I know my friends and family back in the Houston area are complaining about 78 degree temps, so let me just give you a glimpse into our Budapest weather at the moment. There is currently about a foot of snow on the ground in my yard. Yesterday the sun came out for a blissful few hours, and the snow on roofs and balconies began to melt a bit, but the air temperature remained below freezing for the day, as it has been for the past 5 days. Five days. Of below freezing temperatures. You guys, it's one thing to step outside and to be grateful for pockets to keep your hands warm on a cold day; it is another thing entirely to step outside and have any bit of unprotected skin immediately begin stinging as the frozen air slaps that 98.6 degrees right off the surface. To safely go outside, you have to prepare 30 minutes beforehand by putting on an additional 12 layers of warm, waterproof clothing.
Last year, the snow was a novelty. This year, I am seriously ready for spring.
In all seriousness, though, there is a depressing loneliness that accompanies the gray days of winter. I had heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but even with my firsthand knowledge of depression, I questioned its actuality. After walking into the elementary school counselor's office this morning and falling apart over little nothings, I can tell you, SAD exists, and for good reason.
As mentioned before, it takes time and effort to get dressed to go out in this weather, so even if the sun does make a quick appearance, you sometimes talk yourself out of the effort of soaking up some Vitamin D. When there is snow and ice on the ground, it is difficult to find the motivation to get out of the car at school drop-off, so you kiss the kids, watch them walk in, and then you drive away, never speaking to or connecting with the few English speaking friends you would have had in your day. The roads can be messy and dangerous, so rather than have your friend meet you at a coffee shop, you tell them to stay home where they are safe. There is an isolation that can come from the elements. The hibernation can be nice and needed at times, but when connection with people is what gives you refreshment and life, sitting inside your snow globe of a house can be a very lonely thing.
I promise I did not write this post to depress you guys or make you worry about me. I am treating myself with grace, preaching the Gospel to myself, taking my Prozac and chocolate regularly, and excercising to keep the Serotonin flowing. What I really intend in writing this post is if you are in a place where it is 78 degrees, I want to challenge you to get together with your people and to be grateful that the weather is encouraging community rather than isolation.
I was listening to my favorite podcast (The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey), and she had a guest on her show who talked about this awesome thing she does called Neighbor's Table. (*see more info here) She just has people over, gathered around an outdoor dining table. They share a meal, and they enjoy sweet conversation. They connect and share life, even if they began the evening as strangers. Y'all. You can bet your sweet apple pie that once Spring comes to Budapest, I will be doing something of the sort. As much as I love alone time, I believe God created us to do life together. This season of hibernation will come to an end (praise Jesus), and when it does, I want to have my heart and my home ready for people to be welcomed into our space.
But my friends back in Texas, you have no excuse to not get on this now. Today. If you can safely drive to a girlfriend's house and have coffee while you fold each other's laundry, that is life-giving. If two families can get together in one of your backyards and let the kids run and play while you sit and drink tea, you will all be blessed. A potluck dinner shared among friends new and old can only lead to more shared life in the future. You need to do this... because your soul needs it...and because 2000 miles away, I am counting down the days until the snow melts and I can invite people to come to my house and be the best medicine for my SAD.
Last week, Clark, the kids, my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I were in Austria skiing in the Alps (life is really hard for us, I know). We had a wonderful time, and Clark and the big kids are becoming great skiers. Our next vacation will be with friends to Dubai--- FRIENDS+SUNSHINE! WHOOHOO. Here are some pictures from our week in Austria.
Love you more than hot chocolate!