Like any native midwesterner, I hated winter. I hated the bleak grayness of the daylight and the black slosh leftover on the wet roadways. I hated that midnight and 6:00 PM looked nearly the same or that all my boots were embellished with salt stains. Winter to me felt like the letdown of the Holiday season, an extended day after Christmas feeling when the Holiday cheer turns into the bitterness of the winter blues as the unwanted returns pileup in stores and the decorations come down. The always unwelcomed Seasonal Affective Disorder making its annual rounds, lurking amongst the gloom of the sunless days of cabin fever. I can go on and on friends but it may be easier to pull out a thesaurus and simply read the synonyms for “dreary”.
The seasons in Ohio can be described as: 1) Winter, 2) “I can’t believe it’s still snowing in April”, 3) “Hotter than Hades”, and finally our much anticipated 4) “Sweater Weather and Pumpkin Spice” for a few glorious weeks before (you guessed it) 4.5) “Pre-Winter”. Winter takes up nearly 3/4 of the seasons we experience in Ohio. Although that may be a slight exaggeration, you may as well try to find some joy in these cold months. It took me nearly 30 winters to come up with this, “If you can’t beat them, join them” mentality. Until we figure out how to control the weather like in Back to the Future or you convince all your friends and family to move to a warmer climate, I’m sorry to tell you but winter is a part of life.
A few years ago I decided it was time to change my thinking about winter. I watched enough versions of the Grinch to know that even he had few redeeming qualities and everyone’s least favorite season(s) is no different, even if it doesn’t have an adorable dog as a sidekick. If happiness is a state of mind, then I was determined to find that happiness even with that half-melted Frosty standing in my backyard. The largest shift in my thinking was finally addressing the obvious that winter is a time to slooooooow the heck down. I am a self-described on-the-go person so this was initially very difficult for me. Being trapped in the house was equivalent to torture to me, my own personal purgatory.
It wasn’t just enough to change my thinking about winter, the largest shift in my thinking was changing the way I thought about ALL the seasons. The summer is meant for playgrounds, late night movies outside under the stars, and as much pool time that my 55 SPF could possibly let me squeeze in. Summer to me was not the time to stay inside and do any type of housework. With that line of thinking I had to permit myself to have a messier house than what I usually found acceptable. Projects got cast aside as I played with my children at splash pads and explored creeks. I had to find a happy balance with the dirt and laundry pile in order to give summer the love and attention it deserved. As the dog days of summer turned into our beloved autumn, there is nothing I would rather do than take a hike through the changing foliage or take my kids to a pumpkin patch. As you may expect all this fun does have a few side effects because neglecting the home does tend to give you a growing to-do list. In January when the rest of the world is complaining about the snow and cold, I dust off my to-do list and I am welcoming it with open arms. The work that I get done in the winter sets me up for a successful rest of the year where I can spend it enjoying it along with my husband and children. The majority of that work is putting systems into place to help you deal with the everyday clutter and decluttering in general.
Now I know what you’re thinking. And no, winter does not have to be all work and no fun. So stop channeling your inner Marie Kondo and relax. After all, the running around you did in the summer and fall it is finally time to put your feet up. This is the perfect time of year to break out those board games that have been hiding in the top of your closet. To cuddle up in a warm blanket and read those books piling up on your nightstand. Personally, I’m already dreaming about a luxurious long Epsom bath reading said books by candlelight. I challenge you to turn the winter negatives into a positive. So your commute to work is much slower than normal? Well, that gives you more time to listen to your audiobook. Snowed in and couldn’t get to the gym? Well, this is the perfect reason to find a little balance and make an all-out brunch: waffles, mimosas, the works. It’s dark and gloomy outside? Great news-now you don’t have to waste your time building a fortress against the sun to block out the glare on your Netflix binge. Hate to shovel? Well, bundle up, throw on some good music, and burn off those calories from that third mimosa because it’s great exercise. Go on, I’m here all day.
Yes, Ned Stark; winter is coming. It is here and in full force. Learn to embrace it and enjoy it because it’s here until
April May. It’s the perfect season to work and relax because we might literally be trapped inside depending on the snow level emergency. As we all know, your mindset about winter will not change overnight because if there is anything we are good at being human, it’s being stubborn. So when you notice yourself cursing the early darkness or the overnight snowfall, try to find the positive. Bust out your most comfortable sweats, sip some hot chocolate, and grab that to do list- your warmer weather self will be thanking you.