Winter in Chicago. Boy, is it ever. I fear the constant bundling and the cabin fever are starting to get to me. The worst part is knowing that, in Chicago, we still have two more months of winter. It is too easy at such times to become despondent. All the more reason to be more creative!
When the going gets tough, and in this case, frigid, I have a few methods for consoling myself:
- Get out in it!
True, it has been colder than the South Pole a few days this January, the threat of frostbite has been high, and boiling water turned to snow when tossed into the nippy air, but there is something to be appreciated about experiencing extremes. Far worse than cold is what my family calls the season of the Blahs: 40 degrees and cloudy. At least when it is cold ice does strange and marvelous things to behold. The trick is getting out there (with the appropriate cold weather gear, of course), and experiencing it for yourself.
- Go to the Botanical Garden.
Chicago has three botanical gardens, all of which have large tropical conservatories full of glorious, humid air. We went to the Lincoln Park Conservatory last Sunday and almost fell asleep in there, so happy to leave the chalky, dry, freakishly cold air outside. The Lincoln Park facility is open daily from 9-5 and is TOTALLY FREE.
- Build a fort.
Honestly, I do have to explain why?
- Remember that warm places exist:
It is important to keep some perspective–a vision of the big picture when we reach for a third scarf. This will not last forever. Warm places are out there. I will be warm again. My skin will see the sun once more. I can remember the feeling of sand between my toes. I know the smell of sunscreen. I have felt warm breezes in the shade of palm trees. I recall the scene in C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair where the evil queen is trying to convince the heroes that Narnia, Aslan, and even the sun, do not exist. In a brave effort to regain his senses under her spell, Puddleglum reaches his hand into the magical fire and uses the pain to awaken from the enchantment and remember that the sun is real. In other words, winter may cast a spell of despondency; it is our choice whether we succumb.
- Use your imagination.
Cue Mary Poppins and 34th Street’s Kris Kringle and other such defenders of the imagination (If you feel yourself getting sarcastic, just tell your inner cynic that what I am about to describe is a legitimate meditation technique). Are you ready? Turn on this song from the J Band. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Imagine you are on a beach at night. The band drums and strums in sync with the waves gently tumbling onto the sand. Tiki torches light a stretch of sand where people are dancing. The happy faces beckon you to join them. Your hips begin to sway. Gals, give that fabulous dress you are wearing a twirl. Guys, don’t worry, you smell great. Let the music and the sweet, warm, salty air intoxicate you. You have no inhibitions. Just dance. As the song ends, keep your eyes closed. Take a few more breaths. Open your eyes. Congratulations, you just visited my happy place.
- Um, well, leave.
Ok, I confess. I just spent the last two hours looking up all-inclusives in Punta Cana. If you cave, as I did, feel no shame. Just say that Bloody Mary made you do it: