Winter Wellbeing: What are you doing this winter for you?

I live in the north where winter means snow. That means my garden is put to bed. Over the spring, summer and fall, my garden brought me more joy and benefit than usual this year of COVID. It kept me active and gave me precious time away from the computer screen. It was my refuge whether reading or just observing. It was also a place where, for a brief period, we could safely distance and be social with neighbors and friends.

I want to find a winter replacement. Something that gets me up and moving and away from the computer screen where most of my connections are happening these days. Ideally, I’d like to create something, not just clean a closet. Something that brings me joy. I want to do this for me.

What are your ideas? What are you doing for you and your wellbeing this winter?

We plan to put up an ice rink in our back yard after a two-year hiatus. Our kids all skate (hockey or figure skating) and I grew up figure skating as well. I hardly ever get to skate anymore, so having a rink again would allow me a chance to get back to enjoying that again as well as create a space void of phones for our family to spend time together outside! My husband is the ice curator and official (hand-held) Zamboni guy. (We are still working on his comfort on skates.)

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My husband suffers from extreme sensitivity to the cold, so winter is usually torture for him. In the past few years we have invested in battery-operated gloves and socks to try to help during our (brief) times in the Minnesota winter. This year my daughter hit the jackpot – a battery-operated vest!

She gave it to him Monday as an early Christmas gift, and he loves it – yesterday he spent 45 comfortable minutes with me entertaining the littles in their yard – and got to laugh with me at their antics and join in the silliness. So my goal is to get him to join me/us outdoors as often as possible.

The other thing I am doing is making t-shirt "memory quilts" for my husband and daughter for Christmas. I found myself dreaming of block placement of all their precious remnants last night – a sure sign I'm ready to get the layouts exactly right.
Sue

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I began hand crocheting and it is such a good idea for "in budget" Christmas or Hanukkah gifts!

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@amandaburnett

I began hand crocheting and it is such a good idea for "in budget" Christmas or Hanukkah gifts!

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@amandaburnett I have been wanting to try this! Please keep me posted on how this goes and how yours turns out!

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In reply to Amanda…@migizii…this is not too exciting, but I plan to walk outside (ice cleats and all) until the temperature is zero and then I can’t because I get frostbite. I bought a recumbent bike, I walk in circles around my house, i exercise to YouTube videos (light exercise dependent on the day), read, do crossword, and even color…..I also make a point of calling family and friends regularly – especially when walking in the house or I listen to new music, which is always fun.

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@migizii

In reply to Amanda…@migizii…this is not too exciting, but I plan to walk outside (ice cleats and all) until the temperature is zero and then I can’t because I get frostbite. I bought a recumbent bike, I walk in circles around my house, i exercise to YouTube videos (light exercise dependent on the day), read, do crossword, and even color…..I also make a point of calling family and friends regularly – especially when walking in the house or I listen to new music, which is always fun.

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@migizii Good morning. Have you seem our "walking group"? You don't have to be alone when you walk and there's no fear of "catching" anything!
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/lets-go-walking-join-me-for-a-virtual-walking-support-group/

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Much like Sue's @sueinmn husband my hands and feet are really sensitive to the extreme cold in Minnesota. Normally it's not a problem unless we get a lot of snow and it takes me more than 30 minutes to clear it from the driveway and sidewalk. My feet aren't as bad as the hands since I I double up on socks and have felt lined snow boots. I've yet to find the perfect glove to keep my finger tips from feeling like they are getting frostbite after 20+ minutes. I'm currently using hot packs with wool mittens inside of some army surplus leather cold weather mittens. 2 years ago I bought battery powered gloves but they were a total fail for me as they only heated the palms and it's my fingers that get really cold.

So for winter this year I'm starting to get optimistic again. After buying some Fish Monkey Yeti Gloves from Cabela's with some really weird features (squeegees on each pointing finger and nose wipe pads on the back of the thumbs 😂) – https://www.cabelas.com/shop/en/fish-monkey-yeti-gloves.
After spending more than I wanted on the Fish Monkey gloves, I found some different battery powered gloves that heat the back of the hand and the fingers at Costco which I'm hoping will work when it's really cold.

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@johnbishop

Much like Sue's @sueinmn husband my hands and feet are really sensitive to the extreme cold in Minnesota. Normally it's not a problem unless we get a lot of snow and it takes me more than 30 minutes to clear it from the driveway and sidewalk. My feet aren't as bad as the hands since I I double up on socks and have felt lined snow boots. I've yet to find the perfect glove to keep my finger tips from feeling like they are getting frostbite after 20+ minutes. I'm currently using hot packs with wool mittens inside of some army surplus leather cold weather mittens. 2 years ago I bought battery powered gloves but they were a total fail for me as they only heated the palms and it's my fingers that get really cold.

