It’s coming! You can feel it in the air and smell the snow looming. Traffic is panicked, grocery lines are in a frenzy. The blizzard of 2016 (or whatever fancy marketing name they will be calling it) is about to strike and we sit with bated breath and wonder how to weather the storm. For most of us it will be a time of hunkering down “for a long winters nap,” but we don't have to be bored and go stir crazy. Here are some ways to make the snowbound lockup into a fruitful weekend (or perhaps week).
Have a Retreat Day
It would be so easy to sit and waste time but what if we made one of the days (or part of one) into a type of homebound retreat? Here are some recommendations:
Turn off the distractions and make an agreement with yourself, your roommates and/or family to have time for silence.
Take the readings of the day (http://www.usccb.org/bible/) and meditate on them. Perhaps there is a favorite passage of the Gospel that you want to reflect on but never have time. Now you do. See my post on how to meditate on Scripture. http://goo.gl/IM6bku
Pray the Rosary and call to mind all of the people and intentions that you have been meaning to pray for over the last month.
Listen to a talk or meditation that you’ve stumbled across. Meditations and homilies are listed on my page and there are limitless talks, homilies, conferences and meditations available online. Here are some sites to check out:
Do some good spiritual reading. Here are a few recommendations, all of which are available for digital download (if you don’t have a kindle you can get an app on your iOS device or Android).
Thirsting for Prayer by Jacques Philippe: http://goo.gl/AvCC1W
Time for God by Jacques Philippe: http://goo.gl/dbfF9g (and anything by this very good contemporary spiritual writer)
The Way by St. Josemaria Escriva. This spiritual classic is my favorite for meditation (and he’s very tweetable too). http://goo.gl/gIDo2q
Christ is Passing By by St. Josemaria Escriva. This is a series of his practical and inspiring homilies. http://goo.gl/2S5KII
Holy Simplicity by Raoul Plus. Looking to simplify your life and do so as a Christian? This is a good book for thought and reflection on this very important virtue. http://goo.gl/Hwda6r
Overcoming Lukewarmness: Healing your Soul’s Sadness by Francis Fernandez Carvajal. You know that spiritual sadness that can set in through life? Perhaps it’s the sadness experienced in the mid-twenties when the excitements of youth wane, or perhaps its the time of midlife when you ask that question, “is this all there is? Is this my life?” This book will very much help with that crisis. It also helps us when we are just simply lazy and complacent in the spiritual life and we really need a boost. http://goo.gl/BuACMC
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. Amazing, especially in this Year of Mercy. http://goo.gl/hl5cAX
Take time to do nothing but put yourself in the presence of God and allow him to speak to you. Turn off the distractions, leave the cell phone in another room and just be in his presence. He has something he wants to tell you.
Take Time for Self-Improvement
We want to grow. We all want to become better versions of ourselves and strive for an ideal self. That requires living a more examined life and being more throughly human. Take some time over the “snowliday” to reflect and make practical improvements. Here are some suggestions.
Organize your life: I am sure there are closets, drawers, files, etc. that could use organizing. Take the time to tackle one thing at a time and allow stress to melt away with the snow after a few days.
Go paperless: scan old files, papers and documents. Be free.
Minimalize your wardrobe: If you haven’t used it in the last year then give it away, sell it or throw it away.
Do the deep clean of the house.
Get to inbox zero. It’s liberating and, once there, easier to stay there and not be overwhelmed.
Take some time for reading and self improvement. Here are some books on the subject that I have been reading.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. This is the best book on living simply and productivity that I’ve read in a long time. I highly recommend it to everyone. http://goo.gl/GQ2D00
Manage your Day to Day: Build your Routine, Find your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn Glei. http://goo.gl/5lyhP9
Getting Things Done by David Allen. http://goo.gl/nS6i95 This seminal work on task management and, well, getting things done, is a must read. I use the system daily and it helps greatly.
Feeling & Healing Your Emotions by Conrad Baars, MD. This is a great book for understanding emotions and growing in a well adjusted life. I highly recommend it for parents, educators and priests particularly. Anything by this author is worth reading to help the reader and the ones they know toward a healthy psyche. http://goo.gl/ZMeVLW
The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. This is a phenomenal and practical book for all creative types. Do you feel creatively stuck in life? This book is a masterpiece. http://goo.gl/8BKgRU
Photograph your journals and other things in life and put them in https://evernote.com/?var=1 . If you don’t use this service I highly recommend it. It’s a one stop shop for all of your notes, documents and anything you want to remember. It is my digital brain and everything is easily searchable. If you are looking for a new way to work this is it.
Take time to exercise and eat healthily. We need our comfort food, that is one of the joys of snow days, but lets not go overboard. Rather, eat healthy food and see the increase in energy. Perhaps this is a good time to learn to cook a new dish and share it with friends.
Reach Out in Charity
During these cold and snowy days it is a good time to reconnect with family, friends and neighbors. Here are some ideas that might help to live & kindle charity and friendship.
Write letters. This old art can be revived. Letters allow us to send a piece of ourselves to others, to touch their lives over distances and be present to them. Letters also help us to take the time to write slower, allowing us to think deeply and speak on a whole new level.
Call family and catchup.
Visit neighbors. There may be elderly neighbors in your neighborhoods. Visit with them and see if they need any help or just need company in a lonely winter. Perhaps they need something from a pharmacy or emergency help and their family or caretakers cannot get to them. Let’s keep our eyes out and serve them.
Contact relatives you have not spoken with in some time. Maybe a wound can be healed or a distance can be bridged. What better time than when you have more time than usual?
I hope these ideas help you. Let’s make the next few snow days into transformative days and next week will not only melt away snow but the stress, anxiety and coldness that this time of year can bring to our hearts and souls.