Spring is here.

In the last 3 months, people would always ask me, “How are you?” I would always find myself grappling for a reply, and more often than not, I’d say with a smile, “I’m okay.” Sometimes, it is an honest answer. Sometimes, it is an empty one. Many times, I would ask the same question to myself, and just like that, I’d leave it with no reply.

Coming to Toronto with barely an idea of what it is like to live through the winter, I proudly told myself, “I am a shunshine-y, optimistic person so, no matter what the weather will be like, I’m gonna be just fine.” Besides, I’ve waited for this chance for so long to just let the gloomy days ruin it. Days went by and I lost count of the days that I would wake up in morning convincing myself that I can get through the gray (sometimes with drizzles of snow and/or rain). When I started to recognize and accept it for what it is, that was when I truly began to overcome the struggle.

Yes, folks, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real. Having to go through it at a time when there’s also an adjustment phase to a new work environment and social conditions is not a walk in the park. The turning point was when I began talking to people whom I trust about it, and accept that it is a point in the change curve that I have to go through. What I found really helpful is the mental exercise that my coach taught me. It’s very simple. I just mentally recited the negative thoughts I have, then aloud, I recite them back to myself in the reverse, positive tone. Instead of “I am not achieving anything…“, why not try “Little as they may seem, I am achieving these… *insert list of the little, daily successes that you have*.” Below are some snaps from the recent workshop that I organized and facilitated with the colleagues I work with for my project in the Society.

It is ironic. For an optimistic person, I think that I might have trained my mental disposition muscles to be a little too pragmatic lately, even bordering cynical sometimes. Facing this adversity, I tried to consciously quiet down the voices in my head that speaks of my self-limiting beliefs. And this exercise have definitely helped me be a little kinder to myself. The greatest competitor I’ve always had is myself, and in this journey so far, I have learned to make myself my greatest ally and cheerleader.

Another thing that helps me overcome my occasional bouts with homesickness would be to go out and play. In the last few weeks, since the weather has been warmer, I put the weekends to good use. I took advantage of the sunny days to walk around and breathe the fresh, spring air. It is true; one would never fully understand the beauty of spring without knowing what winter is like.

Here are some snaps of my sunny, spring weekends…

Easter Weekend in NYC

Cherry Blossoms in High Park, Toronto

Most of all, what makes every step worthwhile is to remember the reason why I am here in the first place.

‘Til my next PULSE story!


  1. Wow, Kristel! You’ve really had to overcome a significant challenge! So glad you’ve managed to get through winter. Luckily, it was a mild one! I loved your perspective about needing the winter to appreciate the spring…so very true!! From the pictures it looks like you e been busy. I look forward to hearing all about it when we next catch up. Until then, be well and keep breathing that fresh air!

  2. Kristel – it’s amazing to read this chapter and to hear of your change journey. You are a super strong lady who never gives up. Stay close and keep talking to those who love you.

    1. I appreciate hearing from you, Kevin. I wish you well in your current endeavors. 🙂

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