Redefining Seasons

Almost exactly nine years ago, I held our sweet new baby in my arms, and I rocked her to sleep while I listened to the geese honking outside.

Inside, it was so warm and cozy, snuggling with our baby girl, and outside, the world was alive with all those geese, flying through the crisp fall air.

I had anticipated Anika’s birth so much that fall, and the beginning of her new little life held such excitement, that fall held a completely different meaning and feeling for me.

I wrote last week about how fall is a difficult time for me, and when I think of fall, I think of a drab, ugly brown landscape, of darkness, and depressing, cloudy days.

I think of fall, and I feel as though all joy and life is getting sucked out of me.

And yet, nine years ago in fall, I held all joy and life in my arms. We even called her “Joy” – Anika Elisabeth Joy.

As her birthday approaches, and the geese fill the air once more, I am reminded of how attitude and outlook can make all the difference.

Depending on my outlook, fall can be depressing, or it can be a time of beautiful excitement.

Last week, I was feeling the darkness of fall creeping into me, pulling me down, and yet, when we spent Sunday afternoon exploring, my heart was full of joy and life once more.

Instead of drab browns, I saw golden sun, and warm grasses.

On Monday, when it was cloudy and rainy, we wandered through shops at the Forks, and chatted inside with friends. I was reminded all over again that”light” comes from other sources than just the sun. It can come in the form of connecting with wonderful, warm people.

On Tuesday, Ben hung up Christmas lights, and finished our deck.

We’re caught up in a bunch of projects to quickly finish before winter comes. And suddenly, everywhere I look, I see fall as a Season of Preparation, rather than of a Season of Nothing. The world around me is getting ready, just as we are, and strangely enough, this is giving me…life. My anticipation is growing.

I am anticipating winter. Not just Christmas, but winter.

How odd. I don’t think this has ever happened to me before.

I’ve always thought of winter as far too long, and far too cold.

But now, as I look around me, and see how everything is preparing and anticipating winter, I am seeing winter as a Season of Rest. I think of winter, and I see soft white fields, and snowflakes falling in complete silence.

I have never been as aware of Rest as I am right now.

We left camp because we felt God was calling us to rest. There are so many opportunities and activities with which to fill our calendar, and we are starting to join in with some of these things, but most of the time, I feel something holding me back inside. I still feel the need to keep things simple, stay close to home, and enjoy many quiet evenings on the couch.

I feel myself….I don’t know how to describe it, exactly. Being replenished, maybe. I feel like my insides are drinking up the quiet. I’m a sponge, soaking up rest.

It’s quite wonderful.

A Season of Rest sounds perfect.

We’ll still probably jam in a whole bunch of wonderful things to do in winter, but I also hope to follow nature’s lead, and settle in close for a time of stillness.

I just reread that sentence, and thought it sounded like pure foolishness. Stillness? Heading into the Christmas season in a few months?

But yes. Stillness.

I am learning that feelings in my heart do not have to match the craziness around me. It is possible to take moments to enjoy nature or quiet and calm, in the midst of everything.

My outlook and my attitude can affect the way in which I approach this fall or coming winter.

I can replace Ugly” and Cold” with Anticipation” and Rest”. And maybe it won’t instantly and completely change the ways in which I struggle with seasons, but I believe it is the start of making a difference.

In other words, beauty can be found in everything, if you look hard enough!

Please share! I am so curious to hear what words you use to define fall and winter.

The Season of Nothing

Anika was looking out the window yesterday at the rather dreary view, and said, “There’s nothing on the trees, and nothing falling from the sky, and nothing pretty. It’s the Season of Nothing.”

I agree with her. I love every season, except late fall.

Early fall is fantastic. I feel light and joyous in early fall. But late fall does me in each year.

Especially last year. Last fall, I crashed – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, I ran into a brick wall, and there I stuck.

Time-change happened, and it was as though someone flicked the switch off in my life, and everything went dark. It sucked, and then I wrote this post about it.

There were a number of reasons for it – the isolation of being at camp in winter, the lack of sunshine in the dark little house we were living in at that time, Ben being gone on a 10-day missions trip right during my weakest stretch, the stress of trying to decide if we were going to leave camp.

Oh, what a dark, horrible time. I look at that list, and I still almost want to just curl up in the fetal position.

It was not a good fall for me.

But someone in their sheer brilliance once decided that Christmas should be in December, right after the Season of Nothing, and thus I was saved.

My parents showed further wisdom when they said, “Come stay with us in sunny Florida for three weeks while Ben is gone on another missions trip in January.”

After those three weeks of Florida sunshine, and a happy reunion with Ben, I was ready to handle life again. Spring was on the way.

And it certainly didn’t hurt to be planning our new home – I was dreaming a light, bright, open, airy dream, and before I knew it, spring arrived.

In spring and summer, it’s hard to believe a lack of sunshine could make me so crazy. And it’s a breeze for me to get through early fall, in all its brightness of orange and yellow leaves.

But when that nasty wind blew all the leaves off the trees a week ago, and ushered in “Ugly Fall”, I could feel myself slipping. November is coming!

I felt fear coming right along with November’s approach. I also felt dread – I was scared to go back to that place!

So the other day, I decided I just wouldn’t go back there. I will not let this fall be dark.

This is not last year. New year, new approach.

I am telling you now that November will not get me down without a very big fight this year.

Fortunately, there are a whole bunch of things which can be done to help with the winter blues. Last winter, I discovered a few things which were very helpful for me:

1. Using a happy light. We bought a blue light from Costco last fall, but I’ll have to do more research on it, as I’ve since heard that blue lights can do damage to the eyes, and it’s best to use a fluorescent happy light.

2. Getting outside. Every single day, no matter what the weather.

3. Being with people. Fortunately, living in Niverville will make this winter a lot more social for me. It’s hard to get used to the busy schedule we have in comparison to the pace we lived at camp, but I think it will really help me to get over my November slump.

4. Lots of lights and color.The Christmas decorations are going up early this year! Ben doesn’t like early Christmas decorations, but he actually brought up the topic of outdoor Christmas lights on his own the other day. I think he’s desperate to do anything that will help me cheer up for the month of November, and avoid a repeat of last year!

I need something to anticipate. I need something bright, warm, and exciting.

I think I’ll go candle shopping….

Much to my delight, one of my favorite health blogs posted a wonderful list of ways to deal with winter blues, so I will be trying a number of new ideas this winter, as well. I’ll let you know which ones work well! Except for #6 on the list. If #6 works well, you won’t be hearing about it from me. We don’t talk about stuff like that on this blog.

And now I’ll go paint some leaves with my girls, or buy more pumpkins, or find some way of getting some color and excitement into this gray, rainy day.

Any good ideas out there for getting through the Season of Nothing?