A funny, kind of magical thing happened to me recently. After the holidays, right around the time I usually feel the S.A.D. vibes setting in, I opened a newsletter from one of my writing heroines, Alexandra Franzen. For anyone unfamiliar, Alex is one of the most generous, warm, wonderful presences on the internet. She always seems to be giving.
Inside this email, she offered a pep talk to any of her readers who needed it. She admitted that—assuming her lists is in the tens of thousands by now—it would take some time to get to everyone, but she promised to answer each one.
Anticipating my typical winter blah-ness, I hit reply and confessed to one of my writer idols that I tend to feel crappy between February and March. I explained that by then, I’ve usually lost the glow of the festive season and the sparkle of the new year. Noting that this discouraging part of the year was imminent, I asked her for any advice she had on staying inspired and happy.
I sent off my email, and waited.
(No, I didn’t wait by the stream in the snow as this photo suggests. Don’t worry.)
…and actually, I forgot all about the email!
I went about my days, shifted items around on my to-do list, and felt my self slipping into hibernation mode. I took a few trips to the city, browsed for some new freelance writing jobs, and did a whole lot of Netflix binging.
And then, like a beacon of light from above, Alex’s reply came.
What I thought would be a few quick and wise lines ended up being a link to an audio recording. What a pleasant surprise, I thought! She must have recorded a message and sent it out to everyone. But when I clicked on the link, it was a personal message, just for me.
She’s a giver, remember?
She spoke directly to my concerns about this time of the year, offered actionable advice on how to handle the winter blues, and ended the message with a dose of her signature wisdom, encouraging me to look at the bigger picture.
What did she say, exactly?
She encouraged me to put some exciting things on the calendar. She suggested I make plans for the next couple of months that I would genuinely look forward to. She asked me to seek out things to celebrate, even if the major holidays were behind me so that I could capture some of that magic again.
She also told me about a friend of hers that keeps a bottle of champagne in the fridge at all times, so she can celebrate virtually anything—even the fact that it’s a Tuesday. Finally, she reminded me that every day we wake up breathing is a reason to celebrate and be happy. While this may not be the most thrilling part of the year, it’s still something to be grateful for.
Alex may not know just how much of an impact this had on me—but the impact was real!
In previous years, I’ve dreaded this season. It felt like limbo with cold, nasty weather. I even made a point of escaping it as often as possible.
But this year, this serendipitous message opened my eyes to how joy and festivity can thrive outside of the realm of widely-celebrated holidays, sequin dresses, and countdowns. We can always celebrate life, whenever we want to. And we really should.
I’m crazy-grateful to Alex for injecting the color back into the beginning of 2018. She has also reminded me to strive to be more giving, to offer my time to those who need perking up, and to wield random acts of kindness whenever possible.
I hope you’ll take her advice too.