How to Use the Winter Season as a Time for Growth

Many of us hold a romantic vision of winter, huddling by the fire with stories and songs, candlelight, the celebration of the solstice. Perhaps we even experience a sense of hygge, that close peaceful, warmth and contentment alone or with friends that Norwegians rely on to get through the cold gray months. Listening to the deep silence as the (imaginary in San Diego) snow piles up outside the door… 
 
Solstice
In winter we often think of huddling in the dark, but remember to honor the rising light of the new year. Photo by Wes. 
 
It is true that the winter solstice is the longest night of the year, and the beginning of our coldest days. However it is also true that after solstice the days grow rapidly longer. The vitalizing energy of the sun begins to warm the earth in preparation for spring, and the winter rains soak into the ground waking the seeds and tubers from their dormancy. Long before shoots and leaves pry themselves through scattered stones and clay, growth begins, incognito, quiet and out of sight.
 
Winter is also time for the growth of the soul. The dark night shelters us. The frenetic pace of the working year slows for the holidays secular and religious. At the year’s end, it’s a natural time to reflect on the cycle of the seasons, and inevitably about our own life cycle. This reflection, if we attend it, is like the winter rain, nourishment for the growth of our own imagination. Imagination, while insubstantial in itself, is the root of all change. Imagination alone, no matter how fertile does not create change. However, creating change and growth in your life without the vision of your imagination is impossible. 
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The desert snows of December begin the greening of even the driest and least likely terrain. Photo by Wes.
 
Plant the seeds now for a successful harvest in 2020.
Winter is the time to nourish those seeds of imagination with reflection, conversation, exploration and action. There are many ways to do this:
Reflect
·     Make a list about the important and impactful experiences of your last year, then expand the most important items with more details.
·     Review the camera roll on your phone, or Instagram account. See what the images of the past year stir. You may even consider printing a few to place in your journal.
Which of these memories/experiences seem like ones you need more of in the year ahead? Which would you like to avoid a repeat of in the future?
Converse
·     A structured talk with a friend can be very helpful when growth is needed. Choose a time and place where you can be uninterrupted. Set a time frame and focus on themes from your reflections, and take turns. Be sure to look ahead a concrete amount of time, as with the question: “How will my life be different in a month, or a year if I change “x” ?”
·     Do you need professional advice with your conversation? A coach, a therapist, an investment counselor, a lawyer? Assemble as much information as you know and set an appointment.
Explore
·     Considering a major change? Check out whether your imagination about the situation is realistic. Research your course of action on the web, with friends who have experience and in person.
·     Make art about the idea, draw a map, sketch an image of the future, dance your change dance. Embodying the ideas for your own growth is a great way to “feel into” scary or challenging changes
Act
·     What needs to happen for the growth you want? Make a list of steps. Break the steps down into smaller steps until you find something so simple it can be done today. Even though it may feel more like a baby-step than a giant leap, change begets change. Action gives rise to action. 
 
Growth can happen, even in winter.
Peace,
Wes
 
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My January 1st tradition is always to make land art of some kind.
This year it was surprising, green and bright, and growing. Land Art and Photo by Wes