This is always a tough time of year for me. I have to work hard to fend off the winter blues. This year has been particularly challenging. Ice and snow have scratched my plans to run more. Correcting the XML proofs of Mrs. Dalloway—that is, the conversion of my edition from a word & .pdf document to a universal mark-up language—has proven unexpectedly challenging. A young friend died after a long illness. Long hours at my desk necessitates my eating lots of little tiny bites of things to keep going, a habit that is not great for my diet. In short, it’s not just February around here it’s FEBRUARY. Yuck.

Then, I look at something like this little girl, just bursting with joy in her snowsuit, and I think, well, she’s got something right. Or someone sends me a quick email—or even a tweet—to say something kind. Or I see a picture of one of the babies whose wee lives I’m following on Facebook, and I can keep one foot in front of the other for another few hours.

I find myself thinking, in the same breath, “We should have a dance—a big square dance, something joyful and goofy and open to the whole community!” (seriously, and with a burst of “I know! Let’s put on a show!”)  and “I wish I could just crawl under the covers and have someone deliver me soup.”

When I was in high school, my grandmother was very ill and far away. I wrote her letters, constant letters, instead of keeping a diary. I told her all about my life, but I kept the focus on the good parts because I wanted to cheer her up. That ended up serving me well, too: instead of wallowing in the miseries of unrequited crushes and worries about popularity and SAT’s, I wrote about my friends, movies I saw, hopes and dreams.

Grammy has been gone a long time, but I still try to keep that alive. And when I see people urging us to be more “realistic” about the challenges of our lives on social media, I understand the impulse, but come at it from a different place. To that end, then, I offer you this random list of the things that I’m using to give me that little hit of joy as I slog through the slog of this month:

  • butter
  • Humans of New York
  • checking Twitter and retweeting any little piece of good news or sharp satire about bad news I can find
  • artist trading cards
  • watching the birds at my bird feeder
  • tea
  • liking cute baby pictures on Facebook
  • cranking our new Girl Power Dance Party Mix
  • cottage cheese with blackberries
  • Brainpickings
  • recipes for King Cake: Mardi Gras is just around the corner, people!

So, imagine me, if you wish, cycling through these options, sometimes pretty rapidly, to stave off the blues.  Maybe they'll help you, too! After all, spring cannot be far behind, can it?