Today is the shortest day of the year. The least amount of sun is shining today, and from where I am sitting, it is snowing - so even less! Last year - and years before - I would have had a harder day. Winter can be long and hard, as all Canadians know. I used to get bogged down, and have so much resistance for this season that lasted for more than half the year. That is a long time to have resistance and disdain for something. Half a year, eventually looks more like half your life, if you're doing it every year.
Last year was my darkest Winter of my life; from the amount of snow, lack of sun, and other factors like hormones and SAD led it to be a deep low for me. This year, I was determined to have a better experience.
It is tempting to fall into wishing that things were different; wishing it was summer, wishing the vacation was sooner, wishing the snow would stop - but all of that is resistance. The biggest thing that changed for me was my attitude. Rather than waiting for the next warmer season, hoping it wasn't the way it was - I not only accepted winter for winter, but I am choosing to embrace her. To find the beauty of this season. To make winter nice. One thing I did was I focussed on the things that I can only do in winter. To notice things that only happen with it is cold and snowy. It helped having two kids point out the beauty constantly - and be open to finding joy in unlikely places. Noticing how many doors have wreaths, what it's like to make a snowman for the first time, to crack the puddles that have thin pockets of ice, to eat fresh snow, to break icicles (and also eat them in my kids' case lol). I know the outdoors in winter can seem daunting. And for some, awful (*cough* my dad). Although it's a lot harder to prepare and be outside, it is still nature. You still get the calming effects in your body after spending 10 minutes near trees, breathing the fresh air, listening for rivers and birds. If you're still saying no to the outdoors - bring hot chocolate (with Bailey's if it floats your boat), or do something more rigorous so your blood is flowing and you are creating heat and endorphins for yourself.
I just found that complaining about the cold, and resisting it didn't make winter go away, or lessen the bite. What lessened it was learning to love it. Even indoors, there is something beautiful about cultivating warmth, coziness and Hygge (google it!). You don't long for coziness when it is summer. I love making and eating soup and baking cookies on cold days. I drink more hot chocolate and teas. I read more. I slow down more. Following suit with nature; we can slow down, hybernate, be still, and our conserve energy. I love lighting candles and having more blankets around. Loving Winter won't make me love summer any less. But there is no reason life can't be sweet and beautiful even in the dark and cold months.
There are so many Winter activities too! Be open - you can't knock it till you try it! There is something everyone! If my dad even enjoyed snow shoeing, anyone can! I have yet to try ice fishing - but people love it! Cross country ski. get those metal claws so you can still walk or jog. Snowboard or ski. Go to an outdoor hot tub or spa (I am trying the new Spa Nordik in Kananaskis this weekend. Side note, we went to Thermea in Winnipeg last year and I feel like it really cracked my soul open - and I had the most beautiful Winter moment, so if you can, get yourself to an outdoor spa ASAP this Winter). Take the kids sledding. Have a romantic ice skate at Bowness (or any place - even indoors).
On the longest night of the year, know that tomorrow the sun will stay out a little longer, and continue on that path.
In the meantime:
Cook your food (raw food takes longer to digest, drains more energy - not saying no salads ever, but help your body by breaking food down in the cooking process, warm your house, nourish your soul)
Light candles. Create a warm atmosphere.
Put on a record (or any cozy music however way you can play it).
Find a fun way to be active outside. Fun being the keyword to actually enjoying it and doing it again!
Bring Hot Chocolate or Tea.
Sending love from the snowy mountains. Happy Winter Solstice!