“Stay Warm from Grumpiness” by Fr. Jim Swarthout

Checking out at the grocery store or coffee shop, talking on the phone, or exchanging emails, the most commonly shared words of the week have been, “Stay warm.”  For fun, I started counting how many times I have either said or heard these words yesterday alone it was 12 times. Given that the temperature the past few days has reached 25 below zero here several days in a row, exchanging a reminder to “Stay warm” seems only appropriate.

For the record, as I get older I really don’t like bitter cold weather. I get really grumpy when it’s too cold to spend time outside. I get grumpy when I have to constantly shovel and spread salt on our sidewalk. I get grumpy when meetings get canceled due to cold or snow, and when the mail is cancelled, too. And, yes, I understand that’s a lot of grumpiness!

So in the midst of my episodes of grumpiness this week, I suddenly realized I was receiving a regular message throughout the day of how to manage my moodiness. This message was hidden in plain sight, but when I realized it, it truly made a difference.  It happened a few days ago when someone once again uttered the words, “Stay warm” to me. For some reason, this time I heard those words in a whole new way. Rather than hearing them as reminding me to make good choices related to my emotional well-being, I instead started hearing the words, “Stay warm” as a reminder for me to make good choices related to my attitude.

I have learned that staying warm attitude is the perfect antidote for grumpiness. I realized that just because its cold and stormy outside doesn’t mean I have to be cold and stormy inside. Not that I don’t still suffer short bouts of grumpiness, but the very fact that I have set the intention to try and “Stay warm” is making a big difference.

I am grateful that the forecast in our area for the next few days is for much warmer weather.  And while I may not be grateful for the extreme cold we have recently endured, I am thankful for the simple two-word lesson that so many people shared with me this week.

You have probably already anticipated how this column is going to end….. “Stay warm” everyone.