Winter’s Gift

Grey skies, icy rain, shift in light from bright colors of autumn to darkness of winter, November has never been my favorite month. Winter chill pushes me inside and asks me to slow down to find warmth and peace in the quiet of home and hearth.

This would be fine, but for me there is often a thin line between cozy solitude, the cherished world of the artist, and cabin fever, a spiral into an internal world of painful emotions. And then there’s the holiday season when the cultural expectation of joy and bustling productivity as we buy more, cook more, eat more, socialize more can drive even the most even-keeled of us into a brush with the winter blues.

Where’s the gift in all this? What could I possibly appreciate about the coming darkness? When I am pushed closer into the mess of my psyche, I can only distract myself with to-do lists and snacks and squirrel-like activity for so long. Eventually the hard feelings find me. When they do, I have to do something. This is when I try to remember to make room to write, to find some relief. By writing down what’s hard, I gain some resolution, even if only partial, some wisdom, even if only a tiny bit. It’s so easy for me to forget again and again that whatever it is that’s making me cranky or angry or sad is usually a part of me that needs attention, that needs to be heard and understood. When I take the time to listen well enough to write about it, the pain, the negativity subsides.
The image that comes to mind is a jigsaw puzzle. Before I force myself to sit and write, it’s as if my inner world is like a puzzle when it’s first dumped out of the box. The pieces are piled up messy and without order. Some are upside down, colors and patterns completely estranged from each other. The sight itself can be unsettling. But if I sit and make the effort to turn over, examine, arrange and search, I will find patterns. I will find places where pieces fit, and I will experience that satisfying moment, that yummy thunk, when my fingers press the right piece into place. And after enough time, after staying with the frustration, not giving up, part of an image may emerge, or the frame for the whole, or a nice solid corner. And I feel better looking at that.
Even though, my puzzle will never be fully complete, writing gives me this sense of pleasing integration, and more. Writing out the pain, that in winter I can’t easily swim, run or hike away from, provides a clearer picture of my world. I gain a few much needed “aha!” moments that allow me to emerge from the work a kinder, more patient partner, mother, friend. And at this time of year, a little more light amid the darkness is what I need.

Some opportunities for working with me to bring the healing practice of writing into your life this winter:

January 11th, 1 – 3 PM
Writing the Stories of Your Life, a FREE Memoir Workshop
Thomas Memorial Library, Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Open to anyone who wants to write and has a story to tell.

January 13th to February 17th
Writing To Heal, A Six-Week Series for Women
7:30 to 9:00 PM, Good Medicine Collective, Portland, Maine.
Instruction, support and writing time to help you establish a practice of writing in the safety and community of a small group.

January 26th 9 AM to Noon
Winter’s Deep Peace Practice: Yoga Nidra and Writing
Good Medicine Collective, Portland, Maine
A morning of restorative rest and soulful integration through guided yoga nidra and writing. Facebook Event

February 22nd, 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Writing the Stories of Your Life, a Memoir Workshop
Belfast Free Library, Belfast, Maine.  (Free to MWPA members. $5 for non-members)
Open to anyone who wants to write and has a story to tell.

I am also available for consultation and coaching if you prefer to work with me individually. We can meet in person or via Skype or Facetime. Contact me for more information: catharinehmurray@gmail.com

Now You See the Sky (Akashic Books, 2018)

Published by

Catharine H. Murray

Author, poet, speaker, workshop leader, teacher.

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