How to survive winter (part 1: eat soup and try something new)

I'm having a hard winter. The details aren't really that important if you don't know me and my family. And if you do know us, then you know. Or can ask. It's not deep and dark, just sort of midlife stuff.

But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person struggling. Winter is pretty famous for being hard. So I thought I would give myself some advise and share it with the interwebs. I hope you find it useful.

one of my first gouache studies, inspired by a tiny picture in Saveur magazine of a lovely lady making soup outside.

one of my first gouache studies, inspired by a tiny picture in Saveur magazine of a lovely lady making soup outside.

Eat soup. 

In the winter, I make a big pot of soup once a week and then eat it for lunch. I start with onions and a little stew meat and some dried beans, whatever vegetables need to be eaten. I could toss in a little leftover pizza sauce or drippings. I might bulk it up with leftover grains like rice and quinoa. It is always a little different but invariably the last bowl that has sat in the fridge all week tastes the best. Economical, nutritious and comforting.

The more I have routines that are nurturing, the better I do. I eat the same thing for breakfast, I wear a variation on the same outfit most days. We have a finite number of decisions we are capable of making in a day. Especially when I'm feeling low, I don't want to waste my willpower and discernment on toast and cardigans.  So with my soup plan, I only have to think about it once a week and then every other day I just have to warm it up. Somedays it's just hard to want to eat or to make the decision, let alone a nutritious decision. It's good to set yourself up for health, to take care of yourself. 

Try something new.

I'm always reading books and listening to podcasts about how to live a good life and kick butt at work. But I don't take notes. So I have nothing specific to quote here, no study to cite. But trust me, your brain likes to learn and be challenged. Your spirit wants to have reasonable struggle and growth. You crave meaningful novelty. So try something new. It can be as simple as using a new machine at the gym or ordering a different cocktail at your usual bar. Or as bold as a whole new hobby, habit, or hairstyle.

I paint with acrylics and use watercolors in my journal. I've been curious about gouache for a long time, but felt too intimidated to actually buy some. Luckily I received a set for Christmas and permission to be a beginner, to mess around. It's hard to pick up a new medium or technique that you won't be good at right away. Learning is humbling. When time or money are tight, the tendency is to just do the things I know I can do well quickly and consistently. 

But I've committed to myself to mess around with this new style of paint every day. I'm already figuring some things out just by pushing the colors around. And then my curiosity perked up and I looked at a few how to videos on You Tube. I'm thinking about color and looking at art with fresh eyes. I look forward to the part of the day when I play with gouache.

And in the darkness of winter, looking forward to something everyday is essential.

If you want to try something new like learning to sew with the reverse applique technique, I have a couple workshops January 20 and Feb 17 at the Ragfinery. Click here for the details.