Written for the Winter 2022 Goodness Project e-zine for Jo of Making Your Way John O Donohue writes that, ‘Our voices need the emptiness of air to travel’ and for me, the quiet of winter brings a sense of peace and belonging where finally, I feel in tune with the season around us. If you were to ask me, ‘which season do I seem most myself?’, it would be winter. The beautiful, bright days of summer have been invigorating, but the days’ long and erratic and by August and September, I start to feel as though I need to recharge. As the clocks fall back in the Autumn, I begin to tune into the seasons ahead and plan what it is I’ll need to do to shift the pattern of my day upside down from a busy summer to suit a steady winter. Nature shows us how to do this instinctively with the reds and rusts of Autumn gently guiding us there. Come October, I begin to notice that these colours are warm in their tones and that this, along with the smell of bonfire in the air tell me that soon, its time to rest. I am lucky enough to be self-employed and this means that there are a small number of ways that I can turn my days around to suit a steadier, less demanding work schedule. It starts with the simple notion of, ‘stepping inside.’ Instead of morning stretches in the garden, I’ll swap these to the evening. When the rest of my family retreat to their bedrooms I will light a candle, roll out my mat and breathe to a gentle yoga session. This is the time I say ‘hello evening’. The dark mornings can be tough for waking up when all you want to do is stay in your lovely, warm bed and sleep a little longer. Time can feel so much shorter in the winter and because of this our moods can dip so easily with the lack of the sun. To attempt to counteract this, the early morning is when I opt for my exercise of choice: the healing powers of the swimming pool. When the days of the beach are firmly behind you and you crave the melodic support of a body of water, the pool is a wonderful way to soothe a tired body and mind. Not to mention, the comradery of the local, familiar faces and sense of achievement – it certainly isn’t the open air of a beach swim at sunset in the summer but that has its place too, and this ritual becomes special in its own right – a little boost to help you start the day – when the sun hasn’t got its hat on. When the sun does shine in winter, the mornings are simply beautiful. I am a photographer and so I am well trained in seeking out any good light anywhere, anyplace. If the night has been clear and I step outside to a world covered in frost, I am in my element. It’s a sensory overload! The fresh, sharp air, the frost with all of its glitter and the stark shadows that are cast from a warm and cosy low sun. I observe my breath outside in the cold and see that it is suddenly now so clear and animated. It isn’t lost on me how we don’t see this in the busier months of Spring and Summer, it is a literal, visual cue for us to slow down, take stock and find the natural rhythm of our breath. As well as swapping my workout routine to a time that suits the season, stepping inside looks a little like this: I like to pick a few of my favourite books and stack them on my bedside table for an early night. The ones I especially like to read in winter are reflective, thoughtful or emotive poetry books. I dig out the hot water bottles (one each) and I remember how everyone uses theirs – my son, to warm his feet & my husband to warm him up for five minutes before he gets too hot. I find my winter jumpers. I lay the beds with extra blankets for a cosy feel and find the trusty recipes for hearty, root vegetable casseroles. Now is the time to really nourish our bodies with good food and early nights in a golden lit, cosy home. Rest for me may not always lie solely in the winter, but for now I await these restorative months for balance and strength to guide me gently into the year.
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