January is my favourite month. My partner said that I should not tell people this, but I do not often follow instruction and I tell everyone. He is probably concerned for my welfare and worried that I might get punched for uttering such blasphemy. Yesterday I went on a walk by myself around the village of Boddington, Gloucestershire, population 266. Pronouncing the word Gloucestershire is a good test to see if someone is British or not. See also, Worcestershire. Since I can now pronounce both beautifully, I feel that I have achieved some status. Are we British? Maybe a little now. A very little. And proud of it.
Boddington is beautiful farmland and adorable country houses that I wish I was invited to see inside of. Boddington was also home to the first computerised communication centre in the 1950s when it was run by the Army, this has since been closed. Boddington has a very pretty church, the St Mary Magdalene. This charming building can be linked back to Saxon times when the lands of Boddington belonged to St Denys of Paris from the time of Edward the Confessor. I enjoyed a walk around the graveyard and then ventured inside the over 900 year old church.
Most historical churches in England are left open to be enjoyed by the public at any time. I was the only one there, I switched on all the lights and had a snoop around. I shut the door behind me as instructed by a message on the wall. I noted with disappointment that the organ was locked. I think what I miss the most from my church going days is playing the organ. So loud and so fun! I took some photos and admired the windows and the detailed prayer cushions. When I had had my fill of church sleuthing I switched off all the lights and went to open the door but it was stuck. I pulled with all my might and tried to budge the jammed latch mechanism. I turned the lights back on. I searched the building for other doors, but they were all locked. It did not occur to me to pray or to smash the historical stained glass windows but both were suggested to me as solutions afterwards by hilarious and well meaning friends. My brain thought, well I guess I live here now. There was a stack of paperback novels on sale for 20p each. None of them looked very interesting but it would pass the time. There were also Bibles to read. I have read both the old and new testament cover to cover because I always finish a book, I suppose I could read them again. I wondered when the next person would come along to open the door. If it took too long I could call my partner at work and he could take a taxi to a church in the middle of nowhere to rescue me, someone had to pick up the children from school. It was quiet though. I could have definitely piled up all those prayer cushions and had a nap!
I love quiet. I especially love the quiet that comes with a fresh blanket (more of a heavy duvet actually) of snow. It usually snows at least once a year here in the cotswolds, so I am crossing my fingers that we get a snow day soon! In Canada, January is epic. It is so cold. Temperatures can reach -40 celsius (which is the same as -40 fahrenheit). It snows so much. I love a walk outdoors in the snow, yes even in -40. There is no such thing as bad weather when you are dressed for it. The sounds are muffled and the air feels still. You can get spikes for your shoes if you are scared of ice. Less people are outside which is a real bonus for an antisocial introvert such as myself. Something I miss from Canada that never happens in the UK is feeling truly alone. I love driving a stretch of road and seeing no other cars. I love going for a walk and seeing no other people. January is the month that this is the most possible! There are more people out jogging but the exercise craze seems to peter out by mid month for most.
I do make new year resolutions. As I get older my resolutions are simpler and this makes me more likely to keep them. Some successful resolutions have been; to read more- I read thirty books in 2019, having a no spend year- I did this perfectly in 2014 and imperfectly in 2019, and let's not forget 2018's calendar adventures! This year's resolution is to walk outside every day. I almost do this, or I have periods of doing this, but I want it to become a habit. I don't care how long the walk is, how fast, the location, if I am walking with friends, family, or alone, I just need to get outside every day. Walking outside is just as beneficial for my mental health as it is for my physical health. I don't do diets or weight loss goals because I have found that these are both just as detrimental for my mental health as they are for my physical health.
Having a fresh start is lovely. September and January both have this feeling. As Anne of Green Gables famously says, "tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it," and "my life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes." Now, Anne did not utter these two nuggets of wisdom linked together like that, but I think if we have both hope for tomorrow whilst lowering our expectations, we can really enjoy January to the fullest. There are no holidays in January to create pressure for mothers or whoever in the family makes the holiday possible. At my house it is me. I am Christmas. And I am tired. All three of my brothers in law have birthdays in January which means that they get nothing. If I do remember to send them a card I feel very accomplished and really like I might be a secret super hero. This year they get nothing. Except my love and this shout out in my blog. You are welcome boys. I am sorry that you all have such terrible birthdays. My condolences go out to anyone with a December birthday as well.
January is great because there are less obligations. No one expects you to be social. No one even expects you to have any energy. Basically, the expectations for January are extremely low which is a wonderful opportunity to not be disappointed. We all know that having expectations in life is a recipe for unhappiness. In December it feels like you must see every person that you care about if possible and if you cannot see them in person you must call them on the phone or video chat or at the very least send them a gift or a card. It is exhausting. I look forward to avoiding people when possible in January. No one even minds. We are all exhausted and nursing our Christmas holiday hangovers. Can you get a hangover purely from indulging in too much social activity? For me the answer is YES. I saw my book club friends on Wednesday. They are all amazing and it was a fabulous night and it filled up my need for social interaction for a week at least! Do I miss the obligations and expectations that are heaped upon us in December? I certainly do not.
Also, people do amazing things with ideas sprouted in January. 88% of new year's resolutions fail, but that means that 12% are successful. 12% of people are making goals and achieving them! Compare that to 0% for those who don't make resolutions. So although most are defeated, I applaud all who try. It is never a bad thing to try to improve oneself and making goals definitely does not have to be reserved for January.
I did escape the church in Boddington eventually after much door jiggling. Looking back I should have added something to the note on the wall about shutting the door behind you to warn future church visitors. There might be someone trapped there right now! I could have added, "Shut the door at your own risk," or "do whatever you want." Like January if you want. Tell everyone. Visit weird churches. Be social or don't be social. I just think that life is too short to dislike 1/12 of every year. January is underestimated and I love her for it! As Anne of Green Gables wisely stated, “It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”