Monday 16 January 2023

January 2023 #TBCSmiles... 101 Months

Happy New Year! I hope your Christmas was a good one and you had a decent break. If you had to work then thank you, I hope you get to have a proper break at another time. Keep your work/life balance evenly topped up. I promised my family I wouldn't work weekends since I've been spending half my time in Derby, so I'm a day late today with the #TBCSmiles, but it's worked out perfectly really, because today is 'Blue Monday'. 

Thank you to everyone working over Christmas - collage image of many mainly NHS employees

Blue Monday didn't really exist as a thing when New Order wrote their song. That was named after Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 book 'Breakfast Of Champions or Goodbye Blue Monday' - a very unusual encyclopaedic story book about our world and the things in it. Likewise Blue Monday didn't exactly become a thing because of New Order's record-breaking record. Blue Monday is an invention of even more recent times - and unsurprisingly it was advertising which brought it to our attention (a fact I'm sure Kurt Vonnegut would enjoy). 

According to everything I can find (e.g.National Today /CNN) a bloke called Cliff Arnal was probably first to refer to the 3rd Monday in January as Blue Monday. He was a UK-based psychologist who was asked by Sky Travel to scientifically work out the most depressing day of the year - the best day to book a holiday. Of course you can't really just work this out scientifically, and in his theorising Cliff used a series of metrics that any reasonable person would consider grim - poor weather, cold, wet, back to work, Christmas is over, Christmas debt, tired etc. It might not stand up to peer-review, but they had a point. We're rarely at our happiest and best in January. 

Christmas (however great and fun) is incredibly stressful for so many of us, but at least it has focus. You can tick off a list and get those small wins. This period afterwards is really 'meh' and it feels it'll be such a long time until anything great happens. If you aren't feeling yourself, try and create some fun, keep yourself busy and interested, and then Spring will be here before you know it. 

Make a list of things you want to get done, and things you want to do - they're very different. Be realistic, break them down if you need to, and don't make anything completely out of reach. Treat yourself to one from the second list each time you do one from the first. Pick yourself up, and life feels easier - however drab it is outside.

Maybe even book a holiday... have something to look forward to. 

Thanks to those of you who shared your smiley photos over the last month. I did wonder if it would be best to let the #TBCSmiles slowly slide away into the past (having served it's time and purpose), but we have some lovely grins, so it would be very rude not to make a collage. Anyone is welcome to join in, and the smiles will still exist, even if the blog posts end. You can find over 8,000 belting smiles on Instagram - enough to warm the coldest day. 

Here are 9 of the biggest shared with us this month, under the hashtag #TBCSmiles... I think they cover the last month very well indeed... 

January 2023 TBCSmiles Square grid collage of 9 of the public's smiley photos

These were shared by the following gorgeous Instagrammers:

TheStrawberryFountain / SuperbusyMum / JaimeOliverUK
IlisePearson / MrsShilts / BeautiesAndTheBibs
BeautiesAndTheBibs / ClareNicholasUK_ / MyMummysPennies

I started collecting smiles to look at when times were very tough. They reminded me we could do it - and we were doing it. We were winning. We are still winning, 101 months on, and I still collect my family's smiles as my own proof. They aren't so keen on me posting them on Social Media now that they're big hairy grown ups (and almost grown ups), but don't mind the odd collage once a month...

We were lucky, our Christmas was very good - and we managed to get all 6 kids together with us for long enough to play games, eat and watch TV, and we even fit in a trip to Scotland to see my partner's parents for New Year. The best of 2023 to you all... 

January 2023 TBCSmiles Collage of smiles from my own family over the last month

Other sources:

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