FALLING IN LOVE WITH WINTER
Winter and I have not always had the best of relationships. Even though I’m born in February, I feel so much more energised and alive in warmer months. For many, many years I considered winter as time I need to just live through until warmer days arrive.
Our relationship has not been helped by the fact that I feel quite challenged by winter physically. My energy levels drop significantly, my body struggles to keep warm, always needing layers and layers of clothes, my skin gets dry… I blamed winter for all this and more.
Recently our relationship has begun to take a real turn.
As with any relationship, for there to be love, there needs to be acceptance first.
Embracing my cyclical nature as a woman and realising that darker parts of my cycle bear just as many gifts as the more extroverted “summer" parts, has made it much easier to embrace the cycles of nature and even cycles of life.
Last year, for the first time in a long while I realised winter can be a delightfully enjoyable experience if I don’t have the same expectations of the season and of myself in coldest months as I do in summer. I began to accept winter for what she was and not asking her to be spring or summer.
Last year was only a beginning when I allowed myself to pause and switch gears to a much slower speed, if only for 3 weeks. This year, I am doing something bold, for me at least. I am fully surrendering to winter, to darkness, to cold weather, to being in my warm cocoon of stillness, to doing less, a lot less, to finding pleasure in uniquely winter delights, to taking my time.
Aligning myself with my winter rhythm has been a magical experience, yet it is not an easy path in a city like London, where rest, slower pace and stillness are seen as weaknesses. While everyone around me is busy making and implementing plans for the new year, creating vision boards, discussing strategies, launching new products, projects and programmes, setting goals, I am luxuriating in being.
My relationship with winter is still evolving. I am learning how to move forward in life in my winter rhythm. I am discovering it is possible to do and achieve without speeding up beyond what feels natural for me right now. I am realising to do less and do it well, I need to become an expert at saying “no” to what is not essential right now. I have seen for myself that taking time to rest does not make the world end.
On a greater level, through learning to appreciate winter for what it is, I am giving myself permission to embrace all of life, not just the sunny parts.
To tell you the truth, it’s not easy. There are days when I am battling with myself, inevitably, yet thankfully briefly, sinking back into "comparison mode”, feeling less than because everyone else around me seems to be doing and achieving so much more. There are days when I write long to-do list and create busy schedules because I think I have to. And then I return to my centre with an even greater appreciation of my unique achievement for myself: accepting darkness, accepting cycles of nature, accepting myself and my seasonal rhythms and, most importantly, being able to enjoy it all.
Yes, I have completely fallen in love with winter and these are the experiences that bring me most joy this season.
Stillness… Surrendering to stillness and darkness helps us to hear the quiet voice that comes from inside, the voice that can be so hard to hear when we are running at full speed, filling every minute of the day with action taking. I am in awe of the insights and answers I receive when I surrender to stillness.
Sleeping in… I love sleeping in. And I love that I am still able to catch sunrise on most days (British weather permitting)!
Doing less and being ok with it. I no longer need to base my value on how much I do or achieve.
Baking… For some reason I only love it in winter.
Hot chocolate… I indulge in a delicious dark raw hot chocolate all the time, always in a beautiful mug. I make it extra hot so I can sip it slowly.
Cashmere… Oh how I love the feeling of soft cashmere against my skin. It feels so luxurious and keeps me warm.
Dressing up in beautiful carefully selected layers even if I’m only staying at home...
Wearing delicate lace lingerie under thick winter sweaters… There is something so delightful about this experience.
Deep winter colours… When the nature is bare and there is little light, we can get away with wearing much stronger colours, such as deep purples, plums and Bordeaux reds, which would look somewhat out of place in summer. I love the elegance that is available to us in winter. I love hats and I love my long warm purple coat.
Soft blankets to wrap in when watching a movie or reading a book. Oh and the joy of reading!
Candles… I light them every day. It’s my little winter ritual.
Cuddling with my love at home and not needing to go anywhere, delighting in pure joy of human touch.
Winter no longer seems long to me with all these delightful experiences to be enjoyed. And before we know it it’s February already. For me February signifies a new beginning. After February comes spring. And with my birthday at the end of February begins a new year of my life. I am looking forward to spring. And I will look forward to falling in love with winter all over again next year.
Natalia Shpek is a style coach, blogger and traveller, living in London, who loves to experience life with all her senses. As a style coach, Natalia helps women in life and business to discover their signature style and create their own style rules so they can easily and joyfully embody who they are in life. You will often find her enjoying (and blogging about) little luxuries in life and beauty in everything, appreciating art in many forms, travelling and exploring greater ways to take exquisite care of herself and her loved ones.