Recently, in my executive coaching work and as a parent and friend, I am telling stories and referring to the mindset and actions of empowerment more than ever. As we are being bombarded with headlines and news alerts of the impending unraveling of our health care system, the great stall in our children’s education, and the scant access to food and consumer goods, the foundations of safety, predictability and well being are crumbling. As well as our sense of personal control and power. It leaves within us a continuum of feelings from disquiet to anxiety to panic, and at times, beyond to hopelessness.

I know that the recurrence of the theme of empowerment in my personal and professional conversations is indicative of my own struggle to find my footing, the inner ballast that enables me to trust myself. And engage in the world, despite the headwinds of social isolation. Second-guessing the necessity to leave the house, tap and click shopping, and online work threatens conversion to a hobbit – small humanlike being, curly hair, lives underground.

I am thankful that this threat of metamorphosis is upon me during the winter season. To me, Mother Nature is in her most beautiful and inhospitable state. The cold temperatures energize me. The shiny snow diamonds beckon me to climb, ski, trudge, or lay down and make a snow angel. And when the wind is so strong that I can’t stand against it, and the snow so thick that I can’t see in front of me, curled up fireside with a book is cozy and inviting.

It seems to me that rather than confront the realities of the world being delivered to us, I am choosing physical and mental challenges. There were many years in my life where respite from my mind clutter and feelings only came through frantic busyness and alcohol. I now can access brainwaves of peace and powerful resolve by sinking into my body and taunting it to stretch beyond what is comfortable. Willing my mind and muscles to plug into what is possible.

With a snowy backdrop and an ice-coated shoreline, a dip in Georgian Bay to celebrate 2022 was followed by me dancing in my bathing suit on the frozen sand . . . for just a moment. While the euphoria ebbed and my feet began to scream for warmth, the inner glow of overpowering the elements charged me with confidence and wellbeing. Skiing down challenging terrain, long hikes through snowdrifts and along slippery rock ledges, and climbing through crevices in snowshoes all fuel my capacity and power.

The moments in time when I am focused on my physical presence in nature are a delightful combination of a mind vacation with a surge of affirmative energy. They are a comforting reminder of what is in my control. A reminder of the physical and mental potential that is available to me. A reminder that empowerment comes from within. For all of us.

The threats of illness, loss of freedom and pandemic pandemonium are ever-present. Sometime in the future they will be replaced with more political chaos, a grievous loss, or a challenging personal event. These are all outside of my control. They are the inevitabilities of life. Finding comfort and a way forward, one step, one day, one week at a time, through tapping into my internal resources is the best I can do.

At least, that is my experience.