I sat down to write about what I learned this winter. This seasonal reflection has been a regular practice for me for the past few years, inspired by Emily Freeman. So why did this time feel so much harder?! I couldn’t think of a single thing I had learned or even what I had done for my birthday less than two months ago. I contemplated giving up and finding something else to write about. Do you ever want to move on quickly from discomfort too? I had a choice between pushing through to what was lying underneath or ignoring the issue entirely.
I chose to push through. It started with acknowledging that my brain is feeling incredibly full in the midst of major life change, kitchen renovations, leadership responsibilities, parenting and a pandemic. I had to practice a little self-compassion and not beat myself up over my brain fog. What I found was that releasing the pressure on myself lifted some of the fog. I scrolled through photos of the past few months and thoughts started to surface.
Here are a few things that I have learned this winter:
Writing retreats bring me life
Amanda Viviers runs regular writing retreats in New Norcia- a monastic town not too far from the city. I have always wanted to go but could never justify the extra time away from my family with the other travel I was doing. Enter 2020 with a global pandemic shutting down all my travel! My birthday gift from my family was to go along to the July retreat. That weekend unwound my soul and breathed life into my creativity.
Comfy winter clothes are the best
I love feeling cosy and wrapped up in soft, warm winter clothes. I was definitely built for comfort over glamour! Seeking out familiar comfortable clothes also gives me insight into my internal world. My plum-coloured hoodie made my winter favourite list for just this reason.
Plan, don’t predict
I think I may need to stick this up on my wall somewhere. This reminder is frequently needed in the midst of uncertainty around what my income and work will look like over the next few months and the impacts of the pandemic on the organisation I lead. We cannot predict what will happen (and we never have been able to, in truth). We can make plans and backup plans and keep moving forward. When I find my mind spiralling into predictions and the angst it brings, I choose to make a plan for the one next step I can take in this moment.
The time of pivoting is not done; it’s just beginning.
So much shifting and innovating happened in the early days of the COVID-19 impacts. It can be easy, especially living in a place with significantly lower impact, to return to the status quo or stick to what had become normal. I don’t want to miss these opportunities to keep growing and learning though. I want to keep the innovation going in the spaces I have influence over. That is what will keep us thriving in the future.
Meeting with people to chat leadership and dreams energises me.
I have had a couple of specific meetings with people to catch up and talk about leadership and dreams in the past few months. Each one has injected my sense of calling and purpose with fresh passion. Sitting at home, alone, working on different projects slowly drains that passion. We need other people to help us to stir that up. We need the fresh perspective and realignment that comes through deep, life-giving conversations.
I need to drink less coffee and get more sleep.
It is so easy for me to fall into the victim mode when it comes to sleep. I can spin a great sob story about my daughter’s ongoing sleep challenges and the impact that has on me. While this is a reality in my life, I still have control over other aspects of my sleep and energy management. I still choose to stay up watching TV or scrolling on my phone rather than disconnecting early and going to bed. I choose to rely on coffee for a quick fix in the moment rather than longer-term energy strategies like hydration, exercise and fresh air. I am taking steps to change this.
Once again this process of stopping to reflect has brought a needed pause and grounding to my days. Try it for yourself. I would love to hear what you have learned over the past three months- whether that is summer or winter for you.