Focus on good of any situation

I enjoyed the unusually warm weather in early February and was sad to see colder, more typical winter temperatures return. It would be easy to complain about the colder weather, but I like to think about the many good parts of winter.

During the winter, parts of the stream by my house freeze, turning into a ribbon of white ice. Watching the water bubbling under the ice is fascinating. When temperatures fluctuate, the partially melted ice creates intricate patterns edged with icy lace.

In winter I can see the varying silhouettes of trees. Each kind of tree has its own shape that is hard to see when the leaves are out. Winter storms can leave the trees covered in ice, which glistens and sparkles in the sunshine.

Snow also makes winter beautiful. I don’t like driving in it, but I do like the clean beauty and sense of peace a fresh blanket of snow brings. The wind often makes interesting drifts with it, and when there’s snow, you can go sledding (or watch your children sled), build snowmen and really appreciate the warmth of a mug of hot cocoa when you come inside. I don’t like being cold, and winter is not my favorite season, but I would rather focus on what I like about winter than on what I don’t like.

During Christmas break as I was talking to one of my sons who was home from college, I realized I have this mindset about a lot of things: I like to focus on the good parts of my situation. My son, he wanted to know where I liked living best since we have lived in the West, the Midwest and the East.

My response was that I like different things about each place and that I didn’t really have a favorite. In the Midwest, things are green, and there are lots of different kinds of trees. The fall leaves provide a riot of color that is worth the time it takes to rake all those leaves up. We have many colorful birds here, such as blue jays, cardinals, bluebirds and goldfinches.

When I lived in the West, I missed the greenness and especially the trees of the Midwest, but the mountains of the West are beautiful and provide great places to explore. Canyons, old lava flows, ice caves and giant rock formations were other unique western places we visited.

I didn’t expect to miss the humidity when I went west, but I did. My skin got dry, and I had to start using lotion. Plants and lawns have to be watered regularly there since there’s not a lot of rain, but then there aren’t the overly abundant Midwestern weeds. In the West, temperatures cool down significantly at night — even in the summer — and without the humidity you can open your windows to cool things off.

My family spent several years in New Jersey, not too far from New York. Towns and cities run together there, each with their own street names. After getting lost multiple times, I learned to carry a map in my car (this was pre-GPS). There always seemed to be traffic and people wherever you went, but I was happy to be where there were lots of trees. With everything close together, there were also lots of different places to go and things to see without having to travel too far.

In each place where I have lived, I have missed things from the other locales. When I was in the West, I missed the trees and the greenery that come with humidity. When I am in the Midwest and the East, I miss the mountains and openness. In winter I miss the warmer weather of other seasons. But instead of dwelling on what I miss or don’t like, I appreciate the things I do like about the current situation.

This mindset helps me enjoy life, and I would recommend you give it a try.

Susan Cox is a mother, an adjunct instructor of English at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus and a substitute teacher for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. She can be reached at