A Walk into the Silent Beauty

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As I gaze out into the expanse of the area around me, I am surrounded by white. The color of purity…and of innocence. It is all around me, and I am engulfed within its presence. It is cold, yet so beautiful. It is a clean slate, and a chance to start anew. Not a single footprint can be seen on its icy coat, and it lights up the area on even the darkest of nights. I close my eyes and listen to its silence, and smile as a snowflake gently kisses my cheek before drifting down to join its comrades. In the sunlight, the sun glimmers off the fresh powder, making it appear like thousands of miniscule diamonds that can never be captured.

When I hear myself talk about this image, I instantly think of a luxurious place that is yet untouched by man. The ironic part of it is that I wrote it late at night after shoveling my suburban driveway. The way that the snow fell around me and the soft whisper of the wind made me feel as though I was in a world of my own.

The Meaning of Winter

The word winter is actually German in reference and was once called wintar. It has altered from the original word of wed which means wet or water. Although many people think of water as the element for summer, winter is the season that encompasses the element to its fullest potential. That is also why water is seen more as a darker element (because the nights are longer) and is considered feminine.

The Paradox of Things

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One of the things I find the most interesting about winter is that it is considered the “dark time” of the year when, in fact, it is not. Winter usually starts on the 21st or 22nd of December (depending on the year) and it purposely coincides with the Winter Solstice. For those that aren’t into astrology, the Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year (and the shortest day). The entire season of winter is about the sun coming out longer and longer. In essence, we are coming out of the dark that fall delivered and slowly making our way towards the warmer months. Ironically, winter is the time when the earth’s northern hemisphere is actually the closest to the sun. I like to think of winter as the sunrise in the morning. Each day that passes in the winter brings the sun higher in the sky for an extended period of light. Within three short months, it will be the Spring Equinox (and the last day of winter), when day and night are equal in time.

The Nature of Winter

As children, we grow up on stories of the bears in the forest that hibernate for the winter, and the birds that fly south for warmer climates. Just like night in the cycle of the average day, winter is a time to rest and recoup our energy. The same could be said for us humans. Although play is certainly always a pleasure (and we will name off just a few ways to do so at the bottom of this blog), winter is important because it is time for reflection and renewal. After the craziness of Christmas, Hanukah, New Year’s Eve, Yule, and so much more, things tend to get very quiet for many people. For those of us in the New England territories (and many other places), the snow falls and makes it tougher for most to get around. Hence, we are more apt to stay inside and binge watch our favorite shows, or stare out at the white expanse and count the days until spring.

Looking into the Mirror

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When I was younger, my friend and I were relaxing by a lake near her house. It was a quiet summer’s night and I remembered talking about what I wanted to be when I grew up. After much thought, she urged me to kneel at the water’s edge and look over into it. When all I saw was myself, she smiled and told me that her grandmother had taught her to close her eyes and think, and then look again. I did and still only saw myself, but when she touched the water, I could swear that my face looked longer and I appeared older and more beautiful before it disappeared. I still wonder sometimes to this day if it did or not, but the point she made afterwards was that I need not look to outside sources to find out who I was, it was in me the whole time. If I wanted to know what I should become, I just needed to pay more attention to myself and listen.

Winter does that for us. It is the mirror we seek at night when we are lost. It is the reflection that stares back at us and the perfect time to look inside and see what we want – and need – within our lives to fill the voids that have been created. For some people, this is a frightening thing. Most of us use the summer activities of barbecues and family events, beaches and parties to distract us from our moments of self-doubt, sadness, and self-discovery. Winter is quiet and reminds us what is there – and what is not. Now this is not true for everybody, but many share in the symptoms when all becomes quiet and they can only hear themselves. The question is: are you ready to listen?

