What Helps Me Survive

“I am a restlessness inside of a stillness inside of a restlessness.” I Capture the CastleDodie Smith

I feel the darkness and sadness of the season is darker and sadder than it’s been in a long time. I don’t fear it or try to outrun it anymore. Now I plan for it and welcome it, knowing that this, too, shall pass. I’m blessed with a job that allows me to work with the rhythms of my body.

I have a friend who feels the call to hibernate, to wait, to pause and be still, but she has to work a retail job. Another friend who already struggles with feeling overwhelmed this time of year, has to sit in meetings where all of next year’s work is outlined in complicated Gantt charts and spreadsheets. Then there’s the news, and it just never stops. It’s breathless and shrieking and its cumulative effect is not moving us toward action, but freezing us with despair. I feel a collective weariness after what has been three years of standing up to an emboldened hatred, and a realization that it has been around me all along, I just didn’t feel it as acutely or as personally inside my privilege.

My husband and I try to go on an evening walk, rain or shine (or cold, biting wind). He shared that he’s struggling right now with the season, too. He’s always struggled, but he used to retreat into the coping mechanisms of overworking, drinking heavily, and playing elaborate world-building video games. This is only his second winter of practicing his new habits. He eats healthy, goes to the gym, works on the house and yard, and just had his regular physical to adjust his thyroid medicines.

As we were walking and talking last night, we acknowledged that this is a dark and sad time of year for many people. We also talked about how the tiniest things have a very profound impact. These tiny things help us survive.

For me they are (in no particular order): writing (with a notebook and pen combination that I have perfected over many years), a pair of full-leg leg warmers, clearing and rearranging my seasonal altar, votive candles, my cat Cloud who gets under the covers and lays on my feet, a loud scrub jay who sits on a branch and squawks when he wants me to throw some peanuts for him, smooching my kiddo’s forehead, the first moment of every hot bath, epsom salts, car singing, the smell of the top of my cat Hank’s fuzzy head, a full crockpot.

What are the things that help you survive?