Ode to January

My favorite month is October, but sometimes I feel January is a close second.

Even if it does freeze my toes.

The changing of a year really shouldn’t mean that much, but we’ve given it a lot of importance and significance. We set resolutions and choose one little word. We buy gym memberships and start meal planning. We sign up for new classes, swear to see our friends and family more often, and promise this is the year we’re finally going to lose 20 pounds.

I chose a word and made the decision to choose a place in my life to focus that word each month. I’ve said I should write out the monthly goals to hold myself more accountable, but haven’t quite made it there yet. I did a vision board for the first time and seeing it every day reminds me what I’m aiming for.

I decided to start simplifying my kitchen, for no other reason than I just got a new microwave and drip pans in my stove so I wanted the rest of my kitchen to look as shiny. Plus, after the bathrooms, I think my kitchen had the least about of “stuff” that needed to be reduced.

We had quite a few snow days lately, but I didn’t take a lot of that time to be any kind of productive. I did small things each day, tossing Tupperware into a box as I saw it and realized I never used it or moving the knife block to a smaller section of counter where it would tuck away better and be out of the way while doing meal prep. There was one snow day that I finally just opened up the pantry and cleaned out the entire thing. I rearranged a few cabinets, moving dishes to more sensible places (Why weren’t my cups near the fridge? What was I thinking?), and by the end of the day I looked at my kitchen and realized I had more counter space than I knew when I didn’t use as much for storage.

I’m in my kitchen every day, and now it feels so much more stream-lined. I can find exactly what I need without having to push aside an old steamer that I never used. I’m even staying on top of the dishwasher and loading it after every meal, running it when full, and emptying it the next day (it’s a little noisy so I always run it while we’re sleeping). I’m even doing well at cleaning up right after dinner, wiping down the counters, and keeping the place in order.

This is all just a long route to the reason why I love January. It’s the feeling of turning a new page, of trying something new, a fresh start and feeling like I’m finally going to make the changes that will stick and help make my life just a little bit smoother. Starting with the kitchen was a good idea because it was simpler than I thought. It was easy to make progress and now I can build off that progress. I can move around the house and spot things that sit unused and remember to move them to the giveaway box. I can make honest decisions about whether I’m really going to wear all of those scarves, or whether I should just pick the few that I wear on a regular basis. I’ve already made so much progress, I can be optimistic that I’ll continue to build on what I’ve done.

Maybe by February or March or June I’ll slack off and struggle to give up clothes that don’t fit or cute shoes that I really don’t wear. Maybe I’ll hold onto the giveaway box so long that it’ll become a part of the decor. Maybe the dishes will pile up in the sink for weeks again. Maybe I’ll go a month or four without writing.

Maybe.

But January holds so many possibilities. So much optimism. So much opportunity for making the small changes that add up in the end.

I’ll try to hold onto it for as long as I can. And if I let go, maybe I can give myself a pat on the back and celebrate a job well done and not punish myself. Because even getting rid of one box of unused stuff is progress.

Progress. Not perfection.

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