Welcome to The Warrior Month

Raise your hand if you're not really feeling that new year sparkle.

Yup, that's right, I'm your favorite action-oriented life coach and I'm struggling to be all-in and get moving on 2018.

And you know what?

THIS IS REALLY OKAY.

When we returned from our holiday travel mid-week last week, I arranged myself at the dining room table with Susannah Conway's Unravel Your Year workbook.

I had four whole days to sink into the sheer joy of visioning! Four days to reflect on 2017, to remind myself of the new kernels of wisdom I'd located throughout the year, to embrace my agency in creating the 2018 I most desired.

But I couldn't make myself do it.

I couldn't sit still. Everything seemed more important, and by 'everything,' I mean: rearranging the contents of the guest room closet, checking in again and again with all the houseplants to be sure no one felt abandoned when we were away, scrubbing out old casserole leftovers from before the holidays, etc.

When I finally managed to ground myself, to sit at the dining room table (mind you, this was two days in to what I'd thought would be a four-day planning session), I couldn't turn over that first page of the workbook in order to begin the actual work. Instead, I chased shiny things around Instagram and debated multivitamins on Amazon.

Taking stock of my life and business had gradually become a menace. A thing I needed to avoid at all costs. Or so I thought.

Late in the afternoon on New Year's Eve, I finally ordered myself to march through the 2017 reflection pages of the workbook. I bargained with myself, Just look over this past year; you don't have to think about next year yet.

And so, I did. It was a struggle, but I looked at 2017 with my hands over my face, peeking through my fingers.

Prior to opening the workbook, I didn't know why I was feeling such resistance—and I'd say it probably didn't matter why, except for the fact that the not-knowing troubled me more than the resistance itself.

Once I started poking around and contemplating the past year, I figured out why the resistance was showing up: 2017 was the most turbulent year of my life.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I want you to know you're not alone.

If 2017 contained some of your highest highs (mine: we bought our first home together and finally retired our vagabonding status) and lowest lows (mine: one of our dearest friend ended his life in February and everything has lost its luster since), it very likely makes a ton of sense to some part of your brain to absolutely steer clear of past reflection and future planning.

Things feel chancy—at least to me they do.

And out of control. Which is nothing new (intellectually, I know I have but only so much control over my life), but the reminder of which has (I hope only temporarily) impeded my desire to look too far backward or forward. Better to keep my head down and my eyes fixed on what's right here. Today. January, a month like any other.

Even still: January's tough (tougher than the other months, I think). It's a challenging month for resoluteness.

Vivian Swift, author and illustrator of one of my favorite books, When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put, writes this:

January is the Warrior Month because it takes a warrior to soldier through these cold, dark, harsh January days. This must be why the Romans put January at the head of the calendar, the better to teach the most important lesson of the year, that: What it takes to get through January is what it takes to get through life. It takes a winter mind.

As I inch my way into the new year ('inch' being the operative word here), I'm focusing on winterizing my mind: that is, aligning myself with the season...instead of expecting myself or the season to be something other than what I am/what it is.

Here's a short list of winterizing experiments you might try as you get your January bearings:

1. Chase the sun around the house.

I'm doing this everyday in a desperate effort to revive an anemic houseplant. Each morning, I pull the shades in the front, south-facing windows, shout-sing "Good morning!" and position said plant directly in the sun's path. Then, throughout the morning and early afternoon, I move the plant as the sun travels the sky. This keeps me connected to the light, grateful for the light, regardless of how few hours of it we're getting right now.

2. Witness sunrise and sunset every single day this month.

This suggestion is from Vivian Swift and is similar to what I'm doing with my anemic houseplant: "The average night is 13 1/2 hours long. We spend most of January in the dark. Don't miss a minute of daylight." Brilliant! In these parts, the sun rises between 7 and 7:30 a.m. and sets between 4:30 and 5 p.m. How easy would it be to find a warm vantage point (I'm thinking our east-facing stair landing) and, with a hot beverage in hand, experience sunrise for the whole month? Add in a closing ceremony at the end of each day, and you can pat yourself on the back for soaking up every drop of sunlight that January has to offer.

3. Pull a page from summer's activity book and spend 30 minutes each day examining the frost patterns on the windows as though you're cloud-watching.

I'm hooked on this one mainly because the frost on our bedroom windows has been truly fantastic on these cold mornings (negative temperatures here in the northeastern part of Wisconsin) that I can't not document it.

4. Learn how to draw a tree.

Another one from the aforementioned Vivian Swift book, so I'll let her explain: "Now is the best time to see what a tree really looks like. Draw one a day." An over-breakfast activity? Maybe the same tree, the one that waves to you outside the living room window?

5. Give yourself a grace period.

Make the decision to treat the first week or two of this month as a time to work out the kinks, and leave some serious room for yourself to figure out how you want the year to look. When you move into a new house, everyone will tell you not to initiate any major renovations until you've lived in it a while, until you've gotten to know the house and how you function in it. Well, the same goes for the new year; live in it for a few weeks, and only then chart your course.

Be gentle with yourself in these early days of 2018 and know that not everyone is raring to go; there's room for all of us to have and share our own unique experience of the new year.

With love,
Helen