The start of a new year has always brought with it a sense of freshness, of space, of letting go and having the chance to reset; it feels like a large sigh and release of all that I have been carrying. The logical side to my brain shakes it's head in disbelief 'knowing' that January is just another month and that nothing really has changed, however, there is that part of my brain which loves ritual, the part that allows me to feel into a sense of how things are and tells me that whether through belief or something more I do not yet have a full understanding of, that, that invisible boundary we cross as the number of the year changes really can have an effect on our being.
Each year I love to take the time to reflect (preferably which my husband or friend, or both) looking back to the good points, the hard points, and how upon reflection these have shaped my path and the growth I have made the past year. All to easily we can look to only the 'good' and try to forget the harder times, however if we are honest with ourselves we can see that it is these points which help us grow the most, or at least point us to the areas we personally need to work through.
With January there is also a chance to simplify life once more, in part as a contrast of the December most of us either intentionally, or not, find ourselves having. January feels quiet, maybe it is living on an island where come this time of the year very little is open and very little is happening, but I love this as a true reflection of what winter invites us to do: to rest, to hibernate, to take comfort in each other.
Personally I need January this year, I need this period of rest. December was a really tricky month for me, navigating a busy work schedule, along side my children's busy social schedule, whilst trying to create the magic of Christmas/Yuletide, and then sadly trying to deal with a family grievance. The thing which struck me most was how overwhelmed I became, how depleted I became trying to juggle, what for me, was too much, and how that feeling of overwhelm has stayed with me. In noticing this, in looking straight at this hard truth I have come to the uncomfortable realisation that I am not 'ok' right now and that whilst I write above about resting and quietude, working yoga and maybe some meditation into my days that really something is misaligned and that the rest I do is not enough. I come up with new ideas, I feel inspired to achieve but stumble perhaps a little too easily, I am constantly running on fluctuating energy levels and this is just not sustainable.
There was a book I read a couple of years back 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking', this book was a wave of relief for me in understanding why I can become so easily overwhelmed when others don't seem to. However this reminds me of the time period before I ever went on my first silent meditation retreat; I read all about Buddhism, meditation etc, I felt I had such a expansive understanding and yet it wasn't until I went to that retreat and stepped into the environment there that I actually put into practice the knowledge I had acquired. Maybe this can be true for you too, when you know, really, what it is that you need but don't allow yourself to listen, there is always something that needs to be done first. And sometimes that is true, sometimes there are things that are asked of you which do need done, I know that, I am still in that Mother phrase. However there are also a lot of things that you can also probably say 'no' to, that may feel hard to do, or one of my fears: it feels selfish to do.
But this January has become my 'selfish' month. This January I am working on allowing my self to rest, without guilt, without feeling I need to have 'achieved' first. I am working to trust myself to know, what is right for me, not just in the day to day, but also trusting myself in knowing that what I value is ok, even if it is not similar to those around me and allowing this to guide me forward. I have no doubt that this will take more than a month, but this is my starting point. Allowing myself to be helped and guided by signing up for Clara Baileys 21 day Peace protocol, because sometimes the rest we need comes from not having to think how to fix everything but valuing the knowledge of others and being guided by them.
In sharing this I can only hope that this invites you too to reflect upon life as it sits now, giving your self full permission to feel into what you need and the courage to look at anything straight which you may have been avoiding but sittings niggling in the back of your mind. Also in the ability to seek support when you need it, just because others seem to be coping with what can look like more than you, it doesn't mean that you can't ask for help.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking
As I mentioned above, a really worth while book for anyone who as that introverted side to them, or feels easily overwhelmed just by daily living.
Or even better, a great read for those who are extroverted. This would be a wonderful way to learn perspective for those in your life who need a little bit more quiet and space...
Wintering, Katherine May
It is funny how books come to you: this book actually came to me in the Summer, I started it twice and never could manage past the first chapter, surprise, surprise it took me until Winter for me to feel into the words. A nice, easy read, with a few note worthy quotes. Really for me, although not revolutionary in what was being said, it was a gentle reminder and encouragement to step fully into this journey of rest.