The last month hasn't been an easy one for me. There have been no life-jarring events or great losses or even very squeaky pennies, I've just been in a muddle of wayward thoughts, wistful wishes, grey days, cold hands, and challenging kids. It's gotten to me, and is now very visible in my highly-reflective boys. They're great little mirrors, and it's awfully difficult to have your own bad attitude mirrored back at you (times two!). It finally dawned on me that I need to do a little winterizing, even if it's a bit late.
Not so long ago, winter was seen as a time to hunker down, live off the previous harvest, catch up on handwork and repairs, and even hibernate a little bit. Shorter days meant less worktime, and there was a sense of rest and recuperation. We don't live that way anymore, at least the developed world doesn't. My days aren't any shorter in terms of work, but my temper seems to be! I feel out of tune, disconnected, and a bit stale. I'm realizing how badly I need to connect, create, and reflect.
The most important part of prepping for any hard time, whether it's winter, a recession, or a big life change, is checking your connections. Your heart connections actually. Plugged into your faith lately? Talked to your mom? Cleaned the spark plugs on your relationship? Getting cozy and "hunkered down" doesn't mean you don't communicate, it means you do it thoughtfully and sometimes reflectively. Clean out your emotional tank and make sure it's not going to explode with the slightest heat! Tight quarters or wallets cause friction, and you need to keep yourself calmed and connected to what really matters. Connections keep us warm.
Reflecting is a great benefit of slowing down a bit, and it can be really hard to find the time to do it well. Your heart needs to be calm enough to be honest with you, and it's so very easy to dodge your own feelings or even deny them! I often find with clients that what helps them the most is having them voice out loud what they're thinking, and they often talk themselves into a decision that they couldn't see before. Sometimes it's me reflecting their own speech back to them that gives the insight, sometimes it's just process of "talking it out" that makes things clear. Phone a friend, take a walk, put the kids to bed early with books and flashlights, grab a glass of wine, whatever helps you reflect on what it is you're doing, and how that relates to what you want to be. Winter is a great time for that, and it's funny how skewed priorities tend to poke their heads out when given a little nudge. Reflections keep us honest.
The thing I've been the most lax about this winter, and a big reason for my own angst, is the lack of creativity in my life. I need to create things, spaces, and ideas on a regular basis or I get pretty cranky. I don't think it's just me either. We all need it in some way ... whether we're creating lists, games with our kids, furniture, messes, fortunes, memories, gardens or equations ... creativity is a basic human necessity. God might have the corner on the creation market, but I think we have the same desires. What are we creating? Is it satisfying? Delightful? Stressful? It's a delight to see our kids create, and we're always so proud of it. Don't stop doing it yourself, and you'll find it goes a long way towards keeping you sane, grounded, and fulfilled. Creativity feeds your heart, and gives you the energy to launch into spring, or whatever is waiting around the next corner.