How I’ve Coped With Winter

Can you smell spring in the air the way I can? I’m not going to kid myself, I know we live in the great white north, and it’s unlikely that we’ll get rid of all the snow any time before May, but I’m clinging to the hope of warmer temperatures and the slow but inevitable return of green. Here’s how I’ve coped with winter.

Christmas was a manic episode. I even went out and got a job to fill my compulsive need to overspend and make Christmas a huge debacle for our family. We weren’t hosting this year, traveling somewhere warm wasn’t in the cards, and I needed to fill a big ‘ole hole of sadness. I filled it with so much junk the kids didn’t need, most of which sits largely untouched in their bedrooms. After gazing around numbly at the faces of the people I loved on Christmas day while we put forth our best effort to make merry, I realized that no about of tinsel or gaily wrapped junk could replace what our family has lost. One of the truest, most soul-satisfying moments of the season was volunteering as a family to sort food donations. Another was seeing the fort my daughter and her girlfriend built out of fallen branches in our forest. Big lessons learned.

This bitter cold months have been some of the darkest. I’m dealing with a depression the likes of which I’ve never known. The effects of this have pervaded every corner of my life, as depression will. I can’t watch the news right now, I can’t be around big crowds or lots of noise. I can’t be in busy places. My choice of treatment has been vitamins, an attempt to get a bit more exercise, and therapy instead of pharmaceuticals for now. I’ve been spotty with items one and two and dedicated to number three. I think if I can get all of those working in concert, I’ll be just fine. I know I’ll be fine. I’m feeling better each day, and can feel the gradual shift happening.

I miss my friends terribly, but I have isolated myself because it’s hard to see people and bring something positive to them when I am just not up for feeling light. It leaves me with little to talk about most of the time, and I feel like I have to step into a role just to function outside of the house.

This depression has made it hard to write here. I feel overly indulgent. Narcissistic. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to read my ramblings. I don’t know what to share. If you’re a reader, it would mean a great deal to hear from you with some suggestions about meaningful topics. I miss this place, this practice. I want to get active here because in the midst of this bleak winter some really great things have been happening and I want to share these things with you.

In November, I took on the National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) challenge. I failed at getting 40,000 words hammered out, but I carried on the writing momentum and I’m hard at work at a first draft of my first novel. Any of you writerly types will know how slow this process can be. Doubly so if you have children and other jobs. The novel is loosely based on my experiences in burlesque, and I’m having so much fun with it. The story centers around a cirque cabaret troupe which is actually a front for an elite team of female mercenaries. I met some very awesome women working in burlesque.

I need to carve out more time to write, and I continue to fantasize about stealing a weekend away here or there to bang out an entire draft in total seclusion. If you need an apartment sitter, I’m your girl. The plan is to get a polished draft, and then shop it around to agents before I decided to self-publish instead. Either way, I’m getting it out there. It would be ideal to have an agent to worry about all of the details on my behalf, but I’ve worn a lot of hats before, I can do it again.

Somehow I’ve made time again for reading, which is something that I missed more than I realized. Escaping into all of these stories has been a balm for the difficult material swirling around my head. Book recommendations are always welcome, and I’m trying to focus on Thrillers, Spy Novels, and Female Fiction these days because it feeds nicely into the work I’m creating.

As I’m typing, a tiny army of toddlers in tiny pink snow suits is ambling into the building. I’m at York University campus today, I guess this must be their daycare out for a walk. What joy I get from watching my own little toddler growing and taking on the world. He fills me with so much love, it can melt through even the bleakest moments. My girls are also growing so quickly, so gracefully most of the time. It’s been harder for them to understand what I’ve been going through, and I’m never sure how much to share with a child. I’ve been working on a letter for them, so they can have a little more perspective about what’s happening with me. I would hate for them to assume any responsibility for my state.

I stepped away from my brief job in the retail sector. Instead, I am commuting a couple of days a week into the city with Sarah, to make her drive more bearable. With another human in the car, she can take the HOV lane and shave significant time off her commute. I’m also working to help her grow her photography business, and I’m working at growing our other family business at tallearth.com with my decent grasp of social media. Most days feel like they are wrapped in a fog, but that fog seems to be thinning.

I’m dreaming of my family in our own modest home somewhere in the country. We are yearning for that independence again, and working hard at lining up our ducks so they march in that direction. I’m longing to get this book out of my head, and into the hands of readers. I’m fantasizing about our other businesses growing so we can live with more joy and freedom. I’m trying to carve out joy wherever I can in the ‘right here and now’.

Tell me how you’re coping with the winter? You’re all so wonderfully clever, I’m sure you can inspire us with a few new tricks to help with the next couple of months of slush and snow. Send me news of your lives. Tell me what the winter has taught you.

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