Getting outside is one of my favorite things. In winter, it’s also one of the hardest things (for me, at least). I’m a perpetually cold person, and winter is my toughest season. I have Raynaud’s syndrome, and this definitely impacts how much time I can spend outdoors when it’s cold, and is physically limiting to my ability to move certain parts of my body (my hands in particular). Raynaud’s causes vasospasms of the arteries and reduces blood flow to the fingers and toes. If I stay cold for too long, my fingers become immobile, and unresponsive to movement commands. Also, super painful and a freakish shade of blue/white. Eventually, my toes (and nose and lips, ugh) feel the same way. So, I’m clearly inclined to stay inside next to a roaring fire from basically December – April. Over the years I’ve found supports for this to keep me extra warm so I can get outside and make my heart happy. This January, I made extra extra efforts to get out in the snow, and fill my heart cup with some winter foraging. Here’s what I’m brining along:
Textile: January adventures call for extreme warmth, and my go-to fabric for this is thick, durable wool. I layer up in wool sweaters every day, even indoors, but they’re a staple layer when I’m outside. Wool garments are ideal for Raynaud’s in particular because it absorbs water vapors and moves them away from the body to evaporate in the air, making it extra breathable and keeping you less clammy if you’re active outside. I’ve found wool to be the fabric that keeps my core the warmest in the coldest temperatures, which in turn supports circulation to my extremities. Favorites over the years have been Patagonia’s wool layering pieces, PrAna wool sweaters and Smartwool hiking socks.
Tea: When I plan an outdoor adventure day, I always keep a thermos of ginger tea with me. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is the ultimate circulatory mover. It’s energetically hot, drying, pungent and moving and has a particular affinity for the circulatory system. I sip this for hours while I’m outside, and it definitely helps to promote blood flow to my fingers and toes over time. My favorites are Traditional Medicinals Ginger tea, and Pukka Three Ginger formulas. Once I get home, I brew up a pot of heart centered tea, currently loving Linden flower with Hawthorn and Lemon Balm. It feels like it holds my heart space in an elevated state as I decompress, thaw out, and continue documenting my foraging adventure / write down all my notes from the day.
Foraging: My goal when I go outdoor foraging is to just go slow. Feel what’s calling to me, and gather mindfully. Everything sleeps in the winter, and I don’t want to disturb too much. My heart feels like it’s singing when I dig under the snow and find some sleeping greenery. It reminds me spring is always on the way (aka “Aslan is on the move!”). I like to collect gnarly branches for funky table centerpieces; dried flower heads or pods; evergreen branches and holly berries, and especially lush GREEN mosses for kitchen table greenery along with some beeswax candles. Brining the outside IN is how I best connect with this grounding season. I keep small pouches with me for the little things, large totes for the unwieldy branches (usually something like a canvas grocery bag), and my favorite foraging notebook for notes and journaling.
Topical Tonics: Once I’m back inside, I lather my hands (and feet sometimes) in a warming salve to keep the circulation promoted. It takes a long time for my hands to feel functional again if they get too cold, so I immediately put on something topical to speed up the process. I’ve used Badger’s Sore Muscle Rub for this purpose for years, and it’s amazing. The addition of cayenne + ginger in this blend creates extra extra warmth topically (and hydrates my hand from extreme dryness). I also run my hands under warm water for about 2-3 minute right when I get inside to kick-start the circulation process right before I lather on a salve.
Heart Practice: I’ve been really committed to heart centered meditations for the past couple of months and it’s made such a difference in my overall spirit. It’s simple. I take 20 minutes before I fall asleep at night, and work the Daily Reprogramming exercise (DRE) from To Be Magnetic. It’s a guided meditation practice, focused on unblocking negative patterns and increasing self worth. And it literally has felt like it’s opening my heart more and more every time I go through a DRE.
I’ve made an effort to get out in the snow twice this month for several hours, and will venture out twice more before February hits. Fortunately, my dog keeps me accountable for this because she loves the snow. Good thing one of us does. If you’re out and about this season, foraging, collecting and getting some heart happiness in the winter magic, I’d love to see what you’re collecting and creating! Tag your photo’s with #myotherhouseisagreenhouse to share with us!
Happy adventuring, friends!