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Winter Whine

Winter Whine

Molly writes...

Here in the northeastern part of the United States we are just now settling into the New England winter. In November and December the weather starts to change but the chilly air and the early snowfall is still romanticized with the excitement of the Holidays and blurred by the energy of the solstice. And at that point most of us are still enamored by the newness of the changing seasons.
Once the first of the year comes and goes, the festive decorations get packed up, the fanciful lights are put away, the once-welcomed chill has turned into just plain cold, and daylight seems like an endangered species. It is this time of year that people break out the winter whine. I am not talking about the fermented stuff. I am talking about the winter doldrums, the blahs, the “why do I live here in January” kind of whine.
Many people succumb to this type of seasonal depression. It is after all a very real thing. I, too, see it coming and for years around this time of year would settle in to my own winter whine and wallow into obsessing about when the first signs of spring would come.
A few years back as I was breaking out my own annual winter whine, and settling into the routine of trying to wish the winter away, when I was stopped in my tracks with a thought.
I was thinking about my mom and how she always enthusiastically talks about loving to do the dishes. My whole life she has practically shouted from the roof tops how much she enjoys this often-hated chore. Once I became an adult she let me in on her secret. She told me that she didn’t always love doing dishes. At some point she realized that as a mother and a homemaker you spend a good chunk of your life doing dishes so she decided that she would figure out a way to enjoy that time. And from that point on, set out to tell everyone including herself about her love of doing dishes. To this day she is adamant about being the first to volunteer to clear the table, load the dishwasher and scrub the pans and continues to passionately tell friends and family about her love any chance she gets.
Since digging into a Zentangle practice, I find its philosophies trickling into my everyday life. I have learned that there is beauty to be found almost everywhere.  I realized why the dish story came into my thoughts: In the midst of my annual winter whine I was getting caught up in wishing away actual months of my life every year. Winter lasts 3 sometimes 4 months in New England and I was wishing it away every year. Time where there truly is potential for beautiful moments. I thought to myself, if I am going to live here, I am going to have to learn to embrace this frozen time of year. After all one quarter of my life has been lived in winter.
So I took a moment and began to think about some of the things I love about winter in New England. I started with the small things like there are no mosquitos and no humidity. And then moved to things like the smell and warmth of a wood stove, hot tea with friends, cooking a stew all day, the brightness of the sun reflecting on the snow, snuggling in a fuzzy blanket, and a refreshing deep breath in the crisp cold air. Once I decided I was only going to focus on the things I loved about winter, I seemed to discover more. Lately I think about the time that January, February and March offers me. While the rest of the year seems to be filled with endless activity, this chilly time seems to slow things down. There seems to more time to spend wallowing in one Zentangle tile for hours, picking up that project you had been meaning to finish, or finally watching that movie you had been meaning to watch. Even work seems to offer a different pace and time to work on exciting projects. And then I think about the quiet of winter … the priceless quiet. All these amazing wonderful things that had been buried by my whine are now uncovered and fueled my new, found love for winter. Every time I feel myself sinking into some negative thought about winter I just say to myself, “I love winter.” And then force myself to think about one of those things on my list.
So I will not be indulging in any winter whine this winter … this weekend I will be looking forward to a long walk in the brisk air followed by relaxing by the warm fire with some hot tea, and my Zentangle supplies.
I leave you with this quote … that coincidently is inscribed on the wall above my mothers kitchen sink.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”
- Albert Camus



  • Doing dishes is a kind of meditation.I own a lot of mismatched crockery and cutlery, some handed down by relatives, old acquaintances, some bought at flea markets, or bits on sale from the kitchen shop. Every piece (nearly) has a story attached to it, deserves to be handled with care. So, it’s not so bad, washing up. Don’t let those dishes sense your fear!

    You could always try talking to them(now, now), and who knows some might even yield new ideas for zentangle patterns.

