When cold weather swoops in for the season, I used to be one who grabbed my down throw and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and snuggled up until ‘it went away’. Yes, I hibernated with the bears. When I was joined with the workforce, I just brought my portable heater to my desk and still stayed huddled at my desk. And with the colder weather came the extra weight.
No, not from the bulkier clothing we wear. Maybe it is the whole ‘holiday season’ thing where we have recipes floating around for Grandma’s dressing and Aunt Mary’s apple pie or the candy canes which tickle our noses and we are kids again.
To justify the pounds, I’d tell myself that it is a ‘natural thing’ that occurs in winter because our bodies need to the extra fat to stay warm (and I’m still sticking to that).
The one thing we can count on with the seasons is ‘change’ and I like that. Yes, I said it… as much as we say we don’t like change, I think in some areas we really do. If everything (or everyone) stayed the same all the time, wouldn’t life be boring? And, I would think we would not appreciate the beauty of Life if it was ‘the norm’ instead of something to anticipate. Or in some people’s cases – dread.
The thing with seasons (in nature or our lives) is attitude – adapting to change with a joyous spirit or a cantankerous one.
We all need reminding of the joy in life when we find ourselves not adapting so well to certain changes. For the most part, I am a positive person with a joyous spirit, but there ARE times when I get critical or irritable as well.
It used to always be winter for me. For nearly 40 years of my life – well, probably only 30 because the first 10 years, I was still a kid enjoying the snow and no school days; but my adult years were spent trying to avoid the winter elements. “Go away cold!”
I would even acknowledge that I had ‘cold intolerance’ – a fancy term I heard somewhere and thought it fit me, so I stuck that label on myself. It gave me an ‘out’ for the part of life in which I was not as comfortable.
Let me tell you- God does not care about our constant comfort. That’s mean, you say? It may sound mean, but God loves us with a pure Agape Love and that doesn’t mean always giving us our way or giving us smooth sailing. I’m not saying that it is God who causes the discomfort in our lives either. This world is full of sin, full of danger, and full of pain. But God’s promise is that He will work all things together for the GOOD, for those who believe in Him and are called according to His purpose.
When I was in my early 40s, I began hiking in different hiking groups. I love nature, and this was something I really enjoyed. But when cold weather arrived, out came my comfy throw and furry slippers. But after joining the hiking groups, I was held accountable and my fellow hiker buddies coaxed me to join them on a hike even though it was cold.
At this stage of my life (I called it my ‘why not’ stage) I was trying new things so – why not!
In 24 degree weather I went on a hike with the Tennessee Wild hiking group and it changed my life. I realized that I was NOT cold intolerant, I had just let myself choose to not participate. Sure, it was cold, but I tolerated it. And, the cold may affect me more than someone who is always hot, but I can layer my clothing – so I did.
Because I chose to be present, I was able to experience something I never had experienced before – seeing my first ‘frost flower’. It was beautiful! The cold winter wind whirred around with moisture and made crystallized art!
Oh, how I missed the ‘energy’ the winter brings. I was a child the last time I experienced this. Energy in the winter? To my friends who wrap up in a blanket and hibernate in the winter also… yes, energy!
As a rancher, I love watching my horses when it is cold because they get excited, frisky and they are playful. They keep warm with being active. Hmmm… how nature teaches us. Our greyhounds love to run in the winter… the cold weather is excitable. We don’t experience this when we sit on the couch curled up in a ball.
Hey, I am not knocking curling up, snuggling or sitting in front of fireplaces with a hot beverage – those things are wonderful and enjoyable, and I would never take that away from my own life or tell you to take them away from yours; but what I am saying is – give winter a chance. Be a part of it and THEN curl up under the covers.
Then you will feel like you have earned the moment of snuggling up rather than feeling like a slug and not having lived life a little.
As everything around us changes, let us also change our attitudes. We aren’t made to be ‘avoiders’. We aren’t made to just ‘exist’. We are made to LIVE – Zoe (dzo-ay’) That is the Greek word for REALLY LIVING.
Even though lately, I have been experiencing a ‘season’s change’ in my life with the aging pain of arthritis, I welcome this time of season. Where my horses’ pasture is now browning and low, it is time to supplement the horses grazing with hay. Because I have to… no, I ‘get’ to go to the ranch EVERY MORNING and throw hay.
This might be something to dread on a few mornings when it is cold and raining or when my bones feel a little more sore than usual, but this is part of Zoe! And my attitude can either be to complain about it or LIVE in it and find the joy!
Life is going to happen whether I like what it brings or not. The people Life brings in my path, the employment, the pain, the opportunities, the chaos, the stress, the joy, the season… are all part of Life. I can choose to dread certain areas of this thing called Life or I can appreciate even the circumstances in which I am uncomfortable.
As I went to throw hay at the ranch this morning, the cool brisk air energized me and my horses were even neighing and snorting. That alone was worth the few minutes I came out of my blanket this morning, but then as I rolled the wheel barrow down the fence line, throwing hay in different piles for each horse (they have leadership issues) I watched them do their thing.
I thrusted my cold hands down in my pockets and watched them ‘herd’ each other. Smokey, my black Tennessee Walker is lead horse so he gets to pick which pile he wants first. The next in pecking order is Liberty. She is my grey (white) quarter horse who is usually shy except when it comes to feed-time.
I watched the other horses coming for a pile of nourishment and Liberty kicking up her back legs, “This pile is mine!” Smokey simply pinned his ears back and dared them to bother him. The weaker horses understand the process and all is well as they find their piles; but when Rocky Top, my sorrel (red) quarter horse acted a little selfish and horded two piles kicking my paint colt Legend away – I was not going to have that.
So, I had to go… no, I got to go (privilege) into the pasture and show them “I” was the LEAD lead horse and what “I” say goes… and I say Legend gets to eat!
Of course, after the lead horses eat the first of their fill, they do let the weaker horses eat, but I wanted them to play nice while I took the time to make six piles of hay for six horses.
After listening to them munch on their hay and after giving a few horsey-pats, I headed up the road to my house and as I came around the bend just before the Hughes farm, three frolicking deer were crossing the road. It is deer season, so this is the time to watch for deer leaping out from the woods and crossing the road and I encourage you to drive slow enough to brake for the spontaneous, leaping deer.
God knows I love seeing the deer. That was a gift just for me. God gives us gifts in the little moments and we might miss them because of our attitude. If I had someone else to feed the horses, I would have missed seeing my beautiful horses and the frolicking deer. Gifts… gifts of Love from my Father who loves me and wants to show me His Love with these special moments. But I must be listening, open and available to receive them or else I will miss them.
God has given us the gift of Life. Zoe! It is all around us.
When my husband and I first got married, we wanted to spend all our time together and at first it was hard for him to leave for work. He said, “Okay, I have to go to work now…” and I encouraged, “No… you get to go to work… it’s a privilege.” And since then, we will both encourage each other with this ‘change in attitude’ reminder whenever either of us forget to see the gifts, the opportunities, or privileges we have in our lives.
Seasons change. Welcome them and be thankful.