It's not the gray days or the cold temperatures that make me feel melancholy. But this time of year is tough. It's not the winter season but the transition to the new year that preoccupies me with the frustration of things I didn't accomplish in the previous 365 days and the anxious weight of my self-inflicted expectations for the next journey around the sun.
And this year has been more difficult than usual. My feelings of inadequacy in my job, my relationships and showing up in the community have felt particularly accute. Being the steward of the #LoveMnWinter series made me feel less alone.
Yes, there was humor and joy and badass empowerment in this year's posts but there was also vulnerability. Candid acknowledgment that sometimes we struggle to summon the strength to do any more than just make it through another day — and we don't have the pretend that it's not hard. That we all need moments of stillness and silence and straight-up surviving until the internal and external weather warms.
So huge thanks to everyone who contributed; I know I'm not the only one who took strength and solidarity in your knowledge and contributions to the Grease Rag community! In case you missed a post, here's a recap / run-down with some of my favorite phrases or tips!
Day 1: Snow goof!
Day 2: Jump up and down and shake all of the feelings out of your body. Leave them there... Remember that we are deserving of love, kindness, comfort, hugs, compassion, & dumplings.
Day 3: Collected winter memories...
Day 4: Often the hardest part of winter biking for me is deciding to do it — getting dressed and getting out the door with enough time to make my trip without feeling rushed and panicked. The difficulty, both of the deciding to do and the actual doing, is part of what makes winter biking so much fun.
Day 5: I love turning on my blinky lights and gliding out into the empty streets like a tiny human shooting star, pedaling into the still unknown with endless possibility.
Day 6: Winter is my favorite time to drink port wine and tell myself I’m going to become a writer, a poet, or chess master. I've never bothered with these sorts of lies in June, July, or August.
Day 7: People view me as a badass, while I view myself as someone who is just living their life, and enjoying a new adventure with new friends and old friends.
Day 9: This winter, I have been summoning my inner Matilda* and have spent so much time in the stacks that I have even developed relationships with some of the library staff.
Day 10: "Stay loose, flexible but firm," kept going through my head, from the wisdom of Grease Rag(gers). That trifecta got me through a terrifying but thrilling ride.
Day 11: This is a season of letting go, stripping down. Trees have let go of their flowers and leaves, we’ve put our gardens to bed. There isn’t an outward sign of growth — the work is underneath, in our roots.
Day 12: My winter body gets to transform. It gets its own sensations that my sumer body will never understand.
Day 13: This winter, I radically accept reality. Bad days are a fact of life. I am allowed to feel cold and lonely and wonder if the snow will ever melt. Because those feelings are just as real as the exhilaration of arriving at work after a commute I was ready and excited for.
Day 14: When I’m biking, I’m truly by myself. There is no one to entertain, no calls or messages I can answer. It’s just me and the bike.
Day 16: A few weeks ago, on a snowy February night, I leisurely scanned the colorful cards, smiling at the beautiful and silly sentiments from dozens of fellow cycling enthusiasts.
Day 17: I have been working to balance when it is important to honor these moments of low energy by cuddling up and hunkering down. And, I’ve also been working to notice when I have the urge to rattle this stuck-ness, by boosting my energy and pulling myself into a different headspace... Almost always, the first step is getting on my bike.
Day 18: There’s no time for bullshit. On the brutally cold days, I come home and it is all I can do to eat and go to sleep. I live more essentially, thinking not of wants but of needs. The clarity of it stuns me, when my body and my heart demand that they come first.
Day 19: Pretty much everything is more fun and enjoyable when shared with a loved one, whether they be your significant other, friend, or even random stranger that gives you a thumbs up for slogging in the opposite direction through salty slush.
Day 20: Biking in the winter has changed my life. It's not always easy and has tested my limits — physically, mentally, emotionally — but, I know I'm better for it! I'm thankful for the bright sun on cold winter days, for how my body has adapted to weather changes, getting time outside, learning how to layer and thinking about how I spend my time differently.
Day 21: NO SHAME! Seriously! If I feel like taking the bus, or driving, or staying home, no one shames me for not being "hard core" enough. You all understand that we need to listen to our bodies and do what is right because winter is harsh.
Day 22: Besides washing your hands and drinking lots of water, what else can you do to give your body its best chance at warding off illness? Fire cider and raw honey.
Day 23: Warmer days and green things coming from the ground is coming soon. Today is February 23, and there are 26 days until the first day of spring.
Day 24: It's weird that a few months ago the trail had so many people on it, and there were the sounds of nature. I had to strip down to my sports bra because of the heat. Today I was praying my hand warmers would last a bit longer, and wishing there were more people around me to enjoy the trail and view.
Day 25: All of these things started off as a tiny ice cube, but I started exploring and discovered a whole iceberg of things to learn and people to meet. Did anything get produced? "Done?" Not really. But my relationships are growing, my brain is being fed, and I wouldn't have had the attention span in the full swing of summer. I love winter for being a blank canvas for my busy mind.
Day 26: I love walking through fresh snow when it's late at night and you're alone.
Day 27: In summer, I like beer and kool aid. In winter, I like booze and coco.