When it comes to optimism, and looking on the bright side, I’d be the least likely candidate to spring to mind, wouldn’t you think? But this morning I was tasked with chatting to Frank on U105 about channelling positivity, of all things. I was an odd choice, given that I write ‘The Sour Wee Blog,’ but paradoxically, it’s exactly because of this that I was asked me to contribute, because being aware of my mindset, I actively seek out ways to cope when all seems bleak. Indeed, it’s my only defence to keep the proverbial ‘Black Dog’ from the door, and it would be easy, wouldn’t it, to fall into a collective gloom as we begin a New Year.
Over Christmas, the joy of the season was so much at odds with the atrocities reported daily on the news, that I felt a jarring sense of doom and unease. But by allowing myself to rest up a bit and read books by the fire, I felt myself replenished, and sufficiently energized enough to do parkrun and yoga classes, and as such, my mood lifted a little. And now, as work beckons and it’s time to take down the tree and stash away the glittery outfits for another year, I find myself clinging to the magic, and want to keep the glowing embers aflame. In Sweden it’s the custom to keep the lights on until the 13th January, and I don’t begrudge our Scandi neighbours a thing, because they’ve a long auld winter to plough through. Keep the decorations up for a while, if that’s what you want.! While we plan to take our tree to Kinedale Donkey Sanctuary on Saturday, LSB won’t be clambering up to remove the outdoor lights for at least another week.
Small wins are a must for me, whether it’s keeping up my streak on Duolingo, making dinner from scratch or putting the cork back in the bottle of wine to avoid a hangover, (mornings are tough enough in winter.) It’s taking time to drink tea from a favourite cup with a homemade truffle, or meeting a pal for a latte. Having things to look forward to is crucial, so I’m making plans for a weekend away with friends, and in November I thought ahead and planted a rake of tulips for some spring blooms. These are all small things, but added together they become significant.
When the news is very grim indeed, one could easily fall into a pit of despair. But it’s not terribly helpful, is it? Running about with a face like a DUP-er at their first same sex wedding isn’t going to change anything, other than irritate the life out of those around me. LSB got me on to the Stoics a while ago, and my main take-away was trying not to excessively worry about things I can’t control. I’ve agonised over the news in the past, so much so that I was rendered unable to deal with day to day life. No good came from my angst, and it certainly didn’t make me any more productive.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t tune into the news, but I’m not doom scrolling or getting into debates on Facebook or X. Truly, that way madness lies. Rather I’m trying to focus the inspirational stuff. Might I recommend this piece of joy by Anita Chauduri in the Guardian, and Myke Bartlett on the Stoics. And finally, I felt incredibly humbled to read an article about the Ukrainian film-maker and war reporter Msytlav Chernov, whose film ’20 days in Mauripol’ was released in October. Despite documenting the tragedies which unfolded when the Russians relentlessly pounded the city with bombs, he kept working in a place from which most people have fled. And this is what stuck with me; he said that no matter what they endured, no one was alone, there was always someone there, offering support. He concluded, ‘I find that incredibly hopeful.’ Well. If I can’t shake myself out of a stupor then, it’s a pretty poor state of affairs. Chins up everyone!