My Invincible Summer Guide (for this winter).
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”
— Albert Camus, The Stranger
This winter is Serious. For those of you living anywhere near me: I share your shivers and disbelief. The darkness, cold, and desolation of an Ontario winter tests my psyche every year. This year is extra fierce.
Here’s what’s inspiring me right now:
I heard one of these tracks on Songza and promptly purchased the album. It’s on repeat when I write. There’s one track that starts with the sounds of a thunderstorm, and this always makes me stop, look out the window, and then remember that it’s February and I’m in Toronto, in a deep freeze.
I wear it every day like a uniform. I have a cashmere poncho that I use as a kind of writing blanket/shawl, and I layer that on top of my cashmere pullover. You know what they say: if you can’t sit in the sunshine, wear cashmere.
Sound-cancelling. They look so dorky but they are cashmere for my ears. I flick a little switch, a green light goes on, and I am instantly in peace. Sometimes I write with Helios on repeat, and sometimes I just luxuriate in the silence.
Thanks to Berkley Brady for sending me the link to these guys. They have a good podcast, too. The first chapter in this book outlines a really effective tool to work with creativity and fear. It’s called “Reversal of Desire.” I’m using it, along with the final tool in the book – the one called “Jeopardy” – just about every day this winter.
The Desire Map
I’ve been doing this for the past three years, since I did Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions. The gist of it is simple: get straight on how you want to feel, then do more of the things that make you feel that way. Also: don’t do so much stuff that doesn’t make you feel that way. *Note: For more about The Desire Map and how my whole incredible team is using it this year, read this.
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
Still the most important book on my writing table. I read a page or two every morning.
It’s way too cold and icy to go out for a run. Jillian’s DVDs keep me sane. I own them all. I recommend Kickbox FastFix if you just want to sweat for 20 minutes a day and get some exercise, and Total Body Revolution if you want to change your metabolism and/or lose weight. I also listen to her podcasts every Friday. I’m seriously devoted. (By the way, does anybody reading this know her radio producer, Janice Ungaro? If you do, email me!)
Bolt Fresh Bar
This is only in Toronto – sorry everybody else reading this. Their Lemon Tart smoothie (made with lemon, coconut, cashews, dates, and pink salt) is almost an equivalent to sunshine.
I’ve never been what you call a horsey person: of course I’ve always thought horses were beautiful, but they always seemed unapproachable to me. In January, I brought my team to Horse Spirit Connections to work with the insightful Jenn Schramm for our team retreat. I learned some important lessons about how to be myself from a horse named Thor. I don’t even know how else to explain it, except to say that now when I’m in a bind or have a decision to make, I ask myself, “What would Thor say?” and the answer is always there for me. Read this to learn more about equine therapy.
Planning trips has always been my go-to when it’s cold. It’s my thing: I always like to have a suitcase packed for the next great adventure. For Ryan’s March Break this year, we’re going to Florida, and staying in an awesome little art deco style condo in Miami. If you don't have an airbnb account yet, get one!
It’s very soothing to make the little pieces fit together properly. After spending the day writing – aka suspended in mid-air with no certain answers – puzzles help keep my head in place, and it doesn’t numb me out like watching Nashville. (Not that I don’t love watching Nashville.)
What are you doing to find your internal sunshine this winter?