Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Embracing Winter

This is one of the nice things about winter

I broke down a couple days ago and turned the heat on in my house. It’s that time again...fall is letting go as winter begins to crush us all.

Seriously, though, I really did not enjoy last winter at all. Even though I was fully aware that yes, we’re in Canada, and part of Canadian life is surviving winter year after year, I still honestly don’t think we had suffered through a winter as bad as last year’s in a long time. 

The fluctuations in temperature combined with other stressors, and I had a series of migraines (which I hadn’t had in years), from January through to March. My hands got so dry that cracks appeared around my fingertips and throbbed at night. We decided against going tobogganing several times because it was just too cold. I wondered, Did the wind have something against me personally?  because it attacked me with ferocity every time I left my house. We started running out of ideas for what to do to keep the kids entertained inside, and then indoor hockey with small sticks in the basement it was (and our basement walls really suffered, plus, I’m not good at hockey). We looked, but could not find our marbles—those pretty, shiny, happy sanity marbles we had lost amidst toys, slippers and scarves and desperate attempts to kill some time by throwing the kids in the car and driving around with a coffee for an hour before dinner. We just could not find our marbles.

Last winter, Joel said to me, “You just have to embrace it! Embrace the cold and the snow! Embrace winter!” I fully and completely decided against embracing winter last winter, but this winter, since I have a little bit of time here to anticipate and brace for the storm (and because resisting winter didn't make it go away), I am thinking that I will try the “embrace it” tactic this year. 

This does make sense. If you repel something that is imminent, you are exerting stress and effort against something you can’t change, which results in exhaustion and frustration, right? I mean, we can’t control winter here. The best we could do is get away somewhere warm for a while, but unless you migrate to Florida from now until next April, that would still only be a temporary reprieve.

So...here are a few of my ideas for embracing winter this year...yes, accepting it with slightly hesitant chicken arms into an awkward embrace, during which me and winter both move our heads to the same side and kind of bump up against each other’s shoulders—awkward but with good intentions.

1.       Buy a parka.  For years, I have survived with dressier wool-blend coats because I’m just not the sporty type and I generally avoid “warm weather” coats because I prefer the trench coat/pea coat kind of style. That, however, won’t cut it if this upcoming winter is anything like the last. So to Sport Chek or something like it I go! Maybe I’ll even get some snowpants so I can trudge through the snow like a clumsy toddler. When in Canada!

2.       Force myself to get out in the sun. Someone pointed out to me that while last winter was snowy and cold, it was still quite sunny. I missed that, but I could have capitalized on at least the sun last winter. This past summer, every time I was in the sun, I relished the happy and calm feeling that the Vitamin D infusion gave me. I don’t want to miss any happy Vitamin D opportunities this winter. Whenever I can, whenever it’s sunny, I’m going to do my best to get out there and expose as much skin as possible, even if it’s just a square inch of my face, for like even ten minutes at a time, to absorb some of that goodness, so that I can stay “level” instead of falling into the icy clutches of Mr. Winter Blues. He’s mean.

3.       Remember all the good things about winter. This is a short list, but hey, I’ll keep repeating it and maybe even add to it! For me and Joel, it’s the few months off because we are both in the seasonal business and the free time it affords to do some relaxing and some home improvements, the quiet stillness outside (even though it’s because most living things have booked it out of here or died and because nobody works outside when it's -30C), the snow activities (OK, I don’t really do any of them except sometimes tobogganing, but anyway)...the warm, soft sweaters? The hot drinks? The crispness of freshly fallen snow? ummm... Hmmm. I might have to work on this, but I plan to keep reminding myself of the positives of winter!

4.       Keep planning things to look forward to. January through March can be pretty depressing because there never seems to be much to look forward to, especially compared to all the events and things that fill up spring through fall. Last year, once Christmas was over, I found myself flailing around in a figurative pile of snow (not a real pile because I didn’t have a parka and snowpants), not sure if it was Monday or Friday, January or February, cold or ridiculously cold. Planning some fun things every couple of weeks or once at month at least would be really helpful to orient myself to the calendar and keep the spirits up.

5.       Oh, speaking of spirits, spirits. Let's be real here. A drink goes a long way to warm up a chilled body and brighten one’s outlook.

6.       When all else fails, give up and run away down south for a short vacation. I really want to go away this winter. We’ll see how that works out, but thawing out on a beach getting massive doses of sunshine would be blissfully awesome.

When I started out writing this post, I kind of thought I would end up with a sizable list of really great ideas, but this list is kind of lacking. Old man Winter sure is a tough guy to embrace.

If you have any ideas (other than skiing or snowboarding), please let me know - I'm desperate!