Winter Solstice Newsletter 2021
“We get to carry each other…”
It is a privilege to take care of each other. Bono didn’t write We Carry Each Other; he wrote We GET to Carry Each Other, like it’s a special mission, a task entrusted to us by Creator. We are not obliged; no one is going to lose their house or job if they don’t stop for a motorist on the side of the road, stick a fiver in the hand of that homeless guy on the corner or forget to bring a lonely neighbor a piece of pie. But we do anyway. We GET to take care of each other, to carry one another through the times we’re living in.
One thing that Winter brings on in me is the sense of stillness, of quiet. When we think about the privilege of taking care of each other, let’s not forget what a privilege it is to take care of ourselves. To compost the guilt we may feel when we politely say, ‘No thank you’ to invites and events and classes and workshops and dates, outings, concerts, or shows. Even a walk with a friend might feel, for some, a bit too much of a commitment. Winter is a time for receiving. We GET to settle in, pour some hot water over our favorite teabag and keep it simple. We might go to bed at 7:30, 8 PM–every night, if we want. If you’re lucky enough to have a beloved furbaby and a fireplace, BONUS! You’ve got a recipe for deep self-care.
This year, like last, has been one for the books. A real doozie! In my youthful 50 years of being on the planet, I have never witnessed so much uncertainty by so many–myself included. Do you know ANYONE not experiencing regular waves of despair if not measurable anxiety right now? I know lots of people–strong people–who are doing everything they can to stay hopeful, to “keep their vibration up.” These are the same people who are giving themselves permission to “feel it all.” And we know what happens when we deny an aspect of our reality or our lived experience: it gets jammed into the Shadow which then has free-reign to incite us to act unconsciously.
But what if ‘feeling it all’ sounds horrible, like the very words might be code for complete destabilization? Haven’t we seen and felt enough? There’s the rub, the riddle of 2021 (and probably our challenge for 2022 as well): How do we allow the full gamut of feelings and emotions to be acknowledged and possibly even felt and still function? How do we avoid shutting down completely if we are courageous enough in staring down the political circus, Covid-hell, tornadoes, sex-trafficing, starving polar bears, refugees fleeing war, refugees fleeing gang violence, wildfires gulping up great swaths of land, rivers and ocean water choking with debris and plastic, addictions of every kind, burnt-out teachers (God Bless’em), heroic (and also burnt out) doctors and nurses…I could go on. Michael told me that last Friday, December 17th, was ‘National Shoot Up Your School Day.’ I don’t even know what to do with that. And I haven’t even mentioned the climate calamity.
I call this ability to NOT turn away from injustice while maintaining self-dominion BEING A WAKEFUL WITNESS. Shamans are especially good at it, as they are extremely sensitive yet their possession of The Self–in all of its forms–is intact, strong. I also have borrowed a term from Caitlin Mathews for this ability: Walking the Middle Way. To stand up, be seen, feel, respond with compassion, be okay with ambiguity…and to understand THOUGHT precedes FORM.
What you focus on is where your energy is.
We are at a choice point, folks. Well, we’ve been at several choice points over the last 20 months! Our reality is crumbling, and I’m not interested in sugar coating it. I AM interested in learning more about being a wakeful witness, about walking the middle way. In shamanic terms, we are experiencing a global dismemberment: when the psyche is torn apart so that something new and more expansive can emerge. Since we’ve essentially finished Year Two of the break-down stage, can we please just remember the old adage of psychotherapists: Things happen FOR you instead of TO you.
And let’s be careful and cognizant of aligning with language that talks about “when this is all over” or “when things go back to normal.” This language sets us up for disempowerment because it constructs a reality around the idea that the present time is somehow inferior to some other future “time.” We don’t want our language to be a delivery system that gives our power away.
Lucky for us, it’s Winter. A time to scale down our delusions and trust our insights and instincts. Not everyone likes the cold–I get it. But from an archetypal perspective, we actually have a chance in this frozen, bleak period to surrender to What Is, to practice being the Wakeful Witness. Not to cowboy up and tell one another “You got this!”
We get to find out what lasts in the winter. And…Only Love Lasts. Everything else is eaten, and dies with the cold.
How potent can you make your inner life this winter?
TIPS FOR A NOURISHING and SOULFUL WINTER
- Start your day off in a way that you cherish. Sleep resets us. A restful night’s sleep can make the day ahead exciting and filled with magic. However, when we don’t get good, uninterrupted sleep, things feel a bit off and we’re prone to look at life’s limitations instead of life’s possibilities. Now, as a woman who feels like she won the lottery when she gets a really good night’s sleep, I decided to be more mindful of how my day starts–regardless of how I’m waking up. Whether it’s lighting a candle and making a simple intention for the day, sipping coffee alone or with your journal or getting right on the stationary bike, start your day YOUR WAY. When you do this, you’re sending a message of empowerment to your operating system. YOU get to set the tone. If it’s not “your” day, then whose is it?
