Thursday, January 28, 2016


We’re approaching the time—five days from now—when we celebrate Ground Hog Day. It’s a fun holiday, in which we all agree to believe that a rodent in Pennsylvania can predict how much longer winter will be around.

By now you must’ve figured out that the “6 more weeks of winter” is, if you look at the calendar, almost exactly correct. March 20th or 21st is right around six weeks from February 2nd.

At the same time I’m looking at the calendar, and not really believing that this is the 28th day of the first month, with only three more days to go, and then one-twelfth of 2016 will be over—while all that is going on in my mind, I’m experiencing a midwinter blah. Or, better yet, Midwinter Blah.

I can’t really call it depression, because I have things to do that interest me, life goes on with its usual classes, events, and things to look forward to. My days are filled with reading, writing, sewing and quilting, knitting. Making a big pot of soup to freeze in meal-size servings is always fun. And delicious.

No, I don’t believe it’s a midwinter depression. It’s more like a period of hibernation. Going outside my house is a chore. Waking up rested and warm insures I’ll be able to get to whatever is on that day’s schedule. But waking up cold and tired? Skip it; that day might as well be X-ed off the calendar so we can warm up for the next.

After years of fighting the hibernation thing, I’ve decided this is the year to change my approach. Fighting has never helped. So—try embracing it. (This is what all the advice givers tell us, right?—embrace your pain/grief/disappointment/anger/yada-yada?)

Okay. I’ll try that. What does it mean, exactly, to embrace something I don’t like? (I don’t like snakes and mosquitoes, but I’ll be danged if I try to embrace them.)

Here’s one suggestion: “Sit with it.” Uh-huh. The aforementioned snakes and mosquitoes not being part of this activity, I can sit with whatever. Tiredness? Shoot, I not only sit with it, I lie down with it, burrow under three covers (head and all) with it, and let sleep overtake me. And it.

Cold? Same thing—put on heavy sweats and thick socks, jack the thermostat up a few notches, burrow under the covers. . . .

Inertia? Lack of ambition? Piece o’ cake.

Another suggestion: “Try something new.” If I can get past the inertia, I might entertain something new. Try a new quilt pattern. Read a new author. (I’ve started this already in 2016, by the way.) Visit a different coffee shop. Have lunch in a different place. I like the suggestion—I just have to get motivated to go out.

Or: “Share your feelings with a friend who will listen.” Always a good thing to do. If, that is, the friend isn’t going through the same thing herself/himself. If she/he is, write about it in a journal. Or make up a story about it. Write it in a letter—but maybe not send it; other people may think what we write is of the “cast in stone” variety, not wastebasket fodder.

I’ve come up with my own solution, using the “embrace it” idea.

It’s winter—sometimes the cold and wind are too much for me and I end up overtired from being out in it. Instead, I’ll practice being a recluse. (This is very easy for me, and way too appealing.) Only for a short time, though. The cold and wind can’t last forever; in fact, we have some high-40s predicted within the next few days.

While I’m practicing, I’ll sample the new authors I said I’d try in my post on Good Intentions a few weeks ago. The library is full of new books, new authors, and old authors I’ve never read.

Another activity: Get a small box and fill it with books to give away. I now know of three venues for used books: a book exchange downtown; the public library for its monthly sale; and a medical clinic with books (“bring one, take one”). I chose a small box so I can fill it easily; there’s always another small box hanging around eager to be filled as well.

And a third activity (one of my Good Intentions for 2016): Practice kindness and forgiveness as often as possible. You’ve already guessed that these intentions may be exclusive of being a recluse, but even a recluse can write letters, send little cards to say “Hi” to someone who’s far away, or even make a phone call. Forgiveness? You’re on your own with that one. It’s an individual need.

I hope your Midwinter is going well. In five more days we’ll be halfway through winter for this year. (Yes, I’m aware that the weather may be winter-ish for a long while beyond March 20th.) Halfway is good, though. Each day gets a little brighter (a minute here, a minute there). Flower bulbs and seed packets will be appearing any moment now. We have holidays to look forward to—Valentine’s Day, Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays, Easter—and pretty soon the stores will be stocking—you guessed it—swim suits!

Celebrate the day, whatever it is. Ours started out sunny. Hope yours does, too!

These guys always cheer me up!

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