People, like nature, go through seasons.

Knowing that we wanted to travel through the holidays, Chris and I chose to go south to the Alpine region of Austria known as Tirol. We were happy to be able to bring Chris’s sister Monica with us who was on holiday break. The goal was to embrace the cold, winter weather, and learn to appreciate its majestic beauty rather than try and flee from it, which is usually my first choice (cold weather prompts more complaints from me than anything else, besides maybe lack of sleep).


In the six days we spent in Austria, the quiet landscape undulated under differing variables of light and snow, inviting us to look again and again at the steadfast mountaintops above. Tucked into a mountain pass at an elevation of 1200 meters, the yoga retreat center where we stayed offered a chance to just relax and ‘be.’ There was no rushing, just the slow mornings that we like, a fun outdoor activity in the afternoons, and good conversation with warm meals in the evenings.

So 2012 didn’t go out with a bang for us there as it did in Berlin where the remains of thousands of fireworks are still lying in the streets. But the year’s gentle passing suited me. For all of its excitements and opportunities, it was a difficult one. Chris and I lost several family members, faced frighteningly definitive career-choices, and undertook one enormous move to a new country. I have a feeling similar to finishing a particularly long and difficult run — glad to have it behind me, pretty sure it has made me stronger, but knowing that there will be some soreness and hoping it will subside before the next training day arrives.

It’s easy for me to obsess about things I could have done differently, ways I could improve for next time, but this year I’m resisting the urge to make any resolutions. Anyone who has written a dissertation can tell you that making your own work schedule requires enough of an exercise in self-determination for 10 years worth of resolutions and I don’t have the stamina to pile more on. Better to work on letting some things go.

I’m comforted by the knowledge that no challenge lasts forever. And if winter can be this beautiful, the weary periods in our lives can also have their moments of grace. I imagine this: the peace and strength of a mountaintop exists in all of us, no matter the shifting patterns of our thoughts and emotions, or the wild winds of the world around us.

Here’s looking forward to a new year and a new season of life.