Winter sports weekend Published May 7, 2013 By Lt. Col. Jeff Laible Chaplain, 183rd Fighter Wing Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport -- Winter sports weekend. When I first heard this phrase, I was not quite sure I understood what it meant. But I quickly learned that when one lives in the northern tier States - Minnesota in particular - where the winter months seem to "drag on" forever - finding some fun "outdoor" activities, like a winter sports weekend, was good for one's mind, body and spirit. After all, spending too much time indoors during the winter months can generate a terrible case of "cabin fever" and being outdoors, even if it is cold with lots of snow on the ground, can really reinvigorate your entire person. Having spent five years in southeastern Minnesota during my college days provided me with many opportunities to participate in some winter sports weekend events. And since many of my classmates were from Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin, I had plenty of friends who were willing to participate in the various events that were hosted over a sports weekend. There is one event, however, that I could not bring myself to enter and that was ice fishing on a frozen lake - until I found out that people take the equivalent of a small shed, park it in the middle of a frozen lake, and fill the shed with modern day creature comforts, like small heaters, portable TV's, etc. Suddenly the idea of "roughing-it" on a frozen lake in the middle of winter (just to catch a few fish) did not seem like such a bad idea. Now that we are in the middle of winter, I am reminded that I did "survive" a much longer period of cold temperatures (and far more snow) when I was a college student in Minnesota. Some of those "lessons" that I learned during a winter sports weekend - like learning to enjoy the outdoors even though it is cold, dark, dreary, sometimes with ice and snow - come back to me today and give me a positive focus. No, you will not find me attempting to fish on Lake Springfield in the middle of February, but I do have an entirely new appreciation for the season of winter. I can either be grumpy and become a "couch potato" until Spring arrives or I can bundle up with the right amount winter gear, head outdoors and explore what the season of winter has to offer. While the shortened daylight hours make it much more difficult to enjoy time outside in February, I never-the-less try to spend a few hours outdoors at least a few times a week. And that time outdoors, even though it is limited due to the temperatures, pays big dividends, physically, mentally and spiritually. The cold temperatures have a way of reigniting my mind and spiritual life. It seems strange, in a way, especially since winter is not my favorite season - but sometimes when we step out of comfort zone and step into a new or different space, we can rediscover or uncover something really rewarding.