winter blues

Well, they arrived much earlier than I thought they would this year.

The winter blues, that is.

The past two days have been in the single digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures, with wind chills well below zero.

There is a reason my alter ego is a beach bum. I never feel more alive than when the sun is drenching my skin in warmth. I love having the option to go barefoot. The simple pleasure of a Cuba Libre on the patio is really all I can ask for out of life.

Unfortunately, I live in Minnesota. And with Minnesota come violent and prolonged winters. They start out innocently enough. First come the autumn chills. Everyone is delighted at the chance to pull on a cozy sweater after that sweltering and humid summer. The mosquitoes are gone, and that breeze sure feels great! But then that first frost of the year sneaks in like an unwelcome houseguest. People are willing to forgive it, though, because the days are still pretty mild and the sun is out and the holidays are coming up. January, February, March, and sometimes April arrive with a fury bringing subzero temperatures and mounds of snow at just the right times to avoid an actual snow day, but to create havoc on the morning commute.

But it's only early December, and already we're experiencing subzero temperatures. It's already that instant headache, snot freezing, painful cold that makes a person want to curse good and loud.

And it never fails to give me the blues.

Too often I write off 7 months of the year as {nothing happening these months, just sitting inside looking up plane tickets to somewhere warm and being lazy on the sofa}.This year, though, I am determined to fight it. I choose how I feel. I choose my mood. I choose my reaction. And this year, I choose to experience, and live it, and be present in it. Instead of waiting for life to begin anew in spring, I choose to be an active participant in life this winter.

But how will I got about doing that? I'll admit, these past 2 days have been tough. I am home with a 6 month old and yellow lab, while my husband is at work. It's easy to feel cooped up and even trapped. Instead, here is how I am deciding to deal with the extreme cold:

  • knowing that life goes on. In Canada, Siberia, Scandanavia, Iceland, etc, the weather is even more extreme than in Minnesota. Life does not stop for cold weather. People still go grocery shopping and have social visits and go to work. It just takes a little more preparation and a lot more layers.
  • looking at the cold as a challenge. I have never been one to shy away from a challenge. Maybe if I look at conquering the cold the same way I view a demanding workout, I will enjoy overcoming the physical discomfort. Maybe?
  • coffee.
  • paradigm shift. Last year, I remember praying for a snow day. Not because I didn't enjoy my job - I loved my job. But it's always nice to have a day to catch up on correcting papers, snuggle on the couch, watch movies, and take the dog outside to run around in the snow. Now I have that opportunity every day. I can use my days to be productive, but also to take it slow and enjoy the little moments. This life is exactly what I hoped for. 
  • get rid of the victim mentality. It is so strange to me that the only area of my life where I play the victim card is winter weather. That stops now. Everything in life is a choice. Of course we don't always choose what happens to us, but we choose how to deal with it. I am not trapped. I have options. 
  • be social. I need to feel the camaraderie of others battling this harsh winter weather. 
  • healthy food and exercise. I will not eat all the donuts. I will work out. I will drink tons of water. I will not use the weather as an excuse to feel sorry for myself, lay on the couch, and eat more chocolate. Easier said than done, am I right?
  • planning a trip. Ok, this is a little bit of an escapist exercise, but it does put me in a better mood when I can at least imagine sipping wine on a sun-drenched plaza in South America.
  • the great outdoors. When it gets below zero, I do have to think of the safety and comfort of a six-month-old, but on the days where it's just uncomfortably cold as opposed to dangerously cold, we can bundle up and explore the surrounding areas. Minnesota has some beautiful landscapes, hiking trails, and state parks just waiting to be explored. 
  • coffee.

Alright winter, do your worst! It cannot possibly be worse than last year (snowstorms through the first week in May) and this time I am ready for you. 

How do you deal with undesirable weather? 

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