"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer" -Albert Camus
Today I awoke to yet another gray sky, clouds hanging low and heavy, no promise of sun in the forecast. These dreary winter mornings are so hard. I have to fight the urge to pull the covers more tightly around me, to settle back down into a comforting sleep.
I love winter. Truly, I do. I love the promise of snowy days, warm sweaters, woolen hats and mittens, snow shoeing and cross country skiing. But this winter has brought mainly cold rains, ice and slush. The earth is painted in muted tones of slate and brown, only occasionally punctuated by a clear blue sky. My mood has matched the landscape; I find myself struggling with fatigue, a desire to just wrap myself in an afghan and hide until spring comes.
This morning I became teary and discouraged. Despite knowing that the cause of my mood is the absence of sunlight outside my window, I struggled to come through my melancholy. As I reluctantly started my day I paused for a moment to check my email and opened a letter from Anne, author of The Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. The subject line was What's Saving Your Life Right Now? and in it she spoke about her own struggle with the winter blues (you can read her post here). On February 2nd she is going to be sharing what's saving her life this winter but I decided not to wait. I knew that writing my list right now was just what I needed (sorry, Anne!).
So, what's saving my life right now?
- The knowledge that this sadness will pass. I have learned that if I acknowledge how I am feeling and just sit with it that even in the course of a day my mood may lift. Just being aware that I've been in this state before and have come out of it helps so much.
- Staying socially active. This is hard, especially when the weather has been so miserable. My inclination when I am down in the dumps is to isolate myself. I find excuses not to go out to chorus rehearsals, open studio, get togethers with friends. It's too cold. It's too rainy. I'm tired. I need to give myself an extra push, remind myself that once I get to where I'm going I will have a good time. Which I always do. Being among friends and colleagues always lifts my mood.
- Relishing being able to curl up with a good book. When I step away from my pity party I remember that this season is perfect for doing sedentary activities that I love. Reading was my first love as a child, a passion that has stayed true through the years. I find such contentment in sitting in my favorite chair, Popeye by my side, a cup of hot tea on the end table and a good book on my lap. I've also been working on embroidery and knitting, taking pleasure in the creative process.
- Learning a new skill. We have a beautiful upright piano that has been going unused since our children moved away. I took lessons years ago when I was a pre-teen but never stuck with it. Today I met with a lovely piano teacher and am going to begin taking lessons. As we conversed I became so excited over the thought of reading music and learning music theory. I have always enjoyed being a student and firmly believe that one is never to old to learn something new. You can teach an old dog new tricks. ; )
- In spite of the unpleasant winter we are having I have been trying to get out every day to walk, if only for a short while. Even on the cloudiest of days I find that my mind clears when I am outside. I love the feeling of cold brushing across my face. The tension in my body eases and I become relaxed and cheered.
The one thing I haven't been doing is painting. I fell out of my routine over the holidays and have been finding it hard to return. I'm not worried though, I think it is natural to step away from the easel for a little while and take time to focus on other things. I tell myself I am replenishing my creative well. Plus, my studio is in the bottom floor of our home, the least heated area of our house. Even the gas hearth and portable heater is not enough to completely ward off the chill, making it hard to paint. But, winter is passing and spring is coming and I will pick up my brushes again.
What's saving your life right now?
Sharing with Becca.