Can we all let out a sigh of relief? Is winter finally over? March has arrived with a flood of sunshine and "warmth". We have made it through the cold, gray, stagnant months of winter. Cold wind that sharply slaps your face. Not seeing the sun for days. Blizzards. Ice. Sleet. Wintry mix. A sense of frustration washes over everyone by the end of February with everyone questioning, "Why, WHY do I live here?"
Then March arrives. I walked out of my office the other day and thought, my, what a beautiful day. I checked my phone for a temperature- 41 degrees. Not quite beachy. But, I am telling you, in that moment, it felt like an island paradise.
It's all in the perspective. Not just the usual "glass half empty, glass half full, blah blah" perspective. I'm talking about a true, take a step back, look around and truly realize- hey, things are not so bad right now- kind of perspective.
Sometimes, it takes things being quite terrible to appreciate things being normal. Look at how we appreciate summer here in Chicago. We are so disgusted and accustomed to such awful conditions for months that when 41 degrees rolls around, hot dang, that's pretty great.
The last couple of years for my family and me were winter. Winter all year long. A very cold, blustering, crippling winter. I was not accustomed to receiving good news. My mom was not getting better, I knew the inevitable, and I had to accept that. When you are constantly operating in survival mode, it's a constant state of chaos and worry.
This doesn't just bode for health problems. It could be losing your house. Losing your partner. Losing your job. You name it. When something tragic occurs, and any form of good news seems obsolete, the weather forecast looks pretty bleak. When you're constantly seeing bad things happen for reasons you don't understand, your patience gets tested. You're trying to dig the car out of the 2 foot snow drift only to find out it won't start.
It's amazing what you finally start to appreciate when the winter starts to slowly change into spring.
It's pretty remarkable to me how excited I am, still, going on months now, to come home, pet my dog, eat dinner, and spend time with my family. It also makes me realize how I took such simple pleasures like this for granted for so long. It makes you realize that there sure is a whole lot to be happy about every day and things could definitely be a lot worse.
Does it necessarily take going through some sort of horrible event to kick you in the pants? I'm not sure. However, something I saw this past Christmas Eve has stuck in my mind. My dad and I were in the car returning from a very low key, somewhat somber but still very lovely holiday evening. As we drove by a hospital on our way home, I noticed in one of the windows a team of doctors and nurses standing around a bed through one of the windows.
The thought of what that person in the bed and their loved ones were dealing with on Christmas Eve was unbearable. A "hospital holiday". Something I don't wish on anyone. Although I was extremely sad and consumed with thoughts of my mom on her favorite holiday, I suddenly felt grateful for my own health, my family, plain and simple- the gift of another day. Perspective.
I'd be lying if I said I am a ray of blinding sunshine every day. I'm not skipping around my neighborhood singing "Life is BEAUTIFUL!" (Although, that would be quite the sight.) However, I often catch myself at a fleeting moment simply saying, "You know what? Everything is okay today. And that's okay." I am not consumed by as many petty things as I used to be. Once you see how quickly "normal" life can change, the small stuff suddenly isn't that important.
Life begins to feel a lot like March.
Grateful for the little things each day, like 41 degrees. 41 degrees all day long, please. Grateful for small improvements each day, like being able to walk the dog through puddles on a sunny day. Grateful to have braved the winter storms and come out on the other side. Grateful to have made it through another winter stronger.
So, instead of rushing through March like we tend to do to get to summer, I say we should get up, get out, and enjoy March. Let's celebrate surviving winter- whatever your winter may be- and here's to a brighter, hopeful spring.
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