    Renee Schaeren on

  • Thanks for Winter Whine, Molly! I LOVE winter for all the reasons you found to enjoy it and more. To me it’s the most beautiful time of the year especially if there is snow. Thank goodness we have SNOW this winter! I cannot abide the heat of summer; thankfully Wisconsin has been spared from the excruciatingly hot temps. And Lake Michigan has saved us time and again from excessive heat. But I love all things about winter. . . especially the beauty of the colors of snow and the shadows on snow and the reflections of tree branches on snow or across the full moon that we had the other night, the sounds or absence of them after a snowfall, the prints of animals or my two dogs in the fresh-fallen white stuff. . . I could go on and on. Love curling up with a great read or a Zen-tangle under a cozy afghan in the window seat and keep track of the goings on outdoors while I remain toasty indoors surrounded by my hounds and plenty to do! Maybe even the dishes with my observation window above so I don’t miss any of the activity in the woods!!!

    marlene pechura on

  • As a child I loved snow. I loved playing in it, building castles, snowball fights and making a snow fort, and we made snow pudding, only using the white snow. I’ve skated and tried my hand(feet) at skiing

    now that I am retired I think about Mother Nature’s cycle. The little plants, seeds, and bulbs sleeping soundly in the deep dark rich soil. They need the snow to keep them hydrated until the get the call to wake up and grow.
    Then we see the magic of Mother Nature,the buds on trees and the shoots of new flowers. Suddenly we
    see the magic of Spring!

    Barbara Fritz-Elliott on

  • I love the winter-time but am definitely not a summer person. Maybe I can use this technique to eventually “love” summer!

    Tisha Cabral on

  • Greetings from Ontario,

    We are now experiencing ‘real’ winter with the temperatures dipping to -21C and with windchill factor -29C. Today it is snowing but sunny. I enjoy winter and laugh at folks who complain about it especially living in this part of the world in the winter! I grew up in Montreal so I am used to the winters. But I do not like the crazy drivers who still drive as if it was summer. 4 snowtires on our vehicle also help navigate the roads.
    Tangling has kept me sane in so many ways especially dealing with my husband’s illness. I draw Zendalas and give them as thank you gifts. Everyone who has received one loves their gift.
    Thank you so much ! HCS~~CZT, 2014.

    H.Carol Schmidt on

  • I spent the morning with my Soul Circle and we discussed exactly what you wrote here. One of my ah-ha moments was to appreciate the structure and the beauty of the trees and the homes of wildlife that is usually hidden by the foliage. Thank you

    Terri Delaune on

  • Ah yes, the power of gratitude! I love this story Molly, and how you decided to choose a new perspective on winter, an attitude of gratitude! That is one of the many things I love about Zentangle Method, that in the beginning and the end of the process, there is gratitude and appreciation. The culture tends to teach only striving and not enough, but what a transformative gift it is to look for and be grateful for the plethora of gifts and blessings we have in our lives. And they do multiply when acknowledged, that is the way of things.

    Jan on

  • A wonderful post Molly. As a writer I have long loved observing the differences that each season brings – the challenges in each too. The monthly changes help me to feel and better notice my passage through the year, and through my life. This year I’m planning to try to tangle tiles relating to the season I’m in. Blacks and whites and greys are looking like a comfortable place to start on these low lit January days.

    Jem Miller on

  • A great uplifting post Molly!! Thank you! It came at the perfect time because it is freezing in Anchorage and I’m disliking the winters in Alaska more and more! Your mom is so smart. A perfect quote when it is a cold winter, but the hands are nice and warm, soaking in hot soapy water! Thanks and a happy New Year to all of you at Zentangle Headquarters! <3

    Donna Jacobson, CZT on

  • Co-creation at its best! Embracing your whines. Never let any whine distinguish the sun in your heart. Thank you for the inspiration. Namasté.

    Karin Godyns, CZT Belgium on

  • Great read. Let’s spoil the winter whine, do some dishes and enjoy every season for what it is.