Grasp the Mirror

I love the winter because it is my time to curl up and relax in the late of night. I use it to catch up on things, re-arrange my house, and take the time to learn new things. Every year, I push through the craziness of the holidays and long for the silence that follows so that I can prepare for the year. I invite you to do the same. Below are some things I find fun to do amid the colder season, and some things that can be done to look in the mirror and see your reflection. I would love it if you would like to share some of your own activities or the ones that you have tried and loved. ^_^

Things to do in Winter (After the BIG Holidays)

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-Spring clean the house (I like to do this in the winter so that I can work on the outside in the spring)

-Work on new interior decorating ideas and house projects

-Make a dream/vision board about what you want in your future

-Write a book (the winter is when I do my best writing)

-Sled/ski/snow ball fights/do you want to build a snowman? (sorry, I couldn’t help it)

-Visit family and rekindle relationships

-Cleaning, organizing, and purging the dreaded closet (also, matching new outfits together and having a fun new spin on outfits that needed a new perk)

-Genealogy and interviews for genealogy with family (what better way to spend the afternoon then listening to wonderful family tales from grandma and writing it down for future generations)

-Hot cocoa and fires (in the fireplace naturally)

-Mini trip to a lodge or cabin in the woods

-Family game nights

-Have a post-holiday gathering at your house (wine party, valentines/unvalentines party, book club, Super Bowl party, Girls’ group, home spa day, etc.)

-Start researching a topic that you’ve always been interested in and read a book that covers it in some detail. It doesn’t even have to be something related to your job. It could be something that you’ve just been curious about. My newest curiosity is about how shoes are made.

-Make some goals that you would like to achieve this year

-Write things that you are grateful for

-Start a bullet journal (check out Pinterest if you are interest as there are tons of pins and boards just for this topic) I definitely recommend first making and filling out the bullet journal page called “ten to life” so that you can see the difference as you continue to journal

-Start a journal of any type (adventure journal, emotion journal, creative journal, cooking journal, learning journal, sleep journal, dream journal, etc.)

-and so much more…

"Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius."
               -Pietro Aretino

"The color of springtime is in the flower,
the color of winter is in the imagination."
               -Ward Elliot Hour

References

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/seasons/winter/winter-facts

 
 
The Dance for Myself
I close my eyes as my arms languish up in the air of their own accord. My hips glide – unfettered – to a beat that only I can hear. I am free, and unbridled. My darkened tresses tickle the small of my back as I throw my head back and twirl in sheer abandonment. A secretive smile plays upon my lips as I enjoy the feeling of dancing in the wild. It’s almost as if I have surrendered my conscious self to a higher power and entered into the body of a forgotten goddess. She guides me in my moves and I am happy in my temporary divinity.

Over the exotics beats of the bass, I hear a small giggle and realize that I had forgotten to close the door to my bedroom. My five-year-old smiles at me from the crack in the door and then runs away, presumably to tell daddy that he caught mommy dancing again while cleaning the house. I laugh in return and pretend to give chase before continuing on with the vacuuming.

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The Benefits of Dancing
Dancing has been part of the human race since the earliest of recorded times – and beyond. It is something that does not have to be taught to us. Within each person resides the ability to move to rhythm in a way that makes them feel good. Of course, there are particular dances that are more popular and thousands venture to learn them, but dancing in general does not need to be taught. It doesn’t matter if it is a beautiful couple waltzing across a polished dance floor or a mother tapping her foot while humming to an unknown tune. They are all forms of expression and are unique to each person.

So why have so many people stopped?

Dancing has so many benefits for both the mind and the body. It helps reduce weight and stress, increases flexibility, makes friends and improves romantic relationships. It also helps with muscle toning, flexibility, posture, balance, decreasing the probability of dementia, kinesthetic awareness, mood, and so much more.

Different Forms of Dancing
There is no way that I’ll be able to list all of the formal types of dances, but I’ll try to hit up some of the more popular forms. As I have stated before, formal dance is not a necessity. It is just a suggestion for those that want to try it out. I would love to try out formal dance (if I had more free time), but until I get the chance to do so I will happily dance in my own originally outrageous style. 

