Before I experienced my first Arctic winter a few years back, Sean was the first to tell me: You’re going to want to hibernate.
LIKE A BEAR?! I chuckled.
Exactly. He replied, flatly.
And dang: He wasn’t joking. I remember at first, I resisted the urge to flow with winter’s slow pace. I’d want to put the "pedal to the metal" as soon as I woke up each day — work calls, computer sessions, outdoor projects, you name it. I assumed the same pace I maintained all summer and fall would translate to winter.
And no surprise here: I was wrong!
Instead, I found myself craving more quiet time in the morning. Time to see the snow falling, or the northern lights still waving in the sky. Time to savor my coffee, journal, and meditate a little longer than usual. And — I'll admit — some days, I just wanted to sleep in a little longer!
During my first few weeks of that winter, I felt like my hair was always on fire — from the moment I woke up to the moment my head hit the pillow. I was charging at a fast pace that wasn't sustainable — and yet, I knew I was the only one who could give myself permission to slow down.
Eventually, I had to shift. And isn't it funny how we always say to ourselves, "Why didn't I do this sooner?!"
Things slow down in the wintertime — it’s a fact of nature. And in the Arctic? Things reallllllly slow down without the sun cresting the horizon for over a month. Just like the bears, we can give ourselves permission to hibernate in our own way. We warm up with hot tea, we up our vitamin D supplements, dine on root vegetable soups, and wear our slippers by the fire every night. Even our sled dogs, who are buzzing by 7am in the summertime, can be quiet and still until 10am in the winter — and sometimes, it just feels good to sleep in!
The cycles and rhythms of Earth and the Moon went from being a nuisance that messed with my schedule to my muse. When I felt like I’d lost my groove, I could just step outside and look up! I learned a simple truth that I keep learning over and over again:
Mother Nature is my rhythm.
So as I approach Winter Solstice and the Full Moon in the coming week, I’ll be celebrating the seasonal transition slowly, and steadily with our group of guests coming for Winter’s Womb. It will be an interesting cosmic combination! Solstice means “sun stands still,” and in those dark, tender moments of December 21st, we will be feeling the contrasting vibrancy of Full Moon energy from a few days prior. There will be yoga, meditation, ritual, good food, and memory making with new friends.
And even if you’re not here at Arctic Hive, there are tons of simple ways you can honor this season — whoever you are, whatever you believe in. We all have universal access to Mother Nature, and when we sync up with her rhythms, our whole perspective shifts and life falls into place a little easier most days.
Click here to see my top three tips for honoring this Winter Solstice + Full Moon combination!
Sending love to you, wherever you are!
Three ways to honor Winter Solstice...
As I approach Winter Solstice and the Full Moon in the coming week, I’ll be celebrating the seasonal transition slowly, and steadily with our group of guests coming for Winter’s Womb. It will be an interesting cosmic combination! Solstice means “sun stands still,” and in those dark, tender moments of December 21st, we will be feeling the contrasting vibrancy of Full Moon energy from a few days prior. There will be yoga, meditation, ritual, good food, and memory making with new friends.
And even if you’re not here at Arctic Hive, there are tons of simple ways you can honor this season — whoever you are, whatever you believe in. We all have universal access to Mother Nature, and when we sync up with her rhythms, our whole perspective shifts and life falls into place a little easier most days. Click here to get my top three tips for honoring the solstice.
Here are three simple steps you can take to celebrate the Full Moon + Winter Solstice:
Make an appointment with yourself to step outside after dark and find the full moon.
My calendar tells me it’s at 4:36am Alaska Time on Sunday the 19th, but anytime on Saturday/Sunday/Monday next week is fine! If you’ve got clear enough weather, bundle up, be outside and notice everything you can. Sometimes appreciation doesn’t come naturally — it didn’t to me in the beginning. I remember looking at the moon thinking, Ok… well, it’s there. This is neat. How am I supposed to feel? But rather than “fake” appreciation, just focus on noticing things you don’t normally see. The craters and dark spots on the moon. How the moonlight reflects on trees or buildings nearby. Can you see the stars? If so, how many? If you’ve got kids, or a partner, or a friend or family member, bring them with you! It doesn’t necessarily need to set off fireworks of gratitude in your heart and you don’t need an elaborate ceremony for every Full Moon. Simply noticing is a powerful first step to syncing up with the Full Moon!
Burn a layer you're willing to shed
With the Solstice — technically December 21st or 22nd annually, we are at a turning point for the Sun. Sun stands still, making His transition from less light, to more light every day. The Sun, in Vedic Astrology, represents the true self — the soul. Who we are at the core of our being. And as such, I like to see the Solstice as a chance to start peeling back a new layer that’s been hiding part of me. Ask yourself: How can I be more myself this year? What can I let go of — what layer can I shed — so that a brighter version of myself shines out? Write down three things you’re prepared to release, and burn them in a fireplace or somewhere else safe. Fire is also the element of the Sun, and it burns up what no longer serves us. This simple ritual is just that: Simple. It packs a punch though: The act of