Winter’s Wonder

Winter’s Wonder

Written: 2004 and published in Wellesley Weston Magazine

by Beth Nast


At the age of 45 I learned to love winter. I began to see the sun as the closest star, shining brighter than all of summer. The ice glistening more radiantly than all the world’s sandy beaches. The cold, something not to avoid, but embrace– to dress for and then warm up in. As I watched my son create snow angels in the backyard I woke up to how closely the snow is to the look of our summer beaches. My sunglasses become a necessity. My lips are in need of moisture. My neighbor, also a doctor, explained it to me this way, “When we reach our menopausal age, we long for cold, not warmth. Our bodies produce enough warmth on their own.”

My love for winter began when we got our dog, for the children supposedly. But really it was for me. I figured how could I ever experience depression if there was always someone to care for, someone waiting to be loved. Surprisingly, the first 6 months of owning a dog are full of stress and self doubt – more work than a newborn but without that instinctive love.. The dog taught me how to appreciate the need to be walked every day. How to see the sticks on the ground as playful objects, not broken limbs. A daily walk in the outdoors, it turns out, is a necessity for humans as well as dogs.

There are always two voices within us. The voice, which I mostly listened to in my 20s and 30s, telling me whatever I did… it was not enough. It was less than I could do, less than my parents would hope I should do, less than someone famous I’d read about would do.

Then there is this other voice, more sweet and gentle than the other. It’s the voice I’m hearing now more clearly than ever before. It basically says, “Cut yourself some slack. Don’t demand more of yourself than that which feels good and comfortable, and forgive yourself all your “non successes”.  In Yoga my instructor says, “We approach yoga as we approach life.” And nothing could be closer to the truth. The days I’m angry and quitting in yoga are the days I am angry at myself and quitting at everything I begin. But the days I work to master a position, I know that will be a successful day.

The new inner voice says, “Stop thinking of what you could do, and learn to enjoy what you do, even if it seems uninspired. This is a big part of who you are. And the other part will struggle alongside like a shadow waiting to peek its creative head out every once in a while. The same Yoga teacher councils, “Don’t nibble through life. Decide what is important and take big bites. With that advice I finally saw with clarity that my children and husband, they are my big bite, and that will be my legacy.



Clothes for Every Occasion 

clothing I have clothes for every occasion… but not the occasions for all my clothes.

I have outfits for a country club cocktail party, a beach party, a walk in Paris down the Champs-Elysees,  a hike up Mt. Etna, a cocktail cruise on Lake Como, an IBM Board Meeting, a NYC art opening, a Rocky Mountain bluegrass festival, and yet: I don’t go to any of these.

These days I need a Summer wardrobe of yoga, golf and dining out and then Ski clothes in the winter. In between my sporting life a casual wardrobe that consists of jeans, leggings, and countless and redundant tops.

My dream of a walk- in closet seems absurd now,  I no longer dress for a discerning professional audience in Boston or NYC as I used to in the career parts of my life. And that was 25 years ago. So why do I keep buying clothes for a life I don’t have? Old habits die hard at Bloomies and Bergdorf’s.

My clothes tell a story.  Each outfit with accompanying shoes, bags and jewelry required creative energy.  Since we are all basically the same underneath, our clothes express who we are at any given time. My mother and I shop in NYC every year and while I buy clothes for now, I can’t help but buy clothes for my former life. Then I go home and  photograph them, inventory them, and organize them by color and content to my heart’s content.

I won’t part with any of them, they are hardly worn, and I love them all, but maybe I should stop buying clothes I’ll never wear.


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Why Girlfriends Have to Break Up with Each Other

Yes, we all know that women have deeper more substantive friendships than men! But sometimes what I wouldn’t give to enjoy a superficial non-emotionally-charged man-to-man friendship!It’s not a new theme, in fact I’ve even read an entire book on this subject — but it’s uncanny how girlfriends often feel the need to “break up” a friendship that’s not filling their requirements, causing pain, while guy friends never do.

