I wake up early. The sun promises to rise, but it is still dark. The wind is howling. My dog, Sherlock, notices that I am awake. He waits to see if I’ll venture out of my comfy bed and go downstairs. He stays cuddled up in a large ball in his bed with one eye open watching me. I love the silence in the morning when no one else is awake, the flurry of just being human and what there is to do in a day hasn’t started up yet, and there is just this hum of quiet.
I stretch in my bed under the covers. And then I decide to get up, get some water, go to the bathroom, grab my journal, and head downstairs – with Sherlock right behind me. I don’t turn on the lights – the only light I need is the light from the string of lights strung up on the deck outside the three windows of our family room. Maybe there are supposed to be Christmas lights, but we have them up and on year round. Their soft glow contrasted against the dark sky and the even darker mountain in the background has a subtle way of kindling a warmth within me – a sort of hope and a trust that dark days, dark moods, or dark seasons don’t last forever.
Any chair or couch you sit (or recline!) in our family room, you have access to a blanket within arm’s reach. I grab the one my brother and sister-in-law gave us a few years ago and wrap it around me. I take out my journal and I begin to write. Soon, I will stretch and do some yoga. This quiet and gentle movement allow for me to go within and see what’s here inside of me in this season of my life and to feel grounded – rooted – tethered – to something holy as the world wakes and vies for my attention.
This is how I like to wake up in winter.
Throughout my childhood, my mom subtly encouraged us to honor the invitation of each season – softer lighting and cozy blankets in the winter, placing daffodils in a vase on our kitchen table in the spring, lots of free time running around outside in the summer, and earthy decorations and getting out the colder-weather jackets, sweaters, and shoes in the fall.
I am grateful for the way she prompted me to notice – notice the change of season, notice the invitation of each season, and notice the different mood, vibe, and treasure of each season. As a mother now myself, I have carried on this way of being with simple ways of decorating our home, the activities we engage in, and the traditions we carry on from year to year.
My first book, Gems of Delight, is organized by the seasons with spiritual reflections, stories, and poetry especially for moms to slow down, heal the hurry in our nervous systems, and embrace what is sacred. (I’ve heard from folks over the years who are not parents as well as grandparents sharing how they appreciate and can relate to the sharings in the book, too!).
From Gems of Delight:
“…there is a gentle, skillful way to press the pause button. Winter is a perfect time to slow down and linger. Winter calls us inside – inside our homes and inside our own self.
This winter can be an opportunity to pause and turn inward to deeply nourish yourself and connect with the Divine Within. This season offers an invitation to treat yourself as a temple, a sacred place for the indwelling of the Divine. The invitation is to listen to your body and honor what it needs – like rest, laughter, and healthy food. The invitation is to sit by candlelight and give your heart the space to speak to you. The invitation is to sense what needs healing, tending to, and nourishment…”
Winter calls us to get cozy, connect within, rest, eat warm and nourishing foods, kindle those connections with others that are life-nourishing, and definitely lots of candles, blankets, and a warm mug of tea!
A few years ago, a friend turned me on to this book, The Little Book of Hygge. And immediately I felt like this is what my mom has been embodying since I was a little girl. It resonated so deeply with how I try and live my life, work, write, parent, and create.
“Hygge is about an atmosphere and experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world, and allow ourselves to let our guard down. You may be having an endless conversation about the small or big things in life – or just be comfortable in each other’s silent company – or simply just be by yourself enjoying a cup of tea.” – The Little Book of Hygge, Mieik Wiking
To help you honor winter and hygge, I made a handy little photo guide. Save it on your phone or even print it out to remind you to honor this winter season with true soul-nourishment.
Since discovering skiing as a family a few years ago, I have loved winter even more. Skiing offers me this holy opportunity to be outside, connecting with nature, as a family, for hours on end. It kindles the fire in me just enough in winter to keep the “inner hearth” warm and alive. Spending a whole day on the slopes gets me offline and outside. It’s a sacred kind of “doing” that feels so aligned with the invitation of winter. I find that I need this balance of “doing and resting” throughout winter to truly nourish my body, mind, and soul.
This winter, play with this gentle doing and resting. Light the candles. Go within. Journal. Rest. Orient toward pleasure and comfort. And — enjoy the right kind of “kindling” of movement, creating, and connection with others.
I have found that as I honor the invitation of each season I am in, I am resourced and ready more fully to accept the gifts, blessings, and invitation of the next season.