Three weeks have passed now since the winter solstice, the shortest day, the longest night, when the sun is its most remote in the Southern Sky and we mark that point in time when the earth, on it’s daily orbit, slowly begins to tilt back towards the sun nudging us towards spring, warmth and new growth.
Yet we are still in the depths of winter here in New Zealand, layered up in Merino woollens and puffer jackets, with unprecedented snow falls in the north, icy winds blasting us from Antarctica. Spring still seems a long way off.
At this time of the year nature provides us a perfect opportunity to slow down for a bit, to stop, to go within and take shelter from the cold. How many of us in our busy lives take the time to deepen into the quiet space inside? This is challenging when we live in a culture that demands we must keep moving forward and our value is measured by how much we can achieve in a day. You might say it is a luxury you can ill afford. There is little space to hibernate, or incubate like the caterpillar, who after a frenzy of feeding and fattening, spins itself into a chrysalis and turns to mush before quietly transforming itself into a butterfly.
And there’s the rub. In the darkest places often lie the seeds for transformation, if only we will let ourselves stop and look and listen.
Women like us, involuntarily childless, often experience the added pressure to lead remarkable lives. We drive ourselves to work even harder, to achieve more, to leave extraordinary legacies, so that in doing so we may prove ourselves as women. Some of that pressure comes from outside, but how much do we put it on ourselves? And what will it take for us to know, to honour and accept ourselves and one another just as we are? We don’t have to race off to the Amazon and work singlehandedly to save an endangered species in the rainforest, or like Christina Noble, the real life heroine of the recent movie, build orphanages for thousands of children in Asia.
In your own time trust that you will find your own way to give your unique gift to the world, but for now, if you are grieving, then honour that and let it crack open your heart again to the depths of your own wonderful being.
I invite you into a quiet space to stop, to nurture yourself, look within and take the time to listen to the messages you receive from your own depths.
Here are some ideas that might help you to stop and enjoy spending time with yourself.
Wrap up warm and walk along a wild beach, up a steep hill or through the bush, or all three if you want.
Take a hot bath, add bubbles, a bath cushion for your head, and plug into some favourite soothing music.
Have a massage.
Take a morning …or a day, in bed to read a novel, unplug yourself from all your devices, sleep, dream or write.
Paint your nails a really bright colour.
Sit and stroke a cat on your lap.
Let a dog nestle in beside you.
Light a fire and sit watching the flames.
Try this simple meditation to connect with your senses: What can you see, what can you smell, what can you hear, what can you taste, and what does it feel like to be in your own skin feeling all the different textures of cloth against your body. Spend about a minute with each of the senses and when you get distracted by something, just gently bring your attention back to your senses
Take off your shoes, put on some music you love and dance !
Finally I leave you with a beautiful poem by one of my favourite poets, Mary Oliver.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let to soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
By Mary Oliver.