Forgive me if you were born in January, February, or March when I proclaim that in Maryland, these are the worst months of the year. The weather is usually lousy. It’s cold, dark by five, and the lack of color on the trees and in flower boxes can be downright gloomy. At times, the months seem endless.
Typically in our state we enjoy rather good weather all the way through the holidays. In fact, this year was no exception. While I certainly would have embraced a “white Christmas,” the weather here was beautiful.
In addition, we are so busy at the holidays that it affords us no time at all to dwell on such matters.
And yet, when January hits, I’ve always viewed this period of time as the “three longest months of the year.”
However, this year we can battle the doldrums of January, February, and March as we patiently wait for spring. We have to create a plan of attack that will make the most of our wait.
I recommend we do the following:
1. Start with exercise. Exercise is an important part of feeling good about ourselves. The holidays have been cruel to our bodies. We ate more than we should have. Exercise will help us start to feel better and will give us more energy. Perhaps we could consider penciling our walk, run, or gym workouts into our calendars so that we avoid skipping out on them. Just as bad habits are easy to form, so are good ones.
2. Catch up on some good books. These are great months to turn off the television and sink our teeth into a good book that’s become dusty on our nightstand or to download a “new arrival” onto your Kindle, Nook, or iPad. There are so many new releases out there as well as independent authors who would love for you to read their first works. Some of these books can be bought at bargain prices–there are tons of them available for .99 cents. Or, you can catch up on a nonfiction bestseller like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, which has been on The New York Times Bestseller List for 58 weeks. If you prefer fiction and enjoy Jane Austen, British mystery writer P.D. James has just written a new one entitled Death Comes To Pemberly. On my nightstand right now is Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson’s debut best-seller, which was highly recommended by my friend Diana.
3. Watch movies we’ve missed. Sometimes we wish we could have seen a film in a theatre, but sometimes that’s unrealistic. Movies come and go so fast, we can often miss them due to our busy lives. Because the weather tends to be just plain yukky, this is a great time to indulge in some good flicks. Also, with the Oscars and Golden Globes around the corner, you can try to see some of the nominated films. Another idea would be to visit the American Film Institute’s list of Best Films of All-Time; we can review which ones we have seen and then pick ones that we’ve said to ourselves, “I’ve always wanted to see that film.” Throw in a classic now and then just to mix it up a bit.
4. Try some new recipes. This may sound as if it goes against the grain of getting healthy and exercising, but alas, we must eat. Try some new recipes–healthy ones–that we can incorporate into our set staples. The breadth and wealth of information out there regarding food, baking, and cooking should make it fun to attempt some innovative and refreshing meals. Another idea? Take a cooking class. My cousin Chrysti took an Italian cooking class and said it was a great opportunity to learn the fundamentals and little tricks of Italian cooking.
5. Arrange to meet a dear friend for coffee, dinner, a drink, or a day out. Set aside some time for friends. Whether it’s for thirty minutes or the whole day, we can all benefit from reconnecting with friends and getting caught up. We love Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and whatever other social media we use to stay connected, but there’s really nothing like sitting down face-to-face and sharing a laugh.
6. Make a playdate with your family. Whether it’s a game night, a hike on a trail, or a destination weekend, make plans to share some quality time with your family. My daughter keeps asking us when we can go back to Great Wolf Lodge. These are great months to do it and enjoy.
7. Learn a new language. Whether we sign up to take a non-credit course in French, Spanish, Italian, or Russian, or we decide to learn it on our own through a program we can play in our car as we commute to and from work, learning a new language can help us if we plan on visiting another country. I have a friend who is teaching herself Italian as she prepares to go abroad later in the year. Learning some key phrases and basic words can make all the difference in our travels.
8. Take a ride and explore a place we haven’t yet explored. This can be a town in our state or a short destination trip. Enjoying a change of scenery can brighten the mood, and it’s a great opportunity to learn about, observe, and savor something new.
9. Indulge ourselves in something we don’t normally indulge ourselves in. A spa visit? A massage? A new item of clothing? An iPad? The list can be varied, but every once in a while, it’s okay to say yes and sink our teeth into something we want wholeheartedly!
10. Clean out our closets and dissect what we have. While this may seem like a chore, it’s actually quite liberating. AMVets, Goodwill, Purple Heart, and other noteworthy organizations are in search of donations. By purging our closets, bookshelves, storage rooms, and garages, we create a sense of air and space. Becoming more organized can make us feel empowered. Magazines like Real Simple and Better Homes and Gardens offer great suggestions on just how to do it!
Join me in our fight against these long, upcoming months. Together we can battle and triumph!
If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to share with other readers in the comments section.