I wrote this post last December, but the same principles apply. I hope these words help you navigate the transition to 2018.
Over the last few years, as my family responsibilities have become more intense, I have repeatedly had to pare down my schedule. Last year at this time, I cleared enough time that I was able see friends more often. I especially loved meeting creative companions at Austin’s Steeping Room, luxuriating over locally-sourced organic meals and steaming pots of oolong tea.
As I reported last year, my friends were regularly late to lunch, running from their last appointments or errands. Before they even sat down, they would tell me how acutely they felt the discrepancy between end-of the-year madness — deadlines and decision-making, shopping and holiday gatherings — and a deeply felt desire to go within.
At that time, I was watching my teen daughter navigate the same conundrum, her term projects and finals arriving with the cold weather and the body’s need for more rest.
Every acupuncturist I’ve ever worked with has warned me to slow down and stay warm in the winter, when the weather and waning light stress the adrenal glands.
Cozy in our booth at the Steeping Room, sipping our hot tea and pondering the seasons of creative work, my dear friend, the dancer and healer, Karuna Haber, said,Rather than asking, “How can I keep up at this time of year?” what if we asked instead, “How can I slow down enough to listen for what’s calling?”
HOW CAN WE FIND TIME AND SPACE TO GO INWARD,
WHEN THE CULTURE IS TELLING US TO KEEP MOVING?
Every December our inboxes are flooded with offers for programs that promise THE BEST YEAR EVER. If I plan my year right now, they tell us, all my dreams can come true in 2018.
I’m all for setting goals and committing to the calendar, but honestly, I usually can’t see past June when summer vacation throws my schedule into chaos. Also, before I can commit, I need to hear what’s calling.
THAT’S WHAT WINTER IS FOR:
DEEP REST AND DEEP LISTENING.
Here are a few ways I’ve slowed down in winters past:
Making soups and stews, letting them simmer on the stove so the bones seep into the broth and the flavors blend. In the hours that the pot needs tending, I sit at my kitchen table, reading and writing and letting images and ideas brew in my mind. In between, slicing and chopping vegetables gets me into body and senses, another way for the mind to rest.
Taking naps. Sometimes I practice yoga nidra; other days I let myself collapse into sleep. Giving into myself in the early afternoon gives me energy for creative work later in the day.
Asking what is enough each day. A client recently reminded me of my post on “enoughness,” a term I borrowed from Jen Louden. Asking what is enough prevents us from pushing and burning out. For many of us, pacing ourselves tends to yield better results.
That said, I do have some guidelines for thinking about the New Year.
Make goals according to your personal seasons. For those of us with children at home, it helps to think about what we might accomplish while they are still in school. I set my deadlines for early June, when school lets out for the summer. Later I can see what can be reasonably accomplished over the summer and fall. How does your year break down?
Get all vacations, holidays, deadlines on the calendar now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been thrown off by Presidents’ Weekend. We have so many interruptions in our lives, most of which we cannot anticipate. We can at least be prepared for school holidays and bank closings.
Get ready for January by scheduling a few transition days. Many people go running into the New Year with their resolutions, then get frustrated when they can’t get themselves moving. Give yourself time and space to reconnect with yourself. Meditate, walk, write. Be curious rather than pounce on the work you have planned. Ask yourself what you need to get from here to there.
Join Continuous Practice. Practice gives us a way to be still, a place rest from productivity and thinking. When we have a regular practice, we don’t have to waste time and energy figuring out how to enter our day. We always have a way in and a place to listen for direction rather trying to make the world bend to our will.
On January 1, WILDLY IMPERFECT:
365 Days of Continuous Practice begins.
We’ll have the entire year to build a relationship with practice, to learn compassion for ourselves when we slip, and the joy of returning afterwards. We’ll create a safe harbor for ourselves and our community, and support one another by showing up and with weekly check-ins.
Let me know your interest and I’ll add you to our new Facebook group. Guidelines will be in the files, but if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
If you are not ready to make the 365-day commitment and wish to remain in Continuous Practice, no problem. The old page will be active and I will continue to monitor it.