I grew up just outside of Chicago, and for the first 18 years of my life, I HATED winter. So, instead of going to sunny California for college as was the plan, I turned down USC and headed to Boston instead.
Because I am a masochist.
So let me rephrase that. For the first 22 years of my life, I hated winter. By the time I graduated from college, I had had enough and moved to Miami.
When after 3 years of sun and surf, I made the decision to return to Boston for work, I knew I needed to figure a few things out.
It’s funny, the difference between Chicagoans and New Englanders. No matter where they are, Chicagoans dress like they are in the city. Sleek, fashionable boots, streamlined coats, etc. And in Boston? They could be walking into a Symphony Hall Gala, and they’ll be wearing a down parka and full-on snow boots over their black-tie attire.
I realized I had a thing or two to learn from this hardy bunch.
Cold? I remembered what my college roommate’s mom (a lifelong Mainer) said to me once: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” And it was true, my winter gear was crap.
I needed to get myself a good hat, gloves that didn’t have holes in them, wool socks, long underwear to wear under my concert clothes, an actual winter coat, and actual, snow-be-damned boots–complete with Yak Traks to keep me from slipping and falling on the ice (again). And I bought myself one of those rubber boot holders so that I didn’t trash my floors when I came in the house.
The Battle with the car? Gear. A better scraper, a rag to wipe the windows and mirrors, and I learned how fun it can be when the entire block came out at once after a snowstorm and we dug the entire street out. Someone would always bring out cookies, and someone else would blast some tunes.
And the Darkness? I got my cozy on. I made a list of all of the things that you got to have in winter that you couldn’t have at other times of the year–hot chocolate, soup, mulled cider, Christmas tree lights, thick stews, and tagines, and I relished it. I started to see how beautiful it was to drive around at 5:00 pm in the dark, and see the houses all lit up, get home, light a candle, plug in the tree, and settle in with a hot bowl of soup. I even started to daydream about those moments from the heat of July and August.
Why am I telling you all of this? I mean, it IS mid-November, so it’s a good time to re-assess your winter preparedness plans, but I live in Bermuda now, where “winter gear” means shoes that aren’t flip flops, and putting a sweater on at night.
The thing is, the concept of “There is no bad weather, only poor clothing choices” is a universal truth right? Whatever you are dreading, or feeling frustrated with, it’s all about these three things:
Once I had my cute AND warm knit hat covering my ears and had waterproof boots pulled over my wool socks, I wasn’t afraid of going outside. It was fine. I felt protected. I felt like I could just get on with things. Life became less HARD again.
What tools do you need to get in place? Do you need new strings? A new art studio? A coach? A course? A class? Do you need to get your laptop cleaned so that it runs faster? Do the things that will make life feel less hard. It is worth it!
No one is in this alone. Everyone in Boston knew it was kind of a pain in the ass to constantly dig your car out of the snow every week for 3 months. But doing it together was fun. And one guy had a snowblower and would do everyone’s sidewalk while someone else helped his kids make a snowman. It was great!
Where can you lean into your community more? Do you want to play more chamber music? Then host a freaking chamber music party at your house. Make it a potluck. Everyone brings something to eat and something to play. Feel like you’re writing in a bubble? Find a group that you can read excerpts out to, and listen to what they are working on.
One can’t simultaneously be looking at pretty twinkling lights AND be grumpy and tired because it’s dark so early. It’s the dark that makes the lights so beautiful. And leaning into what the season wanted me to do: eat warm soups, relax more, curl up with blankets and a good book. Make my house smell like cloves and orange peels with a simmering pot on the stove.
Maybe the season you’re in is “mom of little ones who need more of my time right now” or “empty nester who suddenly has the opportunity to focus on themself again” I have clients in both camps, and once they saw the beauty in those situations for what they are, their work came alive.
What is your “Winter” right now? What is something that you are dreading, frustrated with, or hesitating on, that could be made to feel so much easier if only you had these 3 things in place?
Is there a tool you can add to your life? Is there a sense of community you can lean into to make it more fun? Is there anything beautiful or meaningful about it?
Let us know in the comments.
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