Unexpected Glory

For many of us in December, it is easy to become lost in the busyness of the holiday season. We are shopping, baking, traveling, wrapping, caroling and often have more to do than we could ever accomplish. But the holidays are not the only important thing that is happening this month. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, December 21st is the winter solstice — the time of year when the outer world is the darkest. The winter solstice is a day where we can utilize this time of great darkness to shed light upon any fears or emotions that we have buried within ourselves. The solstice can serve as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, the light will return. As the American author and spiritual teacher, Gary Zukav states, "The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory."

Winter is a time of barren darkness and, for many of us, spending time alone in the dark can make us feel anxious or alone. It’s almost as if the extensive blackness allows our deepest darkest fears to emerge. Darkness can do this — it can make us afraid of the things that we cannot see. That is why it can be so debilitating. In a similar way, it’s also true with our emotions and feelings. Many of us try to bury our deepest fears and emotions, hoping we can hide them in the dark so we don’t have to face them. We hope they will simply disappear. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. In fact, that’s how our fears become even more powerful and debilitating. For that reason, we must bring them out of the darkness and back into the light by going within and examining them, so the healing process can begin. Yet, we often resist facing our fears because it isn’t easy; it can mean facing a pain that seems unbearable. We don’t want to re-live our past hurts. However, that is exactly how we move past them. Only when we face our darkest fears and pain can we begin to move toward the light once again. And through facing this pain, we begin to see that the light does penetrate the darkness, and our hope returns. 

This week during the winter solstice, shed some light upon your own fears and emotions. Reflect upon your life experiences and what they have taught you. The questions below will help get you started:

    1. What are your greatest fears? What feelings have you kept buried beneath the surface? What can you do to face these feelings and fears so you can move past them?
    2. When have you experienced darkness in your life? What helped you through it? How did the light return after this dark time?
    3. Are you going through a dark time in your life right now? What gives you hope in the midst of these difficult times?
    4. What did you learn from your past experiences of the light returning to your life after dark times? What message of hope can that bring to you?

The winter solstice provides the perfect opportunity for us to go within to shed light upon our darkest fears and begin the process of healing. When we are willing to work through our pain, the darkness will not last forever. The light always returns and our hope in the future is renewed. So, we, like a monarch butterfly, can “burst forth in unexpected glory.”

Have a wonderful holiday season and let your light shine in the new year!

A Time for Rebirth

This past week, I've been spending more time outdoors as the temperatures are finally beginning to climb into the upper 50’s and 60’s. For those of us in colder climates, and specifically in New England, the warmer weather is a welcome change. Signs of life are emerging everywhere — birds are joyfully chirping in the trees, yellow daffodils are in full bloom, and tiny buds are sprouting up from the soil. Spring is a vibrant time of new beginnings, reminding us that life is about rebirth — about growing toward our potential. Just as seedlings change and grow, we, too, must be willing to change and evolve into the people we are meant to be; we can give birth to not only new versions of ourselves, but to new ideas as well.

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Through the Lens of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and although I do love the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, there is something I love even more about it. I love that Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate and give thanks for all that we have been given. Instead of focusing our attention on the things we want, we can focus on the things we already have and the important people in our lives. There are many blessings all around us and yet, many of us take them for granted. That’s why Thanksgiving provides us the perfect opportunity to take a step back and look at the world through a new lens - the lens of gratitude. Our feelings of gratitude impact how we see ourselves, how we see each other, and how we see the world. Gratitude creates feelings of compassion, empathy, hope, and contentment. When we are content with our own lives, we begin to view others and the world in entirely new ways. We are thankful for the moments we share and for the connections that exist between all of us. We want to share this love and joy we feel with others, knowing that love is what truly brings us together.

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Be Like a Child

The summer is finally here, and it is the perfect time for us to break from our usual routines and enjoy our lives more fully. It’s important for us to plan some downtime where we can rest and recharge — even if it’s only for a short while. This summer, I’m planning to do exactly that. I’m taking a break from both my blog and my circling events in order to go within and renew my spirit. I know from past experience that when I take this much-needed downtime, it enables me to feel refreshed and re-energized when I return to my activities. That’s why downtime is so important. It helps us not only recharge, but it also helps us see things in a whole new light. So, I invite everyone to experiment with some downtime this summer. On sunny afternoons, take walks on the beach, read good books, or hike in the woods. Break free from your usual routines and have some fun. I know we all have responsibilities, but we can’t let them weigh us down. We have to learn to let go and laugh more — to be more like children, carefree and spontaneous.

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See Your World in a Whole New Light

As the school year comes to a close, I am reminded how the endings of our lives are also new beginnings. My son is finishing his 5th grade year and will be going off to middle school in the fall. He is thrilled to be moving to a new school and is fully embracing this exciting time in his life. But as his mom, a part of me is sad that he is growing up so fast. Because he is graduating from elementary school, it somehow feels like I’m saying good-bye to his childhood. Yet, this ending is also an incredible new beginning - one where he will discover many things about himself and continue to grow into the amazing man he will become. Watching his eager anticipation of this important transition in his life, I know he is ready, and that makes me very happy indeed.

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