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Challenge: Winter Survival Secrets

When You Hit a Wall, Decorate It

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I think about what it feels like to throw open my windows on a warm spring day as I clean, organize, and create. My refrain of “what’s next?!” is full of zeal; the next project, the next task, the next activity all lined up waiting with impatience.

On this winter day I am going through those same motions, but with no enthusiasm. “What next?” is my call of defeat. My understanding that the work is never done, that nothing will be as fulfilling on a dark winter day, and that it’s one foot trudging in front of the other until April. It arrives slowly, leaving me in fearful apprehension as I wait – the tendrils of dead roots want to hold me in place as I stand in the cold shadow of Winter. The wall leapt up to meet me this year, and as usual I ran into it face first, so busy trying to see ahead to Spring that I wasn’t watching my path. Now I am walking the perimeter, searching for cracks of sunlight and warmth. A groundhog sits beside me, talking of early Spring. Lies. Next it’ll tell me that I just need to get outside! Get some sunshine! Marmot meteorologists are the worst.

Winter seems to make me talk in extended metaphors.

The truth is that it does feel like a giant wall blocking my way. I can’t go over it, under it, or around it, so I feel stuck waiting for it to melt away as we March towards warmer days. Things tend to look less crisp, colors muted, the never-ending static in my brain a little louder. Even as I know that it will get better, it is difficult to see through these February days. My desire is so simple, so basic, but so unattainable. I just want to open my house to a warm breeze, and do the things. All the things.

It’s not that every moment is bleak; I’m swimming through pudding, but at least I’m swimming, knowing how much better it can be. Winter is a season guilty by comparison. I muster moments of inspiration, but they lack a sense of accomplishment and eagerness. I’ve been slowly turning the outside of my house into an artificial and comically large garden. It’s dorky and ridiculous – a state of being I can work with. Once again I am thankful that my husband doesn’t even blink when I say, “I am breaking this mirror into a million tiny pieces because won’t that look like rain drops?”

A million raindrops reflecting sunlight onto the brightest flowers spray paint can buy me. I’m fighting back against Winter, because if I can’t beat it I might as well upcycle it. If I have to stand in the shadow of the wall, I will decorate that sonofabitch.

Winter is here. But at least I have flowers.


Rhiannon Giles is an overwhelmed mother who only occasionally considers giving her children to the circus. She has a sarcasm problem and writes regularly at To keep up with new posts and see some of her favorites, join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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