- Ask for help. A friend of mine who suffers from chronic depression and chronic pain said to me a few years ago, “Pain makes you pay attention.” If you’ve ever had a back injury, a migraine, sciatica or even an ingrown fingernail, it’s hard to ignore it. Once the pain is gone, we feel like we’ve gotten our lives back! I agree with my friend–pain colors all other experiences.
But what about emotional pain? It’s much easier to ignore than physical pain because it is nebulous and unformed. It shows up like an invisible rash you’re too self-conscious to scratch. It might look like depression, guilt, overreacting, over-eating (or limiting food to try and control something), binge-watching Netflix, sloth, self-criticism, reluctance to allow undesirable feelings to emerge, judgment of self and others, over-serving with drugs or alcohol..the list goes on. Where it is hard to modulate to physical pain, it’s kinda easy to modulate to emotional pain. Especially these days when the low-hanging fruit is about the only thing we have to nosh on.
In the cold, long night of Winter, in the blanket of Yuletide, ask yourself the hard question: Where have I gotten conditioned to my emotional pain? If the lens is muddy, ask a trusted friend where they think you’ve gotten too accustomed to the stubborn creature of emotional pain. Treat your emotional pain like you would a debilitating back injury: see a doctor, or in this case, a therapist. Ask for help through prayer, hot-yoga, automatic writing–whatever speaks to you! Allow your emotional pain the attention it deserves so that it can dissipate.
Attention is, afterall, just love.
- Give it up to your teachers. I took a workshop online (Zoom, of course) over the spring with one of my beloved teachers, Barbara Bloecher. It was on the Medicine Wheel and Barbara opened the circle with a note of thanks to all of her teachers, especially the one who had taught her the most about the Medicine Wheel. I loved this idea! And adopted this practice of thanking one’s teachers as a way to open sacred space.
The other day when I was closing my yoga practice, I remembered this exercise of gratitude. I sat up, got comfy, closed my eyes and started to thank all of my teachers. I started with my shamanic teachers, my therapist, my dream coach, my sweet husband. I went through family members then old bosses and co-workers. Then the children in my life, kids I babysat 40 years ago! I thanked friends that taught me something in my younger life–a jewelry-maker friend who’d shown me how to bead. I thanked my ex-boyfriends, grade school teachers, even the mailman! I thanked the weather, the seasons! There are literally so many teachers in our lives! And I didn’t just think about them or “send them gratitude.” I got really in touch with how they showed up, what they shared with me specifically, how I have integrated their wisdom and the gifts that they freely gave.
By the end of this tour of gratitude, I could have blinded someone with the light that was beaming out of me! I was swimming in unconditional love.
And it made me think about how giving one’s time can save someone, can make a difference that truly changes someone’s life.
So, this Solstice, take a moment to FEEL what a privilege it is to take care of each other and yourself. Light a candle and reflect on all that you have learned from 2021 and when you blow that candle out, imagine all of those lessons firmly anchored inside of you. And then, go outside and look up. Look to the Ancient Ones calling us home to ourselves. And know that you are supported, even in these dark days of quiet contemplation and uncertainty.
Be watchful, and witness.
After a very hard decision to not teach at UNE this Spring, a fantastic opportunity fell in my lap! I am teaming up and co-teaching a series called Sacred Storytelling Immersion with House of Indigo Publisher and Intuitive Coach Jessica Verrill. Jess and I have known each other for over 10 years and are excited to collaborate on this project!
If you have something to say, wisdom to share through written expression, and are ready to RISE UP and be seen, heard, and acknowledged for the soulful seeker you are, this class is for you!
Class starts in January 2022! To learn more or to register, click here
My calendar is sprouting with possibilities for 2022! I am currently planning and fine-tuning events, workshops, ceremony and several classes here at Avalon and beyond. From hula-hooping parties to glamping beta-testers to retreats at Borestone to drum making workshops (and SO MUCH MORE!), I will be letting you know through these newsletters as well as my website calendar what’s on the horizon. Stay tuned!
Looking for that perfect stocking stuffer? Nine Pillars has your Gift Certificate ready to go!
From time to time, I like to direct my readers to the Resources page on my website. It’s a landing spot for several practitioners I know and work with. Do you need some acupuncture, chiropractic care? How about a private yoga lesson? Maybe you’re in search of a new therapist? Check out the list; it may get you through the holidays and beyond…