Column, Funologist

The blessings of cold

By Sandra Dee Owens

Have you ever noticed that young children are not judgemental about the weather? They simply go outside and play in whatever mother nature is dishing out that day.

Sadly, our acceptance of weather narrows with age.

Cold weather often means hard work, discomfort, and even danger, bringing out a gripe and grumble mindset for something we cannot change.

By Sandra Dee Owens
“Pristine” — acrylic / oil / ink

This November, while reflecting on things I was grateful for, the word “cold” popped into my mind. I was surprised to think of cold as something to be grateful for, but I was.

Instead of focusing on its many challenges, I counted the many blessings of cold.

Cold kills germs, bacteria and disease.

Cold keeps most poisonous critters south of an invisible line that would kill them if crossed.

Cold turns rain into one-of-a-kind snow crystals to ski and toboggan on.

Cold turns creeks, ponds and lakes into skateable ice.

Cold is too cold for black flies and mosquitos.

Cold turns lakes and mountain streams into healing, cold water swim spots.

Cold is loaded with healing. It is my healthiest time of year.

Shedding the sick gremlin

Every once in a while, when I cannot get to an open, winter-water source for adventure and holistic wellness, I use snow.

A few years back, I got sick during the winter. Nothing special, just an average head/chest/achy/fever type thing.

For days, I wandered around the house gripping pocketfuls of tissue and staring out the windows as the snow and air temperatures fell and fell and fell. By the end of the third day, I was thoroughly sick, of being sick.

At that time, I was three winters into snow swimming, my out-the-door winter, run-swim-run activity that combined adventure, fitness and healing. Any illness, booboo or foul mood I struggled with before getting into frigid, open water, was not there when I got out.

But that day, I felt too yucky and congested to do the 2-mile run down my road, take a dip in the open stream, redress and run home. The invisible sick gremlin was whispering in my ear that I would not be able to find wellness in that subzero, deep-snow world.

But I knew better than to listen to that gremlin and instead reminded myself that there was another voice, an inner advisor, that had my best interest at heart. I call it my “Wild Voice.”

I trusted that I knew how to find healing, and began to contemplate what I had to work with.

I had cold—and snow.

Shedding my “sick” bathrobe, I pulled on the passed-down fur coat from my Canadian mother and its matching hat, then stepped into my warm winter boots. I headed out in the storm, and slowly climbed the steep hill behind my house.

At the top, I found pristine, waist-deep snow, and hanging my coat and hat in a tree, I pulled off my boots and sank to the ground. Rolling over and over, I vigorously scrubbed my face and body with the smokey-cold, snow crystals. Their sharp points stung, then burned my bright red skin, taking my breath away.

I felt the sick gremlin loosen from my bloodstream, lungs, mind, skin and pores.

I slowed my breath, and inhaled deeply once, twice—then stood up.

Clumps of snow fell off me, taking my sickness to the frozen ground.

Hopping from foot to foot, I felt a rush of exhilaration and gratitude at discovering yet another way to use cold to heal myself.

I redressed quickly and ran downhill in a different state of wellness than before my snow bath. From that moment on, I stopped thinking of myself as being sick and started thinking of myself as being well. Because I was.

It was a great reminder that I always find wellness in my backyard. Whenever I recognize the voice of the gremlins and choose to listen to my wild voice instead.

It never fails.

To gain the blessings of cold, I needed to shift my relationship with discomfort. I needed to stop backing away from it—and get over it.

So I began a new practice. I imagined that discomfort was a simple stone wall I needed to climb over. Easy peasy. Just up and over it.

I do this because every time I climb over that wall, I find magic waiting for me on the other side.

Every. Single. Time.

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