I don’t know about your feeling as winter approaches but in our family, it is a split between those who love the winter season and those who don’t look forward to the cold and darkness that is upon us. For those who struggle, Kari Leibowitz of The Washington Post authored an article last week Winter is coming. But with these tips, you don’t have to fear it. She noted that many people dread the short, dark days of winter and that “Perhaps instead of fighting the darkness, we should embrace it.” She is a health psychologist and lived for a year above the Arctic Circle, so she understands long, dark days. In Tromso, Norway where she lived, the sun never rose from December to February.
The people there had no choice but to embrace the darkness because it was always dark. Her tips include accepting the time period for what it is, colder and darker. If you find that you are sleepier, go to bed earlier and get more sleep. Take the opportunity to enjoy more contemplative activities such as reading, writing and even slow walks. Try to get through all those books piled up on your nightstand. Embrace softer lighting such as fireplaces, fire pits, and candles.
While I find all these ideas sensible, I fear that without a change to mindset about winter, success may be an uphill battle. She says “With a small change in mind-set and approach, we can stop viewing the darkness as closing in on us and start to see the opportunities longer nights afford. This season can be synonymous with contentment and pleasure, if we only open our eyes to what’s possible.”
Changing one’s mindset is not easy and it takes focus and a concerted effort. A gratitude journal, or something similar, to gather your thoughts on the benefits of the winter season may be a place to start.
This week’s selection is:
Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s an associate specialist at Sotheby’s now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galapagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.
But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.
Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.
In the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory of natural selection was formed, Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.