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I don’t love winter. Okay fine, I hate it. No amount of hot chocolate or red wine by the fire could change how much I loathe the sting of freezing wind, or the discomfort of dry skin, or the fact that it’s dark by five o’clock. Here’s my problem: there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. If I’ve learned anything it’s that life’s a lot easier when you lean into the things you can’t change. So I’m trying to just go with it — to surrender.
If only it were that easy. I’ve always resented the implied (or assumed) ease in surrender — that simply by making the decision to let something go, I can release what no longer serves me. I’m here to say it doesn’t work that way. I mean, I’ve been trying to let go of my resistance to winter (among other things) ever since I decided I was tired of feeling like a victim. Still, I find myself pushing against the cold, dark reality of what I can’t change.
Surrender is a paradox. On one hand, it’s the opposite of doing. It’s undoing. It’s an experience of peace that comes from radical acceptance. On the other, surrender demands action. We can’t simply will ourselves to surrender, and it takes determination to reframe our relationship with whatever it is we want to release. I see it both as a truce with whatever I was once in conflict with, and also the work that needs to happen in order to get me to that state.
As it turns out, winter is an excellent time for this kind of contemplation. Here’s what I’m working out: What if letting go is about leaning into our resistance? What do I mean by that? Well, what if it’s not the thing we’re resisting that’s the problem, but the resistance itself—the story we tell ourselves about the thing that creates conflict and suffering? What if by unraveling our relationship with our resistance we could release its hold on us?
Case in point: I don’t like winter, but more importantly, I like not liking it. I identify as being a victim of winter and would prefer to mope around until spring instead of figuring out a way to be less miserable. Because, for whatever reason, I find satisfaction in my misery. I don’t have to take responsibility for how I feel—I can just blame the cold. Surrendering to winter is about making peace with why I love to hate winter. Only then can I reframe my relationship with my resistance and move on with my life.
And, to be clear, I’m just talking about winter, but yeah: this applies to everything else and then some.
While I get to work on that, I’m taking my whole *lean into your resistance* bit to heart. I’ve committed to some seasonal rituals around the themes of light, warmth, and introspection.
For starters: I’m embracing the darkness by creating light. I pulled out all my candles and have been lighting them first thing in the morning and again in the evening. I’ve really enjoyed the act of lighting them—it has sparked moments of silence I wouldn’t have otherwise found. I even splurged on a candle made by the oldest candle maker in the world, Cire Trudon. I’ve wanted one for forever. I have to say, everything about buying that candle, from making a special trip to their store in Soho, to picking out a scent, to letting the box sit on my table so I could enjoy the anticipation of lighting it, to finding a special place for it to live in my home, to finally lighting it was so, so special.
And fine, it’s cold. I cleaned out my closet and organized all my sweaters. I invested in some comfy loungewear to elevate my time indoors. I’m taking baths (something I haven’t enjoyed since before I was pregnant). I found some miracle creams and restocked my beloved moisturizer, all of which have been a godsend for my dry, sensitive skin. I’m practicing abhyanga, or self-massage. It’s been lovely.
And sure, the days are short, the nights are long, and there’s no life anywhere. I brought back my weekly ritual of buying flowers for my home. I found the perfect red lipstick which has literally brought my face back to life! Instead of crashing on the couch to watch Netflix, I’ve been curling up in bed at night to read. It has given me what has felt like found time—to get lost in a story, or to study yoga philosophy, or to journal. As a working mom, this time has been a gift.
Embracing winter has been a practice in making the most of what I hate about the season. What I’ve found is a shift in attitude. I’m loving the ceremony I’ve created within a reality I can’t change. And it gives me hope, because while the seasons will inevitably change, there’s a lot in life that feels permanent. It reminds me of that Viktor Frankl quote: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Maybe I could grow to love winter. Probably not, but I’m willing to entertain the idea. I’d say that’s growth.