog and gloom.

    Feel better soon!

    Your breakfast looks divine!

  7. I don’t mind January, the dark, the rain and cold, per se. It’s all this go to work, be a functioning adult nonsense that gets me down. Let me stay in my pajamas and read and play board games with my kids. I’d be the very picture of cheerfulness.

    Thanks for the post.

  8. I dont mind winter, as long as there is snow and I can ski. We’ve had a few -20 to -30c nights here.
    At least the days are getting longer again.

  9. Or we could go out and enjoy the moments as it is for ourselves. The fall of the rain. The crisp freshness of the air.

    Winter time for me is one of those seasons where it gives me all the reason to feel alive. All it takes is to step out not because we’re pushing back our despair, but genuinely happy for the fact, there is so much we take for granted and we have now to revel in it all.

  10. I’d have high-fived you if you’d said that to me – it’s a pretty awesome, ruthlessly honest response.

    I found your blog on Mischief Mari’s blog – what a fabulous find. Love your posts and your thoughts. And your clothes! (reading about browns and boots and belts).

    Hope you have a wonderful time in London, which is one the coolest cities on the planet.

  11. I guess I’m the sole lover of winter, although I’ve moved to a place where we don’t seem to get any snow, and we’ve had tons of rain, so maybe I’ll start despising it at some point. Meanwhile, next time I’m feeling gloomy, because we never get any snow, I’m going to come back here and look at your pictures.

  12. I’m been finding myself in a pretty black mood lately as well, but normally I don’t so much mind January, so I don’t know if it’s the winter or stress or other things contributing to my mood as of late. By the way, your toast looks delicious! Today I am appreciating the smell of garlic roasting in my oven for a new tapenade (I’m working from home) and my ridiculously huge cd collection…I am enjoying browsing through it and choosing just the right cd each time…other things that make me happy are Oscar worthy movies and college basketball…January isn’t ALL bad thanks to those two things.

  13. When it rains in Los Angeles, we have two kinds of people, and no more. Those who hate the rain with a vengeance, and those who love it. Those who love it, do so because it’s so rare – and they appreciate that it clears out the smog when it’s all done with. The former, quite frankly, are spoiled little children. 😉 Haha.

    *high five to bloglily*

  14. The picture of the toast was so perfectly heart warming. Nothing like some good carbs to fight the January blues. My malaise was so bad this week I couldn’t even go to work. I went in Tuesday (my first day back from vacation) and then couldn’t face the raw weather (and was fighting a cold) on Wednesday and felt even worse today so I’ve basically stayed in all week, feeling blah and even more down from being literally “under the weather” — well, probably not literally because that doesn’t make sense at all, but gives me an idea for a drawing! Now I’m inspired! Thanks!

  15. Oh, you are all so wonderful!

    Jana — Yes, I think finding something creative to do is part of the answer to the weather. I can’t wait to see your drawing and hope you post it!

    High five to you too Sylvia.

    It’s so nice to see you over here, Estarla. As you probably know, those of us who live in the real part of California look askance on those who live in the other part and cannot deal with even a smidge of rain.

    mmm Courtney. Your house sounds like a little outpost of beauty and fun.

    Dear Emily, I wonder too if the snow would be better than the rain. I think it’s a bit of a wash, really.

    Welcome Capt. Cat — Your blog is really terrific and what an interesting life you are leading. I love the idea of ruthless honesty, as long as the person who’s being ruthlessly honest is telling me, for example, how much they love the idea I have for my novel, or the deliciousness of the short story I’ve sent them.

    Hello Eoin, That mug works wonders, it really does. We should all have one such.

    Hey Kamigoroshi (edrei!), How fun to have a 9rules person here. I love your thought about being out in it all and enjoying it and will try to do that. Thank you for the reminder.

    Welcome Bert — You know, you and my husband are quite similar. He was thrilled about the rain, jumped right in the car, flew up to the mountains and had what he claims is the best skiing in decades. I like the snow too, but sometimes I’m a sit by the fire person.

    You know Bora, I’d like that too. Work=nonsense=high five.

    Debbie, you always make me laugh. As long as my cave has good food in it for when I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m good with the whole hibernation thing.

    Goodness Sarah, that’s a LOT of weather. I can see how a little rain and gloom would be welcome. (And glad to see you here, by the way!)

    Dear Ann, You’re right — the change in how much daylight we are getting is a good thing to look out for. The trick, I think, is to be sure to remember to look for it. xo, BL

    Hello litlove, The garden in one’s head! Yay for books that do that.

    Charlotte, I like thinking of you going for walks with your children by the river. It sounds like just the right thing for right now.

    Edwin, High five for all that! Wine, cat, loved one, coffee. What more is there?

    As always, dear Mandarine, you are so right!

  16. I’ve been pretending that winter doesn’t exist here in the Northeast. With temperatures up in the high 50s and 60s and even the sun out (usually when it’s warm here, it’s overcast and glum)…well, I just decided that we were done with all that stuff. And now I read that we’re to get a FOOT OF SNOW overnight, I am pushing back despair myself. Sometimes I can get through snow by enjoying the fact that everything just stops, you stay in your pajamas all day, sipping tea by the fire and reading…but mostly it’s tough because you CAN’T do that stuff and you have to go out and shovel and try to get down your hilly driveway to do stupid errands and go to appointments that you promised back when the sky was sunny and blue and winter wasn’t coming back. *Sigh* Spring takes soooo long to come here to Connecticut. Late May, really, before you can count on it.

  17. Strangers should totally high-five each other more often.

    I take colorful pictures of my happy children on flowery spring days. I frame these pictures, put them on my desk, otherwise save them for winter and other dreary times.

    High-fives and happy children. Yay!

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