Merry and Bright

Winter is my least favorite season. There. I’ve said it.

I love the holidays, but I really sort of despise winter. I guess we’re not technically there yet—the winter solstice is still a couple of weeks away—but someone apparently forgot to tell the local weather. It’s utterly convinced that the season has arrived.

What that means in the Pacific Northwest is grey skies, fog… and rain. Lots and lots of rain, for months on end. Until recent years, I’d spent most of my life in sunny climates, and I don’t think I appreciated the sunshine enough. I can tell you, it’s not something I take for granted now.

Today there’s been a constant thrum of rain that has all but washed away the noise of the outside world. Without any background sounds from music or television, the only things to be heard are the clicks of my keyboard and a steady musical plink as drops hit the roof’s metal flashings.

And it’s dark. Why is it so dark at 4:30 in the afternoon?

Out here in the woods, there’s a feeling of isolation so profound, you can almost believe that everything beyond the scope of your eye has ceased to exist.

When we first moved here, five years ago, I had a very hard time adjusting to the long, dreary winters. The first one was especially difficult, I think, because we’d relocated to a place where we had no connections of any kind: no family, no friends. I loved the natural beauty of the area, but by the time February hit, after 3 months of rain with no end in sight, I’d honestly begun to question what on Earth we’d been thinking.

The second winter was much easier than the first, thanks in no small part to a friendship I made during the intervening summer. Every winter since has been a little easier, too, because my circle here has grown, and I’ve become more a part of the fabric of this community.

I’m not going to lie, though, winter is still a bit of a struggle for me. I think that I probably have a low threshold for boredom. When cold and soggy weather arrives, keeping myself entertained becomes more difficult, because I like to be outside. In the winter, reading and writing take up the largest portion of my free time, but I’ve also learned to save certain interior projects for these months; things like low-key home remodeling (well, not ALL low-key, we did a DIY kitchen remodel two years ago in January) and organizing.

This week I published an article in Forbes about the connection between the state of your home and your performance at work. (You can read that article here.) In a nutshell, there’s a theory that says the stress of having a disorganized home can affect your ability to focus and work to peak levels in all areas of your life.

I’m sure this doesn’t apply to everyone; some people, especially creative types, thrive in what I’d consider a chaotic environment. As for myself, I have no doubt that it’s true. I work from home, and things must be clean and organized before I can begin, otherwise the mess serves as a constant distraction.

Wintertime is the perfect time for me to take on larger home projects because:

  • I’m uncharacteristically bored.
  • I don’t want to be working on inside stuff when it’s beautiful outside. During warm months, I head out to the yard and garden and can spend the whole day puttering around. You can only do that here in the winter if you’re content with spending your day wet and muddy. (Spoiler: I am not.)
  • My energy and creativity levels drop during the winter months. I won’t go so far as to say I get SAD, but I am sad. Sad that there is no sunshine. Planning and executing a project helps mitigate both issues for me.

I will say that it’s very easy to put off beginning a big project this time of year, given that my feet are perpetually cold and all I really want to do is wrap myself in blankets up to my nose and sit in front of the fire with a hot cup of tea. I get around that by calling these tasks a holiday gift to myself—a way to push through the months of January and February with a clear head and a good attitude. It works, mostly, and I feel better both mentally and physically after having completed them.

So, happy winter, everyone. I hope your days are merry and bright.

With an emphasis on bright.

3 thoughts on “Merry and Bright”

  1. I hate mess and untidiness yet my priorities shove it to somewhere down the list unfortunately it becomes a constant peripheral until it drives me nuts so I clean like a madwoman for an entire day thus bliss restored – I write once more as it all slowly collapses around me. I know I need to change my priorities and am working on it because clutter and mess is a real distraction.

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