This past weekend was sunny and warm, though a bit windy at times. I finally believed that spring was kicking into gear. And then this week happened. Here in New York, it was pretty gloomy. The cold returned. There was rain. I have forgotten how the sun feels. What does a blue sky look like? Why are there so many clouds?
Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit.
I am no stranger to the rain and gloom. I spent four months in Ireland. It did not rain as consistently as I thought it would, but it did still rain. I couldn’t look out my bedroom window and trust the sunshine for more than five seconds. Because by the time I would make it down the stairs and out the front door, the sky would have turned gray and the wind would be howling. It would start and stop raining at least twelve times on my walk to class. And let’s not even get started on the hail… There was also one particular semester in college (fall of senior year, I believe) when it rained every single Thursday, without fail. We were five or so weeks into the semester when everyone began to notice the pattern.
“Is it raining again?”
“Is it Thursday?”
And it most definitely was. One Thursday, shortly after everyone had figured this out, it rained so much that there were giant puddles and baby lakes all over campus. If I had a kayak, I could have taken it to class that day.
Despite my misfortune with weather, there is something peaceful about the rain. It pitter-patters on the roof and windows. It washes everything clean and gives new life. In fact, I quite enjoy rainy days.
There are certain things that are just no fun to do when it rains though–like going for a hike at the p-a-r-k with the dog or napping by the pool. While you can surely use your rainy days to stay in and clean the house or catch up on work without the temptation of sunshine lurking through the windows, sometimes you need something more fun to brighten your day.
Here are nine things I like to do when the weather is less than perfect:
- Read | This one is pretty much a given. There are few things I enjoy more than curling up under a blanket, drinking a hot cup of coffee (or tea or cocoa, depending on my mood and the time of day), and cracking into a good book. Throw in an occasional boom of thunder, a crack of lightening, and some flickering candles, and I am all set.
- Try new recipes | There’s something about rainy days that compels me to be productive. And hungry. During the regular hustle and bustle of the week, I don’t often feel up to testing out new recipes. On rainy days, however, there seems to be more time. Dig out the box of recipes you haven’t tried yet and, without looking, pick one. If you’re feeling ambitious, and your fridge and pantry are fully stocked, try to cook or bake something new for every meal.
- Practice yoga | Unless you are part of a gym, you usually have to go outside if you want to get some exercise. Stay dry instead this time. Roll out your yoga mat, pop in a DVD guide (if you need one) or turn on some nature sounds, and get stretching. It will feel nice to get a work out in despite the bad weather.
- Vacation window shopping | Window shopping often involves wandering around a shopping center and staring longingly through the windows at all of the things you are trying to tell yourself not to buy. Sometimes it only works if you leave your wallet in the car. Sometimes it only works if you leave your wallet at home. You can also window shop online. (As long as you bury your credit card in your room and use the computer on the other side of the house, it won’t turn into actual shopping.) Instead of looking for clothes or books or electronics this time, plan a dream vacation or a weekend getaway to somewhere sunny. Then start saving up so you can take said vacation the next time it rains!
- Make something | Get crafty! Make your own greeting cards, paint something colorful, fill a whole page with all sorts of doodles, knit or sew, build a paper tower, put together an actual photo album, learn origami… Anything. It can be something for a loved one or yourself, but it is nice to make something with your own hands every now and then.
- Play | Dig out your favorite board game and corral as many people as you can. One of my favorites is Dominoes. (I have spent most of the last twelve years at the Jersey Shore with my family during the week of July 4th and we always have our own Dominoes tournament.) Other contenders: LIFE (it’s much less of a commitment than Monopoly) and mancala.
- Puzzle | Instead of staring at the box of that puzzle you got for Christmas two years ago, clear off your table and open it up. If the puzzle itself isn’t hard enough, challenge yourself by putting it together without looking at the picture or work from the inside out.
- Take a bubble bath | Treat yourself to a warm bath if you’re particularly stressed out, or if you simply cannot remember the last time you took the time for a bath. If you’re not in the mood for bubbles, one of my favorites is a salt and green tea bath. Just steep 2-4 tea bags in the bath and toss in some Epsom salt.
- Go for a walk | Seriously. Bundle up, if it’s still cold, and grab your rain gear. A raincoat and/or umbrella will do just fine, but if you have a pair of rain boots, I recommend using them too. Jump in any puddles you come across and remember how it feels to enjoy the rain again. Your inner child will thank you.
Whatever you do on your gloomy days, please stop hating the rain. Maybe you think it’s inconvenient or you hate the way it makes your hair frizz, but remember that the earth is only doing its job to nourish the land and keep us alive.