I have never seen so clearly that these activities are meant to transport us with our minds, while our bodies stay put. It has been hard for me to reckon with another winter ahead of sheltering in place — though I am happy to do this and will be taking things slow to stop the spread of COVID.
Some days I am so sick of screens, I cannot watch any moving-pictures content. I cannot scroll.
Lately the way I need to reset and escape is straight-up using my imagination. Like small children do. Part of this has been honed by mindfulness practice; part of this springs from trying to write evocative prose and stretching myself to think in images then write them out.
I can’t recall what day I felt I was too grown to play pretend anymore, to get lost in imagination. I know 8th grade when when I started writing fictional stories that would fully absorb me, and I realized that this used the same muscles as pretending.
So far in Winter 2022, I start my mornings letting the sun shine in from my backyard, with a brick fireplace behind me and a hot espresso in hand, and I tell myself: Pretend you’re at a ski lodge.
Why a ski lodge? I’ve never even been to one. I don’t think the setting actually matters. That just seems like a cozy getaway, to me.
I spent all of college playing with a novel I never finished–I was aware that my own brain and identity were changing too rapidly for me to commit that long and detailed of a story to paper. In one chapter, the characters hole up in Colorado after Christmas. I’d never been to Colorado and I’d never been skiing, but I know I Googled that crap out of both those things in 2005.
I still haven’t ever been to Colorado (outside the Denver airport) and I’ve never been skiing. I also thought I was impervious to the Scandinavian design style craze; I thought hygge was kind of obvious.
I was wrong.
While I am pretending my own living room is a vacation destination I’ll only get to visit for a short time, I often generate ideas to treat myself at home. It’s a cycle of coziness.
I want to share some of my soothing practices BUT I don’t want anyone to buy anything, really. In the last year and a half I have personally stopped using that mega shopping empire site and I try not to online-shop my lockdown away. I don’t want more things (except books) and this is NOT a roundup of things you should buy. Your list can and should be different!
But for what it’s worth, here is a list of my winter comforts. Post-holiday blues seem to hit me worse every year, so I am trying to be present with these treats. And yeah, though I have never been to one, these help me to play this game with myself: Pretend you’re in a ski lodge.
- Coffee is the most comforting substance in my life. I love it hot or iced. I love its smell. But eventually, I hit a wall and cannot drink any more acidic caffeine for the day. When this happens I have been treating myself with a coffee-like tea substitute, steamed oat milk, maybe some honey, maybe a shot of hazelnut syrup.
- Essential oil diffuser. I have an allergy to several essential oils, so I am pretty choosy about what I use. But lit candles bother me too, allergy-wise, and I don’t understand why I have to grow old and uncomfortable with everything. ANYWAY! Lately, I like cedar oil in the diffuser. It smells like I am deep in some old woods.
- Thick wool socks.
- Scarves. The indoor kind, not the outdoor kind. I have so many! This will be the third winter I am telecommuting and so my officewear continues to gather dust. But not my pashmina scarves!
- And not my sweaters! Thick cord, cable-knit, bring it on. Lately, two fairisle prints make me feel like I do live in an Ikea catalog.
How are you treating yourself this COVID lockdown winter? Where do you like to imagine yourself traveling?