Catholic girl speaks to the dead. Not all that unusual actually considering my youth when I spent hours kneeling under a man nailed to a cross. A man who, we were told, died for us. I found the guilt about his death unbearable. Inventing sins as I waited my turn for the confessional was far easier than accepting blame over a brutal crucifixion. When I hit sixth grade, the whole class was escorted two blocks to the neighborhood funeral home where I witnessed the boy, who I was crushing on hard, all puffy and red-faced, his dead dad laid out in satin and mahogany. It was then that I turned my attention away from the harsh cross. I stared into this father’s placid face and gently folded hands and thought, maybe this guy would listen to my pleas, even those about his son falling for me. Connection seemed possible with a real man. No guilt. I talked to this dead guy for years longer than I remembered his son’s name with no care if he ever heard me.
The last 48 hours has uncovered both the strength of the Georgian populace and the arrogance of the terrorists’ sedition. In a swirl of highs and lows we stand in today’s aftermath with a shattered republic underfoot. Yes, there is the call of the wild in the air but it is a tainted one: more than ever we need to chase down every trail of hope we can. This messy business will be pondered by those far more engrossed in politics than me, over and over for days and weeks and many years ahead, as it should be for acts of this magnitude: our temple to Democracy was desecrated by a mob of craven and ignorant anti-Americans. But I clearly believe these people do not represent most citizens. They do not listen to facts of Science or Math, they don’t attend a church that preaches compassion or love, and they certainly don’t understand how government works. Instead they raise the vile confederate flag, adore themselves with racist tattoos, and find their facts from unvetted news sources. Their views are alien to our scholars’ interpretations of our constitution and the morality of our best. For sanity’s sake, I’ll trust our elected officials and law enforcement to bring justice to these criminals and their President, and now, loudly applaud the brave and brilliant efforts of Georgian voters, who have heralded in much needed change to our Senate. Moving with faith, we head into our wild woods.
The whole of my external world would fit every Frozen location set if need be. Snowbanks line my drive, icicles hang from the eaves, and everything is stuck in stillness. A weak sun battles the fairly constant cloud cover, as we dash about in fairly constant flurries. The temperature this past week fought to even reach single digits, and the windchill only added to the instinct to hibernate. But venture out we must. Adding layer upon layer folks find a way to get outside, to ski and take advantage of the snow in any possible way. The woods are filled with trails and ring with voices even as that north wind bites through our insulated gloves. Northerners have a well-earned hearty reputation, and I find inspiration being among so many who get outdoors regardless of what weather one must contend with.
To keep one’s mindset in the positive it is important to keep fueling yourself with all sorts of activities, outside when possible, and inside when not. There is something about moving that just makes you feel better. “Endorphins are only one of many neurotransmitters released when you exercise. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals play an important part in regulating your mood” (healthline). The science of the brain spells it all out, but the real trick is finding movement that makes you smile while doing it. For me, time on the mat or in the pool are just as uplifting as a swift run. Daily, I set my schedule to include something physical, with enough time to feel fabulous afterwards.
And then there is what you put into your body. Even during the winter months we try to fuel ourselves with as much local and nutritious food as possible. The farm up the road sells eggs, another is a four-season veggie provider; keeping green in our diet, keeping seasonal and local a priority, and planning our meals, all work together to maintain health. The proverbial saying ‘You are what you eat‘ is just truth. In winter it is easy to eat heavy, and while that might feel comforting, we do include some extra summer-like salads to lighten too.
I am lucky to live with a brilliant and ambitious illuminator. Every December our home gets a chance to shine in the darkness, and we leave those lights going well into January, which just makes me happier at the end of a long day when I drive up the hill. I imagine all the weary travelers feeling the same way, and that just adds to my joy. It isn’t about flash or show, it is only a little sparkle, a subtle twinkle, and then, you take an easier breath.
Don’t forget to treat yourself too. There are days when looking out at the wind, and deciding to curl up with a book and some cocoa would just bring all the rest and relaxation of a spa day to your house-bound day. Take good care my dears. Fuel yourself for those long summer days by living well right now. With marshmallows too.