Some gifts of Winter Standard Time (WST)
WST is my short-hand for the gifts of cold and dark: conditions that help me to overwinter, to nourish myself at the root in advance of spring, when buds will break open and shoots will begin to grow from a healthy root system.
My relationship to the winter season takes precedence over both the news cycle and the Gregorian calendar and renders me a more vital and useful healer, activist, and human being.
Gifts because the cold and dark invite me to stay snug and cozy, move more slowly, receive and give more openheartedly, invite visions and projects to gestate, make thoughtful choices around socializing – how much and what kind.
My internal clock is running on Winter Standard Time
I cut back on my activity level.
I slow myself down to take my bearings.
I pause more often and for perhaps hours rather than minutes.
It’s a trick and a practice to remain aware of what is going on without being swept up in the urgencies of the world, my hometown of Baltimore, my family and friends, or terrorized by the shadows of my inner world.
Australia burning. The earth upheaving itself: tremors in Puerto Rico, volcanic eruptions in New Zealand and The Philippines. Political divisions, corruptions, violence. A perfect job that may or may not turn from temp to permanent. A trigger finger slow to respond to therapy. A search engine that has been high-jacked by an unwanted provider.
I let this last one high-jack my energy and state of mind for an hour: This fairly inconsequential irritation became its own little black hole, drawing good energy after bad, something whose outcome I was sure I could remedy when everything else seemed beyond the reach of my influence.
At this slower pace, I feel more vividly my grief at losses and my rage at injustices far and near. And others’ kindnesses and acts of courage? It is these that bring me to weeping, a true elixir for nourishing my humanity.
The season favors my rooting in myself – whether in the boredom of familiarity, the wilderness of seemingly barren terrain, or amidst disrupting changes that break my heart open.
I’ve chosen these seasonal routines to nourish my stamina and to help remedy the effects of the news cycle and my desire to be in control
Soups, stews, hot teas; weekly unseasonal and affordable bouquets, thanks to Trader Joes; a fuzzy blue afghan emblazoned with stars hand-knit by one daughter for the school auction her sister ran, and that I snagged with the high bid; a snug and stylish pair of leather boots that keep my feet warm and happy when I am waiting outside for my immanent pick-up, as a good LYFT rider does; an evident appetite for the next episode or two of Season 2 of This is Us.
Marinating the work of my heart, Radical Inclusion: the inner work of race and gender
I listen in each conversation for the stories that divide us from ourselves even before they divide us from one another. I want the Intro Workshop coming up in three weeks to take people deeper and usefully into this difficult territory, so I commit to my own vulnerability, learning, wrestling with myself. So I sort through online and local options where I can do my own work in good company. I delve into Decolonizing Wealth, by Native American philanthropist Edgar Villanueva. I compost whatever I can from my own stories about sameness and difference. This well of inner work never runs dry, only deepens.
And in those precious moments when the heart breaks open, WST yields to timelessness
A sense of Isness pervades. The variety and beauty of forms is evident, in all their uniqueness and connectedness. A deeper reality breaks through. Provocative events and people lose their heat, and my heart-intelligence is freed to discern and choose. Difficulties are not left behind. I am not hiding out in a mountain cave removed from the rough and tumble of life. I must be willing to bear my personal and the world’s heartbreaks and injuries vividly, in my body. This is not comfortable. But it is closer to the heartbeat of the Reality we all share. With this practice my vision clears, I can take in new information, consider new possibilities, receive trustworthy inspiration and guidance.
In other seasons of the year or of life I cross different thresholds into the same timeless realm. In this season the long hours of darkness and chill, and my own shadow side are the threshold.
A toast to our good health in the New Year
According to Ayurveda, to be rooted in oneself, to be established in oneself, is the very meaning of health. It depends on the routines that that we establish and how they express our relationship with time & place.
May you gather your comforts and use them well. May you nourish the roots that will sustain you through the challenges. May you reflect on the stories that divide you from yourself. May you find sufficient moments of rest so that when the spring energy rises, you will be able to move with it, and on into your seasons of flowering, fruiting, and harvest. I raise my cup of tea and a gingerbread cookie to you.
Banner photo by my daughter, Jennifer Hyrkin
In 2020 I return to posting bi-monthly.
I’d love to hear from you in return: what are the questions that deeply matter to you, the discoveries you are making about living more humanly?
If you are struggling to find your own rhythm, to gather your comforts, to meet the challenges that WILL NOT WAIT…let’s continue to travel and explore together…and bring your friends along by sharing this link with them.
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