#1: If you’re always thinking about winter, you will never enjoy fall.

Home Sweet, Sweet Home.
Home Sweet, Sweet Home.

I’m a Florida girl, not just in the “that’s where I was born and raised” kinda way. I’m talking salt water coursing through these veins of mine, a craving for “real” Florida OJ, and normally calloused, sandy feet from walking barefoot or in flip flops. I’m so Florida that a day without the sun is like a day without oxygen. Okay, now I might be a little dramatic, but seriously, how do people live without a daily dose of sunshine?

I promise that first paragraph is related to the rest of this. Follow me.

I’ve been living in Belarus for about 10 months now. I definitely wouldn’t call it home, but I’ve made my place here and also some great friends along the way. The biggest adjustment (next to language, of course) is weather. For some of you, seasons are a normal thing. For the Florida girl, seasons mean “hot” and “hotter.” Ya feel me?

The view of winter.

So the whole concept of layers and socks and lined boots, not to mention hats and gloves and scarves—this method of dressing is beyond me. I literally have to use my entire closet to get dressed in the morning. What happened to “throwing on” shorts and a T-shirt? Well, here, you can’t just “throw on” anything. You have to think about how it will fit under every other piece of clothing you pile on top. Can you tell I stress out a little in the mornings?

Not lately. See, I arrived in January—the dead of the winter. I think my mind was so preoccupied with the whole “what on earth have I just done?” question that I wasn’t really thinking about clothes. I was just trying to make sure I was breathing, and that my stomach was still attached to my body. I survived winter. Begrudgingly, yes, but I survived.

Celebrating warm weather with Anna in Lithuania.

And then came spring. Glorious spring! I’m pretty sure I woke up chirping with the birds and blossoming with the flowers. The sun made a more permanent appearance, and my spirits were through the roof. Albeit, still a bit chilly for my taste, spring came with the promise that everything would be okay.

Fast forward a few months, and, “Helllooooooo, Summer!” Man, I had missed the heat and the way days are nearly twice as long as they are in winter. I was in my prime. I felt more at home. This was the climax of my year, as far as weather goes.

Just outside my front door. And no edits whatsoever.

Enter fall. I have to admit that seeing the leaves change is one of those “pinch me” experiences. Can leaves really be that brilliant right before death? They can, and this was my second year witnessing it. The brilliance got overshadowed quickly though, by the awareness that with every dropping leaf, we are transitioning into the worst of the worst—winter.

Looking down at fall.

My apartment has been freezing. I wake up and want to sleep the rest of the day. I can’t even walk barefoot in my own apartment anymore! Slippers are my new best friends. I’m so not okay with this. The heat is gone for good, which is maybe why my showers have been hotter than usual. Did I mention that I hate the cold?

The leaves are still changing, though many have dropped and turned terrible shades of brown. There is still brilliance, but I haven’t been noticing that as much. I’ve been thinking about the imminent doom to come upon us.

How will I survive?

I think about putting on layers and walking in snow and always keeping my chin tucked to my chest. I think about cold hands (even with gloves) and a red nose. I think about chapped lips and a dry mouth (which has already started—ugh!). And then I think, “Who in the world likes this whole winter thing? I’m going back to Florida!”

My favorite view lately: laundry waving in the fall breeze.

But it’s still fall.

There are shades of red and orange and green that occur as a rarity in nature. In this season, I am breathing in crisp air and surrounded by unimaginable color. I’m even able to stand at a bus stop without getting frostbite.

I haven’t thought about any of those things, because I am too busy looking ahead at winter. Oh, how seasons weave their way into our bones. As I look back, I see many seasons in my own life—the “Vote for Chelsea for student council president” season, the “hair slicked back with a poodle ponytail” season, the “licensed to drive and blaring Taylor Swift on the radio” season, the “what do I do with my life?” season (oh, wait…I’m still in that one!). The seasons come and go, our tastes and talents change, even our friends change.

I can spend all my time anticipating the next season, or I can embrace the one I’m in and make the most of it. I can worry about what I will do or who I will meet or where I will live, or I can thank God for what I’m able to do, the relationships I’m building, and the apartment He’s provided. This is a season. It will only be Fall 2014 once. I don’t want to miss the beauty of it because I’m calculating how many layers I’ll have to wear in winter.


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