Hey, you…slow down

Artwork / Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

*I’ll be in Jacksonville at the end of January to teach a cyanotype class. Learn more and buy your ticket HERE.

My New Year’s resolution? To slow down. Here’s why.

I recently read an article recently that suggested winter is a time to slow down. It rubbed me the wrong way immediately. Who was this woman to tell me I needed to slow down during the winter and why should I? What did she know that I didn’t? I couldn’t help but think about it for days after. She HAD made some valid points. Could what she said have some truth to it? Should I be paying attention?

Even though Eastern Tennessee is mild compared to winter in other parts of the country, it’s much different than what I’m used to in Florida. So far this year it’s already snowed, we’ve seen freezing rain, hail, roads closed from flooding and schools have opened later in the day due to weather conditions. I used to be afraid of winter. Growing up in Central Florida it’s impossible to not know some “snow birds”. I grew up hearing stories of the nightmares of snow (but we have hurricanes…what’s worse?) and I grew up hating the cold, overcast days, and rain.

But now I’m actually upset this is the first time in my life I’m experiencing an ENTIRE SEASON. There are only FOUR seasons and I’ve only been living in three of them. It feels like the rest of the country is living an entire life that everyone in Florida just misses. I feel shafted. Snow is beautiful and gives a sense of calm and peace. Everything isn’t always green here. Things turn brown. Leaves fall off trees. It feels RIGHT. The cold air feels good. Winter makes sense.

sleeping hydrangeas

We take what the seasons give us. Pushing ourselves a little too hard during the summer (it lasts 5 (or more) months in Florida). We chase the light into the night, we burn our skin at beaches and stare at fires at campsites when it’s 90 degrees outside. We come out of hibernation in the Spring, going on trips to see cherry blossoms and finding hope in each newly planted seed. We drive to see leaves change in the Fall (can I get a clap for the Blue Ridge Parkway!).

But what does winter have to give?

Things naturally slow down in winter. Nature literally freezes, plants go to sleep, animals (and even people) move for a time, seeking “warmer” climate. Days get shorter, things get a little darker-and if you live at a certain elevation it gets really, really foggy.

…and if you’re lucky, it snows

Winter is historically a time of scarcity. Our ancestors worked very hard all year to prepare for winter. If they didn’t have food, they might starve. If they didn’t have enough wood, they’d be cold and wouldn’t be able to cook. We pack the pantry so we don’t have to drive on icy roads to get to the store. Some of us (luckily, not I) shovel snow. We get bored. Travel becomes more difficult. We become tired of the rain, of staying indoors. And if you’re like me, you get the flu and are forced to slow down despite the cold.

People often suffer from depression anxiety in the winter and I think this is because our energies are being misdirected and misused. We don’t allow ourselves to chill out (pun intended) and here’s what I’ve concluded: humans, like plants and animals, need to hold in our energy and slow down our activities during winter. This is the natural flow of things. Winter can be looked at as a time to nurture ourselves.

The rest of the year is full of distractions and in nature’s “slow” season we can take the time to slow down as well. We’re on social media too often. We are worried about creating the perfect social media post. We drive here or there just to try to fill our days with some color. We keep ourselves busy but when do we TAKE A BREAK?? Sometimes our bodies force us to take a break when we are sick (which we say we don’t have time for). We usually only slow down when we are forced to.

Instead of picking up your phone, pick up a book. Instead of turning on the TV, put a puzzle together. Instead of frantically going to the gym, do some stretching at home. Learn more about mindfulness-and try it. Try meditation. Turn off your email alerts! Make something. Why don’t you even give yourself a break from “healing” and JUST BE.

Learn to appreciate Winter’s gift

Having the flu was literal hell but I’m choosing to see it as a gift. I’ve been in “work” mode for a long time-rushing around trying to prep for the next event. This rushed feeling only served to expose my health and immune system to an attack. I’ve been forced to slow down the last two weeks and you know what I realized? People can wait. Tasks can wait. I can wait.

Since the flu I’ve taken more time to take care of my body. I’ve been intentional about opening windows and/or sitting outside for sunlight to shine on my head. I’ve been more thoughtful about what I eat (less crap). I started drinking green tea and I’ve been intentional about staying hydrated. I’ve meditated (with my Breathe app) for 40 total minutes! I’ve listened to more Podcasts and I even read an actual book! I even (slowly) organized some of my supplies. Why can’t life always be like this? Why am I so frantic?

I even played around with my avatar in Second Life. Hello, Suha!

I sometimes get into this space where I tell myself it’s a waste of time if there isn’t a point to something or if I don’t see a valuable outcome. What’s the point in journaling? What’s the point in sitting down in front of a computer to write a blog? What’s the point in reading a book when I can be making something while listening to the audio? Etc. etc.

I’m tired of making up things to worry about. I’m going to sit back and enjoy what winter has to share. (but hopefully it isn’t being sick again) I am going to keep one of the journals I’ve been making and I am going to nourish my own soul by creating IN it, rather than just creating it.

Keep looking for magic and slow the heck down!

~ Carmen