Monthly Newsletter

February 2023


Written by Sam Lee, LPC

“Now is the winter of our discontent….” opens the play, Richard III, by William Shakespeare. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, not yet king of England, starts his soliloquy, “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York,” describing with sarcasm the people’s expectation of the new King Edward for a better, great days of England after much war and strife. He goes on bemoaning his own deformities, being shut out from the throne and the power, his unmet desires and aspirations, and declares his Machiavellian plot to get what he wants.

“The winter of our discontent” is one of many quotes from the vast body of poetry by the greatest English playwright and poet. “To be, or not to be” is the most famous of them all, an existential question of humanity. The Melancholy Prince Hamlet’s soliloquy questions his meaning of existence amidst the confusion on what course of action to take. In a subtle way, both quotations ask the ongoing question we ask at times in our lives – “What to do about what I don’t have and want so much?”

Winter is one of four seasons, produced by the tilt of axis of Earth leaning away from the sun. Shorter daylight hours and cold weather keeps us indoors unlike the warmer seasons when we can get out and enjoy the good weather and plenty of activities. Post-holidays blues, anyone? January is the month where the gravity of winter hits our face and bones. December, the beginning part of winter is conventionally spoken as the hardest month for many. But it is really January where the rubber meets the road. No longer the sparkle and glitz of Christmas decorations and gift ads, no more jingles and music and flowing spirits and special foods. Times Square ball has dropped and people cheered. And now… all festivities are done and gone. What can I look forward to now…?

“The winter of our discontent” is a metaphor, a symbol, representing the dissatisfaction and low, discouraged, and melancholy feeling, and deepened further down like bleakness of winter season, in which we seem to be stuck in and cannot fast-forward. Disappointments, (prolonged) unmet expectations and desires, dashed (again) hopes lead to more discontent. It is a state o fmind at unrest. SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, affects many people who may or may not be aware of its presence. Lower sunlight exposure is related to reduction of vitamin-D and Serotonin, a key neurotransmitter in the brain that maintains one’s sense of well-being and mental functioning. What do I do now but wading in a funk of the winter of my discontent……?

But that is not all there is in this season called Winter. There are things out there in the grey and brown. There are things inside, both house and body, to be found and enjoyed. So many things we can do in this quieter season of the annual cycle. We can reflect on the years past and the future, where we are in life, relationships, career, and do many things uniquely suited for colder months while nurturing our body and soul. So, let’s take a look around!

Listen and take care of your body

Lack of daylight and tendency to stay indoors bring slowing down of body and mind. Continuing in that state brings lethargy and depressed feelings. Our body needs proper nutrients and action. We feel better when we are moving about and at a physical task. Plenty of winter sports therearound. Even if gym is not your thing, you can bring up a simple stretch or yoga exercises on YouTube and streeetchhhhh… Ahh, that feels good…!

Nourishment of your body is critical. Tired and stressed body craves carbs and sweets. Temptations to stress-eat with excess calories and fat content. Make a conscious choice to eat healthier food and enjoy them. High protein, high fiber snacks such as low-fat cheese, nuts, yogurt, berries, wheat crackers and fruits between meals help reduce craving and maintain functioning sugar level in the body, and better motivation to prepare and eat healthy meal and portions.

Lack of daylight means I can bring up more light myself. Addition of bright light lamps in the living room, not harsh fluorescent lights. You can almost feel the warm glow over your body being absorbed. Your mood lifts. And by all means, do things by the bright sunlight when the sun smiles over your windows!

Appreciate the beauty of Winter

Although winter is colder, there are plenty of days when it is not blistering cold. We can go out and enjoy the bright winter sunlight if the sun is up, or even when overcast, still can take a walk regularly. Burn off the holiday calories and rejuvenate your body. Snap of cold air is refreshing and awakening and brings alertness to our tired and numbed brain and body. Alternate slower and faster paced walks and empty out your accumulated stress pot out there.

Winter is certainly NOT a dead season. Go out and discover the signs of life gathering energy. There are always the evergreens around with its rich green proudly providing the color amidst grey and brown. Observe the tree branches, dried bush stalks. There are tiny and fuzzy buds forming like cocoon. They are alive and patiently waiting for spring. Brown grasses, bulbs, and all the plants and trees are slowly but surely growing stronger and further roots below ground and establish their base firmly during winter. Even many of the hibernating animals are developing and giving birth to babies and nursing them underground. And come whiffs of spring breeze, they will all burst out of their winter coats and burrows, blooming and roaming.

