Can’t Stop Talkin’ About It…

+ man on snow pile March 15 blog 8227559_sHere in New England, we really can’t seem to stop talking about the snow. Perhaps that’s because here in New England, it really can’t seem to stop snowing.

The storms began in late January, and, at the time of this writing, we’re measuring over one hundred inches of snow…and counting. A few more inches and we’ll beat the official snowfall record. Yippee! – if you’re into that kind of thing. Frankly, most of us would be fine if this madness would just end now.

S-n-o-w is not quite a four-letter word for me (at least, not yet!) but it is for a lot of folks around here. This weather has been intense and relentless, and it’s not just overtaken our conversations, it’s overtaken our lives.

Just making our way through our day’s work has taken on a whole new dimension. People don’t talk about the challenges of their jobs anymore, they tell stories about the challenges of driving through slow traffic jams and circling block after block to find a parking spot so they can get to their jobs.

A routine shopping trip for groceries has become a Zen practice of staying calm in the midst of frantic crowds stocking up on food before a storm.

New terms are now common in our conversation. Prior to this winter, I’d hardly ever heard the term “ice dams,” but now we nervously ask each other, “Do you have ice dams? I sure hope I don’t get ice dams.” Ice dams, damn the ice – one conversation after another.

Yes, the snow has filled our thoughts as well as our yards. It’s all been kind of unbelievable – and that feeling of unreality, of being overwhelmed, is taking a toll on us. Beyond our stiff muscles and tiredness from the cold, energetically, we’re feeling pretty ungrounded.

Perhaps we’re feeling ungrounded because we haven’t seen the ground – let alone walked on it – for weeks on end!

Maybe having our natural landscape so dramatically altered by huge piles of snow disorients us spatially. Used to our horizon/site line being at a certain level, it’s a little disconcerting to have it so much higher than usual.

At any rate, I’ve been thinking about feeling ungrounded and “off” from an energetic viewpoint and perhaps seeing it in this context will help us cope as we wait for the next storm and the damn ice dams to melt.

Have you noticed the slightly frantic panic I’ve felt in shoppers at the grocery store prior to storms? Have you experienced that panic yourself?

My energetic theory is that when a storm is coming, we have an ancient, primal response: fear. Though our physical survival is probably fairly secure – most of us have warm homes to shelter us (God willing and the electric power stays on!) – there is still something in us that registers fear. Perhaps it’s deep in our reptilian brain, perhaps it’s in our root chakra’s survival energy, but we sense something’s on its way that might threaten us. “Danger, danger Will Robinson!” and we’re off and running to the supermarket to stock up on emergency supplies of chocolate.

Whenever fear comes up, it unsettles us. We lose our energetic alignment. And, this winter at least, the feeling isn’t necessarily going away even after the storm has passed. Given the icy sidewalks, reduced-visibility driving, and potholes big enough to break your car axle, it really is a bit of a jungle out there. No wonder we feel a little anxious and are drawn to stay close to home.

Of course, the “staying close to home” aspect of a hard winter creates other challenges for us.

When we were kids, “snow days” were a thrill. Unexpectedly, the day became our own – no school, no schedule, nothing asked of us except to play. As adults, there’s a carry-over feeling to a snow day from childhood, but not the same reality. We’re still responsible – for meals, for clearing the snow, for entertaining our children who are home from school, and, often, for working from home.

But, given this “on vacation” state of mind, it’s hard to be productive. Our mind and body want a break, too.

I’ve started calling this feeling “snow brain.” I’ve been comparing notes, and I’m not the only one experiencing this. Snow brain is a malaise in which our capacity for quick thinking and functioning slows way down, making it hard to think, to act, to perform normally. There are moments when I feel like I’ve lost my brain in a snow bank! Everything seems too hard to do!

This, again, comes from being ungrounded. Throw in a little classic cabin fever, and it’s hard to get laundry – or anything else – done.

Winter’s not over yet, so how do we reground and get ourselves going again?

My formula is to toggle back and forth between giving in a little to the floaty feeling of being “on vacation” and gently focusing on a task for a while. Productivity grounds me and brings me satisfaction. Reading a book for a few hours when I’d normally be working gives me the pleasure of an unexpected “snow day” and time off.

I also always need to have more time outdoors – even in winter – and am trying to walk the sidewalks in my neighborhood instead of staying housebound or only being outside when I’m shoveling.

Walking around between storms has also given me a few peeks at some receding snow lines (I’ve had to look hard to find them, believe me!) that remind me that the nine or so feet of snow really will melt and reveal the earth and spring flowers someday.

So, recognize your primal fear response for what it is and try to comfort yourself. Know that your brain will come out of deep freeze eventually. And, let’s melt those damn ice dams! Thank goodness the days are lengthening and Spring will officially begin in a few weeks. The crocuses can’t be far off.

And then we can talk about something else…


  1. Well-written and interesting blog post as usual, Janet! I often wonder about what will be the psychological effects of climate change on the human race. By the way, we are also having wild temperature swings here in NC this winter and the ice and snow (what little there has been) has been quite stressful for southern drivers.

    • Spiral Energies says

      Thanks for writing, Patrice, and for giving us the update on southern weather. It’s been quite a winter for many of us! What an interesting question you pose when you wonder about the psychological effects of climate change will be.

  2. Great, Janet! This is exactly what I’ve been feeling as well.
    This snow brain stuff is right on.

    • Spiral Energies says

      Yes, the snow brain syndrome isn’t much fun! Sorry to hear you’re “suffering” as well, and hope all clears (and melts) soon. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Janet,
    I resonated with your description of how treacherous our world has become with ” potholes big enough to break a car axle, icy side walks and decreased visibility driving.” It all does feel really dangerous, which creates an ongoing backdrop of stress. I find myself longing for Spring more intensely than I ever recall previously. It will feel like heaven to walk easily on the earth again, to not worry about slipping and falling. It’s been wild. There is beautiful wooden arbor in my garden that arches over the front walk way, which in June is covered with roses. It has buckled and sagged under the weight of the snow, and now one must duck deeply to pass underneath it. I don’t think it will likely be salvagable. It’s a real spiriritual practice to find ways to love what is in the midst of these challenging conditions. I find myself feeling grateful that I do have heat, that I am able to pay for the repairs for all the damage caused by ice dams and that in this case, that all things pass away. Including this Winter with a capital W.

    • Spiral Energies says

      We are blessed to have resources to manage the damage and to stay warm and well-fed in our homes. But, yes, what a challenge this winter has brought. The stronger sun angle and longer daylight are helping me, and I hope you as well. Thanks so much for commenting, Judy.

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