 Ballet, waltz, rhumba, barn dances, contras, Bollywood, breakdancing, square dancing, cat daddy, calypso, cheerleading, chicken dance, court dance, conga, cupid shuffle, disco, electric slide, fan dance, flamenco, foxtrot, freestyle, Gangnam style, Harlem shake, hand jive, hula, hustle, ice dancing, Irish dancing, interpretive dance, modern dance, jazz, Japanese traditional dance, crumping, Latin dance, line dance, Macarena, Persian dance, quick step, reggae, salsa, tango, and so much more.

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The Magic of Dancing
When I think of dancing in the past, I love to envision a gypsy fire at the beach on a warm summer night. The breeze is filled with the aromas of sea lavender and ocean air mixed with the exotic scent of the smoldering fire. A merry group of men and women sit around it with various instruments as a lone girl dances near the center. The shadows of her dance cast beautiful shapes across the revelers as she spins and laughs to the beat of the song. The dancing within this image conjures up happiness, sensuality, and comradery.

The same can be true about today’s society. Can you remember a time when you were at a dance club, family gathering, festival, etc. and just danced without caring what people thought? How did you feel?

PicturePhoto by Joe Russo of fstopdown
Special Ways to Dance
Everyone is different, but I would love to share some unique ways that I dance to add magic back into everyday life. I can’t explain it but it makes me feel amazing and I promise you, I am not that good of a dancer. I’m the girl that has been told on countless occasions to “stay in my box” and “keep it simple” for dancing. Regardless, I still love to dance. It is empowering and amazing.

IN THE KITCHEN
-Honestly, one of the most romantic things that I love to do is to cook a meal with some international music playing through my kitchen speakers. I will dance in my kitchen until my husband will come along and begin to waltz with me – or slow dance. Neither one of us has ever taken professional lessons but we get by with the general dance moves, and it feels amazing.

WHILE CLEANING
-As I have stated at the beginning of this blog, I will close the door sometimes to whatever room I am cleaning and start to dance my heart out. Usually I like to listen to Belly dance music on my headphones while I do this (Shakira rocks my Spotify list) but other times I’ll be blasting 80s Freestyle or something similar and upbeat. Not only does it make the cleaning more enjoyable, it also gives me a workout and an ego boost to boot.

WHILE WORKING OUT
-This is the same as cleaning except I usually will listen to fight songs and/or techno. I find that it keeps my heart rate up between reps and puts me in a great mood.

DANCING IN THE RAIN
-I don’t need music at all for this. I just like to dance in the rain, especially when it is one of those rare summer days where the water is warm and you feel like you are in your own little world. I have even pulled my son outside and danced with him in the rain on several occasions. So far he has not questioned my unique hobby and just joins in the revelry with laughter.

DANCING IN THE CAR
-Every so often, I’ll pull up to a stop light and hear music radiating from a car nearby. When the occupant(s) is(are) busting a move to a song that they love, I just can’t help but smile in happiness. I also love to sing my heart out while throwing up one hand and scooching my bum from left to right in my seat (while still following all of the driving laws, of course). It makes the car ride that much more entertaining and sets you up in a great mood for when the drive is over.

MINI GOALS
-It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Some of the coolest dances are those done in sheer happiness. The little dance we do while eating our favorite foods, the infamous signature dances done in football after a touchdown, and the dance of joy we do when something makes us particularly excited are all wonderful examples of the fun mini goal dances out there.


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In Conclusion
It doesn’t matter what your style is or how you do it, dancing is a magical thing that brightens the mood and transcends time. I definitely recommend making a CD, playlist, mix tape, radio station, etc. that is filled with wonderful songs that will get you grooving and keep it someplace for easy access on those days where you just need a little more to the day. Dancing is wonderful to watch and more amazing to do yourself (or with others). If you have other places/ideas for dancing, please share it because I am always looking for more wonderful examples on when to bust my moves.

“Dance is the hidden language of the Soul.” 
-Martha Graham

“I could not adequately describe the way dance makes me feel. It is as though I had somehow found a way to sever the chords holding me to earth and for a moment, if only a fraction of a second, I can fly.”
-unknown

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dances
http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/10409/1/Health-Benefits-of-Dance.html

 

Copyright Melissa Damon