Blame it on my Scandinavian heritage, but I don’t hate winter. I do hate the sun going down at 5:00 or earlier, but that’s a personal safety when running thing. Other than that, I’m good with the cold. I can always throw on another layer, but there comes a point when the heat must be endured. But I also revere/practice the “hygge” concept. Although, if I’m being completely honest, I have no idea how to pronounce it, and I’m all too aware of how hot Scandinavian anything is right now. Whatever. I like trends.
As I’ve gotten older (so old), I’ve learned to enjoy winter even more. Here’s what I’ve do:
Wear the right clothes. In college in Michigan, I was constantly running around in silk ballet flats and bare feet. Insane. Always cold. Now, I wear the proper cold weather clothes. There’s no shame in wearing a hat and gloves with your coat. The same thing holds true for running; the right clothes make all the difference.
Light the candles. I’m all about lighting candles now. As a single lady of a certain age with an intense cat allergy, I was going to lean pretty hard into some weird thing. Candles are that thing. Although, truly, I get this from my father more than anyone else. My favorite smells for winter are anything fir or pine. I got the beautiful candles from Anthropologie, but I’m also a big fan of the slightly cheaper Bath and Bodyworks Fresh Balsam candle. Somehow one candle cozies up the entire space (of my 525 square feet).
Read books. This is kind of lame because I read books through all the seasons, but I seem to buckle down and get serious reading done in the winter. Or at least, I attempt lengthier reads. I’m currently in the middle of my French Revolution novel, but then I’ll get back into Madame Bovary which I somehow missed reading in four years as a French major (but if you want to know anything about 17th and 18th century French lit, I’m your gal). In past years, I’ve read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Forsyte Saga, Our Mutual Friend, Team of Rivals (if it’s 600+ pages, I’m in).
Venture outdoors. Anyone who really knows me knows that I do not get cabin fever. Staying in is ideal, and I rarely get bored or restless. But I do think that I am happier and healthier if I spend some time outside. Most days this looks like running. But when I get together with friends I try to schedule walks instead of coffee dates. This is now sounding like such an obnoxious self-help article, but I am super indoorsy, and my daily dose of fresh air is never something I regret. Except that one time last week when I was running, and I was over a mile away from home and I started to experience some digestive distress. I was inwardly cursing my decision to run. It was an odd experience of needing to run faster to get home to get to the bathroom and fearing that quick movement would dislodge my innards. But I digress, fresh air is necessary for me and for my students (and we all get really grumpy when we’re told to stay inside when the temp hits 20º).
Accept a challenge. I don’t really ever do New Year’s resolutions (I like to make them in August/September), but I love competitions against myself. So I’m on day 18 of a 30 day yoga challenge. I get up early (around 5:30) and spend 30-40 minutes doings my moves. I’m up earlier and my morning is less hectic and I feel so much better all day. Of course, I’ll probably never do yoga again after the 30 day challenge is completed. But these kinds of challenges keep me occupied, and I feel like I’m accomplishing something big.
Nurse hot tea. I bummed this super expensive chai mixture off of my mom all Christmas break before I broke down and bought my own. It’s actually not a black tea at all, but a mixture of ground up spices that you spoon into hot water. I add a squirt of honey or agave and a splash of cream or coconut milk or almond milk (whatever new health trend milk I’m drinking), and I’m all set for an evening of tennis.
Watch the Australian Open. Tennis is one of the best spectator sports to watch. You can be a fan of one person, not an entire team. It’s a very mental sport, so the on-court antics are usually entertaining unless the athlete is relentlessly classy in all conduct all the time (looking at you stoic, Federer). And it can go from hopelessly dull to riveting. I zone out while watching tennis all the time. And then the score gets tight, and I drift back into the game, fixated on a 27 shot rally. To be a tennis fan, the level of commitment is low. If I wanted to really follow college basketball, I’d be blocking off November-March/April. Same goes for almost any other sport. Ain’t nobody got time for that. But every few months, I can handle two weeks of intense tennis fandom. The AO is at the perfect time because it’s January, and life is hard because Christmas is over and Lent is the next big thing on the calendar. But in Australia it’s summer, and tennis=summer. It’s like a warm weather vacation with none of the warm weather. In fact, when I watch I usually end up being grateful I’m huddled over my laptop blasting the space heater. “Look at them toiling away in 90º heat with 49% humidity. I would hate to be playing tennis at an elite level making millions of dollars.” And if you’ll remember how I feel about hot weather, you know this is absolutely true. It’s weather escapism that oddly makes me feel super grateful that it’s winter, and I can wear sweaters and enjoy opaque tight season (and all the non-shaving that that entails).
So courage! Soldier on!