1 In Mindfulness/ Rest

Wintering – Part III: Seasons of Life

This post is the third of a three-part series on Wintering. See previous posts here and here.

To Everything There Is A Season

Nature has its seasons, and so do we. Nature’s seasons tend to be more predictable. Sure, there are exceptions–snow in April, warm and sunny days in February–but generally, we know what to expect based on the calendar and the reliable cycles of all living things.

The non-physiological seasons of human life, however, don’t follow an exact pattern and certainly don’t abide by rules of time. We may choose to enter into a season of hard work and problem-solving that is tied to a certain event which will mark the completion of such a time. On the contrary, a season of grief may be thrust upon us at any given moment without our consent; and it may last forever. There are seasons that even overlap as different facets of our lives place different demands upon us. For instance, the peak of your professional career may also coincide with a season of caregiving for your young children or elderly parents, or both.

Two Winters

The new year brought me the start of two kinds of Winter. The first kind brings snow, frigid temperatures, bare trees, and will eventually pass into Spring in another nine weeks. I have no control over this kind; I merely bear witness to it. The second kind–if I do it correctly–will last throughout the year. It is a voluntary Winter. A season of life in which I am choosing to pull back on the reins and retreat from the misguided glorified busyness of the world for a bit. I am setting distinct intentions for these two Winters.

For the Winter I can track on a calendar I shall hibernate. It’s a modified hibernation, of course. I am not quitting my job, nor ostracizing my friends. I am not becoming a recluse. However, I am prioritizing Rest, and making careful, deliberate decisions about my socializing. (COVID with the assist on that one!) I will treat self-care like it is mandatory. I will sleep more, and not feel guilty about it. This season is one for restoration of my tired body and overwhelmed mind.

For the Winter that lasts through spring, summer, and autumn, I shall carry with me the pace of life typically reserved for January and February. This doesn’t mean I will be an inactive, antisocial homebody with no plans for an entire year. It means I will continue to prioritize Rest in a way that keeps me from burning out in a blaze of the summer sun. It means I will have great adventures, but I will choose them carefully. I will leave margins in my schedule to allow for spontaneous beautiful moments, and enjoy the silence in between them. I will cultivate deeper mindfulness, and a greater ability to be fully present. This season is one for slowing down and looking around.

From Striving to Thriving

I am thirty-eight. I am married seven years, and together we have a four-year-old. I have lived enough life to confidently know a thing or two, but am young enough to still be eager to learn and grow. I work in the same industry I majored in twenty years ago. I have paid my dues and climbed the professional ladder to a comfortable place I love and that challenges me. I have a husband I love and respect, a home we don’t plan to leave anytime soon, friends who are smart and funny and decent, families who love and support us, and a daughter who might as well be a unicorn because she is pure magic. THESE. ARE. THE. DAYS.

I don’t say any of that to brag. I say it because it is true, and because I would be a fool not to notice it. I also say it because I know what it’s like on the other side. Not long ago my life was nothing like this.

From 2012 to 2013, the following transpired: I lost my job when the company where I worked abruptly closed. I broke up with my boyfriend (long after I should have.) I burned through savings while looking for a new job. I wound up working several odd jobs while continuing the hunt for my next career move. I lived with my ex on opposite sides of the same house, because we’d bought it together and neither of us could afford it without the other. And just as I got my credit card balance down to zero my father collapsed with a ruptured brain aneurysm that eventually took his life, but not before my family and I lived out of a hotel in Philly to be near his hospital during the last couple months of his life. (And the credit card balance skyrocketed.)

It took me literal years to claw my way out of those trenches. (Some of you may still be there now, and my heart is with you. It gets better, I promise. Don’t give up.) And yet, not only did I live to tell the tale, I made my lifelong dreams come true along the way. In a matter of a decade, I evolved from striving to thriving.

The Prime of Life

For the past several years, I have been telling my husband, “These are the days!” We are both in our prime, and our little one hasn’t started kindergarten yet, so our time is still ours. Losing my dad is the most grueling thing I’ve ever faced, but that loss taught me how to notice a moment while I’m still in it. It taught me to look at the present as though I were reflecting on it from the future. This moment in time, this season of life, is precious and we will never know another like it. How foolish would I be to rush it away by filling up every nook and cranny of our schedules so that our heads spin too fast to really see the beauty that surrounds us? Up to this point, I have been wise enough to recognize this season for what it is, but not wise enough to slow down and drink it in.

I suppose this prime of life could be considered our summer, when everything is thriving. But for me, the energy of summer always feels crowded, overwhelming, and hurried. So I am choosing to extract the pace of winter–the margin, the simplification, the patience–and spread it over the summer of our lives. When I completed the Poetic Soul year-end planning exercise, my theme for 2022 was Rest, and my motto was “Simplify. Slow down. Settle In.” And that’s precisely what I intend to do in this season of my life.

I have had my seasons of struggle and strife, and no doubt will encounter them again. But I’m in a good place today, and I’m damn sure going to give these precious moments the appreciation they deserve in real time. This is not my year to be ambitious; I’ve had about twenty of those. This is my year to simply enjoy.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    January 19, 2022 at 1:32 pm

    I love it! I intend to join you.

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