Friday, November 16, 2012

Gray November Blues

I was in my twenties when I first realized that I hated the month of November.

It makes sense, really. I live in Minnesota. By November, days are short, skies are cement gray, and temps are cold. I came to picture a typical November day as bleak and blustery, a sharp wind slapping my face and driving ice crystals right into my skin.

It always felt personal, as though some weather god took pleasure in inflicting pain. "Slap! Feel that sting? Now I'm going to make your eyes water, pinch your fingers, blow away your scarf, toss your hair, and penetrate through all seven layers you put on this morning!" Understanding cold fronts and high-pressure systems provided no comfort whatsoever.

Throughout my work life, transportation complicated the picture. The evil weather gods could make the buses run late, stall my car, create glare ice and ridiculous pileups, or encase a parked car in ice and snow that had to be chipped away while your fingers and toes froze. Again, hearing the familiar sound of ice scrapers all through the neighborhood was no solace.

I have come to realize that while November can still be difficult, most of its days don't live up (down?) to my worst expectations. Besides, I now have ways to cope that I didn't always have.

* I am retired. If I want to stay home during an especially nasty weather event, I usually can. 

* By now I have assembled an excellent collection of warm boots, coats, mittens, fleece layers, ear muffs, scarves, etc. When I do go out, I go prepared.

* I no longer have to look professional or even presentable after battling the elements. Nobody at preschool or the grocery store cares whether my mascara is frozen into mud puddles at the corners of my eyes, or whether I'm wearing fashionable shoes.

* I've been taking Zoloft for years to help offset Seasonal Affect Disorder, a result of sunlight deprivation. Around mid-October I still begin to notice that my mood is dragging, but it's manageable. And I can take naps if necessary because have I mentioned? I'm retired.

* Remember when I said that not every November day is dreary and awful? It's true. And the best way to combat the November blues is to get out into those decent days, to see a little sunlight, breathe a bit of fresh air.

* Even when I can't be outside, I can remember to notice the sun shining, take a deep breath, and appreciate the cheery sight of it.

November brings nasty days, and it's the opening shot of a long winter to come. I'm trying to remember that I don't have to cope with all of that today.

Oh, and P.S.: The grandkids bring sunshine into even the darkest day.

Double P.S.: I just noticed that this is my 300th post!


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