Waiting for the Thaw

I feel frozen!

It’s frigid outside. In fact, I would say it is biting cold out there – the wind is howling with its sharp teeth. Now, the sun is quickly setting after showing its warming face for what seems like a brief instant today. And the last time I went outside, I noticed that the ground was so cold it somehow felt harder than rock.

Certainly, I think right now I feel that I’d much rather stay inside and avoid the outside world. I’ll just wrap myself up in a thick blanket and cozy-up to the vivacity of the fireplace or, more likely, the glow of my t.v. screen. Of course, there are a ton of things on my mind that I would like to do. But instead, I think I’ll put the kettle on (again) for a cup of tea. And what kind of tea shall I have today? A cranberry herbal tea – that sounds delicious doesn’t it? Perhaps I’ll have a chocolatey chai tea for a little treat. Actually, I’m trying to be a little bit healthier this year, how about I have that milk thistle and dandelion root tea – that will make me feel cleansed! But wait a second, I forgot I had “Dreamland Tea,” I think I’ll have that last one and take a nap. Yeah, I’m going to drink my tea, have a rest, and stay nice and toasty between my blankets.

I still feel frozen!

I thought after a rest and some #treatyourself (self-care) that I would be ready to get up and do what I wanted to do today. I thought I would be warm enough to brave the cold and maybe even embrace it. But that’s not the truth for me today. My instinct is to stay warm – that is, stay in my comfort zone. It’s natural to want to do so at this time of year, isn’t it? The days are cold and dark. I mean, don’t bears have the good sense to hibernate for the winter. Even the deciduous trees, plants, and flowers are not out in their active bloom. It’s “the dead of winter” isn’t it? In the Great White North, literally nothing seems to be growing during this time of year, which leaves me pondering how I’m supposed to change, grow, or do anything at all during this time of year. Mother Nature is literally frozen; and I’m frozen too.

Despite this frigid condition of immobility, however, I know there are still a million things that I want to do. For starters, I want to get this blog written! Indeed, despite the cold, I really do want to go outside and enjoy some of the sunshine and crisp cleansing air. Yet, it is so hard to become “unfrozen;” it is so hard to step outside … of my comfort zone; undeniably, it is so hard to stop all this “doing nothing.”

Initially, I thought that it would be a good idea to “do nothing;” I thought it would be good to take a break from the hectic pace of life and enjoy some “me-time” -- that is, some downtime. It is all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day rush of life and, in doing so, I know we often forget to take a break from it all. For sure, especially in today’s go-get em society, we’ve become so busy that we forget to enjoy the wondrous beauty that is all around us by simply taking the time out to breathe deeply, sit silently, and intentionally do nothing. As of late, however, something doesn’t seem quite right about how I’ve been doing nothing. Although there is an internal freeze, my mind doesn’t seem frozen at all. My mind is still quite busy. I also find myself busy avoiding the things that I want to do. I thought that taking a break and embracing the ideal of “doing nothing” would be a good thing. But why do I now feel frozen?

Well, I realized that I wasn’t actually “doing nothing.” Ironically, in my attempt to “do nothing” I was making myself busy again. When I take the time to practice “do nothing” I do so with intention and purpose. There is a quiet and stillness that peacefully overcomes me when I actually “do nothing.” But when I feel internally frozen, I’m not at peace. I’m passively looking for all kinds of things to do that are, frustratingly, not the things I really want to do. The things I truly want to do seem difficult to accomplish. Hence, I’ve convinced myself that it is easier to forgo any action of intention and, instead, passively occupy my time and mind with a multitude of other things. As a result, when I feel internally frozen I am not “doing nothing” -- at least not in a positive way. Rather, I’ve become like a human statue that is static and stone cold. I’m not living life as a human being who actively decides to pursue my desires, which can include taking time to calm myself and purposefully “do nothing.” Instead, I’ve been busy making myself into a statue; I’ve been busy avoiding what I want to do; in fact, I’ve been busy doing nothing!

Yes, I embraced the philosophy of “do-nothingness,” which is quite different, as mentioned, from intentionally “doing nothing.” And the longer I’m busy practicing this passive philosophy, I notice that it becomes harder to do anything active. It is like experiencing a snowstorm after another snowstorm; it becomes more difficult to dig myself out. However, I’m starting to realize that I don’t have to be stuck in a snowbank. Also, I’m beginning to realize that I’m not the frozen tundra, nor a hibernating bear (although I may feel like one on the inside). I’m a human being that has feelings and (many) thoughts. Some of those thoughts are rational, but sometimes they are irrational. And when I am busy doing nothing, I find these irrational thoughts are definitely more prominent. For example, I start thinking that I’m inherently lazy; I almost believe it is my nature to be this inert. But, deep down, I know this isn’t true. I know that I have lived many seasons and have done many things. And most importantly, I know there are tools for dealing with winter -- including my handy shovel -- that can help in the worst of times.

I feel that I’m beginning to thaw.

