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february

I hate February.  Especially February 1st.

The first day of the second month of the year hits me hard.

February has a hold on me like no other month.  I feel its foot on my back as I lay face down on the frozen ground, taunting me to try to get up, taunting me to just give up.  It torments me.  The darkness, the cold, the dead of winter.

In The Wild Marsh: Four Seasons at Home in Montana Rick Bass names this seasonal bullying tactic as “The February Effect.” He writes, “There is something about February, even a good February, that tries and tests and threatens to darken the soul, and brings a bit of hesitation to even the boldest of hearts.”

In past years, February has snuck up on me and slapped me when I least expected it. There were really challenging Februaries like when this happened.  Last year we went to a wedding in Cuba in February.  I thought the taste of summer would satisfy me until Spring.  Nope. February hit me with an even greater vengeance with its inhuman stranglehold that quickly dissolved any memory of the sun and surf.

I just don’t know why this shortest month of the year has such a big impact on my psyche and overall well-being.  I have made such enormous strides in my commitment to nurture the love of nature with my children over the last 4 years.  I have pushed myself past my comfort zones – hiking in the rain, sleet, arctic temperatures, and have even camped.  I have embraced winter activities – sledding when we can, skating twice a week, outdoor play every day, hanging out at our local creek area for 8 hours once a week while the children are in their outdoor nature programs.

So what is it?  Is it the fact that I am done trying to find lost mittens?  Is it because I am exhausted with all the layering and preparation for the inclement weather which is all in the name of “enjoying the season”? Is it because it’s around this time that I dearly miss the sun?  Or am I just incapable of loving each and every minute of the winter season?  Is it the fact that one more cup of hot chocolate will make me hurl? Is it because I see February like a shadow threatening to “darken my soul”?

Then I remember part of a quote from Rick Bass: “28 days of the fantastic beauty of the clouds…time for quiet, steady work with very low and attainable goals, or best of all, work with no goals, work that is simply work.”

I can dig that.

Work that is simply work.

A step forward is just that: a step forward.

I will have a small goal this month: to write daily.  This month I will write here every day using prompts from writealm.  No editing. One word next to another word.  For no other reason than to string some thoughts together – random thoughts, observations, experiences during this month that I dread.

Words that are simply words.

As the first day of the second month winds down, I am cautiously optimistic. A first.  I am accepting the heaviness like a warm winter coat instead of a weight holding me underwater.  I will reflect inward and express outward. Here.

Oh it’s on, February. It’s on.

***

P.S. Dear Reader: Do me a favour.  Make a comment when you can.  Say you get it. Say you don’t.  Tell me what you think.  Tell me how you feel. Explain to me why I can’t love winter as much as my children do.  Tell me if February is kicking you down too.  We can support each other and survive The February Effect.

Trying to survive the February blues by getting my write on with writealm:

writealm_feb-button-150x75

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Gwynyth February 1, 2014, 9:31 pm

    You are sooooo not alone. February is cruel. I really don’t enjoy any of winter save a few beautifully snowy, yet not frigidly cold days…it’s just that by February it feels like enough is enough! I force myself to go outside for the kids, but I’d rather stay on the couch with a stack of books. Sounds like your on to something…small goals, little treats, distraction. All good ammunition!

    • rozanne February 1, 2014, 9:43 pm

      So glad I’m not alone!!! I hope I don’t come across whiny or negative…I just feel like I cannot get through February without some sort of breakdown/lash-out/tantrum-fest. You know? (And I figure it’s better to lash-out here than at home…)

      • gwynyth February 2, 2014, 8:19 am

        No way! You are being honest and productive. And the tantrums?….ahem…I need to work on that….especially when it comes to five years olds + zippers+ lost mitts+ the typical last minute: ” I need to go pee.”

  • Sharon February 1, 2014, 9:43 pm

    I hate February also!! I dearly miss sun, warmth and light and am tired of appreciating winter (though I do try). You have given me something to look forward now in this tough month – thank you!

    • rozanne February 2, 2014, 8:09 am

      Oh Sharon…yes! The warmth and light. I’m with you. Don’t worry – February will give us the warm and fuzzes by the end of it all. I’m crossing my fingers!

  • Ever Patient February 1, 2014, 9:51 pm

    Yo – I get it.

    Shortened days.

    Frigid temperatures – cold house, cold car, cold coffee…

    “Why are my feet ALWAYS cold!?!”

    Wanting that endorphin rush and taking all of your being to get off the couch and out of the house only to have your car overheat. Seriously? Overheat? In February!?!

    February sucks.

    Dude, I get it.

    Let’s kick February’s ass together.

    Love you.

    • rozanne February 2, 2014, 8:14 am

      Yes. The car breaking down on my way to soccer on the eve of Feb was a little deflating while you were away. I believe February was sending a warning shot. But now you’re back. The car is fixed. And we are coming at February as a united front. We got this.

  • Heather February 2, 2014, 11:14 am

    Ahhh, this is a good one. My first thought: Oh hell yeah, let’s put the smack down! Let’s tag team February. And kill it. With kindness and warmth, of course. But then I began to wonder….why fight it through a forced smile and gritted teeth (that can’t even be seen b/c they are buried underneath one balaclava and two scarves)? So I’m just going to let Feb come and go. Without judgement and fear (wanna winter camp? or is this a bad time to ask?). And the two of us will just be. Together, but separate. Sometimes I’ll give Feb the silent treatment – likely while kindling a fire and sipping tea. And Feb will probably give me the cold shoulder every now and then. Whatever. I got this. And so do you.

    I thought of you when i read this:
    Deep in the wintry parts of our minds we are hardy stock, and know there is no such thing as work-free transformation. We know that we will have to burn to the ground in one way or another, and then sit right in the ashes of who we once thought we were, and go on from there. – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

    Here’s to transformation.

    • rozanne February 2, 2014, 8:01 pm

      I love that quote. That’s going to make me look at our Friday fires in a whole new light. You’ve inspired me. You had me at “together, but separate.”

  • ulrike February 2, 2014, 8:06 pm

    i tell myself i haven’t felt the feb yet but wait, maybe i have? i notice how it takes effort telling myself that i am into shovelling after yet another round of fresh snow (as pretty as it looks) and wonder whether i am lying to myself. i think i am trying to think of feb as fondly and kindly as i can only because i fear march and maybe even april might have some cold surprises in store for us (PLEASE DON’T!). it is so slow and i almost can’t bear it and no, you’re not alone.
    heather, i love that quote.

    • rozanne February 2, 2014, 9:09 pm

      February sneaks up on you, doesn’t it, Ulrike? I think I able to cope with March because birthday season starts in April for my kids and I am preoccupied with birthday planning. But there is a lot of self-talk in Feb for me..

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