The Winter Year

December, 2020
Growth, Rebirth, Transformation

I’ve heard talk from many people commiserating that 2020 was a total bust. A stand-still. Disruptive to life as we knew it. Which, yes it was—but! in a more positivity impactful way than I think it’s being credited.

Many of us have a hard time seeing past the surface of discomfort.
Because there’s something satisfying about comfort; it’s familiar and seemingly safe(r).
Because leaning into discomfort means taking a look not into the mirror that shows this superficial presentation of you, but the soul mirror that shows how your life …has affected your life. How your thoughts, feelings, and choices impact—for better or for worse—your next current experienced reality.
Because yes, while you perhaps did not create your initial pain points, you are responsible for the perpetuation of your suffering and therefore also the healing process.
Which we all do in our own time.

To move past the superficial mirror and surface of discomfort means honesty.
It means feeling …pain, anger, sadness, grief, relief.
It means forgiveness of self and others.
It means acceptance of what is, what can’t be changed, what you don’t have control over.
And all of that is uncomfortable.

But through discomfort growth can be found.

Some of the older and indigenous cultures utilize the cycle of seasons for more than just our experience of changing weather and temperatures. It’s often also related to the four distinct parts of a female’s moon cycle, aging, and so on. So while we did physically experience spring, summer, fall, and winter (at least in the northeast US), I’ve been feeling like this was a winter year. The entire year. And we are still in it.

The word “winter” derives from an old Germanic word meaning “wet” from the precipitation of rain, ice, and snow. Years ago, I had a Jamaican personal trainer tell me he loved the rain and always looked at it as a cleansing, so to borrow a beautiful perspective, we could approach this as a year of cleansing on many levels.

Cleansing ourselves as we adopted better hygiene habits and became more considerate of personal space, perhaps even addressing immune health through better eating habits, physical health through exercise, yoga, or other movement practices, mental health through meditation etc.

Cleansing our space as many had more time at home to cook, clean, purge, reorganize, and in many instances—move, a fresh start.

Cleansing ancestral lines as many either spent more time with family, or realized the importance of this type of healing after not being able to see family for so long.

Cleansing priorities and where we spend our time, as many realized the corporate hamster wheel or cattle heard of city life was no longer necessary or cutting it, or that some friends were a matter of convenience and not quality.

Cleansing archaic systems and out-of-date ways of doing things on global and individual levels.
^not an exhaustive list

Winter is also the season of stillness, darkness, and death. Bare trees, chilly temperatures, frozen bones, long nights.

Stillness: a sacred pause to listen, rest and reflect. Quietude to re-attune.

Darkness. The unknown. Adding to this season introspection, which can lead to an enlightenment of perspective and ideas.

Death—a deeper cleansing, a space maker, a transformer—allowing for regeneration and renewal. The catalyst for change and transformation, not unlike winter’s transformation into springtime blooming.

From nothing can come anything!

This winter year, everyone began to see the dirt we’ve been buried under. The dirt of the protective ego self, the beliefs that are often lies we tell ourselves to keep playing small, the shit of the world and systems that are intentionally holding us down/back, and keeping most of us from blooming.
Which feels bad/wrong, but maintaining this analogy, soil serves a purpose: protection from threats that could harm the seed or remove it “too soon”, to help fertilize and feed.

We became very tangibly aware that we are buried in this dark hole, that we’ve been covered with our troubles and struggles, suffering and fighting against it.
To see what we will make of it.

“Crises accelerate transformative action because they require a response. By taking action—especially in uncertainty—we create results, and results are what we learn from to inform decisions, course-correct, and take better action in the new future.”
Barry O’Reilly & Jana Werner, Ph.D

So what have you made of it—or what do you make of it—from a perspective of newfound awareness?

A funeral burial; this is the end, the sad death of me?!
A burial to the old ways, as we begin to shift and discover none of us are actually in a casket, unable to be freed? The illusion of the casket is the ego’s creation. When we surrender to the gift that this year bestowed upon us, to the accelerated process we are all in together, it—the ego—dissolves, and we become one with the natural cycles again. The next part of this cycle being spring, a rebirth, bursting out of the seed (destruction is part of transformation) and through the Earth into whatever beautiful version of a flower we are.

This year SO MUCH happened. But most of it, at least on an individual level, was under the surface. Seeds planted. Inner work taking place for innovation to take place.
“Dark night of the soul” is wildly uncomfortable, but the other side of these massive growing pains is really beautiful and totally worth it.
Keep hope and trust alive—nourishment to the beautiful abundance of growth and creation to come in spring, as fruits of the labor of 2020, the winter year.


Photo credit: Rodion Kutsaev

Year in Review

Year in Review

How you end something plays an integral part in beginning something new, so before rushing through the holidays and thinking about what your New Years Resolutions should be, use the questions in this article to spend some time in review.



With humility and presence, you can turn a simple inconsistent expression of a word—gratitude—into a daily practice that bares more fruits of consistent “labor”, into the full embodiment that fills you with contentment and peace.