This morning I was woken by the blackbird rather than the alarm; how different it feels to wake up with nature and when my body is ready to rather than the usual forcing of wakefulness in line with the social norms that demand we be in work.
I heard someone on the radio the other day talking about how connected we all are to nature and it make me smile because I would have said the same a while ago.
But ‘connected with’ nature is inaccurate as it pre-supposes that we are on one side and nature is on the other and that we are connected, when the truth is that we are part of nature, we are just one of the animals, one of the mammals. We aren’t just connected to nature, we are an expression of nature just as every leaf and every rain drop is.
As you know, this is not my best time of year. The dark nights draw in and I feel low and trapped as I can’t get outside as much as I would in the summer. I feel tired and am drawn to eating more carbohydrates than I would in the sun.
So many of the women I talk to and am coaching with are experiencing the same and yet we all fight against it. I have a SAD lamp, I take vitamin D and I try to get outside during the day to see daylight. So many of us go to work in the dark at this time of year and come home in the dark.
However, this year I am also practicing surrendering to the dark and not expecting so much of myself as I would usually do. I’m going to bed early and reading. Listening to music and not going out much.
It turns out the Danes have it sorted. They have the Hygge which is:
“the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things”.
Depending on which book you read (I’ve put a selection at the bottom), Hygge is about candles and hot chocolate, snuggling up inside with loved ones, having wool socks, taking things slowly, avoiding row and emotional confrontations, fires, cinnamon rolls, hot baths, being kind to yourself and others, not working too hard.
So hibernation for humans then? Surely it makes sense that when it is cold and dark we want to sleep more and keep warm? Accepting that we are part of nature and not just connected to it means we can use nature as a guide. If:
‘black and grizzly bears hibernate up to 7 ½ months without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating’ (wow!!)
then it should be no surprise that as fellow mammals we need to slow down a bit too.
So I’m feeling a bit bear like.
And I’m also feeling a bit like a caterpillar/butterfly (how’s that for mixing incompatible metaphors?).
I’m not in the caterpillar stage where I’m crawling around feeding constantly but nor am I the beautiful butterfly soaring in the sun. I’m in the cocoon and what happens to a caterpillar in the cocoon is no less amazing that a bear than doesn’t pee for half the year.
When the caterpillar goes into the cocoon to turn into the butterfly it undergoes an process of complete disintegration and then re-constitution. When the caterpillar is born it holds within it all the parts for an adult butterfly and these are called ‘imaginal discs’.
When the caterpillar is in the cocoon it releases enzymes so it can dissolve it’s own tissues. All the caterpillar tissues dissolve apart from the imaginal discs. If you cut open the cocoon at the right time caterpillar juice would run out! The discs use the caterpillar juice which is rich in protein to fuel the cell division needed to form the butterfly features. Isn’t nature incredible?
I love knowing this. I love firstly that the discs are called ‘imaginal’ (imagination) but I also love that everything the caterpillar needs is already within it as it enters the cocoon. I love that out of almost complete disintegration; beauty comes.
I think at this stage of my life this feels so significant as my friends and I enter and navigate the menopause which can be seen as an ending where bits of us women stop working. Instead the cocoon provides a metaphor that this could also be the time where we dissolve what we have been to create something far more beautiful which can fly!
That’s certainly how I feel. Not only am I hibernating by the fire with books and candles but also my thoughts and feelings are sometimes a caterpillar soup of confusion. And yet I trust, that like the bear, I will come out of hibernation and like the caterpillar, I’m in the cocoon morphing into something new which I can’t see yet but which I already have the imaginal discs to create!
Wishing you a snuggly hibernation and a cocoon full of potential too.
Free Ebooks for anyone who needs them (just click on the links)
- How to be LessStressed: From Survive and Strive to Revive and Thrive
- Getting over the End of a Relationship: Relationship Recovery
- Domestic Abuse: how to get support for people living with it
Here are other places you can read my stuff
- Psychologies Magazine LifeLabs
- For teachers and schools: SecEd, Innovate Your School, SchoolWell and Staffrm
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