Spring Awakening (A Reflection)

How’s your Winter going, stardust?

Winter fading away...
Winter fading away…

We are about a full month away from the Spring Equinox (March 20th), though honestly, this week in Pittsburgh has had all the feeling of summer.

I didn’t have to wear my Michelin-Man winter jacket once.

I’m going to miss winter this year, a fact no doubt helped by the mild temperatures and limited amount of dirty snow accruing on the edges of sidewalks. Each year, I fall a little bit more in love with this slower, inward turning phase of the year. I truly believe we are meant to heed the seasons.

It doesn’t mean I go need to go into full-on hibernate mode in the Winter or race down the streets nude when Spring arrives (though, wouldn’t it be nice?) I just notice where energy is nudging and follow it’s flow in a way that makes sense for my life.

It’s actually quite fun.

Right now, I can feel the energy prickling the air as Spring approaches. I’m an Aries so Spring is kinda my time. Velvety green buds are appearing on trees. I want to run for no discernible reason. Creative ideas that I’ve spent all winter mulling over are starting to yawn and stretch awake.

This winter has been one of great inner awareness and healing for me. I send a hearty thank you to all who have made it possible.

As we head into Spring, I thought I would bring back the questions I introduced at the beginning of winter, a sort of mid-term check-in if you will.

The Questions:

How did I explicitly slow down (even just a little) this Winter?

In small and big ways. I curbed back some writing project goals. Focused on the slow curl of each rep during workout days. When my ten minute naps turned into two hour slumbers, I didn’t have a panic attack (this would’ve been my main mode last Winter, for sure). I went to restorative yoga sessions with my partner. I have started to actively pencil in daydream time into my calendar where I make weird art or lip sync to 90s alternative rock.

Slowing down made me feel more grounded and real. It reminded me that in a society that prides itself on depletion and busyness, it is okay to take a more human pace and let my body rest.

What is one thing I want to see born in the Spring and how did I use the Winter season to bring it about?

One thing I wanted to see in Spring was a deeper sense of self-love. I knew that I had my sticky places with food, money, and time management. I knew that it was going to take steady dedication to bring healing to these areas.

I’m not quite so good at doing “one thing”. It’s the Aries thing again…

For food, I enrolled in When Food Is Your Mother to learn more about my sticky own emotional eating habits as related to attachment theory. It sounds amazing and totally unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

For money, I extended my six-month clothing fast to a year, so now I have until August 15th. (Okay, I may have bought a beautiful burgundy vintage cape at a friend’s clothing swap for 50 cents, but other than that, no clothes shopping for this girl!)

And for time management, I look at my Happiness Planner (love, love, love it) each day and consistently remind myself, “I can balance my duties with ease.” Sometimes that is about all I can manage for time management BUT, I have been a lot less procrastinating than last Winter, so I’ll take it!

The light
The light

What is one daily or weekly practice of nurturing I practiced?

I spent a lot of my winter months solidifying my self-care morning regimen in a concrete way to show that I value myself. As of now, I meditate for ten minutes, say hello to my late grandmother, read affirmations aloud, and stretch for five minutes. It’s not much but it truly shapes my day in life-preserving ways.

I saw how easy it was to not take care of my Self. To put my to-do lists above it. To deem self- care frivolous and self-indulgent.

But, then I remind myself: My world and those in it benefit from my living my best life. And this includes the basics of self-care.

Sometimes I had to stretch at bedtime. Sometimes I read my affirmations in between classes via my phone. Sometimes I only got to meditate for five minutes.

Every little bit mattered. And I feel so much more steady in my self-care path because of the twenty minutes I spend each day tuning in and taking care.

How did I bring more fiery energy into my Winter?

Lotsa time in any hot tub I had the pleasure of being around. The weekly Burlesque Goddess class at Vitality Bellydance. Frequent visits to People’s Indian Food on Penn Ave for their lunchtime buffet.

How has your Winter been my friends? Is there anything you want to linger with before we greet the Spring Equinox on March 20th? What major things did you learn about yourself this season?

Onward to the light,

Hannah

 

Winter is Coming and This Time I’m Not Full of Absolute Dread

dark winter sky with bare trees
Nature has so much to teach.
The winter solstice is set to occur (in the northern hemisphere) on Wednesday, December 21. At this time, the days actually start getting shorter as we get closer to Spring, though we don’t really see evidence of this until the Spring Equinox in March.
 
