Well, hello there, winter! This has been the coldest January I can remember since living in the midwest (it’s been about fifteen years now!). For some reason I thought it didn’t snow much when it got below a certain temperature, but the subzero weather has not stopped the flurries! I must admit, I am a bit of a closet winter fan. I feel like I have to be somewhat quiet about my love of the chilly season since it seems to frustrate so many people. I don’t like to ruffle feathers if I can help it, but we like what we like, you know? Something about winter makes me feel so alive. The air seems cleaner, the sun shines brighter (reflected in all that snow), and everything feels just a bit more quiet and calmer outside with much of nature hibernating until the thaw. That being said, I do prefer sunny winter days to grey and overcast ones, although there is a certain quality to the winter grey that inspires me to journey within.
I wasn’t always such a big fan of the winter months. I’ve always loved the season around the holidays, but like many others would grow tired of it especially once February rolled around and long for the spring. That all changed once I brought my dog Winnie home just over four years ago now. She officially became part of our family in late October 2009. She got to experience her first winter when she was still a wiggly pup and her absolute delight in the snowy season soon had a profound affect on me. I began to look forward to our daily wintery walks and enjoy the chill from the coziness of my warm coat and mittens. Watching Winnie hop around in the snow like a real snow bunny brings me so much joy. It is thanks to her that I started to really notice and appreciate the beauty of winter. Winnie also taught me the importance of slowing down a bit in the winter months when the natural world is at rest. I look forward to snuggling by the fire with her and my husband Don in the evenings, instead of fretting about what I’m not getting done by just hanging out. As much as Winnie loves the snow, she tends to nap more in the winter, using her indoor time to rest. It’s amazing what animals can teach us if we take the time to observe their instincts and natural patterns. For instance, Winnie had a bit of a stomach bug early last week and knew to be gentle with herself, not overexerting by eating too much or playing too hard. Despite not feeling 100%, however, she still reveled in our daily walks outside. Fresh air is such a healer! She was back to her normal self within just a couple of days. I think as humans we have the tendency to want to push through bouts of illness and fatigue to cross those items off our unending to-do lists. If I could learn to “take the gentle path” and allow myself time to heal when I am not feeling well, perhaps I could bounce back just as quickly as my little Winnie, instead of pushing myself and unnecessarily dragging out the recovery period.
On that same note, I have been thoroughly enjoying my daily read from Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach that I mentioned in my first WIR of the year. This has become a daily ritual for me as I continue to learn and grow. I like to think of it as a positivity guide, facilitating introspection about myself and my path in the world that allows for personal growth. Like Winnie, Simple Abundance is helping me to appreciate things that I might otherwise miss in the hustle and bustle of life. I wonder if my fellow self-proclaimed busy bees (otherwise known as type-A-ers, whether admitted or not) feel like they, too, can get so caught up in being productive and efficient that they, too, sometimes miss seeing the bigger picture in the small and quiet details of life. I know it is all too easy for me to fall into a pattern of going-going-going all of the time without taking a moment to stop and breathe and look around. Whenever I sense myself falling back into this rut, I like to reflect on this quote from one of my favorite movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
I feel like I am becoming better at “stopping and looking around” as I grow older. When I think back to my intense school days, especially during my college years when I would push myself so hard all of the time, I can’t imagine how I made it through in one piece! I will always be a go-getter, get-it-done, productive and efficient kind of person, because that’s who I am, plain and simple. Honoring my true self and personality are part of this journey. An equally if not more important part, however, is to make space and time to just be still for few moments each and every day. If that means scheduling some of that time right into my daily to-do list, then so be it! Who says lists can only hinder your free spirit? For me, they are an effective tool for allowing myself some freedom to savor the small moments. Right now, some of my favorite “moments” include reading in the bath, drinking tea and hot chocolate, watching my pup frolic in the snow on our winter walks, and knitting. I am continually surprised and delighted by how much there is to learn in these moments.
You can watch last week’s vlog here if you’d like:
I would love to hear some of your favorite ways to find quiet and stillness in this fast-paced life. Please leave a comment if you care to share! I hope you are all keeping warm this winter and finding ways to enjoy the season!
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