The illusion (or delusion) of wintery weather

Misty mornings. When the view outside is distorted and suddenly the everyday landscape becomes unfamiliar and strange.

It’s funny how the mist can distort our sense of perspective, much like how the weather can have an affect on our mood. A rainy day can make you feel sad or lonely, just like the mist can make you feel lost.

I find that this time of year, when the landscape looks a lot more brown than green, we are more susceptible to looking at things through a slightly greyed – out lens. We no longer have the rose-tinted glasses of the new year, or the amber tints of summer sunlight, and it all seems a bit darker, a bit less enchanting.

But where there is life there is light. This photo I took didn’t turn out as expected, I wanted the berries in focus. But it perfectly demonstrates how our focus can be altered to see only the mass of brown rather than the colourful stems and the berries. Much like our tendencies towards negativity over positivity, we are always better at focusing on things that are bad rather than the good.

And that doesn’t help when it comes to winter. We have to train our brains to see the best bits. I did this by looking at beautiful details in nature everyday. It turned into my Instagram profile @365_dayswild so I could record my observations and share them. Whilst I don’t always share images everyday, I always see beautiful details each day. It could be something as beautiful as a rainbow, or something understated like morning dew settled on the grass. Whatever it is, I take time to notice it. And I find that the more time I spend noticing nature, the more peaceful I become.

So this illusion that winter weather is all grey and dull doesn’t stand. We are delusional. There is beauty everywhere. All around us a world full of beautiful details, we just need to choose to stop and notice it.

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Changing perspectives

I haven’t posted in 2 weeks, how has it been that long?

This time of year seems to go slow then suddenly fast and, as we edge closer to the end of the calendar year, we cling onto every last morsel of it.

This last fortnight has been busy, filled with work and people and less time in nature than I would have liked. You always notice it, when you haven’t been out for a walk with nature. I find it makes me more irritable and insular, I find it hard to gain perspective.

A walk in the woods, or simply watching the fading sunlight, can provide all the therapy you need to stabilise a mind full of turbulent thoughts.

I love the ideals of the shorter days. That feeling of getting cosy with the heating on and a good book, or going out for a bracing walk and returning for a hot meal. But in my world those ideals never quite come to be.

I choose to work on my business instead of reading a book on a Sunday morning. I choose to squeeze meetings together instead of getting time in between for a walk. I choose to tidy up folders rather than planting bulbs in pots. I make excuses about the weather, the cold, the people, when in fact it’s all a choice.

Our choices are the difference between our ideals and our realities and sometimes we need a different perspective in order to gain that clarity. Someone saying a walk outside for an hour will make you more productive this afternoon, or practicing what you preach by taking time for self-care. We are all the greatest givers of advice and the worst for heeding it.

Perhaps this time of year with morning mists, yellowy pink skies and dewy grass is designed to force us to take a different view. We look out onto a different scene of nature and, with that, we must adapt our own mindset.

Gardens can become green and brown but then we see colour in the greens and the browns. We see shoots appearing or snowdrops popping out. We choose to see more. We choose to see the same, differently.

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Darker days, darker mind

Without a doubt, this is one of my favourite times of year but it can be especially challenging for managing darker thoughts.

Our minds reflect what we see. So when we see dark all the time, our thoughts often become darker and deeper.

Whilst I am no stranger to deep thoughts, often preferring them to incessant worries and brain chatter, I find that this time of year brings about different thought patterns.

Lack of vitamin D is one cause and I do take supplements during the winter months because I know that I can be prone to seasonal depression if I don’t get enough vitamin D. But the other thing is the way that this season is about teaching us to rest and, quite often, we do the total opposite! We go out, meet friends, have parties, when actually this is a time for hibernation.

So I tend to find that I have more low moods when I am doing a lot during winter because my body wants to rest. I am trying to learn from this and plan in more days of nothingness, or more meaningful solo walks in nature.

There is a lot to be gained from simply walking in silence along a nice path and just observing things. Observing thoughts as they come and go. Observing plants, trees, the colour of the sky. Take it all in.

Whilst I recognise that our thoughts are fluid and we choose the ones we listen to, I also know that it is easier said than done. One thing I find helps me when I have lower days is to make sure I get outside, even if it’s just to my garden to look at the plants. Simply breathing in the air can be an effective way to release those darker thoughts.

I think this passage from light to dark, autumn to winter, November to December, is a way for us to meet our minds and come face-to-face with our demons in a way. It’s like a form of preparation for the months ahead. If we can navigate our challenging thoughts now, we know we have the tools to deal with them throughout the coming months.

So accept the darker days and all that comes with them, but know that you are your own light and you can deal with anything put before you.

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Golden light

We don’t realise what we’ve got until it’s gone, right?!

This time of year always makes me appreciate the light. I savour the grey blue morning light as I get into the car at 7am and I’m hypnotised by the golden glow of sunsets at 4pm.

Golden sunset

The light marks out shorter days but there is so much more to it than just daylight. It’s those transition times that I find most beautiful. The times before it’s fully light and those moment right before it’s totally dark. It’s like sharing a secret with someone, special and sacred.

I like to just stare out the window and watch the light change. It’s fascinating and comforting at the same time.

Daylight seems all the brighter for having taken a moment to appreciate the way the sun rises or the way the clouds clear to reveal a blue sky. Even on grey days you get a real sense of all the shades of grey, light and dark.

