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  • Writer's pictureSue Bulmer

a time for thoughtful introspection

As the days become shorter and the darkness draws in even earlier each day I am experiencing that familiar annual feeling of wanting to retreat to my nest and hibernate. I do look forward to, and love, many aspects or parts of the colder months of autumn and winter - log fires, autumn leaves, warming soup, hygge, blankets, cosy slippers, being at home, safe and warm and content. But these feelings of hibernation, withdrawal and restoration are also accompanied by a slight dread of the impending oppressive blanket of greyness and lack of light which the UK winter can sometimes bestow upon us. In the past I have felt these detrimental effects of the seasons on my own wellbeing and mood, When the family festivities are over, by late January I'm usually feeling tired, a bit low and desperate for sunlight and warmth.

Sadly, as we all know, human-beings don't really have the option of hibernation as much as we would like to. Life goes on. But recently I have been wondering about how I can live more in tune with the seasons and how I can reframe my dread of winter into something more positive.

I've recently been posting on Instagram about my thoughts around this and my musings were met with acknowledgment and agreement. So I'm not alone in my thinking. The more I read about it, the more obvious it becomes that western culture has become so detached from the natural cycles and rhythms of life as we are constantly brainwashed into a work, work, work, produce and consume mindset, stuck on the hamster wheel, only stopping when we are exhausted and burned out.

Bearing all of this (and my Seasonal-Affective-Disorder-January-prone-ness) this year I’m actively unsubscribing from this mentality and I'm modifying my life rhythm to align with the natural 'wintering' season. Whilst full-on hibernation is neither possible nor practical my aim is to slow down, removing my self imposed pressure to constantly do. Autumn and Winter are traditionally times of rest and renewal and this is what they are going to be for me from now on. I've already started to practice meditation and I’m planning on some peaceful reflection time out in nature too. Self care is high up on my priority list,

You might be wondering what this even has to do with creativity and art. Well my seasonal contemplations naturally extend into my creative life, it's all the same thing to me at the end of the day. I've been reading a fantastic book as part of an art therapist reading group, It's called Environmental Art Therapy and The Tree of Life and you can read all about it here. There is one chapter a month and the book begins in November which is the beginning of the Celtic year. It is the month when the trees drop their leaves and seeds are planted in the leaves and compost of the past year. There is a connection of what is to come with what has been lost, birth and death so closely linked, The author talks beautifully about how 'our seeds of change are planted in the crumbling body of our old lives' but they need a season of stillness and dormancy before they can grow. And so, he says, do we. I'm claiming mine right now. Who's with me?

As part of my year slowly drawing to close I am also looking back over the past year to see what I've learned and achieved, as well as choosing a new word for the year to help me look forward. Choosing a word for the year, for me, is preferable to setting resolutions I will undoubtedly break after two days and it helps me to think about the year ahead and what I want to focus or concentrate on. A touchstone, mantra, affirmation or simply a word to live by. In the past I’ve chosen patience, sustenance, excel, learn, to name but a few.

This year I cheated (don’t tell anyone) and I chose two (both very much linked I think and difficult to separate). I chose NURTURE & GROW.

I think I’ve been able to do this on so many levels, my relationships with my family and friends old and new, my seeds and my garden, my self care, my clients and my creative practice. I’ve invested in myself, listened to what I need and provided myself with the nurturing I need for the growth I desire. I talk about what I've achieved here. A conversation with a new friend Jo Slessor has prompted me to start thinking about what my word for 2022 will be. We are planning an Instagram Live on December 7th at 7pm to mull this over together. So if you do fancy joining us all the details will be coming soon to my Instagram and Facebook page.

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