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The February Slump
Are you feeling it too? In day to day life and online, I’m sensing a collective February slump. Friends and followers are talking about how tough these last couple of weeks have been - and I know I’m feeling it too. Maybe it’s the news, maybe it’s the fresh promise of the new year wearing off, maybe it’s because Spring still seems so far away (though close enough to tease us with a few warmer days). I posted about the heady mix of comparisonitis and house hunting frustration I was feeling that was compounding my February blues - and it seemed to resonate with a lot of you too.
And yet, while we’re only just past the halfway point of Winter with Imbolc last week, marketing tells us to move on to the next thing before the moment has even passed - the bells of New Year had barely stopped ringing and we were told to get ready for Spring. I saw my first Easter display in my local supermarket in the first week of January, and the hot cross buns are gradually taking over the aisles with every passing week. Easter isn’t even until mid-April this year! It feels like we’re constantly hurtling towards the next holiday - all in a bid to sell us more, more, more and speed up the seasonal cycle, leaving us ever wanting. Plus, with lots of folks returning to workplaces in the UK rather than working from home, there’s a simultaneous pressure to get back to “normal” - whatever that is or was.
In many ways I find that this sped-up way of living and consuming fed to us is reflective of how the world tries to make us live our lives: onto the next achievement, the next ‘milestone’ ticked off the list. Graduate, get the job, the house, the promotion, the ring, the baby… I’m not putting these things down at all, and they are all wonderful achievements - but there’s so much pressure to tick off these big “life goals” that it’s no wonder we never seem fully satisfied and are left feeling burnt out.
Maybe it’s because the world is so complex and busy that we cling onto these goals and achievements to carve out a sense of control, to shape our own narratives. But maybe there’s another way we can be? A way where we can slow down, and tune into nature’s rhythms to get back to what’s important - to get back to ourselves. I strongly believe that if we slow down, simplify and connect with the seasons then we can.
We have become so obsessed with ‘what’s next?’ that we often forget the here and now. How do we slow down? How can we live more intentionally and in tune with the natural world? How can we resist the pressure to get ahead and carve out mindful moments in our lives? I don’t have it all sorted, but these are the questions I will try to answer in my newsletter - encouraging nurture through nature and creativity to soothe the soul.
I often find that February can be a harder month than January, with all that impatience for Spring, continuing darkness and cold. It leaves me feeling frustrated and tired: I’m starting to feel ideas simmering up, but don’t feel like I have the energy to see them through yet. Turning to my Celtic roots is often a source of comfort, and I remembered recently that Imbolc comes from the world “Imbolg”, which means “in the belly” - a time of early pregnancy and new beginnings. It’s the very beginnings of Spring stirring, not its zenith. I remind myself of this and instead of caving to self-imposed pressure and rushing things, try to let ideas percolate, plans gestate.
Instead, I try to continue embracing the cosy calm of the colder seasons. At every opportunity, I’m turning to nature to remind me to slow down and trust in time and its cycle. I find bringing nature home a huge comfort - larch twigs with their tiny pinecones, a branch with catkins, the first British tulips and narcissi, forced Spring bulbs. Even if you live in a city, seek out nature where you can and practice mindful noticing: I do this by switching up my walk to work - I find even swapping the side of the road I walk on means I notice more. New buds on the branches, the scent of Viburnum, geese flying low overhead to the local pond, the plaintive miaow of a neighbour’s cat, the flicker of a vanishing squirrel’s tail.
I turn to the light wherever I can find it, and try to be outdoors at sunrise and sunset - we’ve had some beauties this week here in Edinburgh. I try daily to find “magic in the mundane” to quote Sara Tasker - the hug of a favourite mug to warm cold hands, or a candle lit at breakfast time, savoured slowly. I try to nurture my body and mind with new experiences and old comforts. And, as always, surrounding myself with objects that have stories, and making my own, is a huge comfort to me - as is turning to comforting activities that help me slow down, and prioritising reading time.
I asked my followers some of their tips for creating a calm, cosy space wherever you are at this time of year. Maureen said to nurture ourselves where we are most comfortable - in our homes: “We can make a 'nest' it doesn't have to be luxurious, cosy and comfortable do it for me.” Frances loves finding bargains in charity shops, adding cosy touches and seasonal flowers as well as objects from independent makers that “create beautiful things that no one else has” like Chloe of @cadoceramics. Jem finds comfort in gratitude lists and the ritual of making tea with tea leaves in a fancy tea set. Audrey mentioned the cosiness of scents - coffee, orange and baking making the atmosphere “fluffy round the edges”, an expression I loved.
We all agreed that none of this was about stuff, and all about making the most of what we have and adapting our mindsets. And Monica and others think I should write a book - please do keep helping me spread the word about this newsletter, so I can find its readers. I know there are lots more of you out there that feel just as we do!
Creativity, nature and folklore are ways that I believe we can get back to our true selves and feel connected no matter how the world makes us feel, no matter the time of year. I’ll always try to help you find the rosiness in every season, from the dark days of Yule to the height of Litha and everything in between to make and celebrate the magic of every day along the way.