The fear and joy of the January lull
... and 6 books to read with your next brew
My alarm goes off at 5 am sharp, every weekday morning.
The sound of meditation bells fills the room, just loud enough to be heard over the noise machine next to my bed.
After some brief stretching in bed, I get dressed, put my contacts in, and work out for 30 minutes before having a protein shake and taking a shower.
This is how I start my day, 5 days a week … well, “normally” it is.
In January, that 5 am alarm sounded less like bells of enlightenment and more like bells tolling the end of my peace.
To put it more bluntly, I simply couldn’t give a fuck during the month of January 2023.
It’s not that I was depressed - I certainly know what that feels like - no, this was exhaustion down in my soul.
After living with the reality of COVID for 3 years now (and being unsure if I’ve ever actually had it), the weight of the world felt heavier by the day.
It felt like the entire world needed to go on vacation for a while. To peel their shoulders down from near their ears and chill the hell out, even if for only a day.
Knowing that wasn’t going to happen, I had two choices:
Muscle my way through January, set goals, and get shit done
Option 1 is what the modern world tells me to do. Hustle, grind, and don’t waste the opportunity to get ahead, even in some small way.
Perhaps it’s not just COVID, it’s the culture I’m exhausted by …
Option 2 is kind, it’s gentle.
Option 2 opens the way for unexpected joy, but is preceded by fear of all types.
Fear of failure. Fear of missing out (fuck you, FOMO). Fear of falling behind.
But behind who? Who are we falling behind? As adults, what standards are we setting for ourselves, and what standards as we absorbing without a second thought?
As these thoughts mulled in my mind during the first week of January, I leaned into the fear (and a hope of some sense of joy), and chose option 2.
January 2023 would not be my month of productivity or progress, at least not externally.
Instead, I turned inward. I read. I wrote. I did Yoga. I relaxed my usual eating routines to allow for the unexpected.
I went on a weekly trip to the mountains (Breckenridge) and spent an afternoon, sitting in my hotel room, watching it snow (after getting a 90-minute massage, which I highly recommend anytime you travel).
At first, I certainly felt like a failure.
I released the idea of setting New Year’s Resolutions over a decade ago, but I like to have a general idea of what I want to accomplish for the year.
For 2023, my focus is:
Growing my newsletter to 1,000 subscribers
Getting my PMP (Project Management Professional) certification
Finishing the first draft of my 3rd book (the memoir)
… all while living the digital nomad life and working a full-time job at the same time.
Naturally, most of us like to get a “head start” in January, digging into our goals and hoping we find a way to do them sustainably so we haven’t given up by Summer.
For me, that means focusing on one goal at a time.
First, I get my PMP certification.
Second, I finish the first draft of my 3rd book.
As I’m living this life and writing another book, I’ll share updates here in the newsletter and, hopefully, drive more traffic (ugh, that term makes me cringe) to gain more subscribers.
I’ll also be writing about my digital nomad experiences and being newly single. Some may find it compelling. 🤷♀️
But in January, there was no “head start.” There was no oomph, no get-up-and-go. All my body and my mind were asking for was rest.
If I had written this 10 years ago, or even 2 years ago, I would have told you about all the methods I used to push through that resistance and get shit done.
This was time for rest and nothing more.
And leaning into that did not go smoothly.
For the first two weeks of January, I tried, in fits and starts, to get some traction on any of my goals for the year.
Maybe I just needed less distractions, or more caffeine, or …
Nope. Spoiler: I needed to rest, on a deep level.
Maybe you experienced something similar in January 2023 …
I think many of us needed a collective sigh to continue to endure the unprecedented polarization going on in our world.
Oh, and that fear?
It’s bullshit, you know that right?
Yes, we all have a limited time on this Earth, and I hope you spend most of it truly living, but rest is a component of that … and I’m not talking about the commercialized “self-care” out there.
I’m talking about rest … doing nothing and enjoying it.
So with January 2023 in the history books, I’m rolling out of the rest hibernation I’ve been in. Hello. Glad to see you again. I’m delighted you’re here.
I hope we both can enjoy the unique journey that 2023 will bring, with a little less FOMO and a bit more restful joy.
💻 What I’ve been reading online
A gracious reminder fromof that some pain may never fully heal, and that’s OK.
As an introverted adult nomad, making friends is vital yet difficult, but this advice is actually helpful.
On the flip side, parting ways with friends or lovers can be a shock in many ways.of offers some beautiful perspectives on how to manage that change.
What do you do when you get stuck, especially in creative pursuits?of officially has my favorite advice for winging it + getting back into the swing of it all.
80 Fun & Calming Things To Do Alone, Outside Or At Home - the title of the article says it all :)
- of explains the idea of Layoff Brain in a way I’ve never heard of before (and can definitely relate to)
📚 Books I enjoyed recently
A book to open your eyes to parts of the world rarely featured: The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman's Journey to Every Country in the World by Jessica Nabongo
A book that is so relatable it’s hilarious: Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up by Alexandra Potter
A book to put all your anxiety into perspective: Don't Worry: 48 Lessons on Relieving Anxiety from a Zen Buddhist Monk by Shunmyō Masuno
A book that explains the undercurrent of American culture many don’t know about: Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich
A book to know yourself on an entirely different level: How We Heal: Uncover Your Power and Set Yourself Free by Alexandra Elle
A book to light a fire under your ass: Discipline Is Destiny: The Power of Self-Control by Ryan Holiday
👀 What I’m reading now
Alonement: How to be alone and absolutely own it by Francesca Specter
Perhaps you noticed that I turned on the option for subscriptions.
I’d been hemming and hawing about it for months and finally took the plunge.
As of February 2023, all of the content here will remain paywall-free, and I hope to keep it that way.
If you choose to subscribe, you’ll be supporting me in the most helpful way, along with gaining the ability to leave comments on posts.
And, if you subscribe before the end of February, you’ll get 20% off FOREVER. Sweet deal, I know.
If you’re feeling particularly generous, become a Founding Member and be featured in the Acknowledgements of my upcoming memoir 🤩
If you choose to stay a free reader, I respect that too.
Each and every one of you is valuable to me and I deeply thank you for joining me on this adventure we call life.
Photo by Kyrie kim on Unsplash
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Great choice! And a brave one, considering that everyone will tell you that you can only be happy when you are doing something and being busy.
Idleness is the perfect way to get ready for all the things you want to do.