January Reflections

January passes like honey, slow and sticky at first, then all at once, tumbling into February. January is touted as the worst month of the year, but I’ve always enjoyed it. The peaceful, frosty quiet of the month is always welcome after the chaos of December. January this year has been harder though. The combination of heavy workload and lockdown means every day has felt a thousand hours long, and they all blur into one. I definitely need to work on creating defined work and rest hours, because this month I’ve definitely been teetering on the edge of workload burnout.

Coffee cup in hand on bed, white sheets and an orange blanket.

It wasn’t all stress and burnout though, I have to say that I’ve never been more content than I am in education. It’s so good to feel creatively & intellectually fulfilled after a few years of lacking. Also as much as online learning is definitely a drag, it’s so much more accessible for someone struggling with chronic health conditions. Even not having to commute means I can much more effectively manage my energy levels & I’ve definitely joined a few classes from bed!

Twix the Labradoodle puppy led in jaye's legs

The biggest change this month has of course been the puppy! Twix barrelled into our lives, a limping ball of fluff and he’s definitely been the lightness we needed this month. It definitely feels like he was meant to be with our family, we’d been talking about getting another dog for a while and when he appeared on the rescue website, within hours we’d been on the phone and organised to meet him. We’ve missed a Labrador presence in the house so much and despite being crossed with a Poodle, Twix definitely behaves like a textbook Lab! Also, the rescue gave him the name Twix, fitting our history of Labs with chocolate names! He was definitely meant to end up with us. Watching him learn and discover and play has been so much fun!

Of course January saw a return to lockdown in the UK, but in all honesty it hasn’t had a big impact on my day to day life. We were pretty much already living in lockdown anyway, since we’re trying to keep me and my mum safe, but also between online classes and hand ins, if the world wasn’t a disaster I wouldn’t have been leaving the house anyway! In a lot of ways the pandemic has afforded me the time to slow down in my day to day, in ways I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been awful, we lost my nan to Covid, my mum’s hospital treatments have been complicated by the pandemic, and we’ve pretty much been isolating since the beginning of March because of my health. It’s been hard but it hasn’t all been bad.

Jaye is holding a coffee stood in front of an old colonial building.

January in Numbers

Six books finished. (want to see a roundup?)

Eighty eight miles walked, all of them within a four mile radius of the flat.

Twenty two hours of Teams classes.

Six creative pieces worked on.

Three ASOS loungewear deliveries.

Three doctors appointments.

One new diagnosis.

Two papers and two fairy tales submitted for marking.

Jaye stands on a pier facing out to sea on a grey day.

My goals for February will all be centring around boundaries – it seems to be something I struggle with a lot. I struggle to set boundaries for work and play, until everything feels like work and I’m burned out. I struggle to set social boundaries around friendships, and end up wearing out my social battery fast, and on the wrong things. I don’t set boundaries around screen time and then wonder where the last hour went and why I have a headache – you get the drift.

So moving into February I need to be stricter with myself. I’m anticipating some uncomfortable conversations with friends, the guilt of saying no is already getting to me, some stressful moments and also my inevitable sad spiral when I screw up. But you don’t get anywhere without trying, right?

I hope January wasn’t too painful for you, and that February brings with it more sunshine.