Yet, I know this defrosting is not easy. I’ve been frozen for so long that it is hard to remember being anything else. Truly, it has been so long since I’ve taken effective action that I’ve consciously and/or subconsciously taken on the label of “laziness” as the real “me” and, now, I expect almost nothing from myself. Often it seemed as if the White Witch of Narnia had cast a spell upon me and made me a statue during the Hundred Years Winter. Yet Santa Claus did come to Narnia and he came only a few weeks ago here. A thaw has begun. And though it is still the middle of winter and, probably, the hardest time of year to start anything, I am starting to defrost – that is, I am making progress and I am slowly starting to be. Again, it is not easy. I would have rather done almost anything else than write this little blog, but I am doing it. Actually, I find writing quite a painful experience at the best of times and, as we all know, starting anything new is difficult. But I’m doing it; I’m slowly writing this post. I’ll slowly do other things as well. For instance, even with my tiny shovel, I will be able to move the mountain of snow outside my home.

I must remember that I’m not this label of “lazy” that I keep telling myself – this is not the real or true “me.” It is freezing outside and, in a way, I’m freezing inside. But I must remember just like the seasons, this feeling is not permanent. The spring thaw will come – both externally and internally. The snow will melt and the ice will crack. Yes, the flowers will bloom and the baby birds will chirp and sing jubilant songs of simply being. Yet, right now it is still the middle of the darkest time of year and I’m still feeling frozen … but I’m a little less cold now: I’m starting to think about the future; I’m seeing the beauty of spring in my mind; and I’m beginning to visualize the successes that can happen with all the different things I want to accomplish. It’s a small mind-shift, but it is a powerful one. Now instead of ruminating on my own “inherent laziness,” I have switched my focus to listing all the positives of what (finally) writing this little blog post may do. As well, I can see the advantages of doing something over being busy doing nothing. Additionally, I can see that I am able to apply this mind-shift – this change of focus from “me” to the task itself – with all the other things that I wanted to do before I felt so frozen and defeated by the coldness of “doing nothing.”

I’m melting more and more.

The thaw came on for me with a simple mind-shift: the switch from focusing on “me” to focusing my attention on the advantages of what simply sitting down and writing this blog post could do. In doing so, my mind didn’t have the space to find erroneous labels for myself like “lazy,” which interestingly was only reinforcing the notion of laziness thatI held for myself – a self-fulfilling (and self-defeating) prophecy at work. It was enough to give me that spark to start. And do you know what happened after I started? I noticed myself becoming more motivated with each word I typed. In truth, my motivation to write at the beginning was almost at 0 percent (actually, it felt like a negative percentile) and my desire to do nothing was exceedingly high. But I began all the same with that little spark by shifting my focus – by shifting my mind. From there, I focused on just typing one word at a time. Remembering that it was winter and that the ground was frozen, I thought I should traverse this task like a penguin walking across the frozen ice of the Antarctic to the open water of the ocean. I just needed to take little steps like they do with their little feet. One little word at a time and I would get to my destination too. And with each little step, I’m getting closer to my destination – the end of this post – and, each step seems easier the more I move.

Yes, I’m feeling more motivated. At first I didn’t feel like writing or doing anything, so I didn’t. Without any hesitation, I got busy doing nothing and put off the task of writing this article and doing a few other things that I wanted to do. Who would have thought that doing nothing leads to doing more of nothing? Foolishly, I waited around waiting to feel in the mood to do what I wanted to do. Who would have thought that doing – taking that smallest step in mind and action – would lead to more doing? Indeed, I forgot that when it comes to motivation that the feeling of motivation doesn’t come first, rather it is the doing that makes you feel motivated. Plus, as mentioned, “doing” leads to more doing and with each action (and each word written in this post the process has gotten easier – that is, motivation breeds motivation. And I sustained this motivation with a little other trick that may have not been noticed, but I actively attempted throughout writing this blog. I didn’t try to coerce my motivation at any time. When I started to write this post I didn’t say to myself that I should write it or that I ought to do 10000 other things. If I did use such language, I would have resisted even more because it would have made the whole process unpleasant. Instead, I said to myself that I wanted to write this blog post and I would use the word “want” throughout. In doing so, it helped relax me and spurred me on with a feeling of dignity and self-determination. It was rewarding to do (and write) the things I wanted to instead of the things I should.

Of course, these little tips are simple ones, but they have provided me with some motivation. My hope is that they may do the same for you. All the same, please remember that these tips are not for intended everyone and they are definitely not written in stone. There are many different ways to overcome that feeling of being frozen – both literally and figuratively. At the end of the day, you have to find and do what works for you. Also, you may already know these tips and, if you do, I trust that they are just taken as friendly reminders. I just know how hard it is feeling frozen and how hard it is getting unfrozen, especially during this time of year with its short days and long nights. But even though it is cold outside, we don’t have to be freezing inside. Also, it might be the ”dead of winter,” but spring is coming! You can’t stop it. A thaw always takes place. If you’ve read the book, watched the movie, or heard through the grapevine, you’ll remember that the Queen of Narnia doesn’t rule forever! You know that we don’t remain frozen like statues. The ice will crack and the water will flow again. But before spring comes, I’m going to prepare myself for the next season like nature always does, even though it doesn’t appear like it is doing so in the depth of winter. I’m going to consistently take those small steps and I’m going to continue to make those small shifts. Why? Because I’ve decided that I want to. Another “want” of mine right now is to enjoy the stillness of winter in order to reflect on these thoughts and, perhaps, actually “do nothing.” So I’ve decided that I am finished writing this blog, and that yes, I’m going outside...bundled up of course!


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