I woke up to snow this morning. Weird. Before I even got out of bed, I peeked at the weather on my phone and it said nothing about snow. Just, 32° and cloudy. When I got up and looked out the windows, it took me a moment to accommodate the new reality.
Snow around here is a big deal. If there’s even a remote chance we might get snow, it’s all over the weather, the social media. People are abuzz with the possibility of a snow and stories of past snows. It’s rare to get blind-sided by snow in the Pacific Northwest.
The Midwest, however, is a completely different story. I lived in Minnesota for almost twenty-five years and the snow reality is a real situation. For sometimes up to six months! My first October as a Midwesterner saw a storm that brought so much snow on Halloween night that we couldn’t even open the front door in the morning.
After I got over the initial thrill of snow upon snow upon snow, I hated the winters. In addition to a mess of snow to contend with everywhere all the time, the temperatures were often below zero. I was never warm. I remember being grouchy about it all the time. Finally, in a desperate attempt at survival, I started to haul a hot water bottle around with me everywhere. I’d tuck it into my shirts, shove it down my pants. When it lost its warmth, I’d refill it with hot water wherever I was. It was ridiculous. And it was how I survived Minnesota winters for many years.
Wisdom From Mary
I remember ranting about it to my friend, Mary, one time. She told me that she didn’t like the winters either but that she had spent her life going through them and at some point, she just decided to be in it.
To be in it.
Those few little words held a mighty wisdom that transformed my relationship with winter. Obviously, I couldn’t change the weather. The mounds of snow and below freezing wind-chills define midwestern winters. But I could change the way I went through it.
As I was able to make friends with the idea of being in something, even something that I didn’t like, there was a relaxing in me. An acceptance. And speaking of weird, I started to find that I wasn’t as cold and grouchy as I had been when I was fighting so hard to survive it.
Eventually, winter became my favorite season for the rest of my years out there. I came to love scooping snow off the sidewalks around our house. Working hard to move heaps of snow was a sweaty business but to be doing it in absolutely frigid air made me feel acutely strong and alive.
And then I got myself some cross-country skis and from that time on, I was out in the frozen world as much as I possibly could be.
This wisdom from Mary has been a theme throughout my life as difficult seasons have come and gone. “I don’t like it, but here I am. So, what’s to learn? And more importantly, where is the beauty in this?” To be in it.
And that is how I learned to survive Minnesota winters . . . and divorce . . . and my son’s fight with leukemia . . . and my own battle with breast cancer . . .
It all started with snow, and my good friend, Mary. So, as I’m enjoying these unexpected flurries from the warmth and comfort of my office, with a heating pad in my lap, I am feeling tearfully grateful. Grateful to Mary for the wisdom to be in it. And so very grateful to have also made it through.
If you love snow or hate it, if you are fighting hard or you need a break from fighting hard, or if you need a moment to accommodate a new reality, let’s be friends~