What I'm Learning This Winter * Loose Ends

Hey, all you winter-survivalists!

Raise your hand if you know for sure that this is the one season that seems to drag on forever.  And ever.

Unlike the other three seasons that seem to come and go in a flash, these frosty months tend to have no end ... especially here on the New England coast where we seem to vault from winter to summer with scarcely a glance at spring.

For this month's edition of Loose Ends, I'm especially drawn to consider Emily Freeman's quarterly What We Learned invitation.  Because even in the midst of the gray and cold and the oft' endlessly desolate, there are flashes of warmth and joy, sunlight and hope if only we have eyes to see.

And it's always an encouragement to gather with like-minded souls and share what's working for us.  Because the truth is, we're all students, aren't we, and we do learn from each other when we come with open hearts and a healthy expectancy.

We never stop learning.

I love that.


Here's what I'm learning {or relearning!} this winter:
1.  A Classic Chocolate Frosty from Wendy's can brighten up the dullest evening.
While hot chocolate with heaps of whipped cream would normally be my go-to evening beverage, there's something weirdly decadent about spooning creamy, cold chocolate while under a very warm quilt.

More than once, my gracious husband has donned his winter coat to run down to the circle and fetch me one.  That's what love looks like after 44 years.

2.  There's a big difference between choosing solitude and morphing into a hermit.
Solitude is a conscious choice we make that allows us to draw close to God, clear our minds, and refresh our souls.  The hermit thing is more about isolation, escaping, denial, or some kind of lame coping mechanism that only serves to drag us down.

Choose the solitude option, please.  Here's how.

3.  If you're feeling punky, call your doctor.  
Resist every futile urge to self-diagnose, Google others' traumatic health miseries, or wring your hands thinking you have to figure out your ailments on your own.

More about feeling punky is here.

And if you love someone who's feeling punky, please read this.

4.  Texting is a blessed lifeline. 
 I know, I know, it's not the optimum way to connect but when the ones you love are way too far away, there's nothing like a quick connect to brighten your day.  Two points for those extended family threads that include pictures and stories that crack everyone up ... and three points for connecting with your grandkiddos.

5.  Open the windows.
Yep, even if it's only 15 degrees out and the wind is blowing mightily.  I open a window wide when I change the linens, clean the bathrooms, or when some heavy-duty cooking threatens to make the house smell like a cheap diner. 

We definitely sleep better at night when a window is cracked just a bit, balancing out the cozy flannel sheets, electric blanket, and ever present quilt.  And sometimes we may even get to hear a lone bird chirping a solitary winter song ... or sadly, a pack of coyotes howling as they chase their prey through the moonlit woods.

6.  If it's above 40 and it's sunny, go outside.
Ditch the excuses, get off the sofa, find your sneakers, grab your coat and take a walk, do a bit of clean up in the garden, chat with a neighbor walking her dog, check out what's happening outside your four walls.

And yes, this is harder than it sounds, especially for us non-athletic homebody types.

7.  Grab the kettle and invite someone over for a mug of tea.  
You don't have to be the queen of hospitality, you just need a few mugs and an open heart.  No need to bake or set the table like royalty is coming.  Curl up for an hour with a good friend and a heart-warming chat.  Extra points if you end up praying for each other.

8.  Indulge in fresh flowers.
Yes, money might be tight, but a little bunch of colorful blooms or a tiny pot of bulbs ready to burst open can be sheer gold for your physical and emotional health.  No need to spend an arm and a leg at a florist ... you can pick them up at Trader Joe's or your supermarket.

If you don't believe how beneficial this can be for your mid-winter sanity, read this.

9.  End the day immersed in gently turned pages, not fixated on some sort of stimulating screen.
That blue light and all the overwhelm those screens pummel us with do us no favors at the end of the day.  How 'bout choosing to spend time savoring your Bible.  A favorite devotional.  Your trusty journal.  Or some light fiction.

Nothing heavy or ponderous.  Pages that soothe your soul, calm your brain, and invite you to drift off into dreamland.

How's your winter going?  Do tell ...


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