An odd mix of emotions can flood us during the stretch between the Winter Solstice and the coming New Year. Missing those who we have lost, fretting about what we haven't yet accomplished, or just feeling blue about finances in general can all be commonplace. Sometimes the best remedy for this is breaking out of your normal routine and challenging your safety zone. I've always been a better roller skater than an ice skater, but my weak ankles won't keep me from doing my best at a cold winter rink.
Whether outdoors or in, just the clean fresh sound of those blades cutting their way through the ice is enough to wake up your senses and reenergize you. Many rinks offer their ice for free, and only charge for skate rental. For ideas of where to visit, check out my list of Midwest area resources below. If you have your own pair of blades collecting dust in the basement, all the better reason to clean them off and get going. Bundle you and your adventurous buddies up and glide around for at least an hour. Ice skating offers a lot of healthy benefits, according to Bonnie Schiedel at besthealthmag.ca. It's a low-impact sport, and good for strengthening your balance. Keep your knees slightly bent to avoid a stiff fall on your tailbone. If you do feel yourself starting to topple, it is safer to do so on your side, protecting the back of your head and your aforementioned butt. Don't worry about spinning out or looking silly. You're all in this together, and you never worried about that as a kid, right? Did you know that ice skating can burn a minimum of 387 calories, if you stay out for that whole hour? All the better reason to grab a Rum Hot Toddy or Irish Coffee after. If you haven't gotten your fill of cool treats for the night, indulge in one of those naughty spiked ice cream drinks, like a Grasshopper. Green crème de menthe equals a little cup of holiday heaven.
The dark of the year. We light it up with holiday decorations and strings of lights. How do we light up our dark corners and determine our next steps? If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you may be dealing with cold, snow, and inclement weather. Mother Nature pushes indoors, pushes us to slow down, to cuddle within the protection of our shelter.
Despite all the grumbling, winter is beautiful. Yes, it’s cold and difficult to get through the snowy weather but if you stop and take a moment to look ever the untouched snow in the fields or the trees covered with snow (well okay and where I am right now there is none of this) there is beauty and lessons in the season.
The solstice season is upon us, and it’s only a couple of weeks before the longest night of the year here in the northern hemisphere. It’s a season of darkness and cold, where we are given the opportunity to find the gifts that darkness brings. It can be hard, when the rest of the world seems to be doing their best to stave off their fear with bright lights, noise and extended shopping hours, but if we are able to push beyond that we can see the sacredness of this holy time, and the exquisite power that it brings.
I am mostly a diurnal creature myself. I prefer to go to bed early and rise early, rather than staying up late. However, at this time of year the darkness catches up with me, and by 4pm it is pitch black out there. My usual sunshine nature turns inwards, and time for reflection and contemplation kick in. But that is not all there is to the darkness that pervades my life at this time of year.The sweet relief of darkness beckons me to release into its embrace, when edges are abandoned and we are allowed to float free in space and time.
Last week I traveled up to Northern California for work. On the day of my early meeting--8:30 a.m.!--I woke up in my hotel room at 6 and saw a pitch-black sky.
It wasn't a huge surprise (although I'd come from the south, where the nights were still a bit shorter). As I showered and got ready, though, and the clock ticked from 6:30 to 7 to 7:30 and the sky remained black, I had one of those random, strange thoughts that sometimes pop into your head. I thought, what if the sun just doesn't rise today?
It starts for me just after Imbolc, I get that itch. That twinge of restlessness and that eager feeling every time the sun peeks through the clouds. Spring is near! Mentally I exclaim, “There’s only about 6 more weeks of frigid temps, coupled with mountains of ice and snow! Hooray!”
When the feeling begins to take hold of me, I need to make myself busy. I need to begin planning my spring activities right away. There is so much to do, I often find myself feeling overwhelmed and perplexed. However, it isn’t a bad kind of overwhelm, instead it is fun and exhilarating to consider the possibilities.