Each year, winter dawns upon the sleepy autumnal world. When fall’s chill finally touches us, the trees are losing their crimson leaves, the warmth of our breath hangs in the air, and the wind is perfumed with dry leaves and pumpkin and apple. When the world is deep and slow and lovely, then I am excited for winter. I am excited for the sleep and renewal to come.
But come January, when winter has laid her blanket before us and the snow and the chill are no longer new, the excitement has passed. Now, winter feels less like the maiden of regeneration. Rather, she feels like a biting chill that never leaves the bone; like silence and death. Now winter feels grey and dreary and unexciting.
I find myself asking, “Is it spring yet?” too often, and know that I am creating misery for myself. I want to break out my spring closet, shop for spring clothes, put my lawn chair in the backyard and watch the newly green leaves sway lazily on their branches.
But winter is all a matter of perspective. It can be hard when you are tired of trudging through the cold iron of January to seek a silver lining. But each day of cold we endure prepares us for the eventual launch into spring – when the flowers finally push through the ground and the morning birdsongs return. The world needs to prepare itself, and so do we.
This fits in with the mindfulness and radical acceptance skills that the women in our residential treatment program learn as part of their DBT toolkit. Spring will come, but it needs its winter rest. It needs to prepare. It needs to sleep and renew.
We do, too. We cannot live in a state of perpetual summer – we too, need to rest and renew ourselves. Take this time to prepare for spring in your life. Before life gets busy and you want to run outside, what aspects of your life would you like to recharge and renew? Getting your housecleaning in order, setting up good nutrition habits and starting a routine of sleep hygiene can do wonders for your physical and mental health.
And when the seasons finally change, you will feel as invigorated and renewed as the soft spring leaves.