India Hicks Envy

Rural Iowa in January.
The sky may be blue, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get the blues.

Between the post-Newtown letdown after our manic pie-making/pie-sharing cross-country journey, the bitter cold Iowa weather, the isolation of winter and my inability to get my ass moving on my next book, all this is conspiring to create a serious case of the January blues. (Thank you, Gayle H., for giving a name to my malaise.) I’ve experienced this syndrome in winters past and I know the cure. It’s called “a tropical vacation.” There is nothing like a dose of heat, sun penetrating bare skin, and swimming in warm ocean water to revive the spirit and invigorate the soul. I immediately began dreaming of how I might get my S.A.D. self to the Caribbean.

But instead of searching for southbound flights, I spent the evening scrolling through Facebook where I noticed that a friend of mine had “liked” the page for India Hicks. I’ve heard of India Hicks, but all I really knew was she had been a bridesmaid in Princess Diana’s wedding, that she was a model or designer or something, and that she lived in the Bahamas. The Bahamas…ohhhhh. My curiosity piqued, I clicked on Hicks’ FB page, kept clicking on links, and clicking on photos, and the next thing I knew I spent an hour immersed in her website.

Come on, don’t tell me this picture doesn’t make you just a tiny bit jealous.

I lost myself in photos of the slim, square-jawed beauty driving her speed boat across the light turquoise Bahamian sea. Pictures of her and her perfect looking little girl modeling for Lands End against a backdrop of white-washed walls and palm fronds. Pictures of her looking regal, even in a bikini, with her long, cellulite-free legs wrapped around a beach chair. Pictures of her tanned face laughing with her kids, her dogs, her handsome partner, frogs, spiders, whatever. Pictures of this stunning sculpted blond — offspring of British royalty, no less — with the jewelry and dresses and purses and Crabtree & Evelyn perfume she designs. I became so envious of her beauty, her elegance, her worldliness, her wealth – I mean, I wanted to be sipping Pimm’s cocktails on a pink sand beach wearing my designer silk kaftan and straw hat, too! — I had to shut down my computer.

My dad told me years ago, “The surest path to unhappiness is to compare yourself to other people.”


My path.  Instead of bare feet on a pink sand beach I
leave boot prints on my snow-covered sidewalk. Fun times.

I stopped to think about that, about how his wisdom is true. And then, reversing his sage advice, I mused that, well, hey, maybe people envy my life too. After all, I live in a drafty old house in the middle of freezing cold rural Iowa where my main form of entertainment is feeding carrots to the goats up the gravel road, my closest friends all wear overalls and dentures, and the only “good” food around is a pork tenderloin the size of a dinner plate from the local bar or a donut from the gas station.

So, uh, yeah. India Hicks wins.

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t obsess over India Hicks anymore, I wouldn’t compare myself to her or anyone else, and that I would be grateful for exactly who I am and what I have. And then I went to bed.

I woke up to snow. And 12 degrees. I bundled up in my long, puffy sleeping-bag-esque coat, wool hat with the oh-so-attractive earflaps, and fleece-lined quadruple-layer mittens and went outside. As I heaved the cold white stuff in large scoopfuls off my front walkway I muttered under my breath, “India Hicks doesn’t have to shovel snow.”

I went back inside the house, my cheeks still burning as they thawed from the near-frostbite, and immediately looked up airline tickets to the Bahamas.

The prices were astronomical, so I looked up light therapy lamps. And since those were priced in the triple digits I ran a very hot bath. And now, since I can’t seem to conjure up any way around this long winter but to muscle through it, I will turn up the heat in the house and get back to work on that new book proposal. And occasionally I will look at pictures of India Hicks to remind myself that instead of being envious I just need to plan in advance for next January.

7 thoughts on “India Hicks Envy

  1. Just finished reading your blog aloud to my partner, laughing and admiring your talent for telling it how it is. I feel somewhat guilty admitting we're leaving for paradise tomorrow (anyplace w/a beach and warm water qualifies). I think in order to survive January one must either: hole up and go within…find that muse and create something, or head south. That's why we start storing "nuts for the winter" each spring. January can be the longest month. But I must admit, I kinda envy your situation, without the cold part, that is. Have fun w/it and stay warm!

  2. Your post made me laugh, Beth:) I live in Florida so, fortunately, cold weather isn't an issue for me. BUT, I'm heading to visit my BFF in Iowa in two weeks! Really, why isn't she heading MY way this month? We've got it all backwards. Anyway, hoping that though it's crazy cold there, the sun will shine today:)

  3. We lived in Iowa for only a year before my Dad moved us back to Oklahoma. Too much snow, he said. It is cold in Oklahoma and yes, I wish I lived in southern California; sunny skies and 70 degrees year round. My fantasy will never come through though, so in January, I feed my animals and look around the place then hurry back inside. The seed catalogs have me in their thrall and I just know we will have an early spring.

  4. I just stumbled on here through your AMAZING book (I read it in one sitting and laughed and cried most of the way through it. Although pregnancy hormones have me on a roller coaster anyway, I'm pretty sure it was your talent with words that had me seesawing all over the place like a crazy lady).

    I lived in the tight valley town of Aspen for two years. After one crazy winter where I lost 30 pounds and couldn't stop crying, I was diagnosed with some insanely infected tonsils and S.A.D. It sounds so minor, but I stopped wearing face cream with SPF (just for the winter!). The bit of Vitamin D you absorb through your face when the rest of you is all bundled up actually made a huge difference for me. Of course, I am feeling wrinkly (and fat, but that's another issue). 🙂

  5. Hello Beth, I'm at the tail end of your book and really don't want to finish it because that means it's over. In other words, I'm enjoying it very much. And I'm happy to hear you're working on another book. I live in Bettendorf, IA (a transplant from other midwestern and southern states). I can relate to the winter doldrums you're having. I want to hibernate, but also what I wouldn't give for some sun soaking my skin. Airfares are outrageous everywhere. So, I've taken the dog for nature walks, gone snow tubing, and sat at home watching season one of the HBO series, Girls. I'll try anything :)Let us know what works for you.

  6. Beth, You don't need to change your life, you need to change the way you think about Winter. I am reading a great book ," Winter: A Spiritual Biography of the Season" edited by Gary Schmidt and Susan Felch. The preface talks about Whittier's boyhood home and the writing of his poem,"Snow-Bound". This opener sucked me right into the book and I haven't put it down since. I will never look at Winter the same again. There are reasons for Winter for nature and for ourselves that I never realized. You need this book; it is a collection of several authors' writings about Winter. It is beautiful. – Annettemac

  7. I've been feeling the same way! Maybe I should stop wearing SPF 15 on my face, or read a book about winter… That picture of India Hicks you posted – that's what you look like from a distance, too. And she totally has cellulite. She just has a professional photographer.

    I went ice skating the other day on the frozen Mississippi. Not warm, but staring down between my feet into frozen bubbles and eternal blackness had a similar effect as looking into the ocean.

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