I love this quote by poet and author John O’Donohue. It is so easy to see winter as a dead month. Bare trees, bare ground and barely any colour. Nothing seems to happen. There may be the odd flurry of snow that gets everyone excited, but we soon get bored with it and wish it away. All we see in winter is autumn’s decay, but beneath the surface there is a huge amount of work being done. If you look closely now, you can already see the evidence of winter’s secret work. Buds at the end of branches, green shoots pushing through the ground, tiny leaves starting to unfurl. The energy that has been building is starting to burst through to the outside world.
I do love winter for it’s own unique qualities, but right now I am ready for spring. I can’t wait for the longer days. To sit outside in the evenings and look up at the blue sky, clear and bright. To hear the birds, to feel the sunshine on my skin. To feel my body relax in the warmth, connecting with the elements again after being wrapped up and shut up for months. I am so longing for colour. I feel as if I have been starved of it. The colours of autumn are a distant memory, I am surrounded by shades of grey and brown and it is so bare. It is suffocating. I can’t wait for the first explosion of yellow daffodils, bright and sunny and full of promise, pushing their way through the autumn leaves still on the ground. They surely are a sight for sore eyes. Like an appetizer they are a little taste of what is to come. I can’t wait to see the blossom that soon follows, delicate whites and pinks, with their sweet perfume filling the air. Then the brooding, stormy blue cloud that is the Ceanothus, alive with bees and buzzing. The tulips come later, bright lipstick reds and purples. Colour is such a powerful influence on mood and I can’t wait for spring to arrive in all it’s colourful glory to lift my spirits.
I feel as though I am experiencing my own internal winter. Which is probably why I am longing for spring more than ever. If you have read my previous blog, you will know my Dad passed away last year. It was shocking and painful. It has wounded me deeply and I am still living through the emotional changes that come with such a loss. With the arrival of grief, came my own winter. For a long time, things appeared to stop. I wasn’t interested. I couldn’t move forward in anything. Losing touch with my creativity, was hard. It was another grief. I was hollowed out. I would walk through the woods, hear the rain, the fragrant, summer rain and feel something stir within me, I would look at the white sand, the crystal clear water of the sea, a little spark inside. But as soon as I sat down to paint, nothing. Just a dull, empty feeling. Weeks turned into months. Nothing came.
I knew this was normal, when you go through trauma, it is only natural that things change within you. You need time to heal, you need to take care of yourself. Don’t panic, just wait. That is what I told myself.
And then I felt a shift in my creativity. I felt a gentle pull towards words. I felt drawn to writing. It was subtle to start with, but then became overwhelming. I had no ideas, just a heart full of feeling that formed themselves as words, not pictures as before. I sat down and wrote. It felt good. I started to find my way. It was a comfort to be creating, and a comfort to record those memories of my Dad. Because I was and still am, scared of forgetting. So I continue to write, and as I write I feel another shift. Ideas for projects come and slowly my creativity starts to grow new shoots, some are already flowering. The secret work of my own winter is starting to blossom. I have started to paint again, small pieces. Little shoots. I know there are new things on the way as I feel the change in direction my creativity has taken. It felt scary at first, but as you go through the cycle of seasons in your life and if you can just hold on, spring will come.
If you are experiencing your own winter, try to trust this season in your life. Know that, even though it feels as if nothing is growing or moving forward, you are storing your energy, restoring yourself. And spring is just around the corner. It is in these times of perceived inaction, the new shoots of growth are forming, ready to blossom when the time is right for you.