I know Mother Nature has a few winter storms left in her, but we are hedging ever closer to the sunshine days of spring, and with that comes the thaw after hibernation; an awakening of the world again.
It has been a winter of settling for me. From focusing on professional exams and settling into my career, to taking care of myself and resting my bigger creative projects for a time, this winter has been a creative hibernation. But there is growth in more than doing, there is growth in the waiting periods too, in the hibernation seasons of life.
Hibernation is a time for introspection and reflection; to rest and care for yourself for the seasons of awakening and abundance to come. I love the idea of honouring rest with a season of hibernation, and will continue to deliberately take time to slow down and settle into a commitment to growth within myself before asking myself to grow in creativity.
Ways I’ve celebrated my Season of Hibernation (And you can too!)
I really started journaling in December this year. I’ve developed my own journal style; partly guides, but with more freedom. My goal in journaling is to rewrite learned narratives that no longer serve me and the life I want to build; to find my life blindspots and shortcomings, and examine them and change them - to grow on the pages. Growth doesn’t just happen, it takes work, it takes self awareness and that’s difficult to practice 24/7. It’s a great feeling to have a place to retreat to where you know you are safe and held and can do the hard work of looking at yourself and deciding to change old patterns and chart a path forward on self improvement.
Working through journaling makes me a better person and a better partner. It recenters my focus, reminding me that I am accountable to myself first and foremost, and everything I do and am stems from who I build myself to be. Developing that sense of self awareness, first on the pages, gives you perspective that can slowly begin to transfer into the reality of your everyday life. The creative journey isn’t only one of creative exploration, it is all about self exploration, expression, learning, growth. All of that happens inside first, happens to a person first, long before it happens in their creative work; that is what journaling allows me to do, grow myself first.
Scaling back Creative Projects
With so much happening this past winter with exams and really launching my pedorthic career in clinic, studying and working and navigating all of this, I stepped back from my creative projects. I scaled back blog posts on Creating Confidently and left my first draft manuscript sitting in my bag, only giving it intermittent attention through this first round of edits. I did keep the instagram page going strong and used it as a creative anchor along with my fabrication of orthotics and ramping up my commitment to journaling. Surrendering to the idea of a creative hibernation, of a slow down, felt amazing. Life gets busy, your focus gets split. It’s not that I valued my creativity less than the rest of it, it’s that everything had a different allotment of weight to it, and creativity was important, but not the most important - that title fell to establishing my career and professional certification. By scaling back my creativity, I was able to still engage with it. Had I continued to plough ahead at full speed, I would have hit harder, longer periods of burnout.
Creating Ritual in my Day
Hibernating really makes you appreciate the small moments. When you aren’t just looking forward, when you’re stopping to be present in those moments and appreciate the things you do for self care and the care of others they become big moments. I’ve always loved ritual - whether this comes from my religious upbringing with the traditions and rituals associated with the liturgical calendar or the respect and discipline of the dance studio where the barre is your reverent partner and the movement itself is steeped in tradition and meaning, I can’t say. Ritual is a beautiful way to be present in a moment and infuse that activity with meaning beyond the act itself. I’ve crafted rituals around skin care day and night, journaling evening pages and warm ups for our workouts at the gym. These are delicious moments for me because they ground me in my body and force me to fully experience everything happening around me. Developing these rituals will carry me forward in the spring thaw as things start moving again at a quicker pace. They will be safe houses for me to slow down and reflect, to reset during the excitement that comes with awakenings.
Hibernation is coming to an end, and that means I have to get back into the swing of things again, but that is a beautiful process too. When hibernation seasons are done right, the awakening is not a threat to your newfound safety, it is a promise of blossoming after the work of living slow.