Welcome to winter!
December 21st will mark the first day of the Winter Solstice and the day with the fewest hours of sunlight in our year. The full moon this month is on December 22nd so the weekend before Christmas will be intense with even more energy than usual!
As the light in our day shortens and the darkness surrounds us, it is an ideal time to prepare for the cold winter days ahead, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.
And that preparation includes nurturing ourselves - mind, body and soul - in all aspects of our life so that our inner light continues to glow. Offering warmth through kindness and consideration to others and light through gentleness and caring can go a long way on a cold winter's day.
Winter offers us a respite, a time to contemplate, refresh and renew what is important to us. Each snowfall offers a fresh new world to rejoice in whether we are outside doers or inside dreamers. The cold forces us to be aware of our surroundings so that we remember to keep warm or face the consequences. It is a gentle reminder to be in our bodies, in our minds, and present in our lives.
It also shows us beauty in unexpected ways - the perfect shape of a snowflake or an ice crystal on a window, the blue blue of the sky on a clear day, the sparkling breadth of a star on a clear night, in a frosty aura that softens edges and re-frames our physical world.
Yes, it means icy roads, frozen toes, chapped lips and dry skin. It also means fluffy Christmas snowflakes, massive hills for sledding, red noses and silly toques, fogged up glasses and runny noses. It means breaths so cold they literally take your breath away, Central Park's Christmas lights sparkling in the dark of night, and hot chocolate with marshmallows and Bailey's. It means outdoor skating on rough ice and snowshoeing across parks and fields, slipping and sliding and laughter.
It means shovelling and scraping, and then doing it all again.
It means refocusing and looking inward, nurturing and nourishing, and remembering.
It is a thoughtful time and sometimes a difficult time for many of us. It is the yin to our yang-filled lives - a time to find stillness and observe, learn and grow, pause and reflect.
Every season has its time...and the time for winter is near.
Cherish it and all of its gifts. Embrace the stillness. Enjoy the pause.