The frozen fog took me by surprise. Really, I’m not sure why. It’s January, in Minnesota. Yet it seems whether I predict it or not, I feel a bit duped; deceived, pushed head first into the snowbank and am now trying to navigate my balance with a cold face! As much as I was prepared and have readied myself as much as possible, I am here now exposed to the inclemency, the dark, and the bitter edgy air that cuts my skin like glass.
I have been wanting to write for some time now, but didn’t know what to say. Everything felt contrived and coming from a place of “I should” instead of “I want”. I’ve been waiting for the desire to write. I imagined it floating in from the ether to land upon the crown of my head and drench inspiration, a real knowing to saturate my cells and allow my mind to receive. When my body has awakened and my mind is open like the head of a volcano, I need to write. Indeed it is the only time that propels me to write. I don’t know how long this will last before the saturation is too much and I need to dry out, but the knowing is upon me and I’m writing now. About winter.
Like I said - I’m feeling submerged with the necessity to write. It feels like being in water, salt water to be specific, where you don’t really need to do anything and you still float, still buoyant - the opposite of dead weight, which is what the thought of writing has been to me for a few months now. Everything works like this though, doesn’t it? We move from one state to another, always changing - never the same. We must constantly be adapting and growing. If I’ve learned anything about living through 41 Januarys now, it is that I need to relinquish any desire to control over to nature. Nature will do what it wants. At this moment, where I live, the world is frozen. Nature has frozen the world for a while so that spring can arrive with a slow steam that bubbles from the core of the Earth - slowly thawing out, making a mess, and upturning the soil so that new seeds, new ideas, and new creations can be planted to bear fruit. The soil needs deep rest in order to begin again, fresh, anew. So, while the new year is upon us and we may feel that we need to get up and go - take charge and start something new - I want to ask you, do you really FEEL that right now? Truly?! Perhaps the most friction I experience all year is in January and February because my body, my spirit, and my mind aren’t all on board with embracing external action. This year I have committed to fearlessly stand behind a new January in which I plan nothing outside of what I ordinarily do. No new activities or projects. No additional obligations on my calendar outside of the minimum necessary to continue to fulfill basic needs. I will sit by my fireplace at some point every day with cozy, soft socks and a blanket. To feel grounded. I will drink tea and I will read. I will read fiction to entertain my mind and I will read non-fiction to encourage my soul to stay lit in the dark, cold frigidity.
I am honoring this time like I never have before. Every year I have remarked with disdain about January because I hated how it hindered my ideas of needing to be on the go. Not only did my vehicle of transportation become slow to my eagerness to go-go-go, but my body was constantly being told stories by my mind that I was being lazy if I gave in to the whisperings of January to rest and slow down. I always thought it was me against January. A fight. I thought January was hypnotizing me into believing that I couldn’t keep up the activity level of summer. I don’t blame January for this imaginary fight. I take responsibility for my actions.
I don’t think there is enough commentary out there such as this one professing to let go of the new year gimmick of trying new things and starting new programs, challenges, and projects. Are they right for you? Or are they distractions trying to pull the curtain on January and make believe that we are forever in the same season? I am finally listening to my intuition that has been there all along but I’ve just trained myself to ignore. I’ve invited it to instead become louder and I’m finally listening. This alignment feels good. I am not ashamed to not be engaging in every social gathering that comes my way or every invitation to join an activity or any marketing aimed at DOING more right now. Our energy needs rest. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still experience energy. I am a very energetic person and I am truly grateful for that gift. Energy is not to be taken for granted. However, I am now taking responsibility for its use. I am finally stepping forward and honoring it and discerning where and what I use it for.
Winter is the perfect time to practice self love, leaning in to more self care tools (meditation, writing, and bubble baths with candles please) and practices that care for my well being (yoga, always). As well as embracing who I am at this moment - is enough.
I am giving up feeling hopeless and frustrated with January. Why wouldn’t I burrow down, wrap myself in warmth and embrace comfort? This desire is here for a reason. All of nature is hunkered down. The trees are barren and still. The animals have prepared for this season ahead of time so that they don’t need to be as active. We are nature too. We hold all five elements of nature within us - air, water, fire, earth, and space. Connect with nature; it’ll soothe you into knowing you belong just as you are. Whether you are snowshoeing, sledding, skiing, or taking a stroll in appropriate attire to keep yourself safe - the fresh air, natural light, and movement will do you well. It’s hard to sit still when it gets as frigid as it does here, so save the meditation for indoors during these months.
The dissolution, angst, and turmoil I have experienced with January is simply that I have told myself I can’t slow down and that these month(s) (February is often 28 days more of January) shouldn’t be any different than the other 10 months. I can motivate myself, I just have to push through it!! Have you ever tried to push a solid wall? Well that is the equivalent of forcing yourself to jump into the New Year’s bandwagon of new activities, obligations, programs, diets, and challenges just because you think you should. If you’ve prepared for winter like the rest of nature, you have a pretty solid foundation of how/what/when to best eat, how to move your body, and how to get your basic needs met so that you can survive the winter.
Rest assured, thriving through winter can happen too! Through rest, and practices that move you inward - whether that is reading, drawing/reflecting/journaling, meditating, or pranayama (breath practices), you are working at a different level, a soul level. By spending time on these deeply grounding and introspective activities you’re giving your precious energy to your foundation. You do not need to engage in external activities to experience worthiness. If throughout the winter you focused on nurturing your inner world, the deep foundation of who you are, then you would be ready - well rested, to face spring when it breaks through the soil. Yet - by spring, many of us are exhausted and while there is more daylight and warmth, we find that we don’t have the energy to bloom. In this case you might reach for another bottle of despair. The one that calls you and comforts you. The bottle represents something that is external to you. An easy and quick fix. Something that possibly makes you forget or at least brings about pretty quick comfort to assuage your feelings of exhaustion. Unfortunately this is a cycle that is hard to break and it’s hard to get off the merry-go-round of life when nature is drawing you outside and the birds are singing. The birds know what’s up!
Tone down to tune in this winter. Walk away from or don’t click on the loudness telling you to ignore your inner compass, your connection to nature and what is right for you in this season. If you’ve never met January like this before and you want some guidance for the journey, let me know because I’d be honored to support you. If you’d like me to bugger off because you’ve already “crushed” January in the first week, then enjoy that. I’m not here to judge. I’ll just be wishing you well as I get my tea ready and the fireplace started.