seasonality: winter is coming

Each year, I try to go into winter with an emotional and physical survival plan.

I'm a Californian at heart. Fall here in NJ feels like the deepest days of winter to me. 50 degrees fahrenheit is cold for me!

People often ask how I survived living in Canada. I'm not sure, but I did and that gives me the knowledge that I can survive this easier winter down here.

Throw Reynaud's (which gets worse as one ages) into the mix and winter hurts. Yes, a large part of that is not knowing how to dress (and I've gotten significantly better at it since my first winter all those years ago in Toronto, when I didn't even have a proper winter coat until my birthday), but it isn't socially appropriate in NJ to wear a full face mask to school pick up - and I need it in order to keep my nose from hurting!

I still wear a balaclava to pick up when it's really cold out. Social appropriateness be damned. I'll look bizarre in order to stay out of pain. (I've seen people online make fun of swants. But I love them and would want to wear them even if it wasn't below freezing. So there.)

This year, there's an article on the Norwegian concept of koselig going around facebook. A lot of it doesn't apply to me (I can't imagine going skiing, let alone looking forward to it!) but the main idea of embracing the season of winter instead of wishing it away does apply.

embrace my complaints about the weather and turn them around - I can't keep from complaining, but I can remind myself to counter each complaint with an embracing of its gift. This is a conscious practice and it is hard, reminding myself that the fact that my nose hurts means I am still here, but important. Gratitude helps.

Since I do not like outdoor sports in the winter (because cold = pain), instead I look forward to my many ongoing art projects, like writing a poem a day, taking photos of bare treesevergreens and birds, making images in the archival lex series, and holding my own writing retreat.

I look forward to wearing my swants and bright colored winter clothes.

I remind myself that what is, is, and will change, because that is the nature of life.

I practice radical self-care. And comfy-cozy-chillaxing (aka my family's version of hygge). This year I'm adding back endorphins with our Wii U. It really does help to get my sweat on!

I make forest bathing spray. It isn't quite the same as a walk through an evergreen forest, but it's nice. (This year I'm thinking of buying a diffuser instead of using the blend as a spray.)

I usually try to get home (to Northern California) in February, but sometimes that backfires and makes things worse* after I return, because the difference in being warm and then suddenly being cold again is hard. Ironically, as much as I dislike it, going somewhere colder has the opposite effect of making me feel very grateful for our relatively mild winters upon our return home. And that was during a polar vortex year!

This year I once again don't know what our winter travel plans will be (if any), but I have Remy's tenth birthday in May to look forward to and a sweet little celebratory plan brewing, which I hope works out!

It's hard to believe he'll be ten, but at the same time, it makes all the sense in the world. He's growing every day and all that growth is rewarding. These are good days.

Yes, they are.

Because love.

* There were additional (private) reasons why coming home after last year's trip was difficult. That's why this year was an unfolding year - we didn't know what would  happen until it happened. Not all unfolding is easy or involves the outcome I want. But letting it unfold as it happens - the parts of it that are completely out of my control - means processing that change. Grieving the loss of what I want. Which - hello! The book I'm writing is about grief. It still doesn't make it easier.