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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



  • Living in Central Texas, my winters are mild, but summers are long and hot and that is when I ask myself why I live in Texas! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about New England winters. I will try to remember to employ them (in reverse, sort of) when it is 100+° for seemingly endless weeks/months in July, August, and September. 😉 Ronda Kane, CZT22

    Ronda Kane on

  • Cool!

    Terri Young, CZT 16 on

  • I kid you not, this morning I thought of your mother and how she said she loves to do dishes as I was cleaning out my dishwasher. This chore was standing between me and my first cup of coffee. Imagine my surprise when I read your blog today. I shouldn’t be surprised. Zentangle has opened up this universal pipeline of communication and I think I have a direct line to your inbox. I decided a couple of years ago that I loved winter because it was my opportunity to practice Zentangle with fewer interruptions than I have once May comes around. This blog really spoke to me :)

    Jody Genovese on

  • One year when living in Florida, a friend hosted a lovely Thanksgiving dinner for several friends in our social circle. She put out her finest china and crystal and sterling silver flatware. These items were so beautiful. I knew she would never wash them in her dishwasher and that they would need to be washed by hand, so I volunteered to do it—for the sheer joy of holding, touching, feeling, enjoying the beauty. It was a wonderful end to a delicious and beautiful meal. On occasion, I will volunteer to perform similar chores for the host or hostess, but that first time was magical. Thanks for allowing me to share.

    Paula Schneider on

  • Having lived up and down the East Coast and a few years on the West Coast, I am grateful to be settled where the seasons change just when one is ready for the next to begin. Winter is always hardest and was thankful for the timely words of wisdom in this post!

    Today I thought, “It’s already the eighth — spring is coming!!!”

    Beth Lovelle on

  • Attitude is everything, mostly. Willy Nelson’s newer song keeps me in great attitude, “I woke up still not dead again today” And from there, I love doing the dishes too. Thanks for this blog,, richly and deeply satisfying.

    Polly Martin CZT28 on

  • Lovely thoughts, Molly…. I invite your mom down to do my dishes while we should enjoy a cup of tea by the fire. Just kidding Maria…. join me for tea soon… love you both! Happy Winter!

    judi b on

  • Oh my gosh, I had already started my winter whine and you just stopped me in my tracks! Thank you! Thank you!

    Deb Myers, CZT18 on

  • Molly, this is a wonderful and thoughtful piece. It’s about focus and perspective. I, too, love doing dishes. It connects me to my mother and her mother and her mother before her. All of us, hands in soapy, warm water, loving and caring for our families. That’s where my mind goes. And to be truthful, this doesn’t happen every time, but I’m trying to bring it into my consciousness more often. ♥️♥️

    Roseanne Sabol on

  • You found the sweetness in the whine. Like your mother, I like to do dishes, because it reminds me there was food to fix and share. That was not always the case in my life. Looking out our dining room table towards Mt. Baldy, I see the seasonal snow and am thankful for today.

    Ginger White on

  • Very thoughtful Blog, mahalo for sharing. ~Lydia

    Lydia Meneses on

  • I miss the winters in West Virginia on top of my mountain. I miss all those things you mention here. It’s not what it’s cracked up to be spending winters in Florida. But you can find joy in everything if you want. I’d say your mum is a pretty smart cookie! I can see it’s rubbed off on you and Martha.

    MKay B B Watson CZT on

  • A beautiful and timely message! Thank you, Molly!

    Diane Lachance on

  • Really loved reading your beautifully written piece. How true that perspective can really change things. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as many are reflective of my feelings about the chilly months.

    Nancy CZT18 on

  • Seasons are good. I am always ready for the next one to come and am thankful that I live in a place where they change regularly. Thank you for this.

    Valerie on

  • A good reminder to live in the moment and be free from judging, just be present. Thank you ! ! !

    Jackie on

  • Thanks, Molly! This winter my husband has convinced me to spend most of January, February and March in Florida instead of our home in Illinois. I’ve been doing my own version of a Winter Whine, because I actually like winter (okay, not EVERYTHING about winter, but the change in seasons, pretty snow, snuggling by the fire sipping something toasty). Of course, I’m not getting much sympathy with my whining around here. We leave in a few days and I am trying harder to put on a happy face, thinking of tangling on a beach. It’s a grand experiment. We’ll see where next winter will find me. Meanwhile, attitude really does go a long way. And as a friend sometimes says, “Ya want some cheese with that WHINE?!”

    Leslie Barr on

  • I grew up in Austria where winter is as beautiful as summer. Skiing, sledging, and all the customs round about Christmas time I would never want to miss. I have a big garden and I am happy for the non working time there during winter.
    On the other hand, I am struggling with the idea of loving to do the dishes. It steals my time from the things I love to do. Maybe I should work on that! Or find someone who really enjoys doing that!

    Inge Frasch on

  • I grew up in Austria where winter is as beautiful as summer. Skiing, sledging, and all the customs round about Christmas time I would never want to miss. I have a big garden and I am happy for the non working time there during winter.
    On the other hand, I am struggling with the idea of loving to do the dishes. It steals my time from the things I love to do. Maybe I should work on that! Or find someone who really enjoys doing that!

    Inge Frasch on

  • Even though I live in sunny Florida and find myself wishing for a day cold enough for the beautiful suede bomber jacket I found in a thrift shop, I do seem to get the winter blahs.

    Last year after February knee surgery I spent many hours in rehab creating Zentangle tiles and cheering others (nurses, doctors, aides, and therapists) by giving them my work.

    This year I have been wallowing until I saw your quilt-like arrangement on your blog. I love those possibilities. Half-square triangles can stretch my tiles in so many direction!

    Thanks for the concept and for the quote on your mom’s kitchen wall.

    Amy Gill on

  • We to are expecting some winter weather this week. I said to myself, good time to declutter and organize. I actually have 3 days to work on it! I also love snow when I can just be cozy inside, and watch it.

    Suzanne Crisafi on

  • Thank you so much for this story! It is lovely to get such a beautyfull reminder to simple happyness in simple things.

    Ursula on

  • That was beautiful thank you! Zentangle every night for me especially in the winter!

    christine maskaly on

  • Focus on the things you love. Thanks for the beautiful reminder and engaging stories. Thanks for sharing.

    Jennifer Kwiecien on

  • Thank you for the inspiration during the Winter months. I, too, keep my Zentangle supplies by my comfy chair.

    Jean Kriebel on

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