Within we go, journeying to rest by the flame of our spirit, restoring and replenishing our deep reservoir of power and purpose. -helpyourselfbk
Today in I <3 Mondays, we are embracing the cold. When Kelly and I first moved back to Illinois from hot, sunny, Austin, Texas, we were terrified of the cold. I passionately dreaded my first freezing winter in 8 years. I made myself sick resisting the weather.
But this year is easier. I welcome the cozy nights and the brisk days. There is a peace I get to make with death in the fall. I am happy to see the garden die! I’m happy to rest. I’m happy to be still, and I look forward to what creative energies burst forth in the spring.
The cold can be oppressive, or it can be liberating. Here are some ways to cope with the darker months that helped me welcome the seasons.
P.S. I collected these screenshots to keep me sane last winter.
1. Embrace Coziness.
Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special.
I hadn’t heard of hygge until I started looking for ways to survive winter last year. But after reading a hygge article or two, I started experiencing it everywhere.
Sweaters. All the blankets. The concept of hibernating, or a time of year when you actually stop to rest. Being cooped up in your studio as a good thing. Getting to wear layers and outerwear instead of just tank tops and shorts. Cuddling up with loved ones to stay warm. When your cats want to sit in your lap and sleep on you. Actually wanting to drink tea. Soups! The glee of the first snow. Wearing cute snow boots. “Snow days” even if it’s not snowing. As a kid, a snow day is just one of the best days of your life, and you can still enjoy that feeling as an adult!
There are so many opportunities to be present and just enjoy the facts of winter life. Last winter, as the spring began to creep in, I looked at my scarf hanging on the back of my desk chair. I realized I was going to have to put it away soon and actually felt myself missing winter. Imagine! Missing winter is a thing! This hygge business helps me remember to stay present.
Plus, winter is the best time to hole up and create! Hole up and consume! Hole up and just be! Sit in front of the computer and get some projects done! Watch tv until your eyes bleed! Order pizza until you want to cook! Bask in all the snow-day things you get to do in the winter. Notice all the charming and special things in your life right now!
2. Embrace stillness.
It is okay to be a bit low at this time. The winter months seem made for drumming up the love inside whilst gazing over silent fields—for appreciating the poetry that is silence as much as extremal connection. - Many Moons
Since we don’t have a car, when it’s below 18º, we just don’t leave the house. We love getting the chance to just rest and relax and enjoy our home. Sometimes we meditate twice. Sometimes we get stir crazy and beg someone to take us somewhere. But it’s a good time to sit still and receive messages from aliens. Not being able to go anywhere in the outside world leaves but one option: go inside. It’s the easiest time to hear the answers inside you.
When I lived in Chicago in 2005, when it was too cold to go out, I would sit in the bath and draw on the walls with those big bath crayons. I had so many good ideas and epiphanies in that tub. The crayons definitely stained the grout, but it was a really romantic aspect of my time in that city. That hard winter lead to integral aspects of my spiritual journey--I got back into meditation, I read Carlos Castañeda, and I abandoned my first "day job" for an impromptu road trip to sunny California.
3. Embrace change.
The change of the seasons is a macrocosm of all the change that happens to us every single day. When we get better at accepting change and embracing what is, we become more resilient. Seeing the plants die and come back to life and die and come back to life soothes the heart with the rhythm of rebirth.
Moving to central Illinois from Austin was a huge change I could have resisted or embraced. I passionately love that live music capital of the world! But I chose to look for the positive aspects of my new home. Moving here turned out to be the best decision we ever made, financially and creatively--not to mention all the new relationships and perspectives we've experienced in this new location. I mean, I'm living in my wife's hometown! It's the most amazing look into her life experience that I wouldn't trade for the world!
4. Embrace death.
This was the first summer that we had a real garden. I planted jalapeño, pepperoncini and cherry tomato seeds in March. I babied those plants until it was time to put them in the ground.
I watered them nearly every day, admiring their steady growth. It was such a source of pride for me! The first cherry tomato I ate off those plants was so delicious! We used the peppers for cooking through October. I enjoyed taking care of the plants and seeing them grow from a seed into something you can eat. It was sad at first, to see them just dead when we got home from traveling on Halloween.
But the character that forms in the winter comes from facing death. After a few days of longing for my plant friends and fresh produce, I started to feel relief that I didn’t have to water or weed anymore. I was enjoying the death!
Making peace with mortality brings a new sparkle to life. I know I’ll get another chance at gardening, and for now I feel so free! Knowing everything will grow back next year makes death seem not so serious, not so permanent, and just for fun!