Ok folks, the holidays are over and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks pulled off an outstanding win over Nebraska yesterday. Today was back to reality. Hmm. Can we skip the rest of winter now and go straight to spring?
Didn't think so. Crap.
This is when winter starts to hurt. The excitement of the holidays are over and it's time to get back in our routine that has us out at sunrise and coming back at sunset as we muddle through the cold days of winter. Everything seems bare, dead, and cold. Yes, it's depressing. The trees and decorations are down. No goodies lie around the office to munch on anymore. No more presents will be given or received. And there were no Christmas lights to welcome me home.
Truth is, though, it's not all dead - it's merely resting to put forth that burst of energy that brings vibrancy and life during the other three seasons of the year. The trees and grass are dormant, not dead. Just as I needed the past 11 days off work to keep from getting burned out, so too does nature need to rest in order to bring us life and bounty through the rest of the year.
Truth be told, the season isn't without merit. I usually do my most (and best) writing in the winter. In fact, I wrote the rough drafts of Blurry and Anywhere But Here in January and February, and did major work on Splinter during that same time frame last year. My productivity with my writing seems to be at it's highest during the winter. I guess that makes sense. If everything is dull routine, then that means fewer distractions to pull me away from my computer. A resting world gives my muse time and energy to come alive. And I hope that pattern resumes this winter - considering that I haven't written anything new since November and am itching to create more new work in the new year! (All of the work on my writing has been in the area of publicity and promotion - good, but I miss creating new work too!)
Winter is a good time to catch up on indoor activities that seem to move to the back burner during the busy summer and holiday seasons. It's a great time to read, for example, or take up an art or craft. I've been doing a lot of reading lately, and I used to stitch a good bit in the winter when I wasn't working on novels. Cold days are also good fo DVD marathons of your favorite movie series or TV shows or playing games. I noticed yesterday when I went out that most stores are having some of their best sales of the season, so there are deals to be had on winter clothes. Treadmills and gyms make it possible to exercise indoors to keep you active. And, of course, the Internet is an endless source of information and entertainment to keep you occupied, from joining online groups that focus on an interest or hobby, finding new recipes to try cooking this weekend, or looking up entertainment in books, music, etc from independent artists.
Hmm. Suddenly winter doesn't seem so glum. In fact, it sounds like I could find plenty to do that will make the next two months pass painlessly.
Here's hoping your new year is off to a great start. Take care and I'll see you next time.
No actually, we can't. But that's a common sentiment this time of year, so now is the perfect time for a lesson in reality. There are three reasons why we can't "just get along," at the holidays or any time.
Reason #1 is personality conflicts. Each and every one of us is a unique creation with a personality that's a complex mix of genetics, environmental influences, and collective experience. Modern science still doesn't have a clue as to how these factors mix to make us who we are, and it doesn't look like they will any time soon. What we do know, though, is that certain personality types just don't play well together, and there's not much you can do about it. We naturally clash with our polar opposites, and there's no way to you can see eye to eye with somebody who thinks and sees the world from a viewpoint that's so drastically different from our own that we can't fathom it. So if your spouse is the emotional polar opposite of one of your parents or siblings, expect frayed nerves. People can't see eye to eye on what they don't understand, and the best you can hope for is an agreement to disagree. Demanding harmony is like lighting a stick of dynamite and being surprised when it blows up.
Reason #2 is unrealistic expectations. Sometimes we expect people to do things they simply can't do - we want them to rise to levels they can't reach yet. Feelers won't become thinkers, fighters won't become diplomats, sci-fi fans won't turn to romantic comedies, and some people won't clean their house no matter what day it is. Can people change? Absolutely. Will they change? That's a personal choice. Should they change? That's an issue best left between them and the Lord, and it's wise to stay out of that territory.We could do ourselves a great favor to accept people for what they are right now - not what we want them to be, or hope they'll become "someday."
Reason #3 is that relationships aee copmlicated and sometimes things happen that create conflict that simply can't be repaired by the magic of the holiday season, It takes a long time to rebuild breeched trust, and that process isn't going to speed up because there's a date in red on the calendar this month. You must accept that we're all human beings and, by nature, are flawed. It's literally impossible for everybody to get along. Sometimes you have to decide which relationships matter the most and focus your attention on nurturing them, even if you must neglect others you'd like to make happy and even if you aren't asked to make the choice. It's not taking sides - it's good, old fashioned, common sense. Everybody in the world isn't going to love you. In fact, I can guarantee that at least 50% of the world will have a problem with you - more, if you insist on trying to make everybody happy. But at least if you're honest people will know exactly where they stand with you, and 100% of people appreciate honesty like that, even if they don't like you.
I know this is tough because we all want our holiday to look like a Norman Rockwell painging, but it would behoove us to remember that our expectation for a perfect holiday is art, and we live in reality. That doesn't change, no matter what time of year it is. You can accept people as they are and be happy with their best, or you can cling to unrealistic expectations and deal with inevitable frustration. Because when you fight reality, you never win. This world has been here far longer than any of us have, and trying to bend it to your will is an exercise in futility. You fare better if you accept reality and do your best with it.
The choice is yours.