Last year I read over 50 books, which for me, is a lot more than usual. I love to read, I absolutely adore it. As an overly analytical and anxious person, I love the way nonfiction books help me understand myself and my world, I love how good storytelling helps me escape my sometimes-wonky thought cycles, I love the way books give you something to do with your hands and your brain at the same time. I could write a whole blog post about why I love reading. But today is not that day.
This year I have yet to finish one single book and we are already four months deep, folks.
I’m not exactly sure what happened to me and I’m definitely not sure if I like it. All I do know is that last year I was in a season of quiet, creatively. Of input instead of output.
For once, rather then letting it all out, I was quietly taking it all in.
I love those seasons so much.
Well… NOW I do, anyway.
I used to hate them. I always resisted the Winters. You know, the cold, dry, dark, quiet seasons when you feel so bare and exposed you can hardly bear it. (Sorry, I’ll never pass up a free pun.)
In the past I felt too squirrelly, too disconnected from myself to settle in and enjoy my own company during those seasons. But last year was different. I reveled in my Winter. I gave myself all kinds of permission during my Winter. I felt completely rearranged by the end of my Winter.
But Spring has sprung with all her naked beauty and so here we go marching into a new season, ready or not.
I am going to miss Winter, I think.
I’m not a hundred percent sure I’m ready to leave it behind. It’s like I woke up one day and suddenly it’s a game of whack-a-mole with the creative inspiration, it keeps popping up, refusing to be ignored, but the problem is I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS. Like, logistically I do not have time for this and also metaphorically I do not have time for this.
I still crave slow and quiet and cozy and unhurried. I want back the simplicity of Winter. Here I am, compelled to obediently let it all out, but the truth is I really miss taking it all in. You know?
Also, it would feel remiss not to mention that we have entered a strange new liminal season of parenting that requires both constant attention and constant space in order for us all to properly grow.
It’s a weird time, is what I’m saying.
Parenting a tween and teen through a full pandemical year, up close and personal, 24-7, eight days a week has landed us in this no-mans-land of constant togetherness, and somehow still, it feels like they’re moving further away from me than ever before…? Is that just me? Anyone else feel that? Bueller?
That’s likely also a different post for a different day.
Today we’re here to talk about Winter and what we learned from it.
I began this practice a while back, a year or two maybe, and it has come to be one of my favorite habits. Just keeping a list. Writing it all down. Most of it winds up just being for my own benefit, but some of it feels valuable to share here too.
So let’s, shall we?
10 things I learned this winter
- The Goldbergs are everything we never knew we ever needed in this house. They are like a balm on our weary, overexposed familial hearts. They yell loud and they love hard and there’s something in it for everyone. I love the 80’s nostalgia. Nate loves the old tech sightings. Jax loves that Adam Goldberg is awkward and pubescent. Bella loves that the teenage daughter makes music. Beverly is everything to all of us. This is good family fun and has given me a perfect reason to begin loudly calling my children “Shmoopy” in public places.
- ☝🏼related: Comedy television is a required education in our home. Movies are a different category, and will be graded separately. Class is in session, children, so come correct.
- God wants to meet me in my body. Maybe that sounds weird? I don’t think it is. I spent the better part of the last year slowly, painfully, methodically un-learning how to distrust my own flesh and bone. It has been among the messiest, grittiest, most rewarding work I’ve ever done. But Justin Bieber was right (or Jon Bellion whichever JB you prefer) it feels so holy. I feel a real partnership with God in doing this hard work. And yes, peacemaking is some of the hardest work there is. It came as a tiny delightful shock, to discover that God shows up in the most regular, practical of ways. You see, I always used to overlook or disregard the things that happened in my body, BECAUSE they happened in my body. A nervous flutter. A quickened pulse. A sense of knowing something, deep down in your knower. God exists in those spaces. He speaks to us there. I am finally learning how to listen.
- Sometimes the way forward is back. In parenting. In marriage. In creative pursuits. In the relationship to our own self. Sometimes the way forward is back. This can be equal parts humbling + beautiful.
- I haven’t been letting myself fully inhabit Joy. It’s an emotion that scares me. (Who knew?) Ally Fallon was talking about anxiety in her stories recently (btw, if you’re a human person with a beating heart I recommend following her- she talks about how writing helps us come home to ourselves, even if you’re not a writer. I mean, I’m paraphrasing here, but whatever, eat the fruit, spit out the seeds, and just go follow her, okay?) So Ally was saying that Anxiety is often masking another, deeper emotion in our body. Sometimes that underlying feeling is grief. Or anger. Sometimes it is Joy, begging to be fully inhabited. I felt that on a soul level. There are times when I don’t fully participate in the goodness of my life, because I’m afraid that the second I do, I’ll lose it. Or it will crack open and break somehow. Currently working on putting the other show ON instead of waiting for it to drop.
- I never thought I was someone who carried trauma in her body. I was wrong. (See, Dear Body Letters)
- ☝🏼related: my Body is a teacher and I will never be done learning. She is a badass lady, a good friend, and an inner compass. She’s my Verizon/Chipotle/Exxon. She’s what keeps me going.
- Appetite is an arrow. My guiding lamppost for 2021 is not a particular Word this year, but rather an idea: Come Home To Yourself. In my personalized planner, I had them stamp these words in black ink on the inside cover so I would see them every single day: Keep coming home to yourself. Look for the arrows. Remember your friend, Jesus. So then I had to do the tedious work of – scratch that- So now I AM DOING the tedious work of discerning what my arrows are. It turns out that appetite is one. As an enneagram 4, I seem to be wired with a built-in sense of longing. Whenever I experience joy or pleasure or satisfaction, you know, the good feelings, I immediately begin mentally plotting ways to experience them again. Or more. Constant craving can be exhausting. It can also be a superpower. I’m learning to pay attention to my appetites. Am I hungry for food? Connection? Intimacy? Time alone? Have I lost an appetite? When we’re honest with our answers, they become like tiny little arrows pointing us back home to ourselves.
- I have really come to enjoy my own company at this stage of life. That is all. I am never sad about alone time.
- There is really no need to comment on the specifics of other people’s bodies. We’ve all been home and mostly isolated for a year. Our bodies have absorbed the shock for us. They have fielded the tasks. They have shown up for us every single day and then laid us down to rest each night. They are so resilient! They literally haven’t died once yet! The point is, a lot of your people may look a little different as they reenter your bubble (hopefully this year.) Some will be thinner. Some will be rounder. Some will be more aged. Me. I will be more aged. I am telling you this now, so you can know *not* to mention it to me. I mean, I’ll still bring it up anyway, but this is our dynamic so let’s not mess with it, okay? Some people will seem more lit up or at ease with themselves. Some will seem more reserved and fatigued. (I am both of these, 27 times every single day, just for point of reference, here.) Some people will not actually know how they feel or where they exist anymore, they are still floating around somewhere between the realms of Before and Now. (I am this one too, at least 5 times a day. You know, point of reference and all that.) Maybe just smile and tell them it’s so good to see their face?Maybe don’t comment on their Body or assume anything about what it has gone through. Or what it has discovered. Maybe just hug them tight and don’t say anything at all.
That’s it! That’s my list!
As always, I hope this content serves you well. I hope it resonates or sparks a question in you as you reflect on your own Winter.
Here’s to Spring and all her possibility.