I’ve been reading Katherine May’s book “Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times”*.
My adult self is not a fan of winter. I don’t like being IN the cold. Yet snow on the mountains and bright blue skies are especially beautiful here in Santa Fe and northern New Mexico where the landscape is already breathtaking.
When we get snow, my inner child comes out to play which offers me laughter and joy as the pups race around in the snow. And my adult self appreciates the opportunity to cocoon indoors, go inward, take stock, review the last year and set intentions for the next. This second, adult wintering is more like the season of wintering May explores in her book.
Understanding Wintering as a Season of Life
Wintering in this way is familiar to me and quite comfortable once I realize I’m in it! Wintering as a season of life isn’t necessarily synchronized with the winter season kicked off by the December Solstice. It could be initiated by a health crisis, an astrological cycle, divorce or death of a loved one, or any number of things.
It is a time of going inward, entering the liminal space where all things emerge from. May suggests that our culture does not prepare us for being in this kind of wintering and I agree. Until one has experienced it, the liminal landscape is unfamiliar as are the feelings and new ways of being that are required to navigate it.
I am emerging from a wintering that was initiated last fall with the vicious re-occurrence of the Epstein Barr virus in my body. It demanded I come to a full stop. Yet I didn’t and the fatigue burrowed in deeper until I received a diagnosis and surrendered to the need for deep rest and retreat. Our trip to Maui offered some of that as did the self-isolation to avoid the current COVID surge upon our return.
Turning Towards the Next Season
Just as new plants sprout as winter turns to spring in the natural world, this new season of my life is sprouting. Astrologically, this Mercury Retrograde (Jan 14-Feb 3) is moving through my 6th house of career and health, so I am reviewing and the structures that support my health and the health of Dragonfly Coaching and Consulting, LLC, my practice. (yet again, I did this all last year, too!).
I find the landscape of my personal life is different.
- I want to write more and be in deep relationships with friends, loved ones, and clients.
- I want a more embodied experience of life. More yoga, walking, laughing, play, sex.
- The doctors and healers I am drawn to are changing, as are the energetic treatments and homeopathic remedies that move me towards health.
- I’m leaning more toward vegetarianism – quite a surprise for a long-time paleo-leaning person!
- I’m finding I enjoy long days of client work with creative and project-focused days in between.
- The landscape of my practice is changing, too, but I’ll leave that for another time.
Many Winterings in My Life
At 55, I’ve experienced a lot of winterings. I’ve written often about navigating liminal space. Today, I am grateful for the clarity, comfort, simplicity, freedom, and healing of wintering or liminal space and emergence.
Last fall as I rushed to create a big harvest that would, in the end, die on the tree, I lost touch with these deeply held values. And while there was mourning in that death, there was also relief. Life doesn’t have to be a big harvest for it to be satisfying. Small harvests can bring just as much joy and contentment.
The older I get, the simpler I want my life to be. The more I want to travel with ease to beautiful places. The more I want to sit with friends, family, colleagues and clients and simply be present to our lives unfolding over time. And the more I want to navigate my life with my own rhythms at the fore. These are challenging shifts even as they are understood and supported by my husband.
And I wonder…
- Where are you in the wintering season? Are you in the thick of it – immersed and/or thrashing about in liminal space?
- Or are you emerging? Or maybe the last wintering is behind you and you’ve not arrived at the next one yet?
- How could you support a friend, family member or colleague who is currently in a wintering?
- Where do you get the strength and inspiration to be in the wintering?
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