So it’s February already. That means one twelfth of 2019 is already behind us. To put it another way, if the year were a clock face, five minutes would have already passed. Were each month to represent a step on the addicts’ path to recovery, we would have admitted its power over us and accepted that we need help. And if we were singing about Christmas, we would be holding a partridge in a pear tree while secretly dreaming of five gold rings. You get the idea. There is a sense of time passing, yet still a long road ahead.
This should be a good thing signalling as it does that there remains plenty of time to realise the resolutions that were blithely made some thirty-plus days ago. Standing on the cusp of the new year, filled once more with hope and prosecco, we promised ourselves that this year was going to be different to all those that had preceded it. Whether that meant going to the gym three times a week, dropping a stone in weight, writing a novel or quitting smoking depended very much on the prosecco-filled individual in question but what is common to all was the unerring belief that this year we would actually manage to make a change.
The Month of Broken Promises
So how’s that going for you? Did you embrace veganuary and turn your back on bacon? Have you chucked your chocs for the British Heart Foundation’s #dechox February? Or have you already had a little wobble and can feel the inexorable pull of things heading south? Don’t despair: you are not alone. February can be a bleak month, ensconced as it is in the hard depths of winter, and without the fizz of the new year to propel us forward the time ahead can seem like an endless up-hill slog, roundly mocking us for falling short so early in the year.
But it needn’t be that way if we can just pull ourselves out of the mire of wintry depression.
What do we really know about February?
So apart from being the month when most of us abandon our high ideals, what do we really know about February?
February was named after the Latin word ‘Februum’ meaning purification, which sounds a lot better than its old English moniker of ‘Somonath’, or ‘mud month’. This short month was added as an afterthought, along with January, around 700 BCE to bring the calendar in line with the lunar year. February only became the second month of the year, however, around 450 BCE as it had originally been tacked on at the end! Well that’s interesting, isn’t it?
And now for a few more frothy facts about Feb.
February’s birth flowers are violets (supposedly signifying watchfulness, loyalty and faithfulness) as well as the common primrose (also associated with faithfulness and love) while the birthstone for this month is amethyst, which is said to be a meditative and calming stone thought to promote sobriety (its name actually comes from the ancient Greek word meaning ‘not intoxicated’). This crystal is also tasked with the job of promoting humility, spiritual wisdom and sincerity. Well that’s good too. I’m starting to feel better already.
February…Feeding our Creativity!
And now that you’ve read the last paragraph I’m hoping that the vision inside your head of miserable February skies (the colour of dingy, old sports-socks) is fading away and being replaced by the deep purple hues and vivid violets that February should really conjure in your mind’s eye. Hold onto that thought and filled with our new positive, purple energy let’s see if this little month has inspired anyone creatively.
Well, in 1989 Lou Reed sang a song entitled “Xmas in February” perhaps harking back to a time before 450BCE when February ended the year? Possibly not. Given that he opens the song with:
“Sam was lyin’ in the jungle
agent orange spread across the sky like marmalade”
it’s fairly clear that it references a more recent history of the Vietnam war in the 1960s and 70s. Then we have American rock giants Foo Fighters who composed “February Stars” for their 1997 album The Colour and the Shape so the month can’t be all bad, can it?
In Memory of a Happy Day in February
American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was moved enough to pen his (admittedly rather grim and depressing) “Afternoon in February” back in 1845, while Anne Bronte must have had at least one good day this month for she wrote the poem “In memory of a Happy Day in February”. That’s good enough for me.
But perhaps my favourite ode to the month in which I was born comes from Margaret Atwood and is simply entitled ‘February’. Its focus starts with her wonderful black cat, he of the ‘Houdini eyes’ and morning breath smelling of ‘burped-up meat and musty sofas’ (I mean, who doesn’t know that cat?). February, says Atwood, is a “Time to eat fat and watch hockey” (she is Canadian, after all). The poem, however, will have you smiling whatever the weather is doing outside and I would recommend you read it! Click here.
The Relentless Passage of Time
So stop moping around and feeling like spring will never get here: it will—that’s the nature of time…it just keeps moving relentlessly forward and will drag all of us with it, just as it did last year. Don’t waste time beating yourself up for only going to the gym twice last month (and hating it even on the first visit….gyms are hateful places, what did you expect?) Don’t call yourself a failure for going back into the drawer where you sneakily hid the cigarettes from yourself. You’ll quit again tomorrow because there’s still the best part of a year ahead of us in which we can dust ourselves off one more time and start over. And just because you ate an entire pizza yesterday doesn’t mean you should abandon your diet for the rest of 2019. How silly is that even though that’s exactly what your inner critic is telling you today.
Let tomorrow be New Year’s Day all over again. And the next day, and the one after that if that is what’s needed. There’s always time to try and get it right and be that better version of yourself but only if you don’t waste any more days regretting the things you haven’t yet succeeded at. I’m certain you’ll do better this month! Maybe this time, though, give the cigarettes to someone else to hide. Empty out your snack cupboard before you start your next diet. Write Chapter One at the top of a blank page even though you haven’t any idea where to go from there and just write the first thing that comes into your head. Tomorrow is a new day and with every new day comes a fresh start (and a cat with sofa-breath sticking its bum in your face, according to Margaret Atwood).
Most importantly, let’s all ‘pull a Bronte’ and make our own happy memory this month.
And when you’ve done that, share it with the rest of us via the comments section so that we can all bask in your glory. Happy new February, people!