Right now, here in New England, we are surrounded by the most incredible display of gold, deep mustard yellow, rusty orange and the last of the fiery Burning Bushes. It is the more mature older sister of the kaleidoscope of the early fall brilliance. It is a reminder and a fore-bearer of the crisp days and even longer nights to come. It heralds frost and icicles, the tawny leaves letting go of the sticky branches to prepare them for the sugar coated shell of ice. In my bones I feel the excitement of hunkering down, of packing in the outdoor furniture and switching out the couch cushions to the heavier, warmer, comfy ones. I revel in meditating at the warmth of my gas fireplace in the morning, a luxury that the sticky summer mornings won't allow. I start to dream of swirling snowflakes and school snow days when we stay in our PJ's and indulge in novels and warm drinks all day long. I am not a skier but my children and my husband are. Last night the excitement was palpable as they measured and weighed themselves to order the rented boots and skis for the upcoming season - dreaming of swooshing down the mountain, me dreaming of some time alone to write and read, dream, knowing they are living the day to it's fullest. I long for those ice cold, wind pinched cheeks that will come home in the evening to warm their toes and their bellies in the home that I will have waiting for them.
Writing this dream is purposeful. Expanding and swimming in the indulgence of the joy of anticipating winter is an intentional act. When I feel that spark of gratitude and excitement I know it's time to expand it fully. It's time to play. As I write I feel the smile stretch across my face and time floats away. I am comfortably lost in the moment and winter is coming. It is a practice that now feels so natural to me, so easy and so powerful. This is how I face the New England winters. Funny, even writing the words "how I face" feels like a lie. There is no punishment in it. I welcome winter down to my core. When people ask me how I stay so positive I know happiness is a choice. Sometimes it is an active effort. But I know the tools I reach for when stress or overwhelm or self-judgement step in. I have an arsenal of tools in my belt to reach for. Bolstering a tiny moment of joy is one of them. My practice is to indulge in the smallest pleasure and then expand and swell that feeling out further and further on purpose.
See, I am a light lover. I live in the light, I love sunshine, I purposefully live in a house with a million windows and I refuse to ever close the curtains. So, long dark days are a challenge for me and I know that Seasonal Affect Disorder has knocked on my heart in the past. I also have Raynoud's Syndrome (which sounds worse than it is) - it just means that my fingers and toes turn white and painful in the cold. But I also know that I have the power over my own thoughts and I am the creator of my own happiness. I know that what I focus on expands. When I feel the first glimpse of excitement of the approaching winter I dive into that feeling and let it ride and surf and swell. It works. THIS is how I expand my own happiness. THIS is how I approach anything I want to see differently and, more importantly, FEEL differently. I love the winter. I will repeat that phrase over and over again. I know what I love about the winter and those special moments are my indulgence.
What I focus on will expand. And right now I choose to see and focus on those beautiful golds and rusts. Right now I love the glow they cast with the low lying sun. Right now I love the promise of the season to come. Today is going to be a great day.