So for winter this year I'm starting to get optimistic again. After buying some Fish Monkey Yeti Gloves from Cabela's with some really weird features (squeegees on each pointing finger and nose wipe pads on the back of the thumbs 😂) – https://www.cabelas.com/shop/en/fish-monkey-yeti-gloves.
After spending more than I wanted on the Fish Monkey gloves, I found some different battery powered gloves that heat the back of the hand and the fingers at Costco which I'm hoping will work when it's really cold.

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John – Minnesotan and Arctic explorer Will Steger would tell you to "ditch the gloves" – for driving, etc they may be fine. I would agree. For time outdoors, wear mittens with wool, shearling or fleece lining (absorbs and sweat while you are moving to keep hands dry) and windproof exterior. Having the fingers together without cold air circulating around them keeps them warmer. All the old ice-fishermen wore "choppers" for exactly that reason – heavy wool liners inside leather or canvas mittens.
My favorites come from REI – I was even able to make slush balls with the boys, and while my hands got a little cold, they were nice and dry.
Sue

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@sueinmn

John – Minnesotan and Arctic explorer Will Steger would tell you to "ditch the gloves" – for driving, etc they may be fine. I would agree. For time outdoors, wear mittens with wool, shearling or fleece lining (absorbs and sweat while you are moving to keep hands dry) and windproof exterior. Having the fingers together without cold air circulating around them keeps them warmer. All the old ice-fishermen wore "choppers" for exactly that reason – heavy wool liners inside leather or canvas mittens.
My favorites come from REI – I was even able to make slush balls with the boys, and while my hands got a little cold, they were nice and dry.
Sue

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I also get cold fingers so have started wearing mittens when shoveling & wear my gloves only when in the car & also have a heated steering wheel that is the best thing since slice bread. I put hand warmers inside my ski mittens & that works great. You can buy the hand warmers at Mills Fleet Farm.
Anita

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@merpreb

@migizii Good morning. Have you seem our "walking group"? You don't have to be alone when you walk and there's no fear of "catching" anything!
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/lets-go-walking-join-me-for-a-virtual-walking-support-group/

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Thx for the invite but I am not very good at sharing on a consistent basis so I decided not to join. You can consider me an honorary member, if you wish, as I walk almost everyday. I don’t mind walking alone as I guess I like the quiet (due to chronic migraines) but if I read you correctly, members of your group, somehow connect with each other when walking?

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@migizii

Thx for the invite but I am not very good at sharing on a consistent basis so I decided not to join. You can consider me an honorary member, if you wish, as I walk almost everyday. I don’t mind walking alone as I guess I like the quiet (due to chronic migraines) but if I read you correctly, members of your group, somehow connect with each other when walking?

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@migizii. . No, we don't talk to each other on our walk if that's what you mean. We share our thoughts, what we see on our walks and sometimes we share pictures… There are quite a few great photographers in the groups. I had supporting and encouraging words from many when my back and hip pain stop me from doing my regular routine, which I am always grateful. There's no requirement that you share everyday either. I join the group in February and I must say it had added so much to my life I'm glad I did it.

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@mayofeb2020

@migizii. . No, we don't talk to each other on our walk if that's what you mean. We share our thoughts, what we see on our walks and sometimes we share pictures… There are quite a few great photographers in the groups. I had supporting and encouraging words from many when my back and hip pain stop me from doing my regular routine, which I am always grateful. There's no requirement that you share everyday either. I join the group in February and I must say it had added so much to my life I'm glad I did it.

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@mayofeb2020 thx for your feedback….I will try to offer occasional insights from my walks, but I’m not a photographer as I just enjoy being outside and being in the woods (as that is where we live). I have found walking in the winter to be such a quiet and peaceful time to walk and we (my husband joins me) rarely ever see people. Today an eagle soared overhead as it must have enjoyed the strong winds that made it very cold and not quiet…..but seeing an eagle (migizii in Ojibwe) fills my soul. ❤️❤️

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@migizii

@mayofeb2020 thx for your feedback….I will try to offer occasional insights from my walks, but I’m not a photographer as I just enjoy being outside and being in the woods (as that is where we live). I have found walking in the winter to be such a quiet and peaceful time to walk and we (my husband joins me) rarely ever see people. Today an eagle soared overhead as it must have enjoyed the strong winds that made it very cold and not quiet…..but seeing an eagle (migizii in Ojibwe) fills my soul. ❤️❤️

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@migizii, I had wondered about the origin of your username. How lovely to hear that it means eagle in Ojibwe. It sounds like you have a special connection to eagles. I'd love to hear more.

