The lights are dimmed in our dining room. A candle is lit on the table and the Christmas Tree is beaming (and slightly tilted because of a toddler). This last week we got our deep blanket of snow. The snow that sticks around and doesn’t just fade away at the first sight of the sun. This is the snow that hangs on till spring and the one we wonder if it will ever bring us flowers come April. Winter has been fickle with her presence and arrival this year, she has been coming and going over the last few weeks. Finally, just before we officially welcome winter with the Winter Solstice, we finally received the blanket of snow that now will make even the gloomiest of days feel bright.
As we welcome the Winter Solstice today, we also welcome the light back. Today we reach the darkest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere. The darkness here in Northern Michigan will consume all but 8 hours and 47 minutes of sunlight today. In other parts, it will be even darker, but today Winter Solstice is our mark telling us that the sun is coming and it serves as our promise that winter is not to be dreaded but welcomed as the turning point in our year. This is the reminder that hibernation has an end date because from here on every day we will see a little more sunlight.
When it comes to winter, I have found that so many feel this is a gray, dark, sad, and gloomy time of the year. I get it, and have felt the same way in the past, but Winter Solstice has been a light in my understanding of winter. I always saw Winter Solstice for the darkness it marked and not the light it brought. It was a glass half full kind of thing I needed to take a different approach on. Once I saw this day as an exciting moment of when our world makes a shift and winter is spent more bringing sunlight back into our lives and less about it being gloomy, I flipped my feelings about this season.
This year I have embraced the dark mornings and the dark nights. We light candles. We slow our evenings. I shut down the computer more often and read books. We light fires. We eat around the table and have worked hard to teach Hayes about candles. I truly have embraced the concept of Hygge in our house because living in Northern Michigan, there is so much we can learn from the Danish about making the most of winter months.
Most of all as we welcome winter officially and start the holiday season, I want you to ask how you can utilize this season. Is there a way you can hibernate yourself in some way to do the deep work that you should. Winter is about hibernation and when we moved from here for a while, I missed how the world slowed. I realized how important it was to my creativity and the planning I would do for my next year. The slowing of a good winter is necessary for me to shut myself down just long enough to stop, look around, and make a plan for the next year ahead.
We feel that the moment January 1 rolls around we have to hit the ground running and I would love to challenge you to ease into this next month if you can. Even if you do go back to work, don’t plan much. Don’t hit those goals too hard right away. Instead, spend these weeks between Christmas and January 31st, looking at all that lies on the table in front of you and ask:
– What can go?
– What do I need more of?
– Most importantly where do I want to see myself in a year?
I find that when I use these weeks of the holiday and the beginning of the new year to take a deep breath I start a year with clarity and focus I wouldn’t otherwise. We live in a fast-paced world of devices, scrolling, and social media, but that isn’t what was intended for us. Life was meant to be taken in the rhythm of the world around us. We are meant to sleep a little later in the winter and wake earlier in the summer. We are meant to warm by fires in the winter and sip cold drinks late into the evening to take in the coolest part of the day. We are meant to curl up with a book in the winter and live in the present in the summer. Most importantly we are meant to take notes from everything around us and quiet ourselves from all and focus inward and on our homes during the winter because that is where our shelter is from the cold and snow, but in the summer we are intended to live in the sun and soak up the busy nature of hot days in August. Each filling us in different ways.
This mentality is what connected me to understand why I needed to shift the conversation on TFE last year. When I spent this precious time from the holidays to the end of January hibernating and letting go of work and whatever I felt the world told me I “had to do” in order to maintain or keep up or grow, I felt the space and freedom to dream something different for myself. BReaks and quiet are important to find ourselves and our voice that sometimes can become hidden and quieted by the booming voices that appear as we scroll throughout the year.
So this is my challenge to you today on this darkest day of the year. How will you hibernate in this next few months enough to be ready for when the sun begins to rise earlier? How will be still so you can do the deep work in yourself that will prepare you to blossom in the spring? This is what winter asks of us. It is our choice how we answer.
Happy Winter Solstice friends. Dim the lights tonight. Embrace the dark. Light candles. Don’t fear the darkness, but instead allow it to be what keeps the loud voices of the world out long enough to remember just who you are and what you intend to do with this life.