A few weeks ago, already well into fall, I was walking on Queen Street when I spotted a friend coming towards me. “You look so happy,” she remarked. Apparently, I’d been strolling along with a big smile plastered across my face. I received her words with pride, having worked hard over the past few years to transform myself from a cup-half-empty kind of girl to one who lives with her cup half-full. That said, with the onset of winter in Toronto I’ve been struggling a little to maintain my sunny disposition. And I know I’m not alone.

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I respect the legitimacy of your disorder and don’t deem myself worthy of offering advice. While I have first-hand experience with depression, it’s never been seasonal and I’m no expert on the matter.

If, however, you simply find yourself feeling a little bummed given the reality of shorter days combined with frequent rain, sleet and snow, I’d like to share three little words that I am coming back to as the big chill officially sets in. They are my mantra; the words I turn to for strength so that I can make it through a Canadian winter with my sunny disposition intact.

Weather is weather.

“No shit, Sherlock,” you may say. Yes, I know, I’ve just stated the obvious, but let me tell you the story behind the words that have become a favourite mantra of mine.

My Grandma Berta, may she rest in peace, passed away just shy of her 103rd birthday. While I didn’t chat with her often enough (hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?), we did enjoy frequent long-distant calls between her home in England and mine in Canada. Besides weekly visits with my parents, she didn’t get out and about much so she had little news to share with me. Instead, she took joy in listening to me ramble away — about my work, my husband, my daughter, and even my dog. And of course, she would always ask about the weather. It’s what we do, right?

Living in a country of extremes, I would tell her about the heat and humidity, the cold and the windchill factor, the sun, sleet, rain, slush and snow. And at the end of every meteorological update, regardless of its contents, she would say to me, “oh well, weather is weather.” Or more precisely, “oh vell, veder is veder.” (She had a strong Hungarian accent.)

Those three little words always made me smile, but I don’t think I truly took them on board until she died. From then on, every time she came to mind, so did her words. In fact, they were so prominent after her passing that I decided to designate them her legacy to me.

Dancing grandma with a sunny disposition

Dancing with my grandma on her 90th birthday.

Despite her stormy past, she had a sunny disposition.

My grandma had a sister called Rosie. Her life was anything but. Yes, she lived a long and healthy life. But she was long-predeceased by her husband, her siblings, and even one of her sons. And that was just the latter part of her life. The early part was no picnic.

I’ll spare you the details because this post is about the weather, not the Holocaust. Suffice to say she experienced more suffering than those who haven’t walked a similar path could ever imagine. A path along which her survival was dependent on her inner strength because she could not control the outside elements. A path that can’t help but teach you not to sweat the small stuff, albeit in the harshest way. One that taught me to pursue a sunny disposition, whatever the weather.

And so it is that I find myself revisiting and updating this post in the hopes of reminding myself (and perhaps you) that a sunny disposition has everything to do with the heart and nothing to do with the elements.

Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather; just bad gear.

Don’t miss out on the blessings of today and wish away the time by longing desperately for spring and summer. If you do that, next winter will be here before you know it and we haven’t got through this one yet!

Wishing you joy and happiness, vudever de veder!

Viv for today xo

(Originally published in August 2017)

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