It’s that time of year…

Our Top Ocean Stories of 2018 are hot off WordPress and it’s a wrap for BON for 2018. While Christmas fun and a houseful of family are just around the corner, I’ve cleared my calendar to absorb the quiet energy of the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. For me, Winter Solstice takes more than a day – it’s a 2-week pause to realign before the onslaught called the New Year.

It’s been a big year.
We’ve all worked hard. The darkness of this time of year encourages us to go within, to rest, and to refill our well with inspiration and insight. So much to be thankful for. So much to process and integrate. It’s up to us to do this self-reflection. The pause we create allows the dormant wisdom within us to quietly awaken. I invite you to join me in this deep dive practice during these next two weeks.

The Power of Pause.
Carving out space is a gift  that allows fresh perspectives to filter in, much like the falling snow that is sifting through the north woods we love here: The world looks different when you step back. You can breath and ground yourself. It invites new ways of being. Heads up: The practice I’m about to share with you is not about setting goals or creating New Year’s resolutions. This is a deep dive into your subconscious and it can bring up a lot you have suppressed just trying to get through this year. It may question your goals and redirect your plans.  And it’s all in your highest good and in alignment with who you really are.

This is about connecting with the authentic you.
We aren’t the same people we were at the beginning of the year. Give yourself this space to reflect on what is going on inside. How have you changed? What has been a constant? What is truly important to you? How has this year affected your ability to function in a fast-changing world? Who do you need to be to thrive in 2019?

But first we rest.
Changemakers forget to put on the oxygen mask before helping others. Taking care of the self first is not selfish – it is essential. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Lack of sleep fogs our judgement and tests our patience. The world looks and behaves very differently after a good night sleep, or three.

Then we write.
Get a new journal just for this solstice reflection. (You’ll want to keep adding to it as new insights bubble up.) Find a pen that flows easily across the page. Colored pencils to doodle, draw and decorate the pages are optional. Fun is totally allowed. Set aside a time and a quiet space to journal. You decide where you want to start:  Beliefs, behaviors, expectations, projects, roles, relationships, routines, to- do lists, work, play, hobbies, self care.

Don’t edit. Don’t judge.
Nobody needs to read this but you. Don’t think too hard.  Don’t beat yourself up. We all have things in the closet that hurt, that embarrass us, that we are not proud of. Don’t forget to celebrate your wins. Listen to what’s been whirring in the back of your mind and record what comes through. To help organize your thoughts, you may want to block out a few pages for each area of inquiry. Leave room for thoughts you won’t see coming.

Here are more questions to help you access your inner knowing:

?The Past
What rocked your world this year? What pissed you off? What problems did you impact? What problems did you create? What did you learn? What surprised you? What have you done to have fun? What took the rug out from under you? What improved your health and well-being? What gave you a sense of fulfillment? What drained you? What thoughts take up too much bandwidth in your head? What is not your responsibility? What do you need to disengage from? What have you been avoiding? What ‘bad thing’ turned out to be a blessing in disguise? What made you sad? What buoyed you up?

?The Present
What exhausts you? What triggers you? What is your go-to emotional state – anger? angst? optimism? Lack? What abilities do you have that you aren’t using?  What do you love? What are you scared of? How is this fear blocking you from stepping into a better version of you?  What /who are you grateful for? What do you like about you? What part of you is difficult to face? Who do you need to forgive? What expectations do you need to let go of? What gives you hope? Where are you hiding? Where do you need to stand aside and not get involved? What behaviors aren’t working for you? What beliefs are holding you back from being your best? What do you value? What are your values? Who do you admire? What are you proud of? What brings you joy? What information are you getting when you hop in the shower?

?The Future
What is your mission?  Is your mission changing? What is your definition of success? Is this definition really true? What would make next year more of a ‘success’? What do you want to learn this coming year? What new directions do you want to explore? What have you always wanted to try but were too afraid? If you had a magic wand what would you like to focus on this upcoming year?  What do you want to invite in to enrich your life? What daily practices can support you in becoming more resilient? Who do you want on this journey with you? Who do you want to support? Who would you like support from? What will next year’s legacy look like? What must you let go of to be what you need to be?

Change is an inside job.
Self-reflection is a super power: If more people dared to spend time within, this world would be a very different place. It takes courage to take responsibility for what you bring into the world… and courage to let go of what is not yours to carry. Don’t underestimate this process.

To heal the world we need to heal ourselves.
But first we need to excavate our true selves from the social, cultural and parental overlays that skew our choices.  We are so much more than we think we are. But we need to face and deal with the parts of ourselves we don’t like or that aren’t even ours. We can’t hide them or throw them away. These disowned pieces turn against us and end up running our lives without our conscious knowledge. This is the beginning of bringing these shadow traits into the light so they no longer have control over us.  We can disable their destructive power.

There is no away.
The ocean is a reflection of our messy collective unconscious. When we stop placing much of the blame outside ourselves, we stop being part of the problem and can start owning our part in the solution. We curtail the drama, overwhelm and energy leaks.  We can focus on the task at hand without an invisible sea anchor holding us back. This is the inner work – Carl Jung called it shadow work – and when we clean up our inner lives the healing manifests in our external world.

We are not human doings, we are human beings.
We have reached the point of diminishing returns – we can’t stretch ourselves much more. But we can let go of what doesn’t work and make space to BE more. You know you are here on earth at this time for a reason. Be honest and be compassionate with yourself. Let the real you speak up: It will pay you and the world valuable dividends in clarity, health and wellbeing.

Wishing you a peaceful pause this holiday season. And so much ocean love.


*For further resources, check out these books.
How to be an Adult – David Richo
Owning Your Own Shadow – Robert A Johnson
Start Where You Are – Pema Chodron
Self-Therapy – Dr. Jay Earley
The Dark Side of the Light Chasers – Debbie Ford
Loving What Is – Byron Katie
The Art of Extreme Self Care – Cheryl Richardson

*Get Support: Don’t be afraid to speak with a health professional if things are heavy for you. The news is creating record levels of eco-anxiety. We are already carrying a toxic load of beliefs that don’t serve a healthy world. Taking care of your mental health and well-being ripples out and inspires those around you. This is your time to be the change you want to see in the world.

(Image Credit: Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash)