Lest you all think I've fallen into a deep depression based on my last post, I thought I should write a follow-up on my attempt to deal with this dreadful, cloudy weather. I think there is a time and space for being real, venting, and admitting that sometimes things about life get the best of me, especially because it can be encouraging to hear that I'm not alone in my struggle. But I also think it's important to quickly start making my way back out of the pit once I've admitted that's where I've fallen.
Here is a list of what helps me keep my happiness in spite of weather I wish I could change. These are things I do have control over.
1. Take a cue from the birds.
I've noticed lately that even when it's cloudy and raining, the birds continue to chirp, as if it's a lovely, sunny spring day. It is a welcome reminder that spring is, indeed, here. I figure that if birds can sing even in the clouds, so can I. Might as well choose to be joyful. So I pretend it's lovely and "springy" and thank God for the song of the birds.
I hate being cold, and one thing that always warms me up is working out. I started making it a point to go to the gym - not for my vanity or even physical health, but just to feel warm! It works. Bonus, exercising also produces endorphins, so I get an extra boost of "happy" when I make this a priority. Exercise often goes on the back burner when I'm busy, but I'm realizing more and more how important it is for overall health.
3. Eat cashews
I love cashews, and they are basically amazing. They are full of healthy minerals which can help prevent lots of diseases. Not only that, they are shown to lower anxiety and depression - in fact, in Food Matters it is suggested that two handfuls of cashews are equal to a dose of Prozac. Isn't it great that food can actually help you feel better? I love adding them to recipes or having a handful or two a day. They satisfy my salty cravings, but I try to make sure I don't eat too many cashews, since they are high in calories and fat.
4. Make time for something you love.
I love music, and I love playing my guitar and singing. I lose track of time when I'm playing, and I often have to limit myself once I start, otherwise I wouldn't get anything else done during the day. But I don't usually make time for it, since it is just a hobby and I figure I have more important things to focus on. Fortunately, next weekend I'm leading the worship at a women's conference for my mother-in-law, so it gives me an excuse to play a lot more to prepare. Sometimes I forget how much I love it, but I've been reminded how important it is to make time for things that bring joy, even if it's only for twenty minutes a week.
5. Wear bright colors.
Bright colors typically surround me anyway, but it just makes it feel like I'm being a rebel when it's cold and rainy and I'm wearing red pants and a bright yellow shirt. I love being a rebel. I even bought a cheap pair of bright sunglasses from Old Navy for that day when I actually need sunglasses. I also recommend painting your nails a fun, spring color in the hope that one day you'll actually be able to wear sandals. See? It's all about hope and being ready once the sun and warmth make their appearance.
6. Planning to be out of town for 3 of the 4 weekends in April.
It's no secret that April is my least favorite month (reasons are listed here), but this year I'm doing everything I can to enjoy this time of year and have a good attitude about it. Part of that is by planning to be out of town a lot. The first weekend in April was Easter, so that was easily a blessed weekend. This weekend James and Monica came to visit, and we made our way to a little Inn for a time of relaxation. It's still rainy and yucky outside, but it's more fun when friends are around, and it gets us out of our usual routine. I'll be in Fallon for the last two weekends of the month (where it will be warm and sunny, according to the weather forecast!) and I'll be with my awesome Swenson family. I know it's not possible for everyone to have little trips like this planned, but I'm thankful it worked out this year to be busier this month so I have less time to focus on the weather.
7. Have fun California friends come visit.
As previously mentioned, James and Monica are here, which always makes for a good time. We're constantly laughing when they're around, yet I appreciate their insight and always love those serious conversations about life, marriage, and God.
8. Take delight in each light-filled hour.
"Oh, how sweet the light of day, and how wonderful to live in the sunshine! Even if you live a long time, don't take a single day for granted. Take delight in each light-filled hour, remembering that there will also be many dark days." - Ecclesiastes 11:7-8
A few days this month have been surprisingly sunny and warm, completely proving the weather forecasts wrong. On those days, I was unabashedly cheerful. I couldn't help myself. I soaked it in, utterly grateful for something as simple as warmth and light. It reminded me of this passage, which is one of my favorites. I know those dark, rainy days aren't over, so when the weather is lovely, I want to take delight in each moment. That way, when the ugly weather returns, I have those light-filled memories to last me until the next beautiful day. I don't want to take a single day for granted. I want to choose to be grateful for every day, even the gray ones, because I think the key to happiness is choosing gratitude.
So there you have it, my list of ways I cope when I need extra help being happy and hopeful.
Plus I remember that I get to hang out with my best friend all the time. And as long as I have him, I can deal with anything.