I love the winter. When asked what my favorite season is, without hesitation, I say winter. People in New England wonder why they live here… with its cold mornings and blizzards and bone chilling wind. We shiver our way through what seems like a 6 month long winter.. our only hope: that spring will come, flowers will bloom (pollen will fly! we will sneeze!), and the sun will thaw us out from the cold winter freeze.

But there is something about winter. Maybe its because I come from a family of die hard skiers… so winter means driving up to the mountains, hitting the slopes, and ending the day with a cup of hot chocolate. But even more than that, I think it’s the winter time that makes us appreciate the spring, the summer, and the fall.

I’ve never lived in Florida, or a warm climate… so I don’t know what its like to have “warm” weather all year round. Some would claim they wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I get that. But I think we need a little snow, a little wind, and a little chill in our lives. It would be so boring without it. How good does it feel to sit by a fire when you’ve been freezing all day? How great is it once your car is finally warmed up on a chilly morning? How much do you love pulling the covers up to your ears and staying warm all night? Without the cold, a fire is just a fire… a blanket is just a blanket, we cannot appreciate these things without going through the shivers and the shakes first.

If you’ve been reading my blog for long enough, you know that my favorite quote is “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Maybe I should add on to that… Life is about skiing in the blizzards, about adding on the layers when it’s cold, its about appreciating a hot cup of tea on a 20 degree day, about belly flopping in the snow instead of staying inside. Lately, I’ve had to remind myself that pain and struggle don’t last… and neither does the winter. But what the winter does teach you is how to appreciate the warmth of the sun and the beauty of the snow.

The past couple of weeks, I had a roller coaster of emotions. Without going into too much detail, I was feeling a bit “stuck” in life, experiencing the notorious unfulfillment of being a new grad with so much to offer the world, but with no avenue to do so. Living away from home, I was missing my family, my friends, the comforts of home, or college, or life without worrying about how to pay rent and how to advance in my career, and how to still have fun and enjoy life. And to top it off, I wasn’t feeling 100% physically (see what stress does to you!). I was in a slump, we all get in those slumps from time to time.. where things go from bad to worse. To top it off even more, it was starting to get dark at 4:30 and freezing cold, and it seemed like I would spend the whole winter in this depressing state of mind. But as I said, pain doesn’t last.

One day, I opened up my cabinet and saw a mug that my incredible cousin had given me for graduation… it had my favorite quote on it “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I filled it up with hot water, plopped in a tea bag, took a sip, sat down at my computer… and I wrote. I wrote about all of these struggles I’d been having, I wrote about how I would go about fixing them. And then I realized, I’ve been in this slump because I had been waiting for the storm to pass. I had been waiting for the winter to be over in order for life to get better. But what I needed to do was… dance in the rain, bellyflop in the snow, ski in the mountains.

So I went up to Vermont… I skied on a beautiful day with two wonderful friends. I signed up to volunteer at a dog shelter, and felt high from all the energy and love from all the dogs at the shelter.. and the people who worked there to save these dogs lives. I started to see the opportunity that lay ahead for me in my career, and began to realize that I was so lucky to be in a job I was passionate about, where I could grow, regardless of what I may or may not be doing now.

Without that slump, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate how lucky I am, how great life is, and I wouldn’t have had my eyes opened to the many blessings that surround me. Since I am a lover of quotes, I have an app on my phone that displays a positive quote daily. One day, it said something along the lines of: “Instead of worrying about the things you want…. think about all of the things you don’t want, that you don’t have.” It really put things into perspective, there is so much that I want: success, more money, a longer life, no more student loans… but I am also blessed with a life largely untouched by struggle. I mean sure, there’s the whole having-a-life-threatening-illness thing, but right now… I’m healthy. I’m living. And life is good. There is so much more that could go wrong, and I’m lucky enough that it hasn’t. I needed that slump, that winter, that cold to realize that.

Pain doesn’t last….in fact, I think we need a little pain from time to time in order to truly recognize what, in life, truly makes us happy.