A Personal Winter

acceptance brain fog caregiving creativity perimenopause rest winter Jan 31, 2024

 Greetings from the floor of my living room. I plopped down into this spot the other day to squeeze out some light, here in the dead of winter. The plant behind me is my monstera named Blanche- she's quite happy to be back in her spot after being displaced by our Christmas tree. I love Blanche, and my living room. I do NOT love winter.

Every year I read Wintering by Katherine May, and it helps get me through the dark days, reminding me that in the most dormant of days there is a bustling of activity below the surface, just gearing up for spring. Every year I learn something new from this ritual read. Winter takes many forms.

We all have personal winters. They can show up in the form of an illness, or the death of a loved one, or an intense time of learning. And winters, while easy to label as awful and unpleasant, can be a time of tremendous growth. I'm in a personal winter at the moment, with my mother in law in the hospital and handling a little health thing of my own. I'm trying to be kind and accepting of myself (and how I need to show up or NOT show up) in this moment in time. And it's not a bad thing- it just is.

Midlife is a time of being sandwiched between caring for your children and your parents, and I am feeling that sandwich like a vice. I am grateful for healthy coping mechanisms and the ability to coach myself through it (as well as call on a good friend for support, a proven way to reverse feelings of isolation that I talked about here).

The funny thing is that when I tick off all of my self care (vitamins, lots of protein, regimented bedtime and hitting the gym), I am BURSTING with ideas. They come so fast I don't even get to write them down half the time. I am inspired (and slightly thrown off) by the sheer amount of them, and take this as a sign that I am most certainly on the right track with my work.

It's fascinating to me that winter can coexist with this creative surge- and I'll certainly take it- but sometimes I feel guilty that the necessary winter is preventing me from putting pen to paper fast enough and making everything happen all at once. Add in a healthy dose of perimenopausal brain fog (my dominant symptom du jour) and the result is the feeling of moving through molasses.

So I'm stepping back for a bit, to muse and strategize without having to DELIVER. I think this is what winter calls us to do, as we feel pressured to press heavily on to keep up with the demands of the world around us. Getting quiet is the most challenging to some. Are you comfortable with it? As an extroverted introvert, I love nothing more and find it soothing and calming. 

So as winter presses on, I encourage you to lean on your good habits, reach out for help when you need it (or attend one of my menoparties!), and know, as I do, that this too shall pass.


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