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Your Winter- Cycles of Growth Require Rest as Much as Action

Even as we approach the vibrant summer months, and the days grow long and bright here in California, I’ve been thinking about winter. I grew up in France which has long, gray, snowy months sometimes starting as early as October. Now that I live in Los Angeles and bask in the sunshine nearly every day, I sometimes get pangs of nostalgia for those cold, meditative days of being snuggled up inside and watching the bare tree branches wave against the sky. I snap out of those pretty quickly and run outside and smell flowers or chase butterflies. Even if it’s January. Yes, the weather here is dreamalicious.

But I think there is something to seasons. They’re a perfect metaphor for human life- not least of which is our ambitions. Some of the self-help world is pushing to “achieve”, climb, “conquer” and “master” the self. We definitely need to find the fire to get where we want to go. And we need to overcome the inertia that can come from fear. But Mother Nature is far wiser than the ego.

Have you ever worked so hard that you’ve nearly forgotten what it was you set out to do in the first place? Sometimes, after sitting at my desk for ten hours at a stretch, I am nearly delirious. I’ve certainly gotten things done but I’m not entirely sure how well. Or how creatively. Or how self-lovingly. My daughter will sometimes call at these moments and remind me I have a name. And a greater purpose.

The ancient Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu said, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Ah, yes. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Farmers know that crops must be rotated in order to keep the land fertile. And sometimes, land must go unplanted for a period of time in order to fully regenerate the nutrients in the soil. Is this unproductive? I think you know the answer.

Winter serves a purpose. It’s a time when Nature rests- but it is not stagnant. Just because a process is subtle doesn’t mean it’s not happening at all. Doctors all agree that proper sleep is key to our well-being and helps everything from overcoming illness to handling emotional crises. Sleeping sure doesn’t look like much from the outside but try going without it.  (No, don’t! I’m just making a point.)

Your inner ground needs winter. Plant your seeds and let go. Give more respect to the cycles that govern the earth- they’re good for you too. Winter gives birth to the buds of spring and the glory of summer. So rest. Revive. Renew. Embrace your seasons.

Sophie Chiche, catalyst, visionary, curator of characters and mom is the founder of lifebyme.com, a global community gathered around the question, “What is meaningful to you?” She has master’s degrees in business, journalism and psychology. www.lifebyme.com

 

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  • http://beyonds-t-a-r-s.blogspot.com/ Tarra

    If its for a short time, being dead while alive is great, as it shows the path for much awaited renewal…

    • http://lifebyme.com Sophie Chiche

      Very poetic. Thank you.

  • http://www.clintcora.com Clint Cora

    This is interesting about winter because up here in eastern Canada, we have long winters as you know and yes for many folks up here, it’s a period of the year that is often hated as people stay indoors as much as possible. We should try to embrace the different seasons as you mentioned, including winters. I’m a downhill skier so I love winter. I always tell people here, especially those who immigrated from foreign tropical countries, that if they do not find something enjoyable that they can do outdoors during our winters, they will end up hating a few months of each year for the rest of their lives in Canada, which would be a shame.

    • http://lifebyme.com Sophie Chiche

      I’m always down for downhill skiing. The fun downhill ride makes the long climb uphill worth it.

      What matters is that we find a way to enjoy what is. If you don’t ski, build make snow angels.

  • http://www.life-coaching-online.com Life Coaching

    I too grew up (and continue to live) in a place where the winter months are long, cold, snowy, etc {Montreal, Quebec (Canada)}. Many Montrealers seem to think we enter into a state of depression during this time… and that it serves no purpose (other than to create driving havoc in the streets with its black ice, and so forth). However, someone very wise once told me that there is something very enlightening with living in an area where all four seasons are visibly reflected. The change alone helps clean the mind in a sense. With having overcome severe depression and anxiety, I could confirm that periods of rest (where you’re positively “letting go”) does have a way of renewing your creative intelligence. It aids in building a strong resistance against negative criticism and allows you to prepare for what seem to be the actions that will ultimately get you to your goal. And as you said, Mother Nature is smarter than the ego, sometimes forcing you to change by slowing things down. It allows us to contemplate if the steps we take lead to a better world. Only then can we truly move forward.

    • http://lifebyme.com Sophie Chiche

      I was told recently that what we call depression may be a way for the body to force a pause in our lives that we haven’t forced ourselves. Of course there are other reasons, but there’s something to be said for embracing rest periods when they arrive.

  • http://www.workstresscoaches.com Ed Fox

    Alright so I grew up in New York City, where winters meant eternal grey sky’s and an abundant amount of salt on the sidewalk. I remember smelling the air and knowing that a new season was coming and my body knew without words how to react; my mind automatically making new choices for the coming season. It was a great feeling of being part of something larger than myself.

    • http://lifebyme.com Sophie Chiche

      I too love seasons. Even when I live in LA which is usually a long sunny day, I still take time to feel the reinvention that comes from the shifts in seasons.

  • http://www.balancedworklife.com/blog Bryce Christiansen

    Very thoughtful look on the subject. I live in AZ so like you I don’t experience many seasons either. I think there is a lot to learn from nature. If our very planet needs a period to cool off and come back, I think there might be some benefit in our own lives.

    • http://lifebyme.com Sophie Chiche

      Yes! Thank you for your comment. If we are in a part of the world where the changes in seasons are less evident, all the more reason for us to check in with ourselves regularly and embrace the need to rest. We can’t garden in the rain, but we still know it’s making the tulips grow.

  • http://www.Mazzastick.com Justin | Mazzastick

    Hi Sophie,
    Great words of wisdom in your post. Our physical mind often get’s in the way of natural growth and expansion. We need to remember to let go and allow life to unfold as it is meant to.

    • http://lifebyme.com Sophie Chiche

      Hi Justin,
      I agree! I recently took a moment to breathe for after realizing just how much work I’ve actually been doing. It’s these breaths that allow time for the unfolding. All the best for your natural growth.

  • http://thebooksthatchangedmylife.com marc van der Linden

    Sophie,
    From here in Belgium I truly understand your point – the daily sunshine in California is the dream of everyone here. However, we also would miss the seasons very much. While winter gives us months of natural rest and time to think about where and how to plant new seeds, the remaining seasons are for planting the seeds, supporting the growth of the seeds and finally enjoying and celebrating their fruits.

    • http://lifebyme.com Sophie Chiche

      Marc-
      I love your wisdom from another side of the world. Sounds like you’ve got your seasons in check and my hope for us is to learn and thrive through every one of them.

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