11 Feb


Day 11 of Love MN Winter 2018


on February 11, 2018   comments 0

I #LoveMnWinter! Today, I love ritual.

By Julia Winkels


I was over winter early this year. For the first time I really felt that I suffered from the cold, a menacing force that  compounded my anxiety and fatigue. I began to dread leaving the house, whether it was climbing into my warmed-up car or braving the cold on my bike. I felt clumsy and irritated by the endless cycle of layering winter clothes. I began to simmer with self-loathing, frustration, and resentment because I wasn’t as tough as I “used to be,” since I found it all to be such a damn drag.

Until one day I came home. I walked through my back door, pulled it shut and turned the lock without thinking. I set my mittens and my backpack on the steps, bent to take off my boots. I unbuttoned my jacket and pulled my hat and scarf into the sleeve. And up to that very ordinary day I had found this process a oppressive chore, something I labored through because it’s winter and that’s just what we do — we cope. But as I reached to pick my backpack up, the thought crossed my mind that those 30 seconds weren’t a chore, but a ritual. The simple act of undressing from the cold had — has — become a mellow ritual that I rely on to keep the clockwork of my day ticking smoothly along. When I saw that little moment clearly, met it and accepted it and embrace it for what it is, my mind shifted completely.

In that moment, winter taught me a lesson, about stillness, about clarity, and above all, the power of ritual. 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. It’s a necessary and supportive process that I’ve come to love and crave. In the stark stillness of winter, I’m learning to embrace nourishing rituals. There is so much ease and sweetness in these little daily practices that gently guide me through my day. I feel so deeply grateful for them.

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and sign up to share a post in 2018 here. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

10 Feb


Day 10 of Loving MN Winter 2018


on February 10, 2018   comments 0

I #LoveMnWinter! Today, I love riding in a snowstorm.

By Claire Milldrum


This is my first full winter in Minnesota. All my friends from other cold weather states questioned my logic, but as we know, they were very wrong. Minnesota is great in the winter, in that there is both no expectation you have to leave your home but there’s enough to do that you choose to lose your toes anyway.

For about a month, I didn’t really bike. The logistics of getting to work that way were terrible, so I drove. And to be honest, biking should have taken precedence. Biking is the way I connect back to myself, and set my priorities for the day. So when I did start biking, I was totally unprepared for how different and exciting winter biking is.

I think my favorite day was the snowstorm on January 22, which revealed to me both how ridiculous but also how strong I am. Without consulting the weather, Frankie (my bike) and I went out to my office job. It was fine, beautiful even. Snow quickly began falling after this, and my boss sent me home at 2 p.m. Excited to try snow biking with no fat tires, I borrowed some cash from a friend in case I needed to get on a bus.


"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. I kept stopping as the car ruts I biked in would get turned into curves at intersections. I was cold, but not that edge of frostbite that I normally feel.

At Franklin and Park, my glasses got decrusted, and “what is wrong with me” went through my head, along with “I am a badass with a very cute butt.” I was about half of the way.


My commute usually takes 16 minutes; this took 32 minutes. Yet, I instinctively knew this. When at Marquette and 7th my bike chain gave up, I pulled off the road for the last time. I walked the rest of the way, just a couple of blocks. I put Frankie to bed in the apartment’s bike room, and imagined all the ice melting off of my trusty steed. I took a selfie, changed, and got a couple beers with a friend. Those two beers were some of the best I’ve ever had, as we watched the snow get deeper.


While I’m a summer kid through and through, I have learned a lot about myself in terms of how to handle tough situations like poorly maintained icy roads with no lights, or how to yell at people parked in my lane. Each day I don’t get to ride is a real lost opportunity, as each ride is precious. I will put away Frankie in a couple of months and take out Delores, my soulmate bike. But I’ll still miss Frankie and our struggling successes.


Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and sign up to share a post in 2018 here. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

09 Feb


Day 9 of Loving MN Winter 2018


on February 9, 2018   comments 1

I #LoveMnWinter! Today, I love reading.

By Lucy Roberts

Today I love Minnesota winter because it gives me the opportunity to spend hours at the library and get my reading game on.

I live in Hennepin County, and our library system rules! I could talk about the benefits of libraries forever. Most important to me, they are FREE places for community members to access a variety of resources and just spend time in a warm place. I’m grateful I can walk to my nearest library, so even when I’m feeling lazy I still have access to thousands of books, online resources and other humans with minimal effort on my end. 

