Beating the January Blues

The festive season is truly over and we have all returned to work. Another twelve months stands before the next holiday period. Everybody’s face is as grey as the weather outside as the memory of December’s celebrations are fading like a dream. It’s no surprise that January becomes the month that most people change jobs. There’s an urge for excitement again and a desire to seize the next year.  Even if you are happy in your job the blues may still come creeping. To help your beat them  I have put together a short list of tips, hopefully making the winter months more enjoyable.

Treat Your Self

Even if it feels like the pages of the calendar flip by quickly a year is still a long time. Having something to look forward to breaks down the months. Book yourself a mini-break. The promise of sunshine or another culture makes the stresses of every day slip by a little easier. If you can’t wait that long then maybe it’s time for a day to indulge yourself. It doesn’t need to be huge expense. Buy a face-mask or wander around museums and galleries. Anything that gives you a little time for yourself is a good thing. People may say it’s selfish but the truth is that a bit of time to recharge is essential for everybody. We are human beings not robots. Living everyday for the demands of others is the existence of a machine and doesn’t promote an emotionally stable person. Sometimes you just have to treat your self in order to treat others to the best side of you.

No New Year New Me Nonesense

As soon as midnight strikes on New Years Eve social media becomes flooded with statuses. The posters are all proclaiming that profound changes in their lifestyle are about to occur. They are going to go to the gym, give up smoking and despite drinking two bottles of champagne last night they are definitely quitting alcohol. We all know that these attempts rarely last. The reason for this is because they are negative. Starting the New Year by guilting yourself into giving something up like drinking or fatty food isn’t going to make you feel better. Instead of starting the next twelve months with some encouragement you’ve given yourself a lecture.

Rather than revolving our lifestyle changes around something we dislike in ourselves it may be better to choose a positive target. It’s time to focus on increasing our self-worth an value instead of detracting from it. The question is, how do we go about doing this? Firstly you have to figure out what you want to do. Have you always wanted to paint or sew yourself a dress? Then it’s the perfect time to give it a go. Find a group in your area, watch online tutorials and get your hands messy. You’re going to be appalling at first but given time you will achieve, increasing your creativity and developing a new skill. Do you spend eight hours a day in front of a computer screen and have no idea how it works? Thankfully the internet is flooded with free online courses (like https://www.coursera.org/) that range from programing to art history. Engaging your brain can only be a positive, stretching your view of everyday life. Ultimately, when we are picking changes it’s best to choose something that will make us feel better about ourselves. Seeing ourselves develop and expand is an endorphin boost to beat the blues of everyday life.

 

Be Kind to Yourself

There are 7.6 billion  Homo Sapiens spinning on a giant rock in a small corner of space. Each of us wakes up every day, hopefully eats, goes to the bathroom and eventually goes back to bed. If you make it through those waking hours then well done. Did you manage to do something a little better than the day before? Congratulations! If today defeated you a little be kind to yourself because there is always tomorrow. The next day might be the best day of your life.

 

 

Maya Angelou’s Most Memorable Lessons

Some days life can knock you down and sending your hiding under the duvet. On these occasions I find myself before the bookshelf. The pages contain past wisdom, with the power to perk me up and send me back into the struggle. From Camus I learned to keep pushing the eternal boulder with a smile like Sisyphus.  Whilst the Stoics and Buddha teach how to accept the inevitable. When times seem especially tough I turn back to one of my favourite teachers: Maya Angelou. It is simply Dr Angelou’s positivity that picks me up again, preparing my return to the wider world. I’d like to share some of her most enriching expressions. Hopefully, I don’t infringe too many copyright laws along the way.

 

Love Liberates

This is a simple lesson and it’s probably one you’re already aware of, “if you love something, sometimes you have to let it go.” Even though concept is common knowledge it’s hard to exercise. Like most things Love liberates is easier said than done. After all, complex emotions and bonds are easily muddled by every day existence. Our intentions can be perfectly pure in wanting the upmost for another but how we express these intentions can be binding. If you are blessed enough be loved and have people that you love then it’s worth loving a little like Dr Angelou.

 

Homo Sum Humani Nihil a me Alienum Puto

If you’re anything like me then your Latin language skills are none existent. Thankfully there are a number of slightly different  translations of the sentence. Angelou offers, “I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.” Although she was multifaceted person Angelou wasn’t a time traveler from Ancient Rome. The phrase originates from the playwright Terence. A slave who penned himself to freedom during the heights of the Roman Empire.

Dr Angelou emphasised the importance of these words and internalising their lesson. Doing so allows you enjoy  the great achievements of our species. All the components for ingenuity, compassion and creation rest within you. Conversely, any destructive act a human can commit is within capabilities. This makes you empathise and stops you from imparting a moral judgement on another.

Homo Sum Humani Nihil a me Alienum Puto is a hard lesson to live. I must fail about a hundred times a day. But it’s always worth trying again. Offering understanding to yourself and others can only bring people closer.

 

And Still I Rise

There’s only so long you can lounge in your melancholy. If I need something to kick me into the shower and out into the sunshine then I remember And Still I Rise. When I hear the poem I am reminded of the effort that came before this day: A thousand hunter gatherers who scrapped through harsh winters for our survival; the immeasurable love and support that pushed me to this point in time; every drop of rain water and every rotation of the earth has projected me here. The lesson I learn from Dr Angelou’s poem is that the battle of life must be loved. It’s going to knock you down but eventually you will stand up again.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman Review

After the indulgence of the Christmas period and the unfortunately rapid return to work I found myself exhausted. To cure my January Blues I retired from the reawakening world and I spent my Saturday night (and majority of Sunday) curled up with Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and the last of the season’s chocolates. I hadn’t intended to indulge both days in the stories but after the first few pages the outcome was inevitable.

If you ever attempted to explore the world of the Old Norse Gods then you’re confronted with a lack of modern interpretations. Most likely you’ll be offered the Poetic and Prose Eddas, quickly followed by Marvel’s dissimilar Comic Book hero. Last year I attempted the poetic Edda and enjoyed the lyrical stories. However, it’s not an easily accessible book and not recommended for young readers. Gaiman’s contribution is a perfect solution to this problem.

Norse Mythology presents the usual cast of Odin, Thor, Loki and others in an easily understandable way. The deeds and downfalls of the old Scandinavian Gods are depicted in a light and engaging manner.  Gaiman’s re-imagining has the unique quality of appealing to both adults and younger readers, which all myths should do. His style makes for easy reading and this simplicity allows the quality of the original stories to shine. In his introduction Gaiman writes that he chose the tales because of his childhood fondness. Hopefully, he was also interested in the myths of other lands too. A whole series of the world’s ancient stories in this style is worthy of any bookshelf.