An Apologetic for the Most Depressing Month of the Year

Guest blogger Erin Bartels
Guest blogger Erin Bartels

February is a great time to talk about time. Largely because time goes so slowly during
this shortest month of the year. Midwesterners and Canadians know all about this. We’re
used to rolling our eyes at groundhogs and silly little myths like the so-called “first day of
spring” that is supposedly coming up. We know better. We know it will snow in April, no
matter what the calendar says.

Most people I know get sullen this time of year, and I suspect many silently scheme
about moving to Arizona. Social media makes February harder to bear as our Southern
friends post photos of daffodils while we linger beneath two feet of snow and sub-sub-
zero temps. But this year, even the balmy South is getting a wallop of winter weather. To
that I say, you had it coming. (Kidding, of course.)

February used to depress me. But over the past few years, late winter has become
something special because it’s come to mean more time.

More time to stay indoors and snuggle with my family in front of the fire.

More time to avoid the busyness of outdoor chores in the spring.

More time to read.

More time to exercise.

More time to create.

Practically everyone I know complains that they don’t have enough time for X, Y, or Z.

But that’s exactly what we do have—when we make it.

Time is one of those funny things in life that you cannot change, but that you can often
control. We all get the same 24 hours a day. We just don’t all use them in the same way.
I have a friend who often uses his lunch hour to get outside in any kind of weather and
take photos because that’s what brings him joy.

My sister gets up before 5:00AM in order to get in an hour at the gym before work. She
has two young children and her commute every day is 45 minutes each way because she
lives in the middle of nowhere. It’s the only time she has to exercise, and that’s what
brings her joy.

I have a friend who gets up every day at 6:00AM to knit, crochet, or sew for an hour so
that she goes to her full time job feeling like she’s already accomplished something. In
the evenings she might take up her project again or bake fresh bread, one loaf for her and
her husband and one to give away. That’s what brings her joy.

My husband and took last week off work and spent the weekend away (kid-free) at a
friend’s summer house on Gun Lake in order to get traction on the books we are currently
writing. Writing brings us joy (and some frustration…but mostly joy).

We can’t add more hours to our day, but we can control how we use the hours that we are
not sleeping or working. Those are ours to use for family, prayer, the Word, and all of the
things that make life a blessing.

When was the last time you really took time to use your gifts?

My gift is writing. Susie’s gift is writing. Maybe your gift is writing or maybe it’s
something else. Whatever it is, God gave it to you so you would use it to His glory.

Intentional Writer ebook CVR FINALIf your gift happens to be writing, or if perhaps you’ve read Susie’s book and feel called to tell your own stories but you’re not sure where to start, might I suggest checking out an ebook I’ve written? The Intentional Writer is my answer to the problem of finding the time, space, and inspiration to write. It’s written for writers, but many of the tactics and ideas can be put to great use for any creative discipline. If you’ve been yearning to create something but have felt at the mercy of your busy schedule, please check it out.

It just might be the kick in the pants you’ve been waiting for.
Erin Bartels has been writing marketing copy for Baker Publishing Group for more than
a decade. A prolific short story writer, she is the author of The Intentional Writer and is
currently writing a novel. She is a board member of the Capital City Writers Association,
the features editor for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a member of the
Michigan Hemingway Society. She lives with her husband and fellow writer, Zachary,
and their karate-obsessed son, Calvin, in a little brick house nestled somewhere between
angry protestors on the Capitol lawn and couch-burning frat boys at nearby Michigan
State University. And yet it’s really quite peaceful. Find her at

Erin and I are swapping blogs today. You can check out her blog to read my take on chamomile. Linger around her place and poke around a little. She’s got a beautiful blog full of posts about the writing life and our beautiful state. She’s a Michigander who loves this mitten of ours. 

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