Embrace the dark

I hold my tongue when it’s time to set the clocks back. Everyone gets so angry about daylight savings. It screws up their baby. It confuses their dog. It makes it too dark too early. I stay quiet and celebrate. Bring on the dark. Bring on the early bedtime. Bring on the blankets. The lonely, dark cocoon of winter is my sweet companion and always arrives at the perfect time. Finally, an external backdrop to match my internal one.

Listen. It’s not that I’m in a constant state of dour, depressed reflection. In fact, people have chided me for being TOO upbeat and positive. During the fall, I start to turn inward and peek into my dusty corners that need attention. By the time winter comes, I’m firmly planted inward and ready to deep clean. 

I like the darkness. Growing up in the woods of northern Wisconsin, I made a hobby of stargazing. I’d regularly walk barefoot through the backyard and into our field. No flashlight. Just the muscle memory of the land. I trusted where I was stepping was safe and no animals would jump out and eat me. I’d set out a blanket, lie down and let my eyes adjust. 

As each patient minute passed, glimmers of light would emerge. The moon and planets would be first out the gate, then the wash of the Milky Way, followed by erratic satellites and occasional shooting stars. On lucky nights, northern lights would dance for me. The longer I stayed in the darkness, more layers of lightness would appear.

Winter solstice is around the corner. It’s a time to accept and honor the darkness of the year – darkness in the form of endings, losses, grief and things that didn’t work out. I don’t particularly enjoy feeling the pain of these memories, but I know it’s important to let them occupy me. Just like in the field, the longer you sit in the darkness, the more will become illuminated.

I’m preparing for a personal solstice ceremony (writing, meditation, 108 sun salutations and manifesting…happy to chat with you about it.). As I prepare, I’ve been reflecting on the darkness I experienced in 2020.

It’s critical to acknowledge we’ve ALL felt a collective loss unlike anything experienced in our lifetime. This palpable grief sits like a murky film on top of the personal losses, endings, heartbreak and struggles we feel during a “typical” year. It’s a fucking lot. It’s ok to feel sad. It’s ok to cry, stomp your feet and be furious. It’s ok to want to damage the property of someone who shattered your heart (though you’d never do that because you’d feel bad about it forever. Maybe.)

As I reflect, I’m noticing themes. I’ve noticed how resilient I’ve become. How much more confident I am in trusting what I need. How much more unapologetic I am in setting boundaries. How much braver I am having hard conversations. The longer I keep myself in the stomping/crying/anger place, the more bright sparkly lessons are revealed.

To invite these bright sparkles into the coming year, I’ll need to let go of the junk that’s keeping me from radiating. My job is to release the patterns, habits, fear and stories that keep my light dim, and embrace the things that keep me shining.

I invite you to use the solstice, too. Trust yourself as you walk barefoot through the dark, and stick with the discomfort until the lessons emerge. If there was ever a year, it’s this one.

  • What were your biggest challenges, losses or setbacks?
  • How did you get through them and what did you discover about yourself in the process?
  • Describe how you want to feel in the year ahead. Sum it up in a couple words.
  • What’s getting in your way of feeling this? What’s one thing can you let go of so your radiant self can shine this year?
  • Write this stuff down, say it out loud, tell a friend…putting things in the universe is way more powerful than you realize. 

Enjoy the darkness while you can. The sun will come back like it always does. And then you’ll complain about being too hot. It’s always something with you.

4 thoughts on “Embrace the dark

  1. Jenna. I love this. I appreciate the advice to take time to grieve. I lost two precious animals this year, a job and my last grandparent. I looked in the mirror and realized I’m not 35 or even 40 anymore. I don’t feel old, but I sure have the impenetrable gray to prove it. I’m still trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do. And yet, I am lucky. Lucky to learn to love being alone. Lucky to make new friends who care about racial justice as much as I do. And lucky to reach back to my childhood with Great Danes and join the board of the Upper Midwest Great Dane rescue And rescue a puppy! I’m trying to figure out how to laugh more. That will come. For now maxing out my antidepressant seems to work. You are such a good friend to lost souls and found ones, too. Thanks for the nudge!

    1. Thank you so much. You are a constant inspiration to me and I love how you dive head first into things you love. Thank you for sharing and for all the good you put into the world…and into me 🙂

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