It’s officially cold.  And dark. (Although a little less dark every day, it is important to note.)  Dark and cold can wear on our bodies and emotions at the best of times—which the winter of 2020/21 is most definitely not.  I see increased fatigue, weariness, and sadness consistently now in both my personal and professional life.  I feel it myself–a need to constantly work on shifting my mindset, constantly practicing working with the cold and dark rather than against it.  I’m finding a different vigilance required in my own internal process.  Am I choosing quiet and solitude because it’s what my mind, body, and soul need?  Or because it’s dark and cold and the 10th month of a global pandemic and it’s just easier to shut down?

We can’t embrace winter if we’re shivering all the time

For our minds and souls to function well, our bodies need to feel safe and warm.  We know this, of course, and we often default to indoor time in winter months because of it–unless we happen to be passionate about skiing, skating, or other winter sports.  Please, please, please, don’t let winter sports be the only reason to go outside in the winter.  But don’t try to go outside without making sure you can be warm.   This sounds obvious, I know.  But if you’re one of those who says it’s too cold to go outside for months on end, I strongly suspect you don’t have the right clothing! I promise, it is so possible to be outside for much of the day, even in winter, even in Maine.  Good winter clothing is an investment that pays off tremendously in very little time.  Here in Maine we have some wonderful secondhand outdoor focused gear/clothing shops, start there for a more affordable (and environmentally sound) option.

Clothing/gear to look for

  • LAYERS!!!  This means:
    • A good winter coat
    • Heavy duty long underwear, top and bottom
    • Some middle layer that fits well under your coat and over your long underwear
    • Avoid cotton. It does not insulate well and gets wet and doesn’t dry, which is miserable. Wool or synthetic fibers are the way to go here.
  • Thermos with a hot drink
  • Good crampons for your boots (emphasis on good–there are lots of cheap ones out there that fall off your boots constantly and don’t grip anything.  Consider a company like Microspikes.  I would confidently run across a frozen pond with this type of crampon!
  • Insulated boots
  • Rechargeable hand warmers
  • Mask  (Which provides a truly meaningful amount of warmth, I’ve been surprised to learn myself since our state adopted a universal mask order, even outdoors.)

Got that.  Or most of it.  Where do I go?

How about the beach, if you’re lucky enough to live near one?  I can’t tell you how many people in my personal and professional life have said they just never thought of going to the beach in winter.  If this is you, you are missing out!  No tourists, very few people, plenty of space for a long wander or a curious exploration of tide pools.  If you’re not near a beach, most any trail you enjoy in the summer and fall is accessible in winter with the right footwear.  (Boots may be enough, often you may need crampons or snowshoes.)  Or just wander your neighborhood.  Look for animal tracks, admire the shapes of trees, enjoy the movement of clouds…wherever you are, there is something to enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 2…is this really a good idea?  Maybe I should just stay inside until it’s warm again?