I #lovemnwinter! Today, I Love Ulu’s Joy.
I’ve thought a lot about this post. What’s the best theme? Should I write about winter biking? Oh no! I signed up for the 29th day! Does it have to be extra special!? Ahhhh! I’ve been racking my brain… What do I find most joyful about winter? I keep coming back to the same thing. Ulu. My darling, winter-loving puppy, Ulu. (Shout out to Mariah LaQua for having the same idea!).
This is Ulu (pronounced oo-loo). An ulu is a type of knife used by Inuit women.
Let me preface this proclamation of love and joy by saying to those of you who are not dog owners or don’t quite understand why people are so obsessed with their pets, I sympathize. But I can’t empathize. This ode is simply not for you. However, I am not alone and I offer an interesting scientific fact to justify myself just a little bit.
Research shows that human-dog interactions elicit the same type of oxytocin positive feedback loop as seen between mothers and their infants. This means that when I look into Ulu’s eyes or pet her, I release the same bonding chemical that is released when a mother breastfeeds her baby. To make things crazier, Ulu also releases this chemical! Wut? I find this evolutionary fact astounding.
I loved the idea of this collaborative project. I struggle big time in the winter and by February I’m usually at my lowest point. I find it hard to get motivated, but over the last three years Ulu has served as my inspiration.
This is how Ulu has always felt about the winter:
She is more than obsessed. For Ulu, it’s a full body experience. Her joyful energy seems to burst from her body at the sight of a fresh snow. Or any snow really.
One of our favorite places to go, that I’d have never discovered if not for Ulu, is the Minnehaha Dog Park. It’s an amazing set of trails through the forest along the Mississippi. Ulu loves the water, no matter how cold, and we often follow deer paths up the bluffs to discover new places and sniff out new things.
Since Ulu entered my life, I’ve been inspired to get out more all year round, but especially in the winter. She inspires me to embrace the cold, move, see new places, and connect with nature.
But Ulu is good at being lazy too.
The winter is a constant battle with my depression, which is worse this time of year to be sure. I’m trying to do a better job giving myself permission to be lazy and take days to myself to be unproductive without feeling guilty. Ulu is always down for a late morning full of cuddling.
And she encourages me to have fun, chase her around the backyard during a snow storm, and embrace the Minnesota winter.
About this author: Stephanie grew up in rural Michigan and currently lives in Minneapolis, works in St. Paul, and loves the Twin Cities. She likes riding her bike, eating cucumbers, and amateur giant squid researching.
Read about this collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls, or check out last year's #lovemnwinter posts.