COLUMN: On fighting winter hopelessness

After a half-week sick, I’m being proactive about keeping healthy in the Kootenay cold.

On the morning of Nelson’s first snowfall, I woke up to find one of the Y-shaped trees outside my bedroom window had been effectively sheared in half overnight. One of the moss-covered broken branches rested only a few feet from my parked car. I watched, bed-ridden and sick, while Nelson city crews chopped it into sections, loaded the amputated limbs into a truck, then transported it away piece by piece.

By noon there was nothing left but a stump.

I probably could’ve predicted my coming sickness, partly because I’d been running myself ragged and partly because the arrival of winter routinely takes me dark places mentally each year.

Essentially I hibernate.

However, after watching me sleep away three days barely conscious and despondent, my partner Darby dragged me out of bed and got me strategizing about how to beat this winter hopelessness.

Exercise = my new religion

The first step: CrossFit.

We’ve been going to Power By you down on Front Street since the summer, and this year I participated in my first Olympic lifting competition. I’m finding if I don’t get there at least three times a week, things start to deteriorate.

I’ve got awesome trainers, including local firefighter and bicep-champion Leo Grypma (pictured above). I told my main trainer Ali Popoff that I expect her to bug me if I start missing classes, because it probably means I’m taking a turn for the worse, kamikaze-spiralling into depression world.

“You just gotta keep going,” she told me. “One day at a time.”

It may be a cliché, but it helped.

In the past week I made it to four classes, and already I can feel the stomach-tightening, leg-aching endorphin high of actually utilizing your body’s potential. At first I didn’t realize it would entail so many squats—makes me feel like a Thai-style pooper—but I’ve become obsessed with lifting weights.

Honestly, right now, I feel like it’s the only thing keeping me sane.

Climate marches, Puss in Boots and the “Om” baby

There’s plenty of reasons for hope around Nelson these days, one of them being the newly created Green Team from Mt. Sentinel. They’ve taken it upon themselves, following their first Sustainability Day, to take the lead on demanding climate action from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

I heard these youngsters speak about climate action at last week’s school board meeting, and then I saw them as they marched front and centre in Sunday afternoon’s climate march. Awesome, inspiring kids, all of them.

Approximately 500 people participated, yet another thing to lift my spirits. Many of them were kids, some Wildflower students, while acting mayor Valerie Warmington cheered us up by saying there are “open eyes and ears” in Ottawa these days.

It also helps that earlier that day I went for a drive with the uber-energetic Spanish feline Puss in Boots (aka Lisel Forst) who will be starring in the upcoming pantomime. I swung by afterwards to take photos of the rehearsals, and it seems like it’s going to be an awesome show.

I plan to be there.

And as if that’s enough, I ran into Olly the “om baby”—Shambhala Music Festival owner Jimmy Bundschuch and his wife Jenna Arpita’s newborn son—this weekend.

Just another reminder of all the blessings we’ve got kicking around.

Keeping crazy busy

People in the community are keeping us journalists running from place to place. I don’t know why everything seems to have been packed into the last week of November, but Kiesza’s visit (I got a selfie!), Blue Night, Customer Appreciation Day and the Walk with the World climate march have all kept me flailing to keep up.

The other day I watched my friend Leesa Dean read from her upcoming short fiction collection Waiting for the Cyclone at Art Party #8, a local extravaganza at Thompson Funeral Home (great venue) that also included performances from a bunch of Selkirk College music students and rapper Dazza.

Leesa and I are already scheming about how to throw a dual launch, because both of our books are scheduled to come out next Fall. (My first novel This is how you talk to strangers is slated for publication with Porcupine’s Quill late 2016.)

Looking forward to that is bound to get me through the next few months.

I couldn’t believe the hundreds of people who cycled through there over the course of the night—and it was only the start of a multi-day Blue Night take-over of downtown. I bet organizer Brian Kalbfleisch is feeling pretty pleased with himself these days, because I’ve never seen such an overwhelmingly successfully city-scale event like that pulled off.

Kudos, Brian.

Hyped about our newsroom

I’d also like to take this opportunity to bid farewell to my good friend Tamara Hynd, who is moving on to greener (and sunnier) pastures in Hawaii with her husband Eric.

I really enjoyed sharing space with her, and plan to capitalize on their couch-space at some point.

We’ve picked up a new sports journalist in her place, Tyler Harper (that’s his Twitter photo on the left), who I’ve known for a few months. Can’t wait to see how he meshes with us non-sporty types in the rest of the newsroom.

And finally, we’re only a month or two away from moving into our gorgeous new space down in Railtown.

Looking forward to that as well. It’s part of a huge revitalization project in that area, and I couldn’t be a bigger supporter.

I intended this column as a gesture of solidarity to all those who struggle with this cold, who look out the window and feel a dread akin to Jon Snow’s as he watched that Westerosi zombie horde tumble off that cliff in Game of Thrones last season.

I think you’ll find, once you get outside, it was worth the struggle.