For so many years I have said, “I hate the cold weather.” As winter approaches, the days are shorter, it’s darker and everything is void of color. For me it is typically a time to hibernate, to allow my depression to kick in. I have come to realize a change in mindset can make all the difference. Each year as the temperatures drop, I become closed off to the possibility that perhaps there is something redeemable about this time of year. So, I decided that I was going to become friends with the frigidity.
My first adventure took place in November. Originally a friend and I were supposed to travel to the Cayman Islands, but at the last minute there was a change in plans. Rather than go to a warm, sunny, tropical destination, it was decided that we would be flying to Oslo, Norway. My first reaction was to hang up the phone saying you must be out of your mind, that there would be no way that I was going to spend my vacation going somewhere cold. But then I had a change of heart. I started thinking about how I love traveling, seeing new places, meeting new people, and creating new experiences. I began researching things to do, looking at pictures, and planning. I talked myself into believing that my time on the trip was going to be amazing. During our time there we visited indoor and outdoor Christmas markets, stopped to warm up by a fire on the street, enjoyed the beautiful decorations on every corner. We sipped on warm (non-alcoholic) Glogg, ate candy apples, and walked the streets exploring and enjoying each other’s company. I have to say that going to Norway during the holidays was a magical experience that I will cherish forever.
To dive deeper into my plan to embrace the winter, I signed up to help lead my first client camping trip, Change in Action (CIA), the weekend of January 11th. I thought this would be a great way to get to know the clients and tackle my cold weather blues. As the day approached, I saw that the temperature was dropping. I thought to myself, “What in the world are you thinking? Why would I decide to start leading CIA trips in the winter?!” But I prepared. I purchased some warm clothing, borrowed items from the Wellness team at Mountainside, and packed some hand and foot warmers.
The morning of the trip I woke up and journaled about the beautiful experience I was about to have. I was excited about spending time with current clients, getting to know them, and sharing a weekend on the mountain. The sun was shining, and the forecast said it was going to be the coldest weekend so far. When I stepped out of my car, I had a smile on my face, and I was prepared to enjoy every moment possible. The weekend was full of honesty, compassion, and love. Yes, of course the campfire and the wood stove in the cabin kept me warm, but really it was the shared experience, it was the heartfelt conversations. Together, we took a silent hike, had a campfire in the cave, and hiked to the top of the mountain on a sunny day. Embracing nature and the outdoors turned out to be just what I needed. I left feeling invigorated and more connected to everything around me.
What I know is that if I think negatively, I will have an equally negative experience. If I open my heart and my mind to the possibility of viewing things differently, I will without a doubt have a more enjoyable experience. I plan to continue to get out in the cold this winter, to create more experiences that test my thought process, and help rejuvenate my spirit in what can sometimes feel like the longest season.