What I Learned This Winter

Every season an author I enjoy, Emily P. Freeman, shares a What I’ve Learned This Season post, where she pauses and reflects on all that she’s learned in this past season before moving onto the next one. I really love this concept, and I enjoy reading her lists because they’re full of serious, silly, sacred, and sometimes useful things.

As I’m getting back into the habit of writing, I thought I’d share my list for Winter–a definite mix of the silly, sacred, serious, and useful things I learned these last three months.

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Time with my pups is therapy

Winter is hard for me. It has been since I was a teen and realized 1. I’m not too fond of snow and 2. I really need the sun to feed my joy. Winter around the midwest hasn’t been too bad this year, but I’ve still found myself worn down. Between work stress, starting-a-family issues, and the craziness of the holidays, I’ve come to realize that spending just 10 minutes a day really leaning into my pups by paying attention to them and playing with them actually lifts my spirits too. I mean, look at those faces? How could one not be encouraged.

There was a time–like the whole last two years of the puppy stage–where my anxiety got the best of me with these two, but now that they are learning and growing and I’m learning and growing, I actually really look forward to getting home from work and their excitement. It’s crazy to me how a dog can just loves us so unconditionally, and be so darn excited every time we walk through the door. But they do just that every. single. day. As I’m learning to shift my anxiety to joy around them, choosing to love and not be upset, they’ve become a sort of therapy to my heart + soul this season. Darth Daisy, who is my husband’s dog through and through, is starting to finally warm up to me (and listen!) and Gatsby has become my little writing buddy. In this time of waiting before kids, I’m really joyful that we have these two around.

img_0636I really need to break up with pizza

A few years ago, we jumped into the Whole30 craze and followed one to a T. At the time, I learned a lot about my relationship with food and that there are several things that my body just doesn’t do well eating. I thought it would be easy to transition and give up certain foods but it has been a hard two years filled with too much pizza and multiple, failed, Whole 30’s to reset my system. This winter got crazy with food as it always does with the holidays and the fact that I just don’t always feel like cooking, but in the last few months I’ve realized I need to change my mindset around what I’m eating. Pizza is my arch nemesis–I love it but it does not love me. In fact, it’s not just pizza but just about all dairy and gluten. And truth it, I know how these foods affect me and that I’m miserable after eating them but in the moment, I don’t want to think about that. I know there’s a way to break up with pizza, I just haven’t found it yet.

emma-simpson-149654Coloring my hair makes me feel more alive

Before all the cool kids were highlighting their hair with bright colors, I was the girl in junior high using hair mascara to streak my hair a different hue every day. It washed out, so my mom would let me. I remember getting made fun of by the cool kids for being weird, but I loved those bright green, blue, orange, and other colored streaks and embraced my crazy hair-color phase. Then I grew up and it wasn’t acceptable in “real” jobs. But two years ago, on a whim, I streaked my hair with permanent teal and felt so joyful! Then, everyone was doing it so I let it fade, but this winter, I decided the multi-colored hair has always been a part of me and the purple highlights became permanent. When I came home after my hair appointment in January, I told my husband I feel more creative. I just feel more alive, as if I’m embracing my design.

bookFantasy books feed my soul

I know that I’m in the midst of hosting a reading challenge that’s supposed to be getting you out of your genre-reading box, but you guys. I just can’t help it. I’ve learned this winter that fantasy books really are my jam. I tend to be a seasonal reader anyway, reading more lighthearted, realistic contemporaries in the summer and darker, heavier fantasies in the winter, but even with Spring approaching, I don’t see my fantasy pile decreasing anytime soon. There’s just something about magic, and escape, and the elements of fantasy that feed my reader soul.

bibleMy morning Bible Study + Coffee time is desperately needed to help me start off my day

I’ve never really had a great habit of quiet time and daily Bible reading. But last year, I knew I really wanted to celebrate the Advent season by being intentional about studying the Word. I settled on the She Reads Truth Advent study and bought a study book so I’d have something tangible, and convinced my hubby to do the He Reads Truth  study along with me. It was hard, but we cultivated the habit of opening our Bibles every night to study. Because I also wanted to do another devotional, I found another Advent study to do in my mornings and I worked on getting up early to study. Wouldn’t you know that after awhile, the habit stuck? And that I loved it? There’s this amazing thing I have called an automatic coffee maker that I can set and then wake up to freshly brewed coffee, waiting for me when I walk down the stairs. I pour myself a cup, let the monsters–I mean pups–out, cuddle up with my heated blanket and then settle in with the Truth.

In the last three months, there have been a few mornings I’ve missed my studying because I was either super tired and snoozed or woke up and scrolled through Facebook too long–and boy were those days hard! I’ve stuck with the She Reads Truth studies because 1. they change up about every month or so (except their longer ones!) and 2. they are so rich in Truth and heart-truths. I’ve been a fan of SRT since it’s conception, but I’ve always just followed along on their website. Having the study books is a GAME CHANGER, and have really contributed to my devotional time. Slowly, the 5 am hour has become my favorite part of the day. Jesus + Coffee +pups curled up on my lap are my favorite way to start the day, only to be made better if I could transition into writing time, but alas, for now work calls.

Needless to say, I welcome the early hours now because of all that they hold.
The Spirit speaks in the quiet places, and rooting myself in the Word first thing sets the tone for the rest of my day.

I know winter isn’t officially over yet, but I’m excited for all the Spring holds. I feel as if we’re in another busy season, and right now, my soul is struggling with that. So I’m taking steps to slow down, like disconnecting, and really learning to cleave into the quiet and bring rest to my soul.
But I am hopeful for this next season–perhaps because it means Summer is on the horizon.

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What has your winter been like? Any lessons you’ve learned that you’ll be carrying over into Spring?

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