It’s that time of the year again. And by that I mean: February.
For better or worse, the fresh, hope-filled pace of the new year is beginning to stabilize into a familiar, predictable rhythm that echoes of status quo. That glorious, soul-searched balance so carefully restored over the holidays is slowly-but-surely tilting in favor of over-commitment and busy-ness. And those whimsical winter warm-and-fuzzies have long-since drifted away, replaced instead by restless yearnings for the sweet, dewy sunshine only a distant spring can bring.
Yep. The February Funk has officially descended upon our household. Routine is returning. To-do lists are brimming. Distractions are tugging. Weather is numbing. Work is demanding. Children (and potty training plans) are demanding louder. All the while, 2017’s well-intentioned resolutions are ticking-and-tocking on the cerebral clock — a casual reminder that those wonderful world-conquering plans of mine are currently gathering dust.
In the wake of a holiday season marked by possibility, peace and promise, the unremarkable normalcy of February can be tough. So tough, in fact, that I’m already starting to exude (with relative ease) an ethos that lacks gratitude. A default disposition fueled more often by stress than calm. A tendency to complain instead of praise. A slant towards expectation instead of appreciation. And, sadly, a subconscious determination to ‘just get through the days’ rather than seek out the nuggets of beauty nestled amidst the craziness-that-is-life.
To be frank, it’s that last one that really gets me.
The moment I start to view day-to-day life as anything less than a gracious gift from above, I know I need to actively counteract The February Funk. It cannot win. Because, man, I know better. I know that we live in a wonderful world full of wonderful reasons to be thankful every. single. day. I know that the holidays (and the brief honeymoon period that follows) are not the only days worthy of gracious celebration. I know that my children aren’t going to need (or want) my around-the-clock-attention forever. I know that it’s a blessing to have a spouse worth missing when he travels for work. I know that routine and roots and commitments play just as much of a role in feeding my soul as transience and spontaneity and special occasions do. I know that the mere act of setting lofty goals is making me a more thoughtful, intentional person… even when I feel light-years away from actually achieving any measure of meaningful progress.
Any rational version of myself would shout these truths with conviction from the rooftops. But, alas: I’m not always rational. And knowing isn’t always enough. Especially in February. So when the February Funk hits, I have to leap into my big-girl panties (I mentioned we were potty training, right?) and willfully prioritize a posture of gratitude. For me, that means writing this quote on my chalkboard and making sure I lock eyes on it every day:
Start each day with a grateful heart.
Coffee in hand, the balance of the unwritten day ahead, a quick glance at these seven words can ground me. It can remind me to operate first and foremost from a place of thankfulness. To see the hours in each day as a ridiculously undeserved gift — no matter how those hours proceed to unfold. That simple mindshift, as subtle as it may be, gives me a renewed sense of power. Power over stress. Power over conflict. Power over expectations. And, yes, power over The February Funk.
Of course, I can’t expect myself to be perfectly and genuinely grateful 24/7. Straight up, that is not going to happen. But if I can simply START each day with the intention of seeing the good… the aim of giving the benefit of the doubt… the hope of opening my mind to unexpected joy… then I can hold my head high. And, hey, that right there is something to be grateful for. Er, at least until my toddler pees on me again.