Snow is a great equalizer, they say. Fresh fallen snow blankets everything in your sight with pure white. Get closer and see millions of diamond-dusts turning in dance of micro-rainbow sparkles. Catch the brilliant light bouncing off the icicles hanging on the roof. Take pics of the beautiful winterscape. Imagine you are at the Colorado mountains or hills of Switzerland. Stretch a “V” with your fingers and smile to a selfie!

It is a great time for more benign activities. Peruse through your music collections, try out some new. Buy that ticket to the concert, rock & roll or classical, what stirs your soul. Try the touring Broadway show, a local play, ballet, or opera. Check out the art exhibits. Time to broaden our minds and bring the colors in.

Or simply curl up in your fuzzy blankets in a cozy sofa or at your favorite spot in your place and read your favorite book. With a steaming cup of tea at your side. How about a cup of your favorite soup!

Celebrate your life

You don’t need the traditional holidays to celebrate. Make plans to celebrate your life. Perusing through the pictures you’ve accumulated for lifetime and soak in those timeless, happy moments. Have an event with family or friends and cherish those moments together, in-person or on Zoom. Social media brings opportunities to still connect with loved ones and interesting people in an era of social distancing and caution. How about cosplay costume party on Zoom! We can use this season to cultivate deeper bonding with others, family, and friends. Reach out to people who are positive and affirming. Or you can be that voice of positive optimism and affirmation to the others!

Have you ever made a Gratefulness list? List (in journal, Word file, notepad in your phone) all the memorable things past year (and beyond). Count the precious ‘little’ moments. Regardless of how tough your year might have been, there was a multitude of good moments that delighted your heart. Cherish and savor each!

It is a great time to get back to your hobbies or learn something new. Crochet and quilts, painting or sculpting, crafting/building miniatures, folding origami, making your own children’s book, making scented soaps, soap carving, making candles, woodworking, beads and jewelry making, calligraphy, …. limitless possibilities. Or just good ol’ coloring books (amazing array of things now). The process of creation engages the body, mind and soul, and results in something in your hand you can be proud of, and fantastic if it yields things you can gift away and bring joy to other’s hearts in winter.

Hey…. isn’t it finally the time to write that book you’ve been wanting to….?!

Centering your body, mind, soul

Without the busy distractions of warm seasons, winter is the grand time to return and recenter WITHIN. Pull up your journal, or start one (beautiful cover, softly bright, textured white pages). Pour out the (dis)contents of your heart and soul. Make sure to count and write down the blessings you have.

Get a meditation app (many choices) and sit by the bright window or lighting. Let your mind be free and discover the beauty of ‘quieting’. Reclaim the missing part of you that are still there in the corner.

If you have a spirituality as a part of your life, get deeper in your spiritual journey. Read and meditate. Pray. Connect with the Other within, near and beyond. Learn more and draw strength from what you believe in.

Talk to your therapist if you have one already, or it is finally the time to make that appointment to see one. Start the journey for your soul’s desires. Discontent is in inaction. Contentment is found in active search. Get help where your most close relationship(s) needs some coaching and mending. I don’t want the same all anymore. I/We want a change.

Remember – the world goes around in its own fashion, but I can be at the center of my life. Seek and instill the centering presence of who I am. I don’t need to get sucked into the dramas around. I can build my identity strong within! I can stand on the rock and be still amidst the storm or windless greyness. And I can look forward to the coming spring and brighter days, while I am content in quiet gathering of my soul and spirit!


What a wonderful time Winter is! What a time for a gentle return to me! What a time for a leap into the new!


And so am I ALIVE and waiting, even enriching my life in a period of seeming dormancy but very much AWAKE!


So now, sit by the window, or by a gentle lighting. Close your eyes, and take slow deep breaths. In…. out…. in…. out…. in…. out……


Discontent is a state of mind. I have the POWER to change that state! And now is the winter of our discontent gently turned glorious season of discovery and enriching life sparkling in the winter sky…..