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Column: Strategy for coping with winter still work in progress

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I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. When it comes to winter, one could clearly question my mental health.

Every winter I would moan, groan, whine and complain to anyone who would listen — and quite a few who had long ago tuned me out — about how much I hate all things winter.

The mere mention of wind chill, gray skies, wintry mix, below zero, snow, snowplows, snow shovels, snowboards, snowmen, snowshoes, snowballs, snow skis or even snow cones was enough to set me off on another tirade that usually ended with me looking to the heavens and bellowing, “WHY DO I LIVE HERE?”

It took me more than half a century, but eventually I figured out that no matter how much I whined, complained and bellowed, winter continued to come to Indiana every year.

I was doing the same thing year after year and expecting different results.

As they say, recognizing you have a problem is the first step to correcting it. So once I finally realized that my approach to dealing with winter wasn’t working, it only made sense to rethink my strategy.

Therefore, in January 2012, I used this column to outline my new strategy. Instead of whining about snow and cold temperatures, I would embrace all things winter.

Whenever I stepped out of the car and was hit by a blast of frigid air, I would turn my face into the wind, take a deep breath and tell myself how refreshing it was. On those mornings when I looked out the dining room window to see that it had snowed overnight, instead of swearing I would say, “Oh my, how beautiful it looks!”

I was amazed at how well my new strategy worked. While I still preferred spring and summer, I could suddenly enjoy certain aspects of winter.

For example, I found comfort in wearing sweaters and corduroy pants. I frequently reminded myself how nice it was not to be working up a sweat mowing the lawn every week or pulling weeds out of the cracks between the patio bricks.

Yes, my new approach to winter worked quite well that first year and even the next. But this winter has taught me that my new strategy isn’t perfect. There seems to be a clear relationship between the severity of the winter and the success of my strategy.

If I step out of the car into 20-degree air, I can convince my brain that said air is refreshing. When I look out the dining room window and see that two inches of snow have fallen overnight, I can say, “Oh my, how beautiful it looks!” and my brain will respond, “OK, if you say so.”

However, when I step out the front door when the air temperature is minus 15 and the wind chill is minus 30, my strategy begins to crumble. When I turn my face into the wind and take a deep breath, the hair in my nose freezes. When I say, “How refreshing!” my brain says, “WRONG!” and then quickly turns into a snow cone.

When I look out the dining room window and see that besides the potentially lethal temperatures, old man winter also has delivered six inches of snow on top of a sheet of ice, the first thought that pops into my head is far less positive than “Oh my, how beautiful it looks!”

Now I don’t know what to do. Clearly I can’t go back to my old ways of whining and complaining every winter, expecting different results. We’ve already determined that would be insanity.

So I guess I’ll stick with my new strategy of embracing winter, expecting it to work every year when it clearly doesn’t. Wait a minute. How is that different?

Oh well, if nothing else, at least now when I do look to the heavens and bellow, “WHY DO I LIVE HERE?” I know the answer.


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