January was not a good month. Every year I forget, that it’s actually January that I find by far one of the hardest months of the year. We’re always plagued by some kind of sickness and I end up feeling completely drained. In addition, because it’s the start of a new year, I then feel both frantic and guilty to not be out of the blocks on the first of the year, hitting all of my goals and striving daily to create, reflect, meditate, do yoga, cook healthy food - you know how it is. I scrape ice off the car every morning, head to and from work in the dark, and spend a lot of time asking myself what life is really about.
The excitement and frenetic energy of December is done. We’ve survived Christmas. There’s little to look forward to other than two months before Spring.
So even when I’m lying there feeling horrendous, I’m still thinking - why can’t you be doing something whilst you’re poorly - how about a business book? Why don’t you just pick up that podcast and have that on in the background? Are you sure you couldn’t just crawl out of bed and indulge in some light stretching?
The answer to all of those things is no. Actually I just need to lie there and wallow.
February is not a good month either. Moments of real calm, some clarity and then absolute, utter head fog. I don’t have a better description for it than that. Just a real lethargy, and a struggle to create anything, a battle to articulate where I’m heading or what I’m planning. Projects (even small ones like a blog post) take four times as long as they would when I’m ‘on it’ and then March looming…and moments of sheer adrenaline fuelled panic when I wake up in the night and think…oh my goodness, two months of the year have pretty much gone and you have achieved….nothing!
I have functioned. The house is fine, there’s one room that looks like it’s had someone vomit mountain bike parts all over it but I will close the door for now and continue to ignore it. We’ve eaten, I’ve got up and gone to work, I’ve carried on organising our wedding. I’ve had awesome client calls and welcomed brilliant women into my world to come and work with me - and I’ve loved that part. To anyone looking in, our world looks rosy. But I know that it’s functioning, I’m functioning. It’s practical tasks - but there’s been no creativity.
Yesterday was the first day in a week I didn’t feel like I was sea sick. I can feel a little of the fog lifting, almost as if I’m peering out from under the covers of the duvet, and tentatively sticking one toe out to sense the world around me.
And then, I realised, in a moment of real peace and quiet, what was actually going on.
There was a time, last year, when I was mid juggling of many things, wanting to paint and to draw, also wanting to keep creating in the business and then to work on the garden, that I realised I would be a whole lot better if I made ‘seasons’ for things. It was one of those…you’ve tried to do everything at once, you’re hating all of it, you’ve dropped six of the plates out of the 24 you’re attempting to spin at once, just a thought….’something needs to change.’
In the same way that I work on my business Monday to Friday, my weekends are for my family and myself. In there somewhere is usually a day I think of as a ‘Sabbath,’ in a sense of - ‘rest today and ask nothing of yourself.’
So I turned this towards my year. What if gardening happened Spring, Summer and Autumn, and Winter became time for reading and crafting? How would that feel? Well… the answer to this was…far more balanced.
I began to work with the seasons and not against them. It made, in my head, perfect sense. The garden is naturally seeding, growing and thriving in those three seasons. To be inside crafting or painting in the middle of the summer is crazy! That’s the time for light and energy and paddle boarding and the beach. There’s no point in battling on weeding and digging in mid winter. It’s pouring with rain, the ground is frozen and the whole thing becomes a chore and not a pleasure. Winter gardening is about cleaning the tools off, and tidying the shed, and then planning the seed planting for next year.
Then I think back to last year. What was I up to in January and February? Well the answer to that was, once again, I was battling my energy and inclinations and ‘making’ myself do stuff, not engaging and allowing it to flow effortlessly.
I used the analogy of the garden. What am I doing right now? Well, I’m letting it rest. I’m watching some of the plants come back to life and through the ground as the bulbs come up. I’m enjoying the flowering bulbs on the kitchen windowsill that have come early as they’re enjoying the warmth in the house. I’m sitting with a seed catalogue and a cup of tea, reading articles on slug resistant courgettes and working out what the vegetable garden might look like this year. I’m pottering round the garden whenever there’s a sunbeam to see where I might put more bulbs in next autumn. I’m beginning to notice the weeds that will need dealing with and looking forward to some warmer weather so I can put my wellies on and start heading out to the soil. In other words, I’m not stressed about any of it. I’m calmly observing. I’m planning. I’m looking forward to…in great anticipation.
Lets use that analogy with my business.
I’ll still set a few gentle goals. So, by the end of February, I will finally launch my long awaited first course. The irony is, its entitled: ‘Define Your Vision: Create Your Success.’
I’ll create a template that allows me to plan out my business days in a month. I know it needs to be something I can use on my phone and my computer. There needs to be a batch morning or afternoon in there each month, where I focus solely on my social media, or solely on my marketing strategy.
I’ll head to my year board and look for the gaps. Look for the months where I need to just rule out any work (i.e September because we’re getting married.)
I’ll add in the Women Who Create Retreat weekend and make sure I’ve completed the prep work for that.
I’ll finally finish the website that seems to have been a work in progress for the last two years, with some new photos back from a recent photoshoot.
So there will be some gentle movement towards the rest of the year. I’ll sit in the winter sun and drink tea and think quietly.
And this weekend…I’ll order those seeds for the garden, so I can finally get planting.