I think it’s important to open our arms to these darker days. They make us appreciate how important light is and they help us notice more because we have to get used to journeying between darkness and daylight more regularly.

Notice the little things like the silhouettes of birds flying across a pinky orange evening sky, or the way the trees look on a misty grey morning. Even things like the way the frost freezes patterns on our car windows or how the grass holds the dew in the early morning.

Pay attention to all of it. Take time to notice these things. Turn off your radio and listen to the sounds of nature in the morning. Disconnect your Bluetooth in the car and watch the setting sun instead. Choose to see the beauty in the everyday and your days will be filled not with darkness but with lots of moments of golden light.

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As the days get colder

There is something cosy about these October days. The shiver as you leave the house in the morning, the way your breath fills the car as you get the heaters going, the lazy beams of sunlight as the day wakes up.

Yet in amongst the peacefulness, there is an undertone of darkness. The nights drawing in, a sense of urgency to keep doing things and get out whilst it is light. It is both a natural desire and programmed state to want to get out in the daylight but, for many of us, it feels more like a luxury.

I have taken to rising early and making the most of those quiet hours before the rest of the town wakes. I find there is something quite satisfying about getting a few hours work done before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.

I also find that the nights, though dark, offer an opportunity for solitude and contemplation. Often, if I’m returning later in the evening, I pause before going inside to stop and stare at the moon and the stars, or simply the dark night sky. The simplicity of darkness is a chance for us to take stock of our days, put things behind us and keep it simple.

Blurred moon in the night sky

My Winter Season is about my journey from autumn into winter, the change in temperament and routine and how nature offers us lots of chances to learn at this time of year. It may start to seem sparse, brown and wet but there is always more than meets the eye.

This is one of my favourite seasonal transitions. To me, it is very symbolic that winter falls at the end of our calendar year. It is a chance to pare back, find simplicity in our lives and honour our bodies by resting and nourishing ourselves.

I hope you will journey with me as we make this beautiful passage into the next season.

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Love is the foundation of all belonging

Over the last few weeks I have been exploring the topic of belonging and what it means to belong, both to yourself and your community. As my project comes to an end, I wanted to reflect on what I have learnt and what I feel brings me into belonging with myself and my surroundings.

Always choose love

One thing I have learnt is to try to always choose love in a given scenario. Whether that’s seeing the bright side, picking out someone else’s best character traits or forgiving someone in order to move on, it creates a positive buzz of energy.

But we’re not superheros, there are days when you feel angry, hurt or upset and you can’t even think about looking for the love. It’s about balance and trying to choose love more often than anything else.

Make time for your feelings

It’s all too easy to bury our feelings and emotions deep into a pit inside us, without acknowledging that they are even there. I’ve realised that it is ok to recognise these feelings and let them air out in the open, then release them. It means we don’t have to bottle everything up inside us, until an inevitable meltdown.

Learn to say no

Just as it is important to say yes to new experiences, it is also vital to learn your limits and know when to say no to things. Sometimes it’s because you need to honour your own feelings, sometimes it’s because the people aren’t people you want to spend time with or maybe it’s because of the moon cycle. Learning to say no can be hard, especially if you’ve been used to pleasing people, but we need to learn it at some stage to preserve our own sanity.

Remain open to opportunities

Opportunities often present themselves in mysterious ways. Sometimes a bad day leads to a new contract, or a moment of sadness leads to a brilliant creation. By remaining open to opportunities and not closing off when we hit hard times, we allow the Universe to present us with exactly what we need to progress.

Belonging is a journey, it never really stops but we build up a stronger sense of belonging through love, self-care and being open-minded.

Love and belonging Brene Brown

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Practise acceptance to free yourself

My task to myself last week was to see how thick my skin was by practising not taking things so personally. Well the Universe certainly tested me!

I had accusations at work, leaving me feeling defensive and vulnerable, I had to deal with criticism and feedback from a few people in my network and also obstacles in my personal life. I did grow a thicker skin as a result. At the start of the week, hit full force by work, I felt humiliated and unsure but as the week progressed, I started to put things into perspective and mentally filed them into a box of ‘Things not to take personally’. By the end of the week I could laugh at myself and brush off remarks more easily.

Nobody is perfect and it can be hard to deal with things like this when you are a naturally sensitive person. I’m not trying to get rid of that, just learn to deal with it better. I still have emotions, I still respond to things with feeling, but only to things that matter to me. I am conserving my emotional supply if you like.

As a result of my week, I ended up reading some articles around acceptance of self and others and came across a blog post from Gabby Bernstein about the importance of accepting others in order to free yourself. This idea appeals to me a lot, that you don’t have to hold onto people who don’t serve you, but to be free from pain, you must first accept them.

GB Acceptance Quote

It led me to have this as my focus for this coming week. To evaluate my network of people and relationships and chart out who adds to my life and who doesn’t. Those who don’t will be drawn up to the limelight, seen for who they really are, then let go to serve someone else.

It’s a freeing and liberating task and I’m hoping to come away with a clearer sense of my tribe and also an overall sense of acceptance for myself, my work in this world and for the people who give me energy to do that.

Accept and let go

Now seems like a good time to be doing this, to be cleansing out and focusing on manifesting what I want in the future.  I have never been so aware of my energies and I am becoming increasingly interested in how my energy changes depending on who I am with or where I am.

It’s time to free up that energy to pursue my own dreams with only those I choose to be in my life.

 

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