Last winter sucked ass. There’s just no polite way of stating that.
Okay, yes, we’re in Seattle, and the PNW is not know for being the sunniest of places. We know that. But last winter broke records and nearly broke the entire region. There were 9 days of recorded sun from October 1st to March 28th.
9 days of sun. Only three of those were full sunny days. The rest were cloudy, and we had record amounts of rain.
That alone will make someone a bit twitchy, punchy, and unwilling to leave their couch fort. Add my life’s worth of stress and anxiety and history of depression and I flat out ghosted life at one point. There was a week where I just stayed in bed during the school hours binge watching Netflix because I just couldn’t do anything else.
I have since gotten a therapist and a light therapy lamp.
But this past month, even with its gloriously sunny autumn days full of color, I’ve been living with a shadow looming over my shoulder. I realized I was dreading the winter months. Flat out dread people. Not that I was afraid of the gloom, but afraid I wasn’t up for the gloom. I don’t want to ghost out on life again, spend time in bed, waste entire days doing nothing because doing anything is an effort.
It doesn’t help that my life here is a bit lonely. I didn’t realize it, but my therapist pointed it out after I mentioned how I spend my days alone. My friends all work. I spend my daytime hours alone. I can spent five hours of my awake time having only the dogs as company, and then spend my evenings with only Maura for company. And Maura isn’t a conversationalist.
My natural tendency is to cave a little. Built a couch fort and hide. Add record breaking gloom and rain and a crappy social life and there suddenly isn’t enough Vitamin D in the world to break that spiral.
So this year, I’m trying to be proactive. Find reasons to get up, get out the door, things to do when I am home.
Step One was making my space happier and less stressful. The clutter and chaos wasn’t working for me. I’d see the mess and decide I couldn’t do something more “fun” – like write – because I should be cleaning up. But then I would be overwhelmed by the cleaning, or just not wanting to clean, so I’d just waste time online or on Netflix, not doing anything.
So while it was sunny, I tore my house apart, decluttered everything, shifted things that needed shifting, donating things that I didn’t need, crying because OMG, I just made my house worse, wtf have I done? – and then get back to dealing with shit.
And now it’s dealt with. Well, except for the laundry room. But I can shut the door on that.
Step Two – I got out my light therapy lamp while it was still sunny. I have it here, just to the left of me at my desk, shining next to my face as I type. And I got a big bottle of gummy Vitamin D. Because Vitamin D deficiency is just a way of life in the PNW.
Step Three – I’m reconsidering my mellow/angsty playlists on Spotify. Not that I don’t love my mellow/angsty playlists. But on a gloomy day, I need something to combat things, and that’s not going to be Adele. Oh, I still can’t go full Justin Timberlake, but maybe some Script and Train.
Step Four – I’m banning myself from crawling back into bed. Step One has made this more possible. There is a difference between watching a couple shows from the sofa and laying in bed.
Step Five – find reasons to leave the house. This is the hardest step because there aren’t a lot of options outside of shopping during the day. But leaving the house is necessary. Getting outside is necessary. Having a reason to dress like a normalish human is necessary.
Step Six – and really, I should list this one higher, is writing. Not just writing, but finishing the edits of the book I’ve been writing. I need to get that done and send it out into the world, because I need to have that accomplishment. Because having been a stay at home mom for 21 years, I have this feeling of being useless. Let’s be frank – stay at home moms are treated like idiots who can only talk about diapers and car pool lines. We have no value outside of our house. And once our kids are grown enough, we’re expected to go back to work. I didn’t do that. I thought about it a couple years ago, finding a part time job, but the reality is that it’d be hard to find a job that fits around Maura’s schedule. And not to brag, but we don’t need the piddly income I’d make (because high paying jobs for women who’ve stayed at home for 21 years are surprisingly few).
I’ve spent my entire adult life talking about getting published. Right now, it seems like it’s been nothing but talk. I’ve not been disciplined enough to get anything done up to now, and quite frankly, life kept throwing shit at me like it was a monkey at the zoo. But now, now I’m close enough I can see it as a reality. I just need to finish.
So yeah, that’s my plan for this winter. Last winter, I spent it just trying to survive. This winter, I’d like to do a little more than that.
And with that sad, I woke up to fecking snow falling.