‘Tis the season to be merry. But also, ’tis the season to walk through hard or stressful times. It’s a topic that has been at the forefront of mind for the past couple of weeks in a very real and personal way. We all know that in the literal sense winter translates to cold, harsh, gray days but as many of us also know, winter can be a harsh, cold, gray time for us mentally, physically and spiritually.
If there is one person who has taught me what it looks like to walk through a tough time in an admirable way, it’s my dad. As many of you know, this year hasn’t exactly been his year. In July as he was pedaling along on his bicycle with my mom and a group of friends, he was sent flying head first into a tree where he proceeded to break his C1 & C2 vertebrae in his neck [we still don’t know exactly what sent him flying but at this point, that’s neither here nor there]. Miraculously, with the help of my mom and his friends, they were able to perform CPR [he immediately stopped breathing upon impact], get him airlifted to a nearby hospital and thanks to the power of God survived and maintained movement in all of his limbs. What also survived [and thrived] – his humor, positive attitude and persistence to power through. I’m pretty sure that he won the award for most steps ever taken while staying in ICU.
As I sit next to his hospital bed back in the summer and again recently after a surgery to fuse together his vertebrae, I would be brought to tears on countless occasions with every “you’re such a good nurse”, “I’m going to get through this”, “thank you for being here with me”, “I wish you’d feel better” [he said to me as I coughed one time while he’s laying there not able to move], song that was sung, prayer that was prayed and every visitor that would walk through the door.
What my dad has taught me over the past six months, while having a halo screwed into his skull, not able to drive, tired, in pain and unsure of what the future of healing looks like for him [we have very high hopes it’s good] are a few of these things:
- There is endless power in positive thinking. Look for the very best thing about the situation you are in and marinate your mind on that. Maybe it means you are able to experience slower days, more visits with those that you love the most, homemade meals brought to you, etc. It may be hard to find the good, really hard on certain days, but trying to make a conscious effort of focusing on the good can and will make such a difference on your days as you walk through your winter.
- Acknowledge those around you who are there to support, love and help and know that by doing so it isn’t a sign of weakness, but strength. Until you are forced to ask for help, it can be hard for us to do. There is something so beautiful and humbling about being served. And on the opposite end, there is something so beautiful and fulfilling about being able to serve. Watching my dad’s grown male friends pick him up for coffee every morning, move his antiques around in his antique booth, stay the night with him while my mom has been able to have a girls night, cook breakfast for him, feed him when he couldn’t feed himself and stop over constantly just to say hi been such a blessing. People want to love you, let them.
- Being honest with yourself and others on hard days is okay and necessary. Not every day is a walk in the park. Your mind will try and go to dark places, your spirit won’t feel like shining 24/7 and that’s okay. I think we often put pressure on ourselves to act like “everything is fine” all of the time. The reality is, it’s not. But what I have found is when we are open and honest about these feelings, someway it has a way of making the heavy times just a little lighter.
- Somebody always has it worse. It sucks seeing my dad have to go through this, but there are so many people going through incredibly harder things. Hold on to perspective when possible.
- Do something, anything. When we are walking through our own winters, it can be paralyzing. We don’t want to get ready, leave the house, talk to anybody, etc. It’s easier to stay in bed, ignore those who reach out, allow another day to pass without putting any effort into ourselves. My dad has always made it a point to do something. It may be simply stepping outside to look at the flowers on the patio, go to coffee for an hour with friends, read a book, call a friend, anything. Choosing to do little things can make big strides in your journey.
- Humor heals. It’s amazing what laughter has done for not just his spirit, but the spirits of us surrounding him. When Shawn and I got to the emergency room the night his accident happened, he said something to make us smile immediately [all while moaning at the own pain he was in]. He continues to make us smile with every joke, smart alec comment, or silly voice used.
If you’re going through a personal winter right now, I hope that these words and thoughts could resonate with you some. And if you’re not going through a winter personally/mentally, but too are suffering from those cold, harsh, grey days literally, don’t forget to turn to Backcountry for your winter needs. I know I talk about Backcountry products often, but for good reason. Their customer service reps alone are kind and nice enough to make me want to shop them with them forever. Be sure to check out their huge inventory for items to bundle up and stay warm in this winter. Don’t forget to use code YELLOW15 for 15% off your first purchase!
Stay warm and remember, we’re all here to walk through the snow and the mush together…