The darkest night of the year is here. The winter solstice marks the moment where the earth is tilted the farthest away from the sun and we experience the least amount of daylight. But now moving forward, the days slowly become longer and the nights become shorter.
And so, the solstice is the celebration of the returning sunlight. A rebirth. An opportunity to be in rhythm with the seasons and embrace the silence, solitude, and stillness of the coldest time of the year.
But so often we resist and push against natures invitation to slow down. Our fast-paced culture, in love with productivity, work driven purpose, and the lure of outward energy, doesn't heed the call and often we feel a deep desire for summer's sun to return to get us out of the dark winters. Missing the chance to sit with ourselves and learn lessons from our inner world.
For the duration of this blog post, I'm feeling inspired to speak directly from the heart about my experience with winter this year, as it has been quite different from past ones. In this reflection, I'll share how I've been sitting with myself in the dark, mostly in the mornings, to listen and be still to what winter wants to unveil.
In the past, this would be the time of year where I became scared of the dark, more anxious (sometimes depressed), stuck in my financial situation, and feeling the physical sting of the cold constantly (even in bed). To be fair, the last couple years I've been living in southern Oregon, where compared to the northern midwest, has incredibly mild winters in the Rogue valley. But maybe I needed the change in climate to get a handle on my relationship with winter?
Summer is typically my jam. I love the bright, vibrant energy that allows me to bask in the sun like a lizard, moving my body (a lot), being creative, and visiting family and friends on the go. Inevitably, the sun begins to fade, the temperatures cool off, and my stubbornness to stay with summer tightens its grip. I'm like a pouting child who won't leave the waterpark (one of my favorite childhood pastimes).
So what's changed? Why am I now syncing up with winter?
First, my not so pleasant visit to the ER early fall, was huge wake up call to SLOW DOWN and pause my travels in the van. It was too much movement combined with not enough rest to recharge my batteries and ultimately I got sick. I continue to draw on this experience as an episode I am not interesting in having happen again and thankful my throat was able to heal.
Second, since living in Oregon, my relationship with the outdoors matured. I think less of mother nature as a constant place to outdoor recreate and conquer and exert my physical capabilities. But now also as a place to find refuge, rest, cry, and simply exist without a task. I softened. I relaxed. I minimized my aggressive goals of wilderness travel. There's now a space to listen without my agenda.
Third, being in circle with other women celebrating the new and full moons of each month have allowed me to slow down and take note of subtle shifts in myself. The practice of being in ceremony with the phases of the moon have given time and space to sit, let go of what I no longer need in my life, and set intentions for the person I'm becoming. I owe a big, heartfelt thank you to my friend, Breta who has guided me over these last couple years in these circles.
Fourth, I've had my nose in my journal every morning and often meditate right after. The malleable condition of the mind in the early hours of the day have proven to be a fruitful time to rewrite old stories, tune in to the whispers of winter, and go inward. Currently, I've been answering the question, "Who Am I", for 30 days in a row. I'm halfway through, and let me tell ya, there have been some major shifts.
To end on a light hearted note, creating space to celebrate winter has also brought my love for winter to the surface. And to keep the thank you's rolling, I owe my partner Lucas a big shoutout for always encouraging me to jump in the cold water, embrace the traditions of the holiday season, and get out backcountry skiing and winter camping.
How will you celebrate the coming of winter this year? As a theme my friend Sarah has been sharing, I encourage you to think for yourself. Cultivate a new way to celebrate or revive an old tradition to embrace the beautiful season of winter.