As in nature, so in life.
Winter is cold days, bare trees, bundling up, slower energy, waiting, waiting, and more waiting. Oftentimes, we feel that “nothing is happening”, we who are so used to and value the rapid fire energy of Spring and Summer.
But things are happening, my friend. We are building a more secure, solid foundation (many plants’ roots actually grow deepest in the winter) and moving closer to the exuberant, more show-offy energy of Spring. We just can’t always see this.
Winter and Autumn in the ancient Chinese Taoism tradition are associated with the feminine, darkness, introspection and the “yin” side of the famous yin-yang symbol. Yang is the masculine and associated with light, action, and breadth. These two energies are made to co-exist with each other, neither is “better” than the other. We need both. 
 
All this to say, where are you in your embrace of Winter and her associated energies? Are you (like myself) pretty resistance to this slower, deeper, quieter pace? Do you still want to be on the go all the time even though your body, soul, and mind say otherwise? Is it difficult to not see obvious evidence of your work (whether personal or professional)?
As a SoCal native, I was totally bewildered and honestly, a little annoyed when I experienced my first real winter in Long Island, NY in 2005 (and no SoCalers, 60 degrees is NOT freezing…) I have gotten better over the years, but I still have some reservations about fully inhabiting this time of year. 
Last year, I started writing about some pretty heavy shit I had never ever processed before on the page. It resulted in lots of random bouts of crying, long nights of staring at my Instagram feed where I wasn’t even seeing the pictures, and most days felt like I was walking around in my own personal grey fog.
Instead of setting down into these feelings and accepting them, I berated myself and tried to “just get on with it” in a bluster of activity or I soothed myself with emotional eating and a myriad of other self-harming behaviors.
The result? More stuckness, not less.
But, all is not in vain. I learned something valuable last year. I learned that resistance instigates even more suffering. I learned that darker, more introspective, and slower moods have their rewards and are just as valuable as sparkly summer nights.
I fully plan to put that all into practice this Winter.
 
No matter where you are, I hope that you use this Winter season to nourish you and gain more acceptance of the quieter, but no less powerful energies present. I hope you go deep and learn to trust yourself. I hope this Winter is one that leaves you feeling more whole and ready to show the world your gifts in the Spring. 
winter sky with bare trees and grey sky
Things are gonna get deep around here.
 
Winter Questions for Reflection:
 
-How can you explicitly slow down (even just a little) this Winter?
Ideas include more naps (never a bad idea), starting a ten minute per day meditation practice, committing to eating more slowly, setting more time aside for work projects, taking restorative yoga classes, saying fuck-it to to-do lists items, allowing and even scheduling “dawdle” time, and tapping more deeply into your intuition.
 
-What is one thing you want to see born in the Spring, something you can go deeper with during this winter season?
Perhaps it’s a piece of writing that you allow to mature and shift with more ease, maybe it’s deepening your meditation practice, or committing to exploring (via journaling or another art form) some personal question that’s long lingered on the right side of your brain but you haven’t had time to explore. What do you want to bring into the world next year? 
 
-What is one daily or weekly practice of nurturing you can commit to?
Aromatherapy, daily mugs of tea, movie days/nights, sitting in the sauna at LA Fitness (join me), lighting candles instead of using artificial light, spending unrushed time with those you love, buying that ridiculously long scarf that actually looks like a mini-rug…don’t forget to take deeper care of yourself this season. We all need it and winter reminds us of this fact. 
 
-How can you bring in a little fiery energy this season?
Even during this darker, more sub-conscious laden time of year, we still need some fire. Have fun with this! What excites you about life and/or literally makes you warmer? For some it’s a high energy work-out, spicier foods, exploring a new part of the city, and of course, there’s the obvious activity (or just where my mind always goes) of sex. Find some way to explore your fire. 
 
 I wish you the best over the holidays and the entirety of this winter season. Please never forget:
 

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – (I’ve seen this quote attributed to Buddha, fake Buddha, and Sharon Salzberg…no matter who said it, it’s wise and true.) 

 

Onward and happy winter,
Hannah