And just like that, January was gone and we were looking at the lengthening days and wondering would this year again be simultaneously the shortest and the longest on record.
Time is flying past… I’m sitting in a sunny office, watching the rain fall lightly at the same time as the sun shining through my window and lighting up the plants I keep on my desk. Where are we all up to virus-wise? There’s a super strain doing the rounds in the UK, and the possibility of being told by the Government to absolutely stay in the house and wait to be tested. It’s bizarre. Some days I wonder if my teenage years spent reading science fiction was just my subconscious telling me to be prepared for my future life. I’m taking my precautions, I promise, I wash my hands often and my contact with the outside world is purely virtual as much as possible.
And it’s February. This is usually my lowest month: far enough away from Christmas for the glow of the lights to have faded and often grey enough to persuade even the brightest of hearts that Spring is a faint memory destined never to return. February is the reason I wholeheartedly grab onto hygge with both hands and say “Yes, This is how I live: deal with it”. It’s when I start coming out of hibernation, and the month off that is January to go back to groups, meet with friends or start planning the summer.
Oh, that’s right. Not this year. I’m missing hugging people (although my poor family are getting my hugs instead) and bookclub is barely happening. Looks like this year I’ll be making my own hygge. It’s just as well I made a list….
- Go walking in the nearest park or even just along a local street and look for the signs that winter is losing her grasp… the bulbs are beginning to grow, the buds are appearing on the local trees, and the birds are singing for slightly longer and more often than they were even a month ago.
- Watch the sky. In one February day it can go from cloudy and dull, to sun peeping through, to wispy to wet. Start a weather record for Spring. Something as simple as a symbol in that big, empty diary of yours, or a chart on the fridge. If you’re crafty, start an embroidery with one small icon a day arranged in an outward spiral. Go from the centre, so that whenever you stop it will be complete.
- Celebrate Valentine’s Day with another person or alone. Eat well, toast the day with a bottle of something fizzy (pop or champagne, the choice is yours) and settle down to watch a favourite romance. I like Leap Year with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. Something soft, fluffy and slightly quirky.
- Open your windows in the early morning as often as you can. Throw back bedcovers and let the bed air in the traditional continental way. After a winter of huddling and snuggling, it’s good to breathe.
- Find a good book and settle down to read it. Find a friend and read it together. I have loved reading The Snow Song by Sally Gardner, it’s a proper fairytale for grown ups, with embroidered dresses, circuses and hunters in little village life. Or, for a retro treat set in modern times, Jenny Colgan’s Little School by the Sea series has (sadly) only three books at the moment, Class, Rules and Lessons, but has all the flavour of an Enid Blyton or Chalet School book with the advantage of mobile phones and modern speech.
- Set yourself a habit to acquire for the rest of February. You know there’s always a good habit you mean to take up, whether that’s a yoga session in the morning or drinking enough during the day. There are only 28 days maximum in February and you only need 21 to establish a good habit: why not start now and see how you go?
- Create a nook just for yourself: it can be as big as a whole room cleaned, cleared and set up for your favourite activities, or as small as a bookshelf next to a chair that you claim as yours. Display your favourite self-care books, store your notebooks there or put photos of yourself as a young girl there to remind yourself that you are worth taking care of even as you take care of other people.
- Start (or continue) wearing lipstick every day whether you are going out or not. I’d love to say wear bright red lipstick, but masks *shudder* mean that a more delicate shade like gentle pink or a peachy brown are probably more sensible. This year, at least. Next year I will wear red lipstick every day if I can.
- Start planning ahead. No, I know you can’t plan and book for a blind thing, but start collecting ideas for life PV (Post Virus). There will be one, one day. Where will you be looking to go? What activities will be on your list and who will you rush to hug first? I’m collecting a list of the places that I see on TV and now want to visit. Like Sutton Hoo, after watching The Dig on Netflix. (The helmet from Sutton Hoo is so famous, it often stands as an icon for The Dark Ages in many situations… including the cover of Michael Woods’ excellent book, In Search of the Dark Ages, my Sutton Hoo reading of choice). Collect a list of places, shops, food, people, books…. have something to look forward to, even if only in your dreams. And believe we will get there.
- Revisit an old blog friend and stroll through memories of happier times. I love revisiting old blogs: Posy is a fine example. It’s been nine years, almost, since Jane stopped writing but I still love reading her past entries much as I would love rereading letters from an old friend when I find them. Attic 24 has the same nostalgic quality.
My hygge list. I may/may not do them all, after all ticking things off a hygge treat list isn’t compulsory as I said in this blog post. They’re could do pauses in life. But they do make life feel more enjoyable. What little treats would you put on your list? And which blogs would make your heart light?
The header today is by Mahdi Dastmard on Unsplash. I chose it because the combination of curling leaves and pocketwatch made me feel nostalgic, which is how I’m feeling today. I’m nostalgic for pre-covid freedoms which I will grab with both hands as soon as possible and never take for granted again. Life’s lessons are hard to learn, but valuable.
Like all my blogs, Facebook groups and other social media content, A Year of Simple Abundance is free to join and ad free as far as possible.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little rhings in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.