“If Winter comes, can spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley
I live in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. For those not familiar with our desert climate, we do in fact experience a period of winter weather. We can experience some very cold temperatures during the month of January; lows can dip to below freezing at night and only reach the low to mid 50’s during the day and a relative humidity in the negative. There remains however plenty of green and flowering plants to trick the mind when the eye shoots a quick look out the window and sees the majestic palms and the deep blue sky with seemingly unending sunshine. Occasionally those of us who grew up in the winter grasp of the Midwest begin to long for that time of hibernation. I know I do. I miss snow, bundling up with hats, coats, mittens, boots, scarves and more. I miss warming up the car and days when no one goes anywhere because the snow has us shut in for a day or two.
I have learned that we do not need to be afraid of winter. In winter nature lies fallow in preparation for the New Year. All life needs rest in order to grow with greater strength and winter is the time of withdrawal that precedes renewal.
Sometimes, it may seem that our lives have become dark and hopeless and we can’t see a way forward. I felt exactly as I’ve just described, many times over. Perhaps, it came when a relationship failed and I thought, “This really has to be the end”, or my business was going badly; money became a problem, or the loss of family ties or connections. I became lost in my melancholy and felt that things would never get better.
I knew that I could draw some strength from the wisdom of the seasons. Bare trees will become clothed in green and the hard earth will again yield harvests of plenty. I learned to appreciate this transformation as it happens every year and I take hope from it. I can see my life also as bound to change! From this wisdom of the seasons I grew this affirmation which is ready to be plucked from my jar of affirmations when the time is right: “Nothing in my life need defeat me, since I know that spring and summer will always come again”.
- Snowy Winter Photography (noupe.com)
- Gahl Eden Sasson: Christmas Grinch and Mercury Retrograde (huffingtonpost.com)
“Mere survival is an affliction. What is of interest is life, and the direction of that life.” — Guy Fregault
I know people who, when you ask them how they are, will say automatically, “I’m surviving.” They say it with a bright, brave smile, as though they’ve battled tremendous odds and come through, bloody but unbowed. They seem to imply that life is a grim, unfair business. But in reality, their lives seem easy and secure.
There are others I know with real problems – illness in the family, financial worries, job insecurity and more. These people might greet you with a smile and bring to the simplest exchange an energy and liveliness that sends you away refreshed. Such people have the gift of life and share it abundantly. Like the ninety-seven-year-old woman with thirty-nine grandchildren who greets each one of them by name and has a story and a joke for every one of them. She lives in their memory as a force of love and vitality. Her immortality is there, in the love her family bears her.
Each day can bring as many joys as sorrows. When we are patient and find the courage to invest the best of ourselves, we can truly live and not just survive.
“It is a true proverb, that if you live with a lame man, you will learn to halt.” — Plutarch
Working through the memories of childhood is a task each of us eventually faces. Addiction in a family system contributes to addiction along the way and affects our own individual addiction(s) and creates drama in life as adults.
I have realized that we can decide whether it’s important for us to know if and how addiction has operated in our families. We can gain that knowledge as we need it. But isn’t it enough simply knowing the addiction is real, that it’s present in family systems, and that we didn’t cause it? Knowing we didn’t cause it helps to stop blaming one’s self.
The important thing I have found is to focus on my own recovery. I cannot change a thing about my family or the past. But, I have found I can change my attitude toward them. When ever we feel caught up in the addiction or drama in a family members’s behavior, we can bring our attention back to ourselves. That way, resentment and fruitless anger yield to honesty and humility. Detaching from the things we cannot change, forgiving the harm done to us, and letting go of the past are important parts of our healing.