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  • Writer's pictureHelena Smrcek

Fight the Winter Blahs

March is the worst winter month. My mind says it should be spring and I feel cheated, faced with yet another snow storm. I continually grow my arsenal of coping skills, even asked a fellow writer in Alaska how she muddles through the plummeting temperatures and short days. “I spend as much time outdoors as possible,” she said. During my recent trip to Iceland, where there are only two seasons: summer and winter, I asked several people how do they survive. “There is no bad weather,” was the universal answer. “Only bad clothing and bad attitude.” Looking out the window, I could work on my attitude, but the weather is definitely bad. As Danes score number one on the scale of happiness, I have explored even the hygge: the quest for cozy, happy, relationship-based comfort. I stocked up on Italian coffee, candles, and warm socks. The firewood in plentiful supply, I subscribed to and made working dates with other writers. Fortified with a solid plan, I plunged into Christmas decorating. Baked cookies with friends. I wrapped my gifts and planned holiday meals. Then zoomed down to Mexico to load up on sunshine. The holidays were wonderful, and I checked off my first winter month — December: Fabulous. New resolutions, a notebook with a fresh to-do list for each day, a plan to declutter and donate, January seemed fairly positive. The weather co-operated. Walks with our dogs, barn upkeep, and a weight loss challenge with a couple of gals, I also edited my book, dropped off several boxes at the thrift shop and joined a Bible study — January: Check. Then came February. Arctic vortex, random thaws, and rapid freezes, ice storms, wind storms – you name it, we got it. At one point my car was encrusted in a two-inch layer of ice. The dogs cut their paws, my husband slipped, the barn flooded, then froze, the goats refused to go outside, my bathroom sink froze, our smoke detector went crazy due to cold weather, and the tax papers came out of the filing cabinet. To add to my predicament, several well-meaning friends from the southern states started to post their spring pictures on Facebook. No amount of candles and fresh ground espresso could remedy that. Then I gained back the few pounds I so eagerly lost in January, as in my weak moments I tend to resort to carbs, more so then fuzzy socks — February: Hmmm. Now faced with March, my brain insists on spring, but my eyes keep seeing white. I struggle to visualize the bulbs under the shell of ice. The stands with seeds strategically placed near the cash registers keep taunting me. But when I hear the birds chirping, despite the cold winds, I finally feel a spark of hope in my heart. This winter will end. To everything, there is a season. Yet often, caught in a difficult time in our life, we seem to forget that every season must end, and a new one begin. My tactics for March? Gratefulness. I’ll start with my notebook, and perhaps instead of a to-do list, start a gratitude one. It just might be a better strategy to cope with the winter blahs than candles, coffee, and fuzzy socks.

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