by Natalie Amsden
It was February, 2004, in New Hampshire, and I was getting ready to go to work while listening to the morning news discussing the weather in the background. I had lived in this winter wonderland for 15 years and had never experienced such cold temperatures. I spent years of my adult life complaining about the nonsense involved in weathering a snowy winter—scraping ice encasings from around my car, unburying my car from amidst several feet of snow, taking a shower in a bathroom cold enough to substitute as a refrigerator, and wearing an abundance of uncomfortable layers when leaving for the day. This day, however, I was not complaining about the woes of the snow—instead I found myself singing praises to that crystallized substance I once abhorred.
That year was the coldest on record—so cold that the schools closed for COLD. How ridiculous! I had never heard such a thing. The reason it had been so cold that year was because we did not get any snow. Go figure. So this day, I found myself excited when the weather person declared that they expected a “warm front” to come in tomorrow. I suppose perspective is everything.
The next day the snow did come, all 5 inches of it, and the weather warmed up to a whopping 17 degrees. Some of my coworkers decided to take advantage of the “balmy” weather and were walking around outside wearing T-shirts without a coat. I questioned their sanity, as it’s obviously insane to believe 17 degrees is warm enough to don short sleeves. Even though I still required a sweater, parka, scarf, and gloves to venture anywhere near the door, I began to question my sanity as well. Why, I asked myself, did I subject myself to this weather nightmare, year after year, when I truly disliked it with every fiber of my being? I was an adult now and I had freedom of choice, so why was I continuing to live in a frozen tundra filled with crazy people who broke out their bikinis as soon as the temperature spiked above freezing?
I knew there was something wrong with me when I found myself eager for snow.
This year’s unusual weather had snapped me out of my seasonal routines long enough to let my deeper longings bubble to the surface. I did not long for snow, I longed for spring. I discovered several weeks later that I longed for much more than that. I longed for freedom.
Several weeks later we were blessed with a blanket of new-fallen snow and temperatures that remained above freezing. Whoopdidoo. I was standing on my parents’ deck (yes, willingly) overlooking the recently melting river. There was a small amount of snow still covering the ground. One spot, however, had melted and on the bare ground I could make out the faintest hint of green. I had to see this for myself! I ventured down the bank and examined the handful of pitiful little green grasslings poking up through the semi-frozen soil.
They looked so vulnerable, so small, so weak. It was amazing that they had it in them to expose themselves to the bitter cold and the risk of being suffocated by new snow, all because they felt an undying tug to reach toward the sun. I stood in awe of their bravery for several minutes until I realized my parents were watching me from the window, probably wondering what the heck I was doing staring in wonder at a dirt patch. My witnesses broke my moment, but I returned to the house with a deep empathy and appreciation for those little buds. As the evening progressed, I could not stop thinking about the grass. It struck me as odd that I would have felt so moved by, connected to, those blades of grass. What was it about them that triggered this depth of emotion within me?
That evening the weather report declared the next day to be warm with plenty of sunshine. I immediately thought of the baby grass and was so happy to imagine them basking in the rays of the warm sun and feeling their roots expand into an ever thawing earth. It was in that moment that I began to cry. Hard. I just let go. Through my tears I began to see that I, myself, was like those blades of grass. I, myself, was beginning to feel the stirrings of spring, of hope, of light returning. Their plight was my plight—their joy was my joy. It was time to reawaken. It was time to face the sun. Until that moment I had not fully realized the extent to my seasonal hibernation. Many refer to it as seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but to me it had always felt like hibernation. Stay inside, in the darkness, until the snow goes away. This is how I lived for at least four months out of every year—time in which I couldn’t truly live.
That day, I decided enough was enough—I wasn’t going to spend another winter hiding from the world. March 1st I decided I was going to move to Florida, the Sunshine State, and by April 1st I was here. Ironically, immediately after my arrival the state was pummeled by Charley, Frances, and Ivan—a hurricane phenomenon that was totally unprecedented. Apparently I have an affinity for attracting unusual weather patterns. And yes, I would take an occasional hurricane over a yearly winter of blizzards any day.
The most amazing change I experienced after moving here was the freedom of weather.
In New Hampshire, I would panic every time we had a nice day; I would find myself stuck inside working, missing it, not knowing when another nice day would come. When I first arrived in Florida I found myself feeling anxious as I looked out the window from my office, worried I would miss the glory, however it only took me several days to realize that—to my absolute joy—I had nothing to fear, for tomorrow would be beautiful, too. Amazing!
I have thoroughly enjoyed the weather in Florida—yes even the hot summers—for the eight years I have lived here. Of course, I do miss the changing of the seasons to a certain extent, especially autumn, but the freedom I feel when facing the day’s forecast every day is very much worth the trade. Besides, I have only experienced relocation amnesia once since moving here.
Relocation amnesia happens when you move away from a location and forget your reasons for leaving shortly after arriving at your new destination.
This happened to me the first winter I lived in Florida. Come wintertime I found myself dreaming of a white Christmas. I could not get over the absurdity of green lawns with sprinklers-a-spraying and five glowing flamingos. I longed for my nostalgic memories of sleigh rides and hot chocolate by an open fire. Ahhh… those were the days. How quickly memory of reality fades. I learned my lesson, however, when I returned for a holiday trip that winter with the eagerness of a little girl waiting up for Santa Clause. I suffered the same disappointment when I was faced with the reality that my fantasy wasn’t at all what I had expected.
In that glorious moment when I left the airport and drove down what I had envisioned as snow lined streets, reality struck me. There was nothing more than the dirty, crusty chunks where there were once mounds of plowed snow and a smattering of snow spots remaining beneath the gray and baron trees. I was disappointed for a day or two—it was like the death of a dream. But, I was finally able to release my nostalgic attachments and embrace the beauty of the fact that I was blessed to live in a state with absolutely wonderful weather!
I left the airport after arriving back in Florida and was hit by a wall of warm, moist air. Ahhh… now this is what I longed for that day standing by the bare patch by the river.
Spring at last, spring at last…
Lessons of spring:
- Embracing vulnerability builds strength.
- As seasons change, life transforms.
- New growth occurs when one chooses to awaken.
- Never stop reaching for the sun.
Natalie Amsden is the Publisher of Transformation Magazine. She is a transformation life coach, specializing in conscious personal evolution and discovering your purpose. Natalie is also a Motivational Speaker, presenting on topics such as Enlightened Relationships, Personal Transformation, and Entrepreneurship. Connect with Natalie at www.transformationservices.org.