    Maria Vennekens on

  • Beautifully said. I love the winter silence. It’s calming.

    Cathrine on

  • Dear Molly, what a beautiful gift you have shared with this post and ALL you and everyone at Zentangle HQ share with us. Wishing you cozy moments sprinkled with adventures only winter time can deliver!

    Promise Smithson on

  • Molly, thank you. You’ve reminded me of all the very things I truly love about winter. You are a treasure. And now…back to tangling!

    Devin RYDER on

  • What a great read! Thanks, Molly!

    Shawna Oertley on

  • Wonderful words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

    Jan England on

  • Such a timely reminder about finding the positives. Here ‘down under’ (Australia) we are in our Summer. I find the humidity unbearable and draining. This year however, I have enjoyed this time more as I focus more on tangling and not on the humidity. Many thanks Molly.

    Lianne on

  • Just thank you Molly for your beautiful words!!!

    Ria Matheussen on

  • This blog entry was great to read! I grew up in Kansas where summers are brutal. I decided at a fairly young age that winter was my favorite season. I live in southwest Virginia now, in an area called The Four Seasons, and we truly do have four equal and full seasons. I love every season here, and I love to sit in my recliner next to the window that looks out to the mountain ridge. There, I can watch the seasons change on the mountain, and winter snow is gorgeous! I especially love to see the mountain tops looking as though someone dusted them with confectioners sugar (powdered).❄️ As for Maria and dishes, I truly do love washing dishes, and hated when I got relegated to drying instead of washing as a child/teen. We have a dishwasher now. I have to traverse my kitchen in my motorized wheelchair if I need something. My nurse asked me my goal this year, if I could do anything: I want to be able to walk to the kitchen and stand at the sink to wash dishes! Thank you so much for being you, Molly, and for everyone for writing posts here (waves to Maria). ❤️

    Kat Van Rooyen on

  • Got up this morning to a diamond world with lots of sparkles of frost on the snow at 11 degrees. So pretty. Tonight after chicken noodle soup, I do the dishes and warm my hands in the hot soapy water so I can zentangle the night away. Always a lovely day no mater the time of year. And I live in northern New Mexico the true Land of Enchantment a very diverse climate and culture too. No winter whines here! Maybe I ski tomorrow, maybe I Zentangle or just go for a winter walk, either way I win the day as long as I can get up and put one foot in front of the other. Four years ago after open heart surgery I was not able to do that, so every day is a gift, no mater the weather.

    Sue Leslie on

  • Great blog! We will show you what a NorCal winter looks like when you come out here in March. Hint: Don’t bring your snow boots or parka. 😬

    Kim Kohler on

  • Thank you Molly! I was reminded of the comeraderie of dish washing after holiday meals with Mom, the grandma’s and I.

    Kim on

  • Living in Illinois my entire life, winters are just part of life. This summer we had a flying ant problem which took about four weeks to resolve. I bought a new plant for my fairy garden and shortly after I saw movement that should not have been there. Another bug issue. So this winter was welcomed as I was done with bugs invading my space.

    But really I’ve never really had an issue with the colder weather. I do worry about everyone traveling thru the snow, but otherwise I welcome the chance to sit with the fireplace on, reading, knitting or tangling.
    May everyone find a sense of peace and contentment this winter 2019.

    Lesley Goldberg on

  • Thx for sharing. Three months of winter, here we come. And, I know I need more black square tiles and GellyRoll pens : )

    Carol Parry on

  • As far as doing the dishes at our house, my husband loves to do them in the sink. I just put mine in the dishwasher. I live in the Midwest, and miss the sun light in the dark days of winter. However, there is the occasional day the sun streams in through the window anyway. Those are the days I’d love to do Zentangle, Especially filling up my calendar pages in the Zentangle I day 2019 book. I do three days at a time right across the page. That way I’m not accountable every single day. It works for me! Thanks for the post :-)!

    Mary Illana Perrin on

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