I’ve written a lot about triggers that can affect your mood or your motivation, but there’s one I’ve never touched on until now: the weather.
I thought about this as I lay in bed this morning. My smartphone thermometer told me it was 2 degrees outside. In March! Upon seeing this, my first instinct was to pull the covers over me and stay warm and snuggled in the blanket. But I knew I couldn’t do this. My movements stirred my dog sleeping next to me and I knew it was time for our daily morning walk.
I bundled up and made the trip down the driveway. Truth was, 2 degrees in the morning sun didn’t feel that much different than 20. But either way you put it, it was COLD.
I knew I had to grapple with winter when I moved to New York last year from California. Having grown up on the East Coast, I knew all about winter and happily dodged its chilling effects all those years on the West Coast. In fact, the weather was one of the side benefits I sought when my husband and I first moved to Los Angeles for business reasons. I had always been drawn to warmth rather than cold and all those summer days of 90 degrees and up didn’t bother me in the least.
I tolerated winter in the years when we came back East for the holiday season. In the back of my mind I always knew that I’d be going back to warmer climes and I could treat these cold days as a bit of a novelty. In reality, I ended up spending most of those vacations sitting next to the fireplace and ventured outside only when I had to.
That’s what I feared when I moved here full time—that I’d spend the winter hibernating. I didn’t want that to happen. It was one thing to veg out while on vacation, another to do nothing but seek heat when there was much more productive work to do.
I could have made myself miserable focusing on the cold but I’ve done enough work on myself and others to know that wouldn’t be a wise choice. I didn’t have to love the cold but I could choose to make peace with it. And that’s what I did.
I made a conscious decision to find reasons to go outside, both for the exercise and the need to not feel trapped by my surroundings. It wasn’t always easy, as I work indoors and could always use that as excuse. Having the dog helped, as it also forced me to walk outside, even when I didn’t want to do so. I also made efforts to find places to go, to keep me from cocooning in the warm, comfortable house. This wasn’t always so easy in the rural area I live in now, where things tend to slow down in the winter. But with conscious effort I found them, enabling me to be exposed to new people and activities I might not have discovered otherwise.
I will never love winter and I cross off the days till I’m back in T-shirts and shorts. We’ll never be best friends but in the past few months I feel I’ve made a new acquaintance I can live with for some time to come.
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