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Embrace the winter your own way

I'm taking time to notice the braves souls who aren't letting frigid lows of January get them down and appreciating their fortitude. I'm more content to spend a lot of time indoors indulging in quiet, contemplative pass times. Whatever your style, here are some things you can do besides cursing the cold.

Get busy in the kitchen

Think baking, roasting or making soup, things that keep your oven or stovetop going for longer times. Your house will stay warmer and smell fabulous, and you'll have food to eat, share or freeze.

Take this idea outside the box and maybe learn a new skill like canning or making fruit preserves. Sure, it's something usually done in the autumn when gardens are giving up their harvest, but a trip to the Whole Foods Co-op will still get you some healthy, nutritious produce even in winter.

Try your hand at homemade spaghetti sauce. Or consider buying some less expensive cuts of meat and canning that for use in soups and stews, or just over rice with sautéed vegetables; any way you choose, you can have a hot meal on the table in 20 minutes from opening a jar.

Get busy outside

A wise man once told me, "There is no such thing as cold weather, only improper clothing." Of course, use caution — layer up and bring a buddy, or at least a fully charged cell phone.

Unless the wind chill is at dangerous levels, you'll be just fine.

When's the last time you built a snowman? Or better yet, a snow fortress suitable for cover in a snowball battle?

Is physical fitness your thing? Drop your gym membership and bundle up. Give skiing a try — cross-country or downhill. Strap on a pair of snowshoes or just go for a hike in a good pair of boots on designated trail.

Getting outdoors in winter for 20 minutes or more during daylight hours is essential for boosting Vitamin D, especially in Northern Wisconsin. For a magical experience, change it up now and then with a stroll after dark. If you've never done this, you don't know how majestic a starry winter sky can be.

Get creative

Make time for a hobby you love, or take up a new one. There are online videos available for anything and everything you can think of, from cooking and needle crafts, to woodworking, studio art and writing. Even better, check out the events calendars at the public library, local museums, and church organizations — there's always something happening.

Get smart

Take a class or enroll in a whole course. WITC offers numerous classes for personal enrichment and skill building as does Lake Superior College. The Duluth Public School District also has a community education curriculum. Others to check out are McCabe Renewal Center and UMD's Center for Economic Development. And, did you know you can take university level course online at no cost? Check out www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses. You'll be amazed at what you can learn for free.

Get 'er done

Dive into all of those unfinished projects and maintenance chores; completing a dreaded task gives you an amazing boost of feel-good serotonin, just when you need it most in the dark of winter. Make a list, cross each one off as you go and bask in your sense of accomplishment. The last time I completely cleaned my linen closet, it made me feel so good every time I looked at it that I left the door wide open for a week.

Clean, paint, repair and organize your way through the worst of winter. You'll be surprised how fast the time flies. When the sunshine and warm days return, you'll be ready to enjoy the great outdoors again — with no pang of guilt over what you should be doing instead.

Pay it forward

Volunteer opportunities abound; I couldn't begin to list them all. Just find one that fits and commit. If you don't want to be all formal about it, engage in random acts of kindness — like shoveling the walkway for an elderly neighbor, offering a single afternoon or more of childcare for a busy mom, or just paying regular visits to somebody who can't get out and revisit the joys of a good game of gin rummy.

Burrow in

Sometimes it's just too dang cold to look for the silver lining. Merely getting to and from work or school, fighting the ice and snow, struggling in temperatures that freeze skin and suck the wind from your lungs is more than you can take. The only thing you want to do with your free time is hunker down and try to stay warm.

In that case it's time to bundle up, blanket up and cozy up. Catch up on your reading, or binge watch that series you've been dying to see. Hot beverages and napping are definitely called for.

Remember, Ground Hog Day is just around the corner. You've got this.

Judith Liebaert writes for Positively Superior and the Duluthian. She is the author of "Sins Of The Fathers," a crime novel set in Superior and inspired by a true cold case. Find her online at judithliebaert.com.

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