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Winter Wasting-Wonderland

Winter is cold. A two year old could tell you this. Winter is windy, especially where I live in Fargo, ND. Winter is chilling to the bone. Winter is also majestic and peaceful. There is nothing more peaceful than sitting on your apartment deck and watching the fresh snow fall to the ground while hearing it softly pile atop the wood paneling. One of my favorite things to do is sit on my porch wrapped in a blanket with a cup of cocoa and just watch the snow fall. Winter is one of the most hated seasons by most, but it is one of my absolute favorites. When people tell me that they hate Winter and cannot wait until Summer, it makes me wonder if they are seeing the season for all of its worth. We are all too busy holding our heads down shuffling to the nearest door to get into shelter. Hold your head high and embrace the world around you. Look for beauty in the day given to you.

As a child, we love winter. We love going outside and coming inside to warm cocoa with marshmallows and our favorite Disney movie. What changed? What has made our society so negative on this beautiful season? Winter holds the peace and calmness of a world that is at rest. A world that has slowed down for a while to re-charge and get ready for the time to come. When we think about a tree during the Winter, they are storing energy in the winter to help grow leaves in the spring. Every season has a theme and a story to tell. Winter is not the evil step sister that is to be shunned from the seasonal family. Winter allows me time to reflect, relax, and regenerate for the incoming seasons. We know Summer is always busy with graduation, vacations, and trips to the cabin. Spring calls for cleaning and Fall calls for building relationships and being outside with the beautiful leaves. Winter, on the other hand, is more relaxed and mellow. Winter is a beautiful thing.

I remember a time in Biwabik, MN on the iron range with my Nordic ski team. We were told to go ski, go get lost on the trails and enjoy the time that we had in this great area. My group and I went out to the middle of the trails and got lost. At that time, while my other two friends were freaking out because we were lost, I found myself in a state of peace and a calm awareness of the world around me. Listening to the wind hollowing through the trees and seeing a world of white was just what I needed to feel free. I felt invincible. I wanted to stay in that moment forever because it was so peaceful. After continuing onward, the only sound we could hear was the “swish, swish, swish” of our skis and the “pft, pft, pft” of our poles going through the snow. This feeling of serenity and full relaxation is why I love Winter.

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I live in the Midwest and we are accustomed to getting huge amounts of snow dumped on us at one time. (This year, not so much) It really makes me sad when residents of the East Coast complain that they are getting snow and whine when they are living in a world of opportunity and possibility. Go out with your children and build a snow fort, a snow man, or have a snowball fight. Forget about the driveway, you can clean it later. Allow time for fun. Besides, when it snows, the temperatures have to be just right which means it is not too cold outside. Take the snow day head on and enjoy the day for its name. Sometimes we get so negative about the beautiful precipitation falling from the sky that I don’t think we even realize that we are doing it. Why live in such a negative state of mind that you can’t even enjoy the smallest amount of clean, white, snow. I can’t wait till Summer when I can hear everyone start to complain about it being too hot or too humid because it seems that everyone will always have a problem and a complaint about something somewhere that will influence their negative attitudes.

Have you ever walked in a blizzard? Have you ever walked through snow drifts that are up to your waist en-route to McDonald’s, just to find out that it is closed? I have. That was one of the most memorable nights of my college career. Being outside when no one else would dare step out their front door and walk a mile just to be outside, that is what I wanted. I was sick of watching it snow from the inside and I wanted to experience the cornflakes sized snow flakes myself. Atop my head, on my shoulders and even in my mouth. Besides, when is the next time I will be able to live in an area where it blizzards once per year? Embrace the season upon us for all of it’s beauty and personality. Every day is a gift. Don’t live your life indoors being a hermit because you are afraid to be cold and have a runny nose.

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The hipster lifestyle chose me.

Hipster (N) a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.

