I promised myself that I wasn’t going to refer to winter on the blog until the 21st of December, but now that the trees have lost all their leaves and leaving the house not wrapped up in a chunky blanket scarf is a sign of insanity, I do have to admit to myself that winter has well and truly arrived in Heidelberg. Winter can be a tricky season: When the days are short and grey, it is often harder to stay positive and to see the bright sight of things and we have to work harder to motivate ourselves to keep active and to not withdraw into ourselves so much that we forget to live. I think it is therefore all the more important that we make a conscious effort to appreciate the opportunities that come with this time of the year and that's why I have decided to write myself another seasonal bucket list.
At the end of September, I wrote myself a list of all the things I wanted to do and achieve in fall. I was tired of time seemingly just flying by and I didn’t want to feel like life was just passing me by without me even noticing and keeping a little bucket list was a great way to hold myself accountable in embracing the season and in being productive in a way that felt soul-warming rather than disheartening. I’m endeavouring to do the same this winter, but rather than write a list with specific things I want to do, I have come up with six mantras that I hope will guide my way in the following months and especially in the new year. I have a very busy and stressful time ahead of me and so I want to cultivate a strong mindset that can see me through the upcoming challenges and I think that these little guidelines will help me do just that.
1. I am not going to complain about the cold.
It seems that as soon as the temperatures start to drop, everything I hear from other people is moaning about the weather. I’m not particularly fond of the cold and the rain either, but it’s one of the realities of living in Germany in winter and there’s no point in constantly complaining about something that you’re powerless to change. I don’t want to be weight down by unnecessary negativity, so I’m vowing to not grumble about the weather this winter (well, at least not too much!) and instead be prepared for the elements by wearing appropriate cloths and actually carrying an umbrella.
2. I am not going to complain about the darkness.
I don’t find the cold too hard to deal with, but one thing that I definitely do struggle with in winter is the lack of daylight, especially on gloomy days when the sun has an especially hard time breaking through the clouds. But as is the case with the weather, no amount of complaining is going to magically increase our sun exposure, so there is also no point in being negative about the darkness - especially knowing that there are plenty of regions in the world that have much shorter days! I rather want to savor the fact that I can actually watch the sunrise in the mornings these days and that staying in to watch a great documentary (I’m loving Tales by Light on Netflix right now and have also only just discovered Planet Earth!) is very much socially acceptable right now.
3. I am not going to bully myself into making any extreme resolutions for the new year.
While I have always been a huge fan of setting myself goals and resolutions, I am going to take a conscious step back from this practice in 2017 because I don’t want to fall prey to the wish to become a completely new person come January 1st. I might write an entire post about this topic in the new year, but my thought process is essentially that I can make changes to myself or my life at any time of the year and that I don't want to tie myself down to unrealistic expectations that both don't actually serve me and that I don't really desire deep down in my heart. Instead, I want to learn how to be acceptive of the fact that I can live well despite sometimes feeling like I don't have anything in life figured out.
4. I will head outdoors as often as possible.
Heading out into nature always does wonders for my happiness levels, but even a short walk through the city never fails to lift my spirit. In winter, the temptation to just stay inside all the time can be strong, though, and so I want to remind myself to go outdoors as often as possible, even if I just get off the tram one stop earlier or head to appointments with a few extra minutes to spare, so I can take a more scenic walking route. Weather-permitting, I do plan to take a few longer walks over the Christmas holidays, though, to soak up as much daylight and much needed fresh air as I can.
5. I will cook a few comforting dishes.
This wouldn’t be my bucket list without a list of the dishes I want to prepare this season! Winter is a time for comfort food and I want to nourish my body and my soul with a good mixture of healthy and maybe occasionally slightly more indulging foods to warm me from the inside. On my list of things to make are French Onion Soup, Coq Au Vin, Sheperd’s Pie and all the kale I can get my hands on. This year, I am also again in charge of our Christmas dinner which is honestly my favorite thing about the holidays – I have compiled my menu already and, who knows, maybe I will actually manage to photograph it this year?
6. I will embrace hygge.
Hygge may be at the verge of becoming an over-hyped trend aiming to sell us more fancy candles, but I really do believe that embracing this Scandinavian philosophy is essential for having a positive and uplifiting winter season. All my winter mantras relay to hygge in some way, so it may seem redundant to mention it as a separate one, but since these five letters sum up the mindset I want to achieve this winter so perfectly, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have one goal to sum all others up.
What is on your winter bucket list?