Walking Toward the Sunshine: On Choosing Beauty

Walking Toward the Sunshine: On Choosing Beauty

Walk towards the sunshine, and the shadows will fall behind you.”  ― Mary Engelbreit

Winter is a bleak time, especially in former Soviet Bloc countries. I know this well, from these four winters of living in Prague, where the absence of color and light seems to be magnified.

Prague in winter

Prague in winter

All around Prague, Communist housing projects scathe the skyline. Square buildings about 20 stories tall stand like trees making up forests of dense housing blocks. Laundry hangs from balconies in every type of weather. It’s about February every year when I really start to feel it. For me, the colorlessness comes not only from the snow and mud that covers the landscape, but also the barrenness of the season.

Sunny Daffodils for Bleak Winter Days

Sunny Daffodils for Bleak Winter Days

No matter where we live, though, or what kind of housing we live in, finding beauty is not easy. One of the hardest things in life is finding the good and positive in circumstances that are beyond our control.

It is so hard to …

  • Find the color amidst the gray
  • See the positive inside the difficult
  • Search for the good despite challenging circumstances
  • Dig in our heels and stay despite the urge to run and flee
  • Cling to a wisp of internal peace, share a smile, and cling to what we value despite the grind of life
  • Be ourselves, unwavering, when others want us to be someone else
  • Shine and bloom wherever we find ourselves planted

But it is possible. We can choose to find the good and the positive. Life will be much brighter because of that simple choice.


Rose Beauty to Brighten Bleak Days

Rose Beauty to Brighten Bleak Days

Now, as my family and I prepare to return to life in the United States, I know now more than ever that life is not better / greener on the other side. Life is challenging wherever we are. The most important thing we can do each day is focus on a sunny path forward and choose to find the beauty wherever we are.

For you: What do you do to brighten dark days?




  1. What gorgeous pictures. I do just as you recommend: look closely. The sky is often heartbreakingly blue on these gray days, and I try to focus on that, and the yellow of my daffodils (on my kitchen island, and yours remind me!) and the glowing red of the bricks in between the snowbanks. xox

    • I love those winter skies of heartbreaking blue. Thank you, Lindsey!

  2. Your words instantly took me back to my time in what was then Eastern Germany – It was winter. Everything was gray, the people, the air, the buildings, the food, the clothing. I’ll never forget that feeling. Your photo of the gorgeous, sunny yellow daffodils are perfect to pierce the grayness of winter. Thank you for this bit of memory and beauty today!

    • Yes, I think Communism lent a whole other meaning to the word gray. Thank you for sharing your experience in East Germany, Dawn!

  3. Thank you for the post…Ironically, my Daughter and I are headed to Prague for her Spring Break! Feb.22-Mar3 Who would have thunk it?….We are leaving a yard packed with thousands of daffodils (yes I planted them) and headed to Prague Vienna and Budapest. Its what she wants to do and I won’t let her go alone even at 21. I did notice however, by the time we get there, the sunrise and sunsets are further and further apart (by approx 10min increments) Hang in there! When are you headed back to the USA? I will miss your notes..:( They are “rounding-out” my speedy education on everything Prague.

    • Thank you, Annie. I hope you have a wonderful visit to Prague!

  4. Such an important message. And I think this grass is not greener is a theme that would be really interesting to keep exploring on your blog and in your writing in general.

    • This is great feedback, Nina! The grass is not greener, for sure, and I think you’re right. I will explore it more in the future here. Thank you so much! xo

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