Another snowy day. Watching a Blue Jay on an oak branch outside my window, I feel a sense of peace. That feeling is not the norm for me this time of year. Following the holidays I’m usually overcome by the winter blues. It doesn’t matter where I lived, north, south, east or west, a certain melancholy always set in. But, not this year. This year I decided to embrace the season.
Instead of pining for spring I would make a conscious effort to enjoy the snow, the cloud cover and even the cold. I would be mindful of winter’s beauty. Instead of seeing a stark landscape I would pay close attention to the birds flitting from tree to bare tree. I would eye the snow covered branches and listen for the sound of the wind. I would smell the clean cold air on my walk to the mailbox and filling the bird feeders and shoveling the walkways. I would arise every morning with gratitude for waking up in a warm bed, having a roof over my head, food to eat, cats greeting me at the door and all of us herding to the kitchen for breakfast. I would drink coffee and write about the smallest of things in my gratitude journal.
It is working. By starting each day with an attitude of gratitude, I find my spirit lifted. In the past I wrote in my journal in the late evening. The small change of writing in the morning or sometimes the afternoon turned my mind in an unexpected way. I also occasionally write in real time right after something as simple as watching a Blue Jay on an oak branch occurs. By doing so it keeps the feeling of gratitude alive throughout the day. In addition to a reflection upon the immediate past, my journaling becomes part of the present, creating a more mindful approach to life.
Embracing the season seems easier with retirement. I never thought I would enjoy living in the north again. Yet, here I am. Since I don’t have to go out on the roads during stormy weather, the luxury of settling in for the day with a fire going, instrumental jazz playing, a pot on the stove filled with water and scented oils like orange or cinnamon and later a hot cocoa or tea conspires to fend off the blues.
Self-care is my main agenda this year. This past month of indulging myself in simple pleasures not only brought that goal into focus, it renewed my sense of purpose. I started by preparing my house for sale in the spring and I started that by decluttering. I thought I’d done a bang up job of decluttering when I left South Carolina. Now, I look at what I dragged to Michigan and wonder why I brought so much stuff. And the old paperwork! I went paperless years ago. Yet, I still found a couple of boxes of old records. I proceeded with a shred-a-thon. Having a clear space allows for clear headedness, at least I think so.
Living in a basically neutral space also brings a certain serenity. I like using furniture and art to bring in color. Being homebound with the pandemic raging while also caregiving, I spent many days stripping wallpaper covered with oversized roses, plaids and wild game and painting over walls of bright pinks, greens and browns to create a more relaxing space. For someone looking for a calming peaceful space neutrals did the trick. Add that to how buyers prefer a clean palette that’s move-in ready and it’s a win-win.
My mornings after coffee, breakfast, cats on my lap, writing in my journal and catching up with friends, I head for the shower. There I sprinkle an essential oil before starting the water flow. Lavender or camomile if I want calm, peppermint if I want invigoration. My favorite is grapefruit, the light citrus smell creating a spirit lifting mood. I also treat myself to hand milled soaps with similar scents of lavender, peppermint or lemon honey. Finally, I make my own sugar scrub with a half cup of sugar, enough almond oil to moisten and a dash of essential oil. That’s my spa-like routine adding to my self-care.
As I finish this it’s the day after the snowfall. The sun is shining from a blue sky dotted with ghosted clouds. The glistening snow reflecting warmth into my writing space. I shoveled sidewalks yesterday and recovered my garbage curb cart from under a drift left by the snow plows. I’m off now to feed the birds and enjoy the beauty of the season.
I’d like to hear what you do to beat back the winter blues or perhaps you aren’t effected by them. Let me know. Enjoy you day!