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  • Lizy Maratea

Wintering Inward

My husband hates to be cold. To some extent, I believe he takes winter personally and feels almost insulted when temperatures drop below 50. Now that the holidays have passed, we are experiencing afternoons near the teens here on the Eastern Shore, and he is counting down the days until summer. Not me. There is a lot to love about the spring and summer - especially living a stone's throw from the ocean as we do - but I have discovered in recent years that I spend much of my time throughout the hotter months seeking relief, and my time throughout the colder months leaning into comfort.


Cozy socks...warm blankets......cuddles and curling up with a good book....

Soothing soups and hot cocoa are tools themselves in building resistance for the more active times ahead. What's needed now more than ever is rest.


Leaning in, as I mentioned, did not always come so easy. As a homeschooler pre-pandemic, the FOMO was real. Every event, activity, club, and outing was on the calendar before Covid wiped the thing clean. Like many, the dark medicine of pandemic-induced isolation put me in a position where I had no choice but to say no, and stay the heck home. I've since learned to look forward to winter's withdrawal. It's dark medicine provides yearly opportunity to patiently practice inward reflection in a gentler way than the slam of Self-Study that lockdown enforced.


When we give our Selves permission to align with the inward journey of our Mother Earth, and draw our attentions to nurturing our own needs, we allow time and tenderness for healing and regenerating between springs. Furthermore, when we slow down enough to check in and explore our heart's desire, we are better able to understand our place on the path we travel, and adjust as needed for realistic success.

Consider the ways your internal wisdom has encouraged you to withdraw for winter and to rest with creature comforts. As a society under constant external demand for productivity, heeding the call to rest can feel unnatural or even scary, yet you may find that you are backing out of plans from time to time simply because "it's too cold to go out." I'm not writing, of course, of seasonal depression, which is absolutely real and should not be ignored. I'm referring to the fear surrounding the removal of outdated bandages and tending of underlying wounds that may not be so easily ignored in the silence of winter, when distractions are limited. Most signs of life throughout the natural world retreat for the reservation of resources and soothing of spirits. Even taking small breaks each day can serve to restore the weary winterer.


This time last year, I wrote a poem to remind my Self to study and savor the many charms of the other seasons in case I missed them come winter. I followed my reminder and enjoyed long moments daily where I admired the colors, smells, and feelings of warmer days. As we slowly but surely approach winter's halfway point (Imbolc begins on February 1st) I am grateful for those moments taken, and for my own words to warm my Self by as I surrender to slumber. In a world so busy we can forget who we are by August, wintering inward can help us not only to learn and remember, but to maintain that memory when external demands conflict most heavily with our internal needs.


How can you make hibernation your own this winter?


Five Ways to Look at the Bend of My Road...


One

Dry. Stabbing. Pointed branches claw at the gray sky. Only the evergreens throw contrast on the browns and ask of winter, winding around the bend.


Two

Faithful. Budding. Springing forward from the earth and climbing toward the closening sun, life is returning to our wee curve of landscape.


Three

Lush. Green. Open to the full summer sun. Wide-faced leaves with light breaking through the branches show the way out of town and to the beach.


Four

Lusher. Greener. Brighter. Cleaner. Dripping wet and reflected in pools that gather in every yard and every ditch that follows the bend.


Five

Brilliant. Bold. Brave. Brazen hues of yellow, red, orange, purple, and still the green that ever resists, and the last of the green that still persists, autumn comes to town and brings with it reminders to treasure those lush, green and faithful days as the gray is waiting just around the bend.


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