It’s cold. It’s cloudy. It’s gloomy. In Oklahoma, we’re told we may get snow tomorrow.
Whoopee . . . let’s all break out our party hats.
Snow would cover up some of the brown and gray of the Oklahoma winter landscape for a day or two, and it would help protect plants from the cold yet to come. However, in southern states, it is often hazardous because we don’t drive in it enough. Our street crews do their best, but it’s just not our norm.
Folks, we still have two and a half more months of winter fun. Are you prepared to beat the winter blues? Here are my top ten ways to squash them.
- Take a walk, or go to the gym. Exercise is one of the best ways to beat Ole’ Man Winter. Don’t forget to lift weights. You’ll need that strength for spring cleanup.
- Plan some time outdoors. Walk around the block, and if you live where it isn’t snowy, get down on your knees to gaze upon your garden at ground level. Marvel in its beginnings, those small shoots just peering above the soil’s surface; the pussy-willow-like coverings on the Jane magnolia’s branches. These foretell spring’s arrival. Who knows? You might even find buds on your hellebores.
- Stay Warm. Invest in soft warm clothes (I love flannel shirts) and warm Smartwool® socks. When you see the price, remind yourself they last forever, and that if you do go outdoors for more than a run to the car, you won’t freeze. The wind which whips down our plains is a cold one with no heart.
- Invest in light. Even if you aren’t badly affected by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), we all seem to get a touch of it when the days are too cloudy. It feels like the months of January and February have more than their fair share of cloudy days, so get a light box or try this nifty alarm clock my friend Robin told me about. I have full spectrum light bulbs over every reading chair in the house, but it’s important to buy those which have the proper day wavelength whatever that means. You need thirty minutes of light therapy everyday.
- Take good quality fish oil and eat wild-caught salmon, or other fatty fish twice a week. I take fish oil every single day, and the brand I use doesn’t have the fishy smell. In fact, it smells like lemons. I buy it at my local pharmacy.
- Learn something new. Ever wanted to knit? Take a class, or ask a friend to teach you. Would like to play the piano? Do it. I took lessons for over a year. I’m not good, but I can mark it off my bucket list. Want to know more about gardening? Read a good book like Duane Campbell’s Best of Green Space: 30 Years of Composted Columns. It’s a collection of Duane’s entertaining advice arranged by month. Although he and I don’t live in the same climate (he’s in the northeast), I just adjusted the monthly advice up a month when needed and learned a thing or two about saving money. My husband will be so glad.
- Read for pleasure and inspiration. Debbie Chester, who is an author herself, gave me a book by Beverley Nichols for Christmas, Down the Garden Path. What? You don’t know of Nichols? Although he died in 1983, he’s still an icon in British style and writing from the 1920s onward. With sixty books to his credit, it is his garden writing on which collective memory lingers. Nichols’ wit was sardonic, and in fact, on the back cover photo of these books reprinted by TimberPress, he’s standing like he could just whip you and your garden into shape if you dared tempt him. In a newer publication, my friend, Kathryn Hall, has compiled her advice about gardening into a beautiful paperback, Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden, like her blog of the same name. Part garden column, life advice and autobiography, it, like Kathryn, is a good companion for winter’s chill (even if she does live in California, and I’m jealous).
- Buy yourself something pretty. If you’re a gardener, that probably means a plant, but it could also be a tool you’re itching to buy. I was at the grocery store this morning and purchased these little Iris reticulata for only $5.99. I almost bought a Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Shooting Star,’ and I may go back and get it later. It’s important to surround ourselves with beauty. It feeds our souls.
- Eat healthy. I’ve been watching Martha Stewart’s recent shows about power foods, and I’m actually considering getting her Whole Living Magazine team’s new book, Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients. I haven’t decided, but isn’t the cover pretty? Even if I don’t buy it, I know eating healthy is essential to a good mood.
- Feed your soul. All of my tips concern feeding your soul, but let’s take it one step further. Whatever your belief about God, (you know where I stand), unplug your computer, iPhone, and other electronic devices and spend some time with your Creator today. As little as thirty minutes of quiet meditation does the soul and body good if only because we take the time to be grateful and remember from where we come.
I can quote you statistics, but we know we’re a fractured world which needs to unplug. I have dinner roasting in the oven, and I’ve reconnected with you, my friends. Now, I’m off to pray for a bit and then read before my children come home.
That way, when they come bursting through the door from school, and their father comes home from work, I can give them my full attention for a moment or two because I’ve spent some of my day tending to me.
Exquisite self-care is what helps gardeners survive winter. I hope you take time for you today.