6 Things Saving Me in This Long Cold Winter

the Cardinal in the Woods

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” -J.M. Barrie (creator of Peter Pan)

There are winters, and then there are winters. I’m talking about the latter. These winters are the kind that solidify the blood in our veins and make us stronger people, in general. I believe that; I do.

I also am a firm believer in the philosophy of taking a difficult situation (like this frigid winter) and turning it into something useful. While I’ve thought about how to make this long, cold winter into something useful and positive, I’ve realized there are 6 things saving me right now …

God gave us memory so we might have roses in December. -JM Barrie

The 6 Things Saving Me in This Long, Cold Winter

1. Painting

I love to paint, but I admit I haven’t made enough easel time in recent years. For 2014, I’m determined to paint and finish 1 canvas each month this year.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

The View of Tuscany from Siena's Walls, Italy: oil painting: 36" x 48
The View of Tuscany from Siena’s Walls, Italy: oil painting: 36″ x 48

I painted the one above this fall (2013) and finished the one below last weekend (Jan ’14).

The View of Tuscany from Siena's Walls, Italy: oil painting #2: 18" x24"
The View of Tuscany from Siena’s Walls, Italy: oil painting #2: 18″ x24″


2. Photography

Winter has unbeatable low lighting and dramatic shades of monochromatic blacks, grays, and whites. This winter, in particular, has been cold and stunning.

the Cardinal in the Woods
the Cardinal in the Woods


3. Flowers

In the dead of winter, I need flowers — whether it’s forcing bulbs to bloom indoors or dreaming up what I might plant this coming spring, I need the thought of new growth and life in the dead of winter.



4. Books: Writing and Reading

It’s a long process, working on a novel, polishing it and submitting it and waiting … it’s one that requires much faith and patience, belief and hope. In the meantime, I’ve been working on writing my next novel, which really does save me.

I love to write and write because I must. Like most writers who work and work until they break in, I have several novels in the drawer. But I have something that must be written, something I’m very excited about allowing to come to life through me, and so I’m writing another novel. This time, my work-in-progress novel is set in Prague, the city I love which I moved from with my family about a year ago after living there for four years. Prague is the ultimate city of mystery and beauty. I’m loving living there in my head as I work through the first draft this winter. It, and the writing itself, have me wrapped up and loving this winter. Foul weather is the sweetest thing for writers.

On the flip side of writing, I also love to read and have had the immense privilege of reading two novels in the past two weeks which are not yet on shelves, and the third I loved so much I must mention it here as well.

The first: Tatiana de Rosnay (author of Sarah’s Key) ‘s newest novel, The Other Story The Other Story by Tatiana de Rosnay

Set on an island off the Tuscan coast of Italy, The Other Story is about a famous young author as he comes to terms with his past. It’s provocative and interesting as the writer, promiscuous and irresponsible, learns what it is to stand on his own two feet and become the man he wants to be. I highly recommend it.

The second: Robin Oliveira’s I Always Loved You: I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira

The story of Impressionist master artists, Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, set in Paris, and their enchanting love affair. It not only has the most beautiful cover I’ve seen in years, but also has the most beautiful writing and telling of historical story that I’ve read recently. I highly recommend it.

The third: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams  A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

If you’re longing for a beach, sunshine, sand, and an unrelenting story, you must go out and find a copy, read it, and then loan it to all of your favorite friends. They’ll thank you for it a hundred times. It’s set in 1930s Rhode Island and New York City, and is a love story tangled up in betrayal, desire, which makes it unputdownable–the best kind of read. I highly recommend it. And I’m not the only one who loves A Hundred Summers… my teammate at Great New Books, Nina Badzin will be recommending it there next week.

5. Exercise

My favorite place apart from home this winter is the nearby family gym. We didn’t have access to a single place to run around in when we lived in Prague, which if you’ve ever overwintered with three energetic and highly rambunctious boys in a subzero Celsius climate, you understand that I really appreciate it now. And, I’m finding this winter that if I time my daily miles just right, I’m getting caught up with good shows I missed while abroad, including Grey’s Anatomy. Loving it.

6. Friends

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t give a huge amount of thanks for the wonderful times with friends and the camaraderie, often spontaneous, always side-splitting with laughter, for making hibernation really great.

So … Spring … is it around the corner, Punxsutawney Phil? Either way, it’s been a good winter. I’d love to hear how you best make it through the long, cold winter!

Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

12 thoughts on “6 Things Saving Me in This Long Cold Winter

  1. What a stunning post, Jennifer. Brightened up an otherwise gloomy Wednesday for this girl. Your paintings are spectacular. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jennifer,

    When speaking of Prague, you mentioned you are “loving living there in your head.” I love that thought. I’ve always wanted to visit Nantucket Island and have been visiting there in my head this winter. I’ve also been dreaming about what I’ll plant in my garden and have been surfing pinterest for ideas to pin on my boards. I’ve read “The Lavender Garden” and am looking forward to reading “Becoming Josephine.” All of these activities, plus watching Downton Abbey have made my winter very enjoyable.

    1. I agree: thinking of garden work and spring helps. My boys laughed when we were talking about working on our hillside in the backyard, because our ground is covered in snow and probably will be frozen solid for months on end. But imagining the world growing again absolutely lifts my spirits.

      The Lavender Garden was a good story, wasn’t it? We have the author, Lucinda Riley, joining us at GreatNewBooks.org in March for her newest book launch. Thank you for sharing, Kim!

  3. Hi Jennifer,
    Love your site in general and this post in particular. Your photos, paintings (and writing!) are spectacular and inspiring. What’s keeping you motivated during the harsh winter can easily become a manifesto for any artist or individual being true to themselves. If we think of 6 things we love and make time to do them, we will all reach an admirable state of fulfillment. Today I took some time off my daily grind to catch up to myself. Now that I’ve read this post, I am inspired to go out for a jog and them settle in for some writing once I’m back home.

  4. We’ve definitely been spoiled with the mild winters in recent years. When the cold is seeping into my bones, I’ll think of your lovely paintings. They are stunning. Do you paint them from memory, or do you use a photos as inspiration?

    1. Hi Jackie! Thank you for your kind words! Yes, I think I paint from a combination of the two — from photographs, but also from the feeling of standing in that place, from what I remember. Tuscany is one of those places which spoke to me in full color — the blue of the olive groves, the green of the sheep pastures, the yellow of the grains or vineyards in autumn when they turned, and the terracotta red of poppy fields or rooftop tiles or in autumn, the harvested fields. Thank you!

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