anuary is a time for taking our personal inventory. We made it through another year, and we sent 2012 off with horns and fireworks and a salute to the future.

The winter doldrums are upon us. They permeate our lives whether we are at home, at school or at work.

Around Valentine's Day there seems to be some reprieve when our spirits get a lift, especially if we get some valentines.

However, until April, it's just clean up after the holidays, try to avoid catching a cold or the flu, and attempt to keep those New Years' resolutions. That is unless you are a skier, when this is your season.

I finally made it over to the mall last week. Turning the corner to get to the escalator I noticed the common area looked surprisingly denuded after the glorious display from the holidays. It looked clean, almost sterile, as it waited for the next phase of "something else" to begin.

Winter sale signs were in every window inviting entry to help clean out some of the leftover merchandise before inventory.

January is a time for taking our personal inventory. We made it through another year, and we sent 2012 off with horns and fireworks and a salute to the future.

It was enjoyable, actually downright wonderful in December to plan parties and give gifts and to eat all that good food and spend all that money.

Somehow we got by on a minimum of sleep and a maximum of hustle and bustle. Now it's the future.

Now it's pay-up time.

Last September we began hearing the warnings about the next cold and flu season.

The cautious took heed and got flu shot while the foolhardy or faint of heart took their chances. Many people will take the chance rather than face a needle, and that includes my otherwise courageous husband, Grit.

It doesn't help that so many people travel during the holidays. All the viruses in the world are mixed and mingled and sent back home with us.

Now the shelves at the drugstore are devoid of all the flu and cold remedies purchased to help ease the chills and fever.

Fortunately the height of the citrus crop coincides with the germ warfare. My hands smell like tangerine juice the whole of January as I attempt to ward off the evil viruses.

At the mall, two stores apologized for the lack of help. Everyone is ill, they said. After the season of sharing in December, it appears we have entered the season of sharing germs.

If you are anything like me your exercise regime was greatly altered and now it's hard to get back to a routine. There are some acceptable excuses such as — it is too cold outside, we're sick, there isn't enough daylight or how about we just don't fit in our exercising clothes (now that could be a good one).

Other than exercise or moving to southern California, just what can we do to perk up our days and pick up our lives?

A starter would be to realize how nice it is to move at a less hectic pace and consider this a renewal time.

That goes for our surroundings, too. Cleaning out closets can really be a big reward of effort and time.

Pull out that turkey carcass and make up a pot of soup because there is nothing that smells better this time of year, and it has been said soup has healing qualities.

Build a fire and read that book you have been saving for "when you have time." Be sure to throw away those sad looking poinsettias and pick up some primroses.

Clean up, fix up, get a start inside before the grass begins to grow and takes your time.

Remember, there is no better time than today to get started because the holidays, after all, are only 11 months away.