Monday Musings…. Almost Home

I hate winter. I don’t know whether it’s my perpetual feeling of never being able to get warm enough. Or maybe it’s getting up while it is still pitch-black outside. Or watching the sun go down while I’m still working. From my perspective, there’s not a whole lot of reasons to jump up for joy in the winter months.

As we continue in quarantine, though, the bright side is that many of us don’t have to go out. We don’t have to brace ourselves against the wind and the snow. We can just cozy up by our space heaters, look outside at the white stuff, all the while gazing at our weather apps to see how low the temperature can go.

Well, I’m always trying to improve upon my weaknesses, and so I've decided to push myself and try and embrace the cold. This is a huge challenge for me, as it’s both a physical and psychological battle. Physically, my body abhors cold. I’m still wearing pants and a sweater in 33-degree heat and not breaking a sweat. I think I’m the only woman on the planet who wouldn’t mind getting hot flashes. (I know, I better be careful what I wish for). So, I know, in order to crush this challenge, I’m going to have to wear multiple layers of clothing. But the other part is: I just don’t like it. My mind convinces me that I will hate it and I want to give up before I even put my third pair of long johns on. The lure of staying in the comfort of my home is so strong. It's so tempting to say: today’s too cold. Maybe tomorrow.

How often do we do that in life? Put off doing what we could be doing right now. We’re phenomenal excuse makers, justifiers of our choices, and avoiders of anything that doesn't bring us pleasure. This is a weakness we all share. So, I told myself to suck it up. We’re just talking about the cold, after all. There are far greater challenges in life.

Now, no matter what we do in life, it’s a reflection of our character and values. Mental stability comes from living true to those two things, as well as from being consistent, in and out of season. So, I told myself that I’ve got to break through this weakness and push forward!

My plan, and my commitment, is to continue hiking right through this winter. Every Saturday, I get up in the dark, put on my multiple levels of gear, and head out with my friends. I kind of feel like Ralphie’s younger brother Randy, from A Christmas Story. I can barely bend my knees to walk down my steps. But I’m warm! Barrier number one crushed.

Actually hiking though is another matter. The first kilometer is always brutal. Especially when it’s -14 and the wind is howling in your face, and your eyes and nose are streaming. How is this fun? - is the instant thought my weak brain starts whining about. But whining is only going to magnify my weakness. I've got to continually change that mindset or I'll become frozen in my tracks.

Two weeks ago, my glasses were fogging up so badly as my breathing in my balaclava was creating an upward draft. With extremely poor visibility, I decided to ditch my glasses. I figured it was safer to walk with blurred eyesight, than to try to peer through a small circle of clear vision, the size of a dime. Obstacle overcome.

As the temperatures remain well below zero, my water bladder starts to freeze around the 8 km mark. Being so cold though, my body is trying to conserve heat, so I’m not sweating a ton, which I guess is a good thing. And I always can resort to white snow if I’m desperate. Plan B readily available.

Now, once I round a certain part of the trail, everything changes. I know the end is coming. It’s amazing how my mind shifts at that realization. I don’t seem to feel the cold as much. My bulky wear is more flexible as I’ve walked and climbed and descended, without even noticing it. I am no longer thinking about thirst. My step is a little quicker and my mind is clearer, as I tell myself that the worst is over! I just have a little bit more to go! I’m almost home!

I wonder, during this pandemic, if we took our challenges and saw them as obstacles to overcome, rather that roadblocks to resist. To learn to adapt and have Plan B's, C's and D's should things threaten to take us off course. Can we steer ourselves to tackle what’s in front of us, even when we don’t feel like it. Especially when we don’t feel like it. Whether that’s housework or homework, a project that needs fixing, a promise to yourself or someone else that you’ve been putting off. You’ve got your own thing that you ‘hate’ or your own weakness that you’re wanting to work through. We all do.

So, move yourself to the starting line, set your intention, and get after it. The first minute, the first page, the first part of the plan is always the hardest. You’ve got to resist giving in to the “later” mindset. Once you get going, you’ll build momentum, and you’ll find yourself going into the second minute, the second page, the second instruction. You’re almost home!

When interruptions happen, when you don’t have the right tools, when you pressed delete instead of save, roll with it and adapt. Resist the reflex reaction to stop, quit or give up. Think Plan B. Remember you’re almost home!

When life gets difficult or tedious or doesn’t make sense, imagine how good you’ll feel when you’ve figured it out, when you’ve completed the task, and when you’ve fulfilled the role you were given. You’ll know you’re almost home!

Most days you can’t see the end from the beginning, but the moment you get out of bed and start your day’s journey, you’re that much closer to home. Your daily strivings are not meant to keep you comfortable, but rather to remind you that you can be made strong in weakness. Your eyes need to be continually on the prize that’s awaiting you. When you’ll finally be home.

Ok, now I think I'll bundle up and walk to the post office. And you know what, it's only -8 degrees!

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© 2020 Connect the Thoughts: Charlene Mahon