A couple years ago I was coming out of a long haze of depression when I set the intention to enjoy winter more. With snow being a possibility for approximately 6 months out of our MN year (Nov-Apr, and we have had blizzards in May!), I needed to come to terms with winter. Alternatively, I was debating moving south, but taking the grandkids far from our family wasn’t going to go so well, so I determined to embrace winter. Up to that point in my life, I could admit that on occasion the snowfall was pretty, but for the most part winter chilled me to the bone (i.e. made me tense and crabby), plus it meant I couldn’t do all the things I loved to do – basking in the sun (without three layers of clothes on), being barefoot, running (without risking slipping on ice), and of course, gardening. As I bid winter farewell, I am ecstatic to report that I’ve made a ton of progress in my goal! I want to share a few of my experiences for all those other winter-tired cold-weather dwellers. (Or perhaps you love winter, or even envy our winter, so will enjoy these snow stories.)
First up, I tried to complain less. That sounds easy, but the cool, drafty evenings really get me! My number one tool to combat this tendency was to do hot yoga. I didn’t do a lot because it’s so hard to get that time away from the kids, but I did a little and that little bit felt AMAZING. I would go into the studio all tense from the windy cold and come out melted, bendy and calm. Practicing yoga in a humid, 105 F room is so transformative to my winter body. I figure this effect could possibly be accomplished with that age-old practice of a sauna. Why did all those Minnesotans before me let the sauna building rot with time? The Scandinavians really knew what they were doing! Whenever we move to a farm I think we will build a sauna before we build a chicken coop, or maybe even a house – no lie! Regular, intense sweating was key in alleviating my winter tension and helping to shape my winter mind-vibes to be more positive.
Then I took some concrete steps to enjoy winter-specific activities, rather than just trying to do normal life despite winter. See the difference? Neither Jesse or I grew up doing many outdoor adventure sports, but I knew that if I didn’t want winter to feel like it inhibits me, I would have to pick up one or more winter-specific sport. Jesse and I both love hiking, so naturally, a first step was to get some Yak Trax to make winter hiking more speedy and less treacherous. This worked great, and we were even able to use the size XS on our 6-year-old’s size-12 winter boots! The second goal was to figure out how to get us both on some cross-country skis without the kids. I had skied in school something like 15 years ago, and Jesse hadn’t cross-country skied at all, so a personal lesson including skis alleviated our deer-in-the-headlight feeling regarding all the ski stuff (ski-types, wax rainbows, oh my!). Our brief child-free window on skis was a success even though it was interrupted by rescuing a generous friend from our nauseous child (ah, the spontaneous adventures of parent life!)… We couldn’t wait to get on skis again, and now we’re eager to get the kids on skis.
Other winter-specific activities that our family enjoyed included following animal tracks through a snowy field, snow-ball fights, ice-skating, ice-breaking, sledding and dog-sledding – for baby, that was. Who said sled dogs have to be of the husky family?
For the first time ever, when all of our snow melted, I was disappointed. To be truthful, this thaw was uncharactaristically early, and this winter was uncharacteristically mild – certainly not the most testing of Minnesotan’s grit, but it was still a surprise to me that I would ever, in any way, want more winter! Things did re-freeze, though we never accumulated much snow during that month. Now I will pass on a grey, frozen ground and open my arms wide to Spring! We celebrated the vernal equinox with friends, flowers and lots of crafting of more flowers, in crown form. Happy Spring all!