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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waking Up from Winter Blues

I am desperate for spring to get here. And I mean truly desperate. My very spirit feels like it hasn't felt the sun in years. Winter gets me down a bit, so when spring actually gets here, I go a little crazy. When things like this get me down, I look to the sunshine, fresh air and my dog to find solace and fun. Oh, yeah and my Jeep helps too.

Sun and fresh air are easy enough to explain. I think they just lift our spirits. Feeling the sun on my face, wind in my hair (ENTER JEEP, stage left) make me feel free and alive. Especially after a long winter. I think most people these days are affected to different degrees by winter in the form of social affective disorder, SAD. SAD, which is appropriately named by the way, seems to be more and more prevalent. I only have anecdotal proof here, but haven't you noticed people are just grumpier in the winter... sadder? Of course SAD affects a higher number of people in states where there are actual winters>> like Montana or Maine, let's say. People in Florida... not so much. It can also lead to deep depression, so I don't want to make light of it. It is a real disorder with real and sometimes fatal consequences. I'm not sure I actually have SAD, but I do feel quite sad during the winter. Lucky for me that this week is turning out to have a couple of beautiful days. Days in which I can feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. Days that really help me appreciate being alive. Thank goodness!

I also look to my dog Hairy (isn't he beautiful?). I named Hairy for, you guessed it, his prolific coat... but also as a double entendre for Harry Potter. My Hairy is a little bit magical as well. He is extremely emotionally sensitive and he loves to hug... everyone. This is not something I taught him. In fact, I've tried to train him not do it, or at least to wait to be asked for a hug, but he is persistent. So I gave up. And frankly, I don't think it's always a good idea to train ourselves or our dogs not to emote. Women are taught over and over again that showing emotion reduces our power... Power over what, I wonder. Power over how we feel? Power over others? I have to feel like this is a bit ingenuous. Although being emotional all the time would be exhausting and probably a bit non-productive, I think it's a bad idea to ignore our emotions altogether...  I'm getting off track a bit, but really, but my point is that Hairy has an expert ability to get me 'out of my head'.  He is a 100 pound dog example of joy and love and all things shiny like the sun!

Harry doesn't care if I bring home the bacon (unless it's actually bacon and not a metaphor for my paycheck). He doesn't care if I wear designer clothes or drive an expensive car. He doesn't care if I'm able to expertly create a PowerPoint presentation for a big business meeting or whether or not I have a few extra pounds. He's just happy getting fed, going for rides or walks and giving hugs. He has these spurts of energy as well where he sort of transforms from a serene and gentle "buddha-like" dog to a Tasmanian devil. It's a sight to see. And it brings me a lot of laughter... another great natural medicine.

And when I am feeling a bit down, Hairy's most magical qualities come out. He'll approach me with no prompting and depending on how I am sitting or standing, he will hug me. I wish I had the words to adequately describe it, but I'll try. If I am sitting, he'll walk up and rest his head right below my throat (he's a big dog) and sort of lean in. It's a bit like a baby snuggle up under the chin and it's very sweet. In that moment, I feel calmer and more able to face anything difficult. I could explain this in a more scientific way, like studies show that owning and petting a dog or cat can truly reduce your blood pressure and chemically make you feel calmer... and there is truth in this. But I think it's something bigger. A connection between two completely different species. A kind of understanding moment. And I think it's kind of beautiful.

So, thank you to Hairy for helping me through the long winter. Now, let's quit writing and instead get in the Jeep, feel the wind in our hair and stop somewhere we can walk under the sun.


  1. I'm catching up on my reading... you are a wonderful writer my dear friend...and a wonderful person..I can see why Hairy likes to hug you so much! HB