Last night I set up a ritual bath for the Winter Solstice: winter greens, my strongest crystal, favorite candle & even a sparkly-green bath bomb (because 💁🏽♀️). I started by listening to @sarahjenks Insta-story breaking down the solstice, because she always brings witchy things down to earth for me & if you don’t already follow her you should. Her instructions were simple, to ask yourself “what is the darkness teaching me?”
I journaled on this— recognizing that I’m often the first to criticize and fear the dark days of winter, I usually start to get in my head as early as the end of summer, fearing the shortening days— afraid I’ll get depressed and lazy, that I’ll lose steam, that I’ll gain weight. I sat with the lessons this winter has taught me and realized they were truly gifts.
I acknowledge the way I learned to sit in my grief. My father’s unexpected passing came in the spring, followed by a period of planning and interviews and survival, followed by a 600 mile hike in Europe, followed by navigating my way back in my Boston life. All of the busyness taught me that denial is a real and easy phase to fall into when your mind has a list of things to accomplish, and is physically half a world away. These dark days gave me time to sit in bed, sometimes for days, looking through pictures and videos and letting myself cry and scream until I fell asleep, then woke up to start over again. They gave me the gift of allowing myself to work through grief in a raw way that feels like a necessary step to healing.
The darkness pulled me in, left me reaching for mindless habits and left me with fifteen pounds of extra weight. Although it would be easiest to punish myself and hate the extra thickness on my thighs or extra roll on my belly, I am challenged to instead continue to love the body I have and thank it for the mountains it carried me over this year (literally.) I continue to praise my body and choose to love it, while also strategizing how to keep on track with the mindfulness habits that help me honor my body with healthy behaviors.
The dark days and stress of two full time jobs with opposite schedules, plus the pressure of me going through the biggest heartache of my life & trying to find normalcy after spending two months abroad could have crushed my relationship, yet instead we decided to stop stressing about the pressure of what should be, and just be. It was like a big exhale, and now we’re ending our nights dancing in the kitchen to our new record player, which is a much more fun way to be in love than constantly worrying about what the future may bring.
As I sat in my green bath, adoring the extra squish my body has to offer these days, I poured over these lessons and then pulled out a lovely collection of Cheryl Strayed quotes that always seem to tell me what I need, and I found this page that reminded me that I am where I am supposed to be: processing grief and on the right path to loving and honoring my body– two of the biggest lessons of my year.
“Grief is tremendous, but love is bigger. You are grieving because you loved truly. The beauty in that is greater than the bitterness of death. Allowing this into your consciousness will not keep you from suffering, but it will help you survive the next day.”
Today will be a little bit longer, and tomorrow will too. Thank you to our Earth Mother for the seasons, for the lessons that come with darkness and also, starting today, for the gift of a little more light joining each day as a reminder to start growing a little more everyday as we transition into the New Year.
It’s natural to turn in during the darkness, but while you’re turned inward, can you tune into the lessons the long winter nights have brought you?
Happy Winter Solstice!