FEATURE — I hate winter. I can’t take the cold and I don’t like seeing the trees bare of their leaves. It seems like every year I enjoy the wintry weather as it sets the stage for Christmas, then I want to skip right to summer. But this year has been different.
My husband and I have been recently enjoying many local road trips together and in doing so have seen some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever experienced.
We have seen a snow-capped Pine Valley Mountain peeking above the beautiful red rocks that are so prominent in Southern Utah. We have marveled at some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets ever and have taken many pictures of the low-lying clouds and fog that has blanketed our local mountains and valleys.
I have gained a new appreciation of the winter, its wonders, its beauties.
Our lives can be like winter sometimes: Cold, dark, bleak. Storms can threaten our foundations, can wreak havoc with things we thought were in order. Dark clouds can bring gloom into our minds, rains may produce flooding and winds can howl loudly at our doorsteps. And yet, they can benefit us.
Natural disasters aside, what can these storms teach us?
If we look at the storms in nature, we learn that the elements have the power to reshape our environment. Wind, for instance, has the ability to help seeds move that otherwise couldn’t. Many populations of oak and pine trees are partly dependent on this scattering from the winds.
In addition, wind blowing on a small seedling or newly emerged spring plant helps the plant create a stronger stem. Rain also plays a vital role in our ecosystem, as it replenishes and restores life to parched land, insects and wildlife. Rain is essential to our survival.
Now let’s apply the above analogies to the emotional storms of life. When painful emotional winds blow around you, when dark mental clouds threaten your happiness – what then? How can you possibly find peace amongst your personal storms?
Through personal experience, I have found certain habits that have helped me.
- Start always with gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for, even in difficult circumstances. You may have to look hard, but I promise there will always be a silver lining in the clouds.
- Receive the support of others. We have three large pine trees in our backyard, which provide an excellent wind break for us. Who are the people in your life who serve as a sounding board or a buffer for you? Difficulties provide us with an excellent opportunity to find safe shelter and draw strength from friends and family.
- Take a moment and envision the person you will be on the other side of this difficulty. Just as the winds shape the terrain, so you, too, can be molded and refined, if you allow it. You can also choose to be bitter and isolated – it’s up to you. But just as the wind creates a stronger plant stem, you too, can be made stronger through your adversities.
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Emotions are our teachers, and they want to be acknowledged. Don’t suppress them or push them down, but let yourself be sad if that’s what you need to do for a time. Just remember that this is a temporary place, that it’s serving a purpose. Oftentimes simply defining your feelings by naming them out loud can validate them, and they can move effortlessly out of the way on their own. Again, gratitude is important here – feeling means you are alive, means you are processing important things, means you are moving in the right direction.
I’ve learned a new lesson this past winter: I can enjoy the season that is usually the hardest for me. I can see the beauty through the storm. I can enjoy the cold season as I wait for warm, sunny days ahead.
A wise man once said, “sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow the most.” I invite you to see the beauty in your life, in your struggles, in your difficult relationships, even in your pain. Sometimes it’s your focus on the problem that’s the problem.
Look up, look around, look behind you and enjoy the magnificent views.
Written by BRIGIT ATKIN, Brightworks by Brigit.
This article was first published in St. George Health and Wellness magazine.