I recall the joy accompanying a snow day when I was a kid growing up in suburban Detroit. It meant zipping into a one-piece snowsuit, putting plastic bread bags on my feet so they’d easily slip into my boots and covering my face with a mask that would quickly become a sponge for snow, saliva and snot. After leaving the Midwest, snow days are fewer and farther between, but the joy remains. While the snowsuit is non-existent, my adopted home-towners in Portland cross country ski through the streets, bake endless supplies of chocolate chip cookies and borrow the neighbor’s shovel. Snow days become a time of community, of quiet and of productivity. In my three(!) days of icy captivity, it occurred to me that there are an equal number of lessons packed tightly like a perfectly formed snowball.

Snow day means slow day—There is nothing like a foot of snow, an inch of ice and no salt on the roads to put the brakes on driving. That means the sole (pun intended) form of transportation is shoved into an old pair of Keens. I say with experience that unless you want to be soaked in slush up to your mid-calf, it’s important to calculate your every move on a snow day. This level of mindfulness means you can enjoy the crunching sound of snow under your feet and the brightly lit sky illuminating the powdered earth. It is rare that we have the opportunity to be this fully present, aware and attentive.

How can you experience a higher level of consciousness in your daily routine?

Making cold calls can warm hearts—Amidst any weather debacle, you’ll find unexpected generosity in the grocery aisles and good samaritans magically appearing to push you out of a snow drift (thanks UPS guy!) A friend of mine was invited to an unknown neighbor's house the first evening of The Storm. The neighbor was supposed to host a fundraiser, but it was cancelled due to the weather. Unable to transport all the food elsewhere, she invited neighbors who invited more neighbors to her house for dinner in exchange for a small donation. That night you can be certain that neighbors became friends and a needy organization gained new supporters.

What are the unexpected ways in which you can expand your community?

All work and no play is no fun—The very definition of snow day means it is almost a requirement to ease up on responsibilities and kick the fun into high gear. Maybe it’s teaching your kids how to build a snowman or perhaps it’s playing an epic game of Scrabble. Sure, I was happy to clean out my inbox and pay some bills, but a true snow day allows us to press the magical pause button on the rest of life and find some joy in front of the fire.

How can you intentionally and unapologetically incorporate play into your life?

Many of my family members and friends across the country have had enough snow days this year to last a lifetime. My wish for them is three glorious seasons ahead because they sure do deserve them. My other wish is that no matter what the weather, we see the wisdom in the circumstances that are beyond our control and in the life that is right under our feet, even if those feet are wrapped in bread bags and submerged in slush.

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