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Winter's Lesson: Embracing Quiet and Finding Joy




Blog Banner for Winter's lesson with a water color of a farm in winter

I grew up hating winter. It was grey, gloomy, and cold. Going outside hurt my face.


I was miserable, just like everyone else seemed to be in the Minnesota tundra.


Until I started skiing.


Me in a bright orange speed suit, used for slalom skiing
Me in my glorious speed suit (for skiing) circa 2007

I joined the high school slalom ski team in my freshman year. I spent 4+ nights a week out on the hills with my team. Suddenly my whole perspective of winter changed. It wasn't a season that I spent hiding out dreaming of warmer days. It became a season I spent outside with my friends doing a sport I wasn't particularly good at but did love. I had a reason to be outside. I had a reason to find joy in the season.


But slowly, as my ski team days came to an end, I started to lose that love for winter.


It's been almost 2 decades since I donned my skis and shot down icy hills.


And I am just learning how to love winter again.

 



How I Rekindled my Love of Winter


Honestly, I attribute most of my joy found on this journey to my relationship with my dear friend, the local hedge witch. We have a standing weekly coffee date where we discuss all of the big things in life. The majority of these talks involve spirituality and learning how to flow with the seasons.


Birch Wheel Print done by Janet Moore depicting the change in seasons
Birch Wheel Print - Janet Moore

Winter plays a very important role in this flow.


Summer is the time for packed schedules, early mornings, and long nights. Camp, bonfires with friends, and kayak trips down the river.


Winter is summer’s beautiful, quiet antithesis. 


A watercolor of a hot cocoa mug in front of a fire

Everything settles down for the winter. Especially after the holidays are over.


Things are just quieter.


Animals have migrated or hunkered down for the season. Schedules seem to ease up a little. Even our bodies are less energetic, craving cuddle time on the couch with a soft blanket and a warm drink.


All of the signs are there, we just tend to ignore it.




We push through it like we do everything else, certain that our busyness is the only way to move through life. The only way to be successful.


Here is where the shift in attitude comes in.


A watercolor of a man surrounded by files

We rule our calendars, not the other way around.


Now don’t get me wrong. Some things are necessary. Like mandatory meetings and basketball practice for our kiddos.


But it can be life-changing when we start to pay attention to what is self-inflicted busyness. Where we can start to let things go.


There are 2 months out of the year when I get truly and deeply quiet. I have very little on my schedule (outside of work). I really settle in. My social calendar is pretty empty. I have a whole lot of time to do a whole lot of nothing.


Now this doesn’t mean I literally sit in bed all day. It just means I don’t tie myself down to things outside of absolute necessities.


I allow myself to say no.


I allow myself to reschedule even if the reason is “I just don’t feel like it”


A person walking down a snowy path

I spend a lot of time on walks, reading, and creating. I spend even more time diving into myself. Learning and growing and making sure what I am doing aligns with my greater good.


To me, that is what winter is about.


It’s a willingness to get quiet and pay attention to ourselves and the world around us.


We, especially in the United States, have difficulty with quiet.



It is extremely uncomfortable.


So we jam-pack our schedules. We jam-pack our kid’s schedules. We never have the opportunity to get bored. To explore ourselves. To find out who we are.


We ignore the lessons winter is trying to teach us.

 

How You Can Rekindle Your Winter Spirit.

  • Make space for quiet The easiest way to honor the quiet of winter is to look at your schedule. What can be eliminated or rescheduled? Where can you find some of that quiet time? You’ve found the time? Great!

  • Use that newfound time to explore you Start exploring again. Spend a little time outside every day. Sit down with a book. Start a new journaling practice. Go where your heart takes you.

  • Reframe Reframe Reframe. If you start noticing yourself falling back into the typical mindset, griping over the cold and begging for warmer days, stop yourself and ask what you are really looking for?

Winter in Minnesota is about 5 months (November – March). The average life expectancy is 76 years old. This means, if we spend all winter, every winter wishing for different weather, we will spend over 30 years in total of our lives miserable and hoping the time will pass by faster.


I would rather spend those 30 years finding joy and listening to the lessons of the world around us.


A picture of my favorite tree on the river in winter

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