The Dead of Winter

The red dots on my hands have faded, leaving only callouses on the tips of my fingers. They are peeling and remind me of upright bass players' fingers after heavy playing.

I went sledding with my daughter this week behind the Catholic church in town. There's a small sledding hill on the southernmost part of town and is a short walk from our apartment. The snow was wet and heavy and made for some good runs and wet gloves.

Chloe recovered from COVID after our trip to Mexico and Louise ended up getting COVID again. She missed school for the week and we took care of her as she healed. The first couple of days she had a fever and the rest of the week her throat was sore. I didn't get sick thankfully and took care of both of them as best as I could with my red rashed hands.

It's been frigid and cold in upstate New York the past week. My studio has old windows long and even the plastic sealing I put around one of the draftiest windows doesn't really help keep the room that warm. A little space heater under my desk helps heat the room and keep my feet toasty.

Chloe told me that the third Monday of January is called Blue Monday and is known as "the most depressing day of the year." I can relate and feel the depressing vibes all around. We're in our third year of COVID, both my wife and daughter got the Omicron variant, the days are short and frigid and everyone seems to be beaten by life.

I've been practicing meditation and writing when I wake up and go to bed the past week. I'm finding it's helping ward off the overall depressing vibes of sickness, darkness, and cold. I've gone in and out of practicing meditation throughout my life and find that it is truly an important part to balance the mind and give space to the thoughts and feelings that want to take control of energy.

My therapist helped remind me that it is ok to have sadness and be down. They are feelings and have something to show us. Rather than fight or battle those feelings, lean in and let them be. They too will pass. She reminded me that this is also the time of hibernation and it's ok to sleep in and not feel motivated.

I'm a fairly driven person and when I can't move at the speed and way that I want, especially if I'm sick, I'm prone to getting down or depressed. News flash, I'm human! Don't most people get down when they're sick and cold?

Meditation helps me give space to all of these feelings, thoughts, and negative emotions. It allows for leaning into being and breathing into the fear and uncomfortableness of living. It bridges the human doing mind to the human being.

I read a quote from a newsletter I subscribe to from Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Peace is Every Step. Thich Nhat Hanh passed away this week at the age of 95 and was a master of practicing "mindfulness". The passage this newsletter quoted was about enjoying each experience you are in and treating the act as a pleasant experience. The passage that stood out was about his perspective on washing dishes.

"I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands. I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living. That would be a pity, for each minute,m each second of life is a miracle. Washing the dishes is at the same time a means and an end–that is, not only do we do the dishes in order to have clean dishes, we also do the dishes just to do the dishes, to live fully in each moment while washing them."

This week I intend to be mindful when doing the dishes. We don't have a dishwasher so they are done by hand. Maybe this one mindfulness action can help bring presence to the dead of winter and bring a little more light to these darker days.