Surviving winter, some tips from a summer lover

Winter is such a controversial season over here. People are pretty much separated in three categories.

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Category A: Winter lovers. These guys will tell you that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. They enjoy the cold and take every occasion to tell you how amazing it was to go jump in snow in the middle of the night when it was minus a billion degrees outside. They will also tell you that the ice storm is soooo beautiful and that snow really is magical.

Category B: The survivors. These people don’t really like winter but have accepted that it’s part of their lives, and so they keep calm and carry on. When prompted about how cold it is or about how much snow there is, they’ll answer: “Well, it’s not that bad. It could be worse.”

Category C: Summer lovers. These people hate winter. In fact, as soon as fall kicks in, their insides start to churn with the irresistible desire to move to Hawaii or Australia. They pretty much suffer all the way to spring, where they come back to life.

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As you can probably guess by the title, this is my crew. This year, when the first snow hit the ground, I pretty much cried myself to the gym. I will often be moaning about how terrible snow shoveling is, or how unbearably cold the temperatures are. To be fair, living in Quebec has given me quite a lot of winter, tons of snow and incredible subzero temperatures. In an effort to embrace the present moment and to not feel miserable for most of the year, here are some strategies and tips I’ve been prescribing myself this winter. Mind you, I’m still looking forward to summer like a lunatic, but even I have to admit winter is not as bad this year.

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  1. Accept the fact that winter is here to stay: Because happiness is a state of mind, I find it easier to wrap my mind around the fact that when winter is here, it’s here. What I mean by this is that by relinquishing the daily hope that it will be summer for a day, it’s easier to accept that it’s winter and that snow and cold are part of it.
  2. Worship the sun: Because sun is such a rare commodity in the winter months, take every opportunity to soak in every tiny ray of it. Sunbathe behind a window, take that sunsoaked bench at the gym, stop what you are doing and go put your face in the light for a few minutes.  winter6
  3. Create a going outside routine: If it was up to me, I would stay in bed until spring, but that is not happening any time soon. So, I try to make going outside part of my routine. Lately, I’ve been enjoying listening to podcasts while I walk outside in the morning. Adding this to my morning routine means that I have to kick myself out of bed a tad earlier, but it also means that I’ve moved around a little bit before I start working. It also means that I’ve been outisde and survived the cold already.
  4. Explore the outside world: Go on small day trips on the week-ends and explore what different parts of your city or region have to offer in the winter months. This winter, we discovered that a neighbouring town had a really cute ice-skating rink overlooking a spectacular lake. It was cold, it was wet, but we had a lot of fun! winter5
  5. Embrace chilling sessions: Once you have been brave and got your butt outside, treat yourself to some nice chilling sessions. Grab your favourite sweather and book and enjoy being inside. Make it special, make it Danish, and go full hygge style!

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I really hope these tips will help you get through the last months of winter! Spring is almost there, and well, for once winter is not completely killing me. What are your tips?

Book Review: The Little Book of Hygge

I had my eyes on this book for a while, and, so, when I saw The Little Book of Hygge, by Meik Wiking at my local bookstore, I just had to bring it home. Hygge was all the rage last year with our European neighbors. I have to say, the hygge craze is yet to catch in Canada, or at least where I live. Most people I talk to have no idea what hygge is. This is really too bad as it is such an amazing concept: cosying up and enjoying time with people you love… hum, yes, please!

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As I learned in the book, Hygge is a Danish word that can be roughly translated as comfort, warmth and togetherness. Hygge is also about contrast: a warm cup of tea and your favourite book vs. a raging snowstorm outside. Sounds familiar anyone? That’s because the Danish people have a rough climate just like we, Canadians, do! That’s why I think Hygge should be completely adopted by Canadians and other cold climate inhabitants.  I mean, I don’t need any excuses to stay in bed when the weather is miserable, but hygge brings this idea to a whole new level.

As you have gathered by now, I really enjoyed feeling backed up by an entire country in my cosying up. Seriously, a book that allows, supports and encourages staying warm and comfortable? Yasss, please! But, if you are not completely sold on the idea of a warm blanket with your favourite movie playing, well the book has a lot more to offer than cosy-up ideas.

The book itself is beautiful. The editing on this is great: beautiful paper, inspiring pictures and easy to read chapters. Plus, it’s the perfect size to read in bed: it’s not too big, not too small, just perfect! The author’s voice is also very friendly and relatable. While reading this book, I had the feeling of exchanging with a friend. I loved the personal anecdotes that make Hygge so much more understandable and the read enjoyable.

The content of the book is also very practical and really makes Hygge accessible now. With a clear emphasis on experiences and simple changes in your house, this book is perfect if you are into the minimalist wave and don’t feel like buying a whole lot of new things to get a Hygge vibe. It includes everything from activity ideas, to crafts and recipes. Yum!

I also really enjoyed being plunged into the Danish culture. Growing up I have always been fascinated by Scandinavia, and when I recently learned that I had Danish and Norwegian ancestry (DNA test, anyone?), it just felt natural to want to learn more about these cultures. The book is filled with anecdotes illustrating the Danish culture and way of living. It’s the perfect preamble to a trip to Copenhagen (totally on my bucket list, btw).

Finally, with world seeming to be completely out of control these days, this book was the perfect relaxing read before going to bed. I really enjoyed reading it every night, and really felt sad to finish it. Luckily, Sweden has Fika and Lagom, and Denmark also has Lykke, so there are other words to explore and adopt. Wishing you a very Hyggelig rest of the week!