As I sit here on a Monday afternoon drinking a cup of organic coffee sporting a flannel with a handmade scarf, I wonder if I have caved into the hipster lifestyle that is sweeping the nation. I quickly realize that this has been my lifestyle for the past five years when I decided to start making choices that influenced my interpersonal self and was not influenced by the media telling me what I should be doing. I know, so hipster and mainstreamed. But really it wasn’t the most popular thing to do back in 2009. Choosing organic, supporting non-profit organizations and deciding to embrace my love for flannel outside of the cabin up north was a decision that I chose on my own, before the influence of the hipster lifestyle came into play. The stereotypical hipster is only what the media wants us to believe is popular and cool; when in all reality, we have been living among these ‘hipsters’ all of our lives with different identities. It’s not like someone concocted a mixture of beards, flannel, tight pants, converse shoes, and some indie music to create the stereotypical hipster. I can promise you that I will not tell you what is cool and what is mainstreamed; you know because all hipsters dictate what is mainstream and what isn’t. The hipsters that fit into the above stereotype are the ones that are trying to be a hipster and trying to fit into the desired social group. True hipsters do not want to be publicized and showcased for being themselves. This is why I say the hipster life chose me, because I did not influence myself to become popular or fall into the current trend. I told myself to be true to my own identity and embrace the lifestyle that I enjoy most.

When we think about how the hipster lifestyle has evolved over the years, it really gets brought back to the early 2000’s when Ashton Kutcher wore the Von Dutch hat and suddenly everyone was Ashton with the hat, sunglasses, and occasional bandanna. The hipster lifestyle then evolved to being focused around music and keeping up with the local bands, not the top 40 hits. Guilty. That was me all through high school. I did not appreciate the electronic sound of top 40 and if a band could throw out an acoustic album that is full of soul, I would be right there in the front row of their next concert. The hipster moved on into 2008 when the flannel loving Paul Bunyan with a slouchy hat came into your class. Tight pants came next with those mainstreamed v-neck t-shirts. If a female was spotted with a camera in a dress, they were immediately pegged as the hipster. This was the modern day hippie that is mirrored from the 70’s. Every era has their hipster from the wing-tipped shoes and bow-ties of the 60’s to the chunky sweater and bright colored lovers of the 80’s. Moving into the past few years, the hipster lifestyle has become less of a physical appearance and more about their lifestyles and their ideals. That’s where I fit in. We appreciate nature, the simple things in life, and doing good things for the earth and we are not afraid to stand up for what we believe in. My lifestyle and passions should not categorize me into the wanna-be hipsters since I my life has been so hipster for the past five years. It makes me squeamish to even think about calling myself a hipster, but in all reality it is a lifestyle that has been formed around me. I chose to go organic and all-natural before the hype of GMOs and HMOs and oh no here is another three letter acronym for something that they are artificially putting into our food. I chose to knit and do hand made crafts before it was mainstreamed to sell on ETSY. I chose my music taste before today’s hipsters decided to turn it into a social stereotyped scene. Name brands, not for me. Make up, not for me. Ingesting pesticide filled food that has been pumped with hormones, not for me. I chose my lifestyle and slowly watched the society form around the same beliefs and parameters I live my life around.

On that note, who decided that the male hipster should have chiseled cheek bones with beautiful hair and a freshly waxed mustache but the female hipster has to look like a college drop out with gauges and frumpy clothing? I would like to think I carry myself well and keep hygiene up to a pretty high standard over some people in our community. The idea of being hipster is an attractive look on males but looks almost homeless on the female population.

In a recent outing with a few classmates, a mutual friend told me to stop being so hipster. Stop being so hipster? Should I just stop being who I am and showcasing my passions on my Nalgene water bottle and cave to the latest trend because that is what society is telling me to do? I’m sorry, but I have too much confidence and pride in who I am to fall into the ‘popular’ lifestyle and try to be something that I am not. I guess I am hipster because I would rather have a home-brewed craft beer over the mainstreamed domestic draft. So I will go back to drinking my organic coffee at a coffee shop that has a great art vibe and enjoy the simple life because before we know it, the term hipster will change and I will no longer fit that stereotype.