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Letting Winter Blow My Mind… a Tale of Awe

How I Discovered Awe In the Depths of Winter

Winter has finally arrived in the Midwest… Our unseasonably warm and dry autumn rolled into the solstice while I was still wearing shorts and clinging to my fantasy that winter would not come this year (oh my, what a beautiful fantasy!).

The single and negative digit temperature shocked me—really shocked me! Blowing my sweet fantasy out of the water.

Ugh! The unbearable cold, ice and snow, layers and layers of clothes to hassle with, and the dogs… oh, my God, the dogs and their delicate little paws in the snow, and their righteous refusals to have anything to do with it save the necessary!

Winter has come to mean that I give up much of the outdoor time in Nature I cherish, and have to devote extra time and energy to staying warm. It’s a hassle. It’s inconvenient. It makes me grouchy sometimes.

But then…

I woke up early on this second day of the New Year and was delighted to see the full moon setting in the western sky. I felt like it was watching over me—warming me—as I sat beneath it in my meditation chair next to the window. I knew it was unforgivingly cold out there, but felt warm and blessed in the moonshine.

As I left my house for an early morning training session at the gym, I saw the moon just as it hit the horizon in the west—a massive orange globe—magnificent!

And as I turned toward my gym in the east, there was the blazing orange sun just cresting the eastern horizon.

I took it all in. And I felt blessed and in awe. Blessed and in awe even on a short day at the nadir of winter (though creeping our way out slowly!), when the arctic temperatures would keep me confined to the indoors.

This reminded me that there is awe all around us. No matter what else there is as well—the short days of winter, the cold and hassle—there is always awe. When I see it, and stop to acknowledge it—even for a few seconds—it changes everything. My perspective. My internal chemistry. My life.

I can totally do winter this year—by seeing—really seeing—what’s there. Letting it blow me away.

From the Archives:

Karyn Shanks, MD. Practice Presence by Cultivating Awe. 2016.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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