I mean, no joke, this is the *most* dreary part of the year in England. Dull, grey, dark, and no proper, dramatic Bladerunner-style rain but that constant living in a cloud damp, thick misty rain that permeates every pore and sends you running home for a hot bath every time you're out in it. You do try - honestly you do - to ignore it, but it's like living in ominousness. So here are TEN things you can do to get through the bloody worst month of the year (spoiler alert: it's all about eliminating fear...I think that's the key to life.)
a) Have a cortado (trans. Spanish for "shot in the arm") in the morning when you deliver your beloved to the train. Even if you don't drink coffee. It makes you feel extra smart and perky. It will restore your sparkle.
b) Ditto with a pain aux raisins. They are about 8000 calories and worth every bite.
c) Break all rules and boundaries. Dogs are most definitely allowed in the bed under the covers. Think of them as mini heaters.
d) Cook comfort food. Last night I made Ottolenghi's kosheri - fluffy basmati rice pilaf with cinnamon, nutmeg, lentils, topped with spicy tomato sauce (add extra chilis), cilantro/coriander and fried onions. For extra punch and crunch, add dukkah or chopped hazlenuts.
e) Go out in it every day, preferably early. Even on hideous days, there are spectacular sunrises and having your breath taken away once a day is worth it. Walk in the woods, admire the stark beauty of the leafless trees, watch their shapes on the skyline, see how the deer move, listen to the red-tailed hawks calling to each other.
f) Listen to music. Don't forget. Music shifts your mood. Whether it's Chopin's Piano Etudes or Sat Siri Akaal or Billie Eilish doing Carpool Karaoke, listen to music.
g) Learn a language. Yup, that's what I'm doing. I am using Dualingo to polish up my French skills. (Truth be told, I went to Paris with my lovely girly this weekend, and I was shamed into speaking better French.) But, man, Dualingo is addictive. Un cheval et un croissant.
h) See above. Go on a mini vacay to a heartbreakingly beautiful romantic European city which wasn't bombed during the war, so that it's jam-packed with neo-classical architecture. Also, make sure the sun is shining, the skies are blue, and that you eat plenty of baguette and sweet French butter. You know, comme il faut. And if you're lucky, you may fall asleep in a comfortable chair in the sun in Les Jardins du Luxembourg, surrounded by happy children and seagulls, and you will forget that it is January. And bugger the French. They're rude. And is the Pope Catholic?
i) Invest in a pair of furry Birkenstocks. Yes, they are the ugliest shoes ever invented. Yes, they are the most comfortable and if you get some, you won't want to take them off.
j) Don't judge. I keep coming back to this. In the end, I truly believe there is no joy in judging other people. Everyone is doing the best they can. So words like 'lazy' are meaningless. In my heart, I do not think that people aspire to laziness. It's all from fear. So, believing the best in people is really the only way through the morass. I love that Ram Dass quote. Every day I think of it:
"We are all just walking each other home." - Ram Dass
Good luck. The days are getting longer. Take your meds. Say your prayers.
PS. Living In Ominousness could be the name of a Talking Heads album.