It's that tricky time of year again, when the shortest month feels infinite. It's been a long winter, starting with the unexpected death of my father before Christmas. The near-daily snow has only added to the monotony. Cabin fever has set in, despite long walks, sledding and skating. During today's walk there was a glimmer of hope, though, when I saw the first robin of the season flitting through the branches of a tree covered in new red buds. The sun is shining, too. These little things, plus following the Olympics, will help get me through to March.
I'm ready for muddy gardens, seeds and sprouts, long runs with my first-born, afternoons on the front porch and chilly baseball baseball practices on the field by the water. I'm craving both routine--which has been broken by snow days--and a departure from it, since it seems the only routine I have is a domestic one. I'm also working hard to accept the (snowy, cold, house-bound) moments as they come and yet always look forward to something new, but not at the expense of experiencing the now.
'Snow. It's now?
Yep, this this my challenge: accepting, maybe even enjoying, winter while it lasts, no matter how long it lasts. For some, this is easy. But for this summer girl, it often feels like a test. I can skate and do yoga through it, my boys can skate and snowboard through it, we can watch hockey through it, but it still feels like a task. While I preach that we shouldn't wish away our lives, I do sometimes wish away a little bit of this season. And by "a little bit", I mean everything that comes between New Year's Day and St. Patrick's Day.
Vices get many people through it. I know plenty of people who stock up on booze and chocolate for winter storms, but those days are long behind me as I so rarely drink anymore and have cut back a ton on sugar. Some people go tanning (blech, but I get the primal need for warmth and light). Others compulsively exercise (or eat). And most of us take to Facebook, another vice, to share it all.
After seven (Right? I've lost count.) snow days inside, I can safely say I am burnt on Facebook. Yes, I like reading pithy status updates, inspirational quotes and silly memes, but I am Just. So. Tired. Of. It. One of the only things left about Facebook that I enjoy, save for being loosely in touch with friends with whom I might otherwise never communicate, is Humans of New York. And one of those Humans recently remarked that all of her friends on Facebook are getting married, buying houses and having kids, and she was trying not to freak out about it.
I hear that. Yet for those of us with the marriages, kids and houses, we take it to the next level: there is a tendency to compare ourselves to the projected perfection of the same in our friends' worlds. If I judged my life against the standards of modern American living on Facebook, I a) don't work out enough; b) do not eat organic enough; c) do not use enough non-toxic products and therefore am poisoning my family; d) do not create enough projects from Pinterest; e) do not go out enough at night, boozing with friends and raging against the dying of the light (aka, middle age); f) am not a red-blooded 'Merican because I've not yet taken my kids to Di$ney World; g) am anti-American because I voted for Obama; and h) have not achieved the American dream because I've not yet sold my house in the city and moved to the suburbs.
Believe me, I don't always compare myself to other people's lives on Facebook (cue the guy from the Dos Equis commercials), but when I do, I usually feel like a miserable failure.
Okay, that's not true. At all. But I do find myself sometimes stupidly comparing my life (but definitely not my politics) to other people's lives, and then I get angry with myself. The fact is that there IS NO COMPARISON. Everyone's lives are different, interesting and beautiful.
I just forget that about my own life sometimes.
Years ago I stopped reading beauty magazines (beauty sections of magazines like Real Simple excepted), because I realized I felt like crap about myself whenever I read them. Those magazines are garbage filled with mostly unimportant information designed to fill space, sell ads and sell magazines. Facebook, while often fun, sometimes makes me feel the same way if I'm not careful about my negative self-talk when I'm on it. But no matter--I'm tired of being on it. I won't disable my account or anything, but I'm definitely bored with it. In the end, it's really just a tool for me. It's a place to keep connected to friends, post lots (and lots and lots and lots and lots) of pictures of my children, provide links to this silly blog, make snarky comments about politics, and share positive affirmations.
I'm not selling my house and moving to the suburbs, but I'm happy for my friends who want to and make it happen for themselves. Disney isn't going anywhere--I'll get there when I can safely spend the money (emphasis on safely), and most Friday nights I'd rather eat take-out and catch on DVR'd episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Downton Abbey. I like my life, a lot. I'd rather spend more time exploring it in this space than waste too much of it scrolling and trolling on social media.
My life is here. And now. Snow and all.
That said, I'm totally posting a link to this blog post today.