It is no secret that the transition into 2019 hasn’t been easy for me. I’ve dragged my feet into the new year, trying hard to get motivated and beat back the waves of anxiety and fear that threaten to drown me in the face of so much uncertainty about what the future holds. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great highs in January: excitement over the restructuring of my book proposal, a good breakthrough in my research, time well spent with family and friends. But impending change weighs on me, and it has been a heavy load the last few weeks.

Do you know what doesn’t help? The leaden skies of Portland winters. I know, I know. I was born and raised here, it’s my natural state, I like the rain. All those things are true. But what is also true is that sometimes when we’re internally gray the very last thing we need is the environment to reflect that back to us. It has a certain compounding effect that makes a minor funk—a little of the blues—feel like a lot. I don’t quite know how to put it, except to say that there’s a marked difference waking up on a bluebird sky day and a rainy one when you’re already a little prone to melancholy.

I don’t say this to make you feel bad for me, I just want to be honest. I’ve never been great at hiding my feelings, and anyway, it’s hard to celebrate the good when you refuse to acknowledge the bad. I try to keep this space as a sort of highlight reel, a “best of the best” when it comes to my life. There is beauty in the everyday, elegance even in the mundane. But that’s a little boring to write about week after week, so I like to focus on the best things, the things that make me very happy. And I realized the other day that I can’t really show all the happiness if I don’t also show a little bit of the bummers.

All this to say that the other day I shook off the funk by getting out of town, which isn’t anything that unusual. Most often getting outside is the thing that offers me perspective, whether it’s a walk with Cedar in Reed Canyon or a three day backpacking trip. This was somewhere in between: a day trip up to the mountain, an hour or so in the car for three hours of walking through a glittering expanse of snow. It was exactly what I needed: the stark clash of colors between the mountain, the trees and the blue sky, the warmth of a sun that didn’t quite reach us. We snowshoed along a river, the soft hush and trickle of it the only sound besides our own breathing. Cedar conquered his fear and jumped the river after us, and the happy dance he did was one for the record books. On the way home we stopped at my favorite coffee place in Hood River and they still had their holiday specials up. It’s the little things, isn’t it? It was exactly what I needed.

So there you have it. Seeing the blues means getting to celebrate when we’re out of it. Here’s to finding the things that make us feel brand new.