FYI to everyone: The winter project I'm turning my energies to is birding. I'm intent on backyard birding. My office is on the second floor and I have the advantage of seeing bird up close and personal in our backyard apricot tree. Especially in the winter it is full of cardinals, bluejays and juncos. The neighbor's property behind us is higher than we are and the red-tailed hawk family love to perch on their tall pine. Birding also gets me away from my desk. I'm learning more about identifying birds and their calls during morning and weekend walks. Naturally my thoughts often return to my garden as I plan which plants to use to attract butterflies, bees and birds.

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@colleenyoung

@migizii, I had wondered about the origin of your username. How lovely to hear that it means eagle in Ojibwe. It sounds like you have a special connection to eagles. I'd love to hear more.

FYI to everyone: The winter project I'm turning my energies to is birding. I'm intent on backyard birding. My office is on the second floor and I have the advantage of seeing bird up close and personal in our backyard apricot tree. Especially in the winter it is full of cardinals, bluejays and juncos. The neighbor's property behind us is higher than we are and the red-tailed hawk family love to perch on their tall pine. Birding also gets me away from my desk. I'm learning more about identifying birds and their calls during morning and weekend walks. Naturally my thoughts often return to my garden as I plan which plants to use to attract butterflies, bees and birds.

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I just walked from my sofa where we were watching the birds at the feeders – to my computer – we moved the feeders to the porch landing this Fall so we could watch from indoors, and it only took a couple days for everyone to find them. I just noticed we have a lone juvenile gold finch hanging around with the cardinals. And juncos are new here – we don't see them in summer. Every couple of days, the birds all disappear, and when I go for my walk I hear the eagles calling as they fly near here.

Here's a fun energy food for your feathered friends:
1 lb peanut butter, 1/2 lb lard, rendered suet or solid shortening (I use one plain suet cake from the farm supply store), 1 lb coarse cornmeal – melt together over low heat, let cool until semisoft and spread on a rough log or pine cones. Roll in hulled sunflower seed (optional) for an extra treat. Hang and watch the birds enjoy. If you use pinecones, I suggest hanging them with wire so the squirrels cannot steal them, which they do if you use twine. Store the extra, covered in a cool place and reapply as needed.

Wish I had a picture of the "feeder logs" our friend makes (not many rough-barked trees in Texas) – about 3-4" diameter & 18-20" long, shallow one inch divots drilled all over to hold the mixture, eye hook in one end for hanging. We use these in TX to fatten up the migratory birds before they begin the trip northward in Spring, here most seed eaters prefer them to suet.

I did this project with my grandson last week and we hung the cones from branches they could see out the picture window.

Sue

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@colleenyoung

@migizii, I had wondered about the origin of your username. How lovely to hear that it means eagle in Ojibwe. It sounds like you have a special connection to eagles. I'd love to hear more.

FYI to everyone: The winter project I'm turning my energies to is birding. I'm intent on backyard birding. My office is on the second floor and I have the advantage of seeing bird up close and personal in our backyard apricot tree. Especially in the winter it is full of cardinals, bluejays and juncos. The neighbor's property behind us is higher than we are and the red-tailed hawk family love to perch on their tall pine. Birding also gets me away from my desk. I'm learning more about identifying birds and their calls during morning and weekend walks. Naturally my thoughts often return to my garden as I plan which plants to use to attract butterflies, bees and birds.

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Hi Colleen! Although I read all the heartfelt messages that come in, I do it in the evening when my energy is low and it’s harder for me to focus and concentrate to give all of you my input, support and care. However, everyone, please know I care deeply for all of you and your journeys…..life has many roads we all must travel and there is so much support here! I thank all of you and am grateful everyday for this space❤️
Now, the origin of my username comes from the Ojibwe name for eagle. I worked with the Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe for many years and the eagle (migizi) is one of the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Although I am not of their tribal background or race, gradually they accepted me and gave me so much in terms of compassion, knowledge, and laughter. I worked in the capacity of mental health, providing therapy to severely emotionally disturbed children and youth in their small community in the school setting, in a Level IV special education program and the Alternative Learning Center. The kids and their families had so many challenges, yet the love that they shared was unconditional and endless in spite of the depths of grief their community often experienced. Ok, I guess I’ve rambled enough. As you probably noticed, I loved my job (in spite of intense stress), but had to retire due to Covid this year because my bronchiectasis interfacing with the kids would be too high risk for my health. Fortunately, I’m now 65 and Medicare is here for me. But now I grieve for the kids and leaving them without therapy right now…..eventually someone will be hired and then they will have new opportunities. Though, as I mentioned, they are used to loss and unfortunately, I am another loss to them. Sorry to make this sound sad….I also grieve my loss to not be there anymore but my health feels more stable, although my energy level continues to stay somewhat low. Thanks for asking and Have a wonderful holiday!

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