“One winter morning I awoke to see magnificent lines of frost stretching across my window panes. They seemed to rise with the sunshine and the bitter cold outside. They looked like little miracles that had been formed in the dark of night.
I watched them in sheer amazement and marveled that such beautiful forms could be born during such a winter-cold night. Yet, as I pondered them I thought of how life is so like that. We live our long, worn days in the shadows, in what often feels like barren, cold winter, so unaware of the miracles that are being created in our spirits.
It takes the sudden daylight, some unexpected surprise of life, to cause our gaze to look upon a simple, stunning growth that has happened quietly inside us. Like frost designs on a winter window, they bring us beyond life’s fragmentation and remind us that we are not nearly as lost as we thought we were, that all the time we thought we were dead inside, beautiful things were being born in us.“ – Joyce Rupp
Yesterday I wrote about feeling grounded in yoga practice, self-care, and restoring our weary places. We do that in yoga through the element of earth. And much like that element – in depth, quiet, and stillness – earth exhibits similar qualities to winter. In winter we rest. The light fades, the days are short, and the cool and quiet bedding down sets it. Trees, plants, animals all rest. The earth itself rests.
In winter, our bodies seek the comfort of warmth through stews, soups, baked goods, hot tea and cocoa. We want more calories, less work, and the feeling of slumber. We are quiet, solemn, and solitary. Life becomes, unknowingly, the very expression of the season.
Winter is the time of year when I spend a lot of time reading, contemplating, considering. I write a lot. I get quiet with myself. I move a little slower. I expect a little less, sleep a little more. I find time for the things that are really important to me – like memory keeping and yoga. And time is easy to find, because with the unpredictability of weather in New England, our schedules are inherently less busy.
I love winter for this opportunity to turn inward. So much of my life (and yours) is spent focused on outward forms of consideration, acceptance, successes, losses. So much of life is spent wondering if you, and what you have done, is good enough, is right, is acceptable by the social or professional standards set by those around you. But winter forces us to stay indoors, to learn how to be quiet with ourselves, and it gives us an opportunity to see what that’s like.
And, sometimes, winter gives us the opportunity to use that inward lens to magnify the things we need to work on.
I try to remember that on an unexpectedly quiet evening or weekend day, when I find myself with unscheduled time and slightly melt down because I wasn’t expecting this and why didn’t I plan for this, and how can I most effectively use this time to meet one of my hundreds of personal goals… And the pressure derived from that change in thought – not action, literally a change in how I perceive that moment – is honestly too much for me to accept, so I get frustrated or angry and give myself something to do by fighting with people over nothing.
The truth is, we could all use more unscheduled time. More time to take a few moments to be quiet with ourselves. To unwind. To be still.
There are a lot of different ways to do that. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Stare out of a window for a few minutes. What people passing, trees moving, snow or rain falling. If you have a pet or a small person that would also like this, bring them with you. Set a timer for 2-3 minutes and work on, progressively, increasing your attention each time.
- When everyone is asleep, sit in your favorite chair or the couch. Listen to your favorite song – no matter the pace – on repeat several times. The first time you hear it, listen to the words. The second time you hear it, listen to the music. The third time you hear it, listen to the different instruments. And keep going.
- My FAVORITE way to get ready for sleep lately has been to listen to the Podcast Live Awake. It is TRULY truly beautiful. And hearing her words brings me to an incredibly calm, relaxed state of being. Her voice is like music. It is a joy.
- Use a meditation app to guide you. My favorites (on iOS) are Guided Mind, Calm, Take a Break, Meditate, and Headspace.
- Or pray. Read poetry. Re-read your favorite book. Read something that makes you think, contemplate. Something that evokes consideration and deep thought. Read in the dark with a nightlight. Read in your favorite spot. Listen to soft music. Light a candle. Enjoy the ceremony and peace of a quiet end – or beginning – to the day.
I hope this inspires you to get quiet, even for a few minutes, today. Enjoy 🙂
Products used in this post: Ali Edwards’ February 2017 Digital Kit stamps and One Little Bird This Year Paper Pack in a handmade traveler’s notebook with a sewn binding. Paper is printed on Canon Matte 8.5×11 Photo Paper using a Canon Pixma Printer.
For several years Ali Edwards has started her year with a word. No resolutions or promises to break, just one little word® (OLW) to check back on for guidance or reflection. As she describes it, “You live with it. You invite it into your life. You let it speak to you. Follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities.” After a challenging 2016, my choice for 2017 is to become SECURE. Each month, I’m focused on a different aspect of securing who I am, where I am, and what we’re doing. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. For more of my one little word, follow my tag one little word.
MOPS, or Mothers of Preschoolers, is and international organization that encourages and equips mothers of young children to realize their potential as mothers and leaders. “We’ve all been placed in this time and place in history, as the tribe of women who are raising the world. And the beauty of it is that we don’t all have to agree with one another but everyone is in and we all need each other.” This 28-day challenge is coupled with reading, a daily truth or dare, and videos and resources that allow us to connect, discuss, and dive into this topic of woman-hood and mother-hood. Come back daily, or read along in this thread, to see my posts and stories for each day.