Fuel for Winter

There’s something so magical about watching a gentle falling snow in December. It makes me want to bundle up in a warm sweater with a cup of tea, with some Christmas music on in the background. It’s the most peaceful feeling. Yet here is the paradox, because December is one of the most chaotic months of the year, and for many it’s filled with anxiety, depression, isolation and the resurgence of painful memories. The high expectations placed on this season creates an enormous amount of suffering. It’s easy to blink, and wake up on January 1st realizing the entire month has come and gone, and we’ve spent our time shopping, checking lists, cleaning and waiting to attack the next task. Maybe this doesn’t apply to everyone, and if you’ve managed to slow down in previous holiday seasons, I think that’s wonderful! It seems to be a rare feat. The following thoughts however are directed to myself as much as to everyone who feels like they need this reminder as the busiest part of December seems to be ramping up.

Think back on Christmases (or the holiday you celebrate) over the past ten years. What positive memories stand out the most to you? Are there flashes or images that you’ve held onto? Who was there with you and how did you feel? Likely, a lot of the busyness, rush and to-do lists have faded away. So what is it that has remained in your mind’s eye from those Christmas celebrations? Your particular memories may differ from those who were with you at the time and that’s because the memories we make reveal who we are and what we value in our lives. It shows where our attention is drawn and what we cherish. This is special information about yourself that only you can identify. I think it’s pretty incredible that each of us is drawn to different sources of light in this season of darkness. With the shortest days of the year upon us, finding and feeling these sources of light can transform the season. For some, this could be finding time for solitude, contemplation, music and moments of pause. For others, it could be spending time outdoors, laughter, connecting with loved ones and deep conversation. And what you value and desire this year may be different from next year.

Now is the time to take action on this reflection. Prioritize your desires and values, and intentionally shape your December so you can create more meaning. Start by looking at your to-do list. Figure out what is crucial and try to make some cuts to unnecessary items that add more stress. Also, where can you delegate or ask for help? Simplifying the things that are taking up the majority of your time can really help. Now is the best part! Write down 3-5 values you identify from your Christmas memories or things you desire right now. Put this list somewhere you can see if often, and look at it daily! Make time for one of those things on your list everyday this month. If one item is connecting with loved ones, then spending even five minutes of uninterrupted time connecting with family each day can add meaning to your month. But the sky is the limit! Fill your month with people you love spending time with, and doing things that fill you with joy. This might not be possible all day everyday, as sometimes there are necessary tasks that have to be done. But overall, spending time reflecting on what you value most this month and checking in on how you’re spending your time can make this month feel more satisfying and memorable. Allow your positive vision and intentions to fuel the choices you make this month. I hope we’re all able to add a little bit more light and meaning to this otherwise busy month. Sending peace and love to you all!