It can go like this:

My childhood “friend” of 45 years who I’m content keeping at arms length as a phone and Facebook friend finally realizes I don’t actually go out of my way to see her. It’s particularly obvious when she sees I’m in her hometown NYC on Facebook and don’t include her. Damn Facebook. Rather than acting like a guy and “going with the flow”, or keeping her hurt feelings to herself, the disappointment causes her to lash out in a text, “I get it, you don’t want to have more than a Facebook or texting friendship — so I decided I won’t be contacting you again. Good luck and have a good trip home.” Ouch, it stings, even if I’m fully in agreement with her assessment.  The truth does hurt, even when it sets you free. My husband says, “sounds like she’s off her meds” when I read it to him. I just feel, well, hurt.

So, I remove her from my Facebook “follows” and wait for time to pass. I know from past experiences that over time the hurt will dissipate, in full awareness that this friendship has outlived it’s course. The sting may take a few weeks or months, but I will get over it and move on. Sorrow comes from knowing you caused someone in your past emotional pain and frankly it’s a little bit embarrassing. Whereas a guy might explain the same scene in this way: “We just haven’t been in touch for ages,” you, as a female, are made to endure an ending that is overt.

Girlfriends have dumped me as often as I’ve dumped them. I couldn’t take the hint from a former friend who had enough of me and when I push to get an answer as to why the cold shoulder, I force her cards and she declares, “We are breaking up. Thanks for all you’ve done, for me, for my family, the trips to Lake George, but it’s not working any more.” Ouch, once again.

The truth is men never get burned by their guy friends, or do the burning. They don’t have to. They can talk sometimes, never talk, hardly ever talk, but always pick up where they left off or not pick up at all. No big deal. Never having expectations they freely ride the “whatever”.  It’s all good.

So, I ask, wouldn’t you rather a fist pump than a hard slap in the face, painted nails and all?


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Why Girlfriends Have To Break Up With Each Other was last modified: b


I have an extra sweeet life. It seems my intensely introspective life has finally come together to form a more perfect union of balance. All this at the ripe age of 60.

Today I thought of an anagram that works, more or less, to convey the balance required for ME to live a sweeet life. Maybe you can define your own anagram, or use this one as a start.
Being an A-/B+ type personality, I’ve even taken to adding on my calendar each day what I did to achieve these mini milestones in each bucket, causing me to “lay off myself” and loosen the grip I usually strong arm myself with. My NYC therapists in the ’80s always told me, “YOU’RE SO HARD ON YOURSELF”, and yes, they were right. But the student learns only when they are ready, and then all those teachers can appear.
S is for Social. I have to have social interchange each day, beyond my 24/7 conversations with my husband who works from home. Though I have numerous friends and family members around me to meet up with for lunch, walks, coffees, dinners, that’s hardly required as I talk to everyone I meet. I can’t resist people.
Sometimes the most delightful conversations are with neighbors, workmen, my mailman, as I take my daily walks in the hood.
W is for WORTHWHILE. This is the sticky one. I used to define worthwhile as a “job” or “career”, but I’ve loosened that grip as well, which has made all the difference in how I feel about myself. It’s whatever I decide is worthwhile that day. Some days it’s just doing laundry and tidying the house. Some days it’s teaching yoga, visiting a museum, donating to a charity, or reaching out to someone in need.
E is for Exercise. I can’t live a day without it. My mood suffers greatly. But exercise can be a 10 minute yoga session with a great U-TUBE video, or a walk. It doesn’t have to get my heart rate up, and rarely does.
E is for Educational. My Dad used to ask me after school each day, “What did you learn in school today?” I dreaded that question, but now I would love to be asked that daily. From studying anatomy and investing to bird songs and creative cookery, my day is happiest when I learn — and I do from NPR, books, magazines, on-line info., and probing conversations with intelligent people.
E is for Entertainment. I am a media junkie, in the form of TV and Movies. Always have been. It satisfies me at the end of the day to melt into my coach with my husband for hours soaking in a good story, great acting, and be entertained. Period.
T is for Talent Flexing. We all have talents or can develop some in the form of hobbies, activities we enjoy. I’ve recently started to bird watch and photograph birds to flex my talent in photography. I consider golf a talent that I’m working on, along with cooking and blogging. I enjoy board volunteer work to raise money for a good cause and short stints working with someone I admire to develop their business idea using my talents in marketing communications.
Somedays I am only living a SWEE life or an EET life, but I strive for a SWEEET life.