In this winter, this time of pause, I am learning to be easy on myself.
This post comes from our friend, Anna Flynn.
For years I had the idea that I did not like winter, did not like the short days, did not like the cold. So I spent a few years traveling to warmer climates, places where I felt I was escaping winter. This year I decided to pause, to sit still in one place for more than a few months. In that place, which is my home, it is very much winter. But I have started to realize it has always been something else, not discontent with the season but with myself.
I’ve come to understand that forgiveness is a great act of kindness. I have experienced this firsthand, the way most people have in relationships with others, but it’s often difficult to forgive ourselves.
Though it’s easy for me to admit I am far from perfect I remain my harshest, most judgmental critic.
Besides run-of-the-mill self-loathing and body shaming we all experience (right?), I judge myself for being vulnerable, or not vulnerable enough, for missing opportunities, for being indecisive, for not setting good boundaries. Sometimes these thoughts play over and over until I don’t even notice them anymore. But I am learning to notice.
So in this winter, this time of pause, I am learning to be easy on myself.
I boil water, breathe in the steam from a cup of tea. The leaves grown in summer, dried through the fall. I walk on snow and ice up an old carriage trail that looks down on the lake, beginning to freeze over. Sometimes the kindest thing I know how to do for myself is to walk all day, even in the cold.
It’s been a distracting couple of months. I feel that we live in an alarmingly unjust world, and the thoughts that come along with that often make my life and my problems seem trivial. But I know better. I know that the first, and most important, thing that any of us can do to help others, let alone the world, is to help ourselves. So I am starting at the beginning, I am allowing myself to feel the way I need to feel, and I am being kind.
The solstice is near, the darkest time of the year, and I have been away from home for far too long. But for that, I can forgive myself.
Check out more of Anna’s words here.