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. I love how supportive they are of me (basically) loitering in their building for hours.


*Actual footage of me walking home from the library with all my books 

I love reading! And the cold winter temps, darker and shorter days have provided me the opportunity to say “yes” to reading and expanding my mind and saying “no” to going out.

Here is a list of books I’ve checked out from the library since December. I don’t recommend all of them, some of them are just fluff to take my mind off the cold, but some of them have really changed my mindset and resulted in new rituals.

  • The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton
  • Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, Rosalind Wiseman
  • The Blood of Emmett Till, Timothy B. Tyson
  • Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape, Peggy Orenstein
  • What Happened, Hillary Clinton
  • Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It!, Kris Carr
  • Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive, Kristen J. Sollee
  • Wheatgrass Nature's Finest Medicine: The Complete Guide to Using Grass Foods, Steve Meyerowitz; Robert Ross; Michael Parman; Nancy Flaxman
  • Unqualified, Anna Faris
    Why Suffer?: How I Overcame Illness & Pain Naturally, Ann Wigmore
  • The Curated Closet, Anuschka Rees
  • Year of No Sugar: A Memoir, Eve Schaub 

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and sign up to share a post in 2018 here. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

07 Feb


Day 7 of Love MN Winter 2018


on February 7, 2018   comments 2

I #LoveMnWinter. Today, I love popcorn.

By Patrick Weber


The past few weeks I have been trying to figure out how to sum up my first winter bike season. Popcorn. The smell of it as I heat up my hand warmers in the morning, and get ready to ride out at 5 a.m. in the darkness. I look forward to my morning commute — it's quiet, still, and always a new adventure with how the road conditions will be after a snowfall or a frigid night bringing icy roads. I enjoy dusting off the snow on my bike, and watching others on my street dust off snow on their cars and pre heating their vehicles as I heat up my own community with my own body. I keep in the back of my mind how the streets were so later on the Grease Rag road reports I can let my community know what to expect.


Winter season views are the most beautiful, and I get to enjoy them more as I bike past the glitterly lights and snow. Stay calm and beautiful, Minnesota.

After opening my coffee shop for the day, I get to enjoy a latte or earl grey tea, and warm up slowly and watch people as they walk through the building trying to stay warm, and I remember not too long ago my fingers were almost frozen while the rest of my body was overheating a bit from an extra layer.


Always fun to see who else joined me with biking on negative degree, snowy days. Some days, my bike is forever alone.

Going home for the day, I put my hand warmers in the microwave at work. Smell popcorn in the air, and ponder what I am going to do for the rest of the day. Maybe bike to a friend’s house. Enjoy the sun a bit more by talking a walk to get food. I get home and take off my gloves and popcorn smells remain on my hand and a smile is brought to my face.


Shout-out to Juice So Good for providing me daily ginger shots! Honestly without them I may have gotten the winter crud five times by now.

Popcorn. A simple treat, just like winter biking. You can add more flavor to it, or keep the it at the basics of corn and butter. I chose to keep things simple this year, and ride my normal commute bike, just with some winter flare. 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.


Oh yeah. Lookin’ good.

Thank you Grease Rag, and thank you to my big sister Carolyn for showing me the world of winter biking through community support, open shops, and sending me supplies. I look forward to riding out the rest of the season with you all, and enjoying that first day of spring together. Maybe we can have a group ride to an outdoor movie and enjoy some popcorn together.

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and sign up to share a post in 2018 here. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

05 Feb


Day 5 of Loving MN Winter 2018


on February 5, 2018   comments 1

I #LoveMnWinter! Today, I love the dark.

By Carolyn Szczepanski


I’ve always been an early riser.

I love the way the world feels at 5 a.m., still slumbering but with the undercurrent of dreams conjuring the hopeful trajectory of what the day will bring.

In winter, those pre-dawn hours feel all the more magical with the bright outline of snow edging the dark buildings, the tiny footprints of rabbits criss-crossing the yard, the soft crunch of powder and ice under my boots, the delicate strength of tree branches crackling against the sky like metallic lace, and the ritual of bundling up to meet nature at her most pointed.

But most of all 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. 


Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and sign up to share a post in 2018 here. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

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