I’m not going to lie. I’m having a hard time accepting the coming of winter this year.
It’s not the first time I've felt this kind of strong resistance, of course, and I always have at least a little trepidation about the ensuing six months of dark and cold.
You can’t live in Minnesota and not feel some pressure to get the yard work taken care of, the house ready for below zero temps, the garage cleaned out so you can park your car inside—and where are those snow boots, wool hats, and down jackets?
But this year I’ve been feeling even more sensitive to the dropping temps than usual, and then with half the leaves still on the trees we got an early three inches of snow and suddenly it was down to six degrees and windy and well, HELLO, WINTER!
I just wasn’t mentally prepared.
I walk about an hour a day with my dog, sometimes more, in the woods if possible. I love to, need to, have that connection with the earth, sky, trees, fresh air, movement.
But the cold takes some of the fun and ease out of it. I still do it every day all year round, but some days it’s harder to get out the door.
Yesterday was one of those days.
I just was not on board with the weather and I was feeling a bit down that we’re only at the very beginning of it. Here in the northland the cold just lasts so darn long.
It made me remember how I was feeling when I was pregnant with my second daughter at exactly this time of year. My first was born in spring which slid into a wonderful summer of tiny onesies and naked baby play outside on a blanket in the dappled sunlight. Weather-wise it was idyllic.
This second one was due in November, one of the most brutal months of wind and endless gray days. I wondered how I would get through those first six months of having a tiny baby to keep warm and nurture, as well as an older child to love and care for during the most isolating and dark time, both externally and internally.
I wasn’t sure I could do it.
It felt like I might fall into the deep, cold hole of winter and never come out. How could I be responsible for two small human beings when I wasn’t sure I could keep myself afloat?
I decided to go on a short retreat and try to get myself together before the baby came. It was just one night, a little less than 24 hours, but it felt luxurious and expansive. And holy moly, so necessary.
I journaled, I cried, I walked the labyrinth, I meditated, I made art. I gave myself permission to feel everything I was feeling.
It was messy, nourishing, liberating.
I felt strengthened and reassured that indeed I could do this and even thrive.
Part of this change of heart came down to one image: a spiral. This symbol kept coming up in the art I made and as I dove deeper I discovered its significance for me.
That it’s okay to have these feelings of walking into the abyss. That this time of year affords you the opportunity to walk to the center of the spiral and do the inner work you need to there, so that when it’s time to walk the path back out you’ve grown into your next incarnation.
And perhaps most importantly, that you do walk back out again. It's not a one-way ticket to darkness. Eventually, there is light again.
That was the important part for me to remember: that yes, I was walking into the heart of darkness AND I would be turning around and walking out again into the light of spring, warmth, and new awareness.
The spiral became the shorthand for me to accept the feelings of turning inward to find the jewels of my inner psyche that were ready to be discovered.
It’s helped me every year since then as we approach the dark time of the year.
So it was understandable that one of my clients yesterday needed the reminder that creativity is self-care and that it’s important to create time to follow those pursuits that fill you up and not just focus on the chores of the to-do list.
The Universe is wonderful about providing the opportunities you need and I took what was offered: Take your own medicine and put aside the list of chores and make time to feed your soul.
I had intended to clean the bathrooms last night after dinner since it hadn’t gotten done in the afternoon—and mind you, it was pretty overdue. But I realized what I needed more than shiny sinks was to do something creative.
I make intuitive art. It’s not fueled by extensive knowledge or gallery-worthy—it comes out of what I'm feeling and helps me to process.
When I sat down with a cup of tea and a dining room table full of art materials I found my hands making a spiral and processing the change of seasons from the new-beginnings-excitement of fall to the quiet, reflective focus of winter.
It felt good to be making something after a bit of a hiatus and as I labored over how to fit the elements together I felt myself yielding to the inevitability of the cold, accepting the stillness of the dark.
This is the beauty of listening to what we need.
Of prioritizing our self-care knowing that when we get our needs met we are better equipped to handle the ups and downs and extra layers of sweaters of everyday life.
I may still grumble a little as I put on all the outerwear today to walk, but I’ll also be mindful of what a gift it is to slow down and take time to look within.
Where are you needing to slow down and care for yourself, look within for the jewels, and strengthen your well-being? Not sure? The following announcement is for you then!
My self-care workbook is now available for sale!!
I’ve been using the Create Your Self-Care Revolution workbook exclusively with clients over the last two years and I finally decided to make it available after many requests.
Here are some comments from clients using the workbook:
“I can’t believe it! I feel like you wrote every word just for me!”
“This is exactly what I needed to slow down and pay attention to myself!”
“I finally feel like I have permission to take care of me. And the best part is no one is suffering because I’m able to show up so much more fully in my life. Everyone’s happy.”
With the 28-page instant download I walk you through short, easy-to-do exercises to discover what you need to be your best.
I help you understand why it's so important to commit to putting your unique self-care recipe into action and how to do just that.
I also include a self-assessment to track your progress so you can consider each area of self-care and see where you’re at now, in six months, and in a year.
And I share my own self-care journey from nothing to thriving.
I invite you to get your download today and use it during this reflective time, testing and tweaking to get things just right for yourself. You’ll enter 2020 with a new outlook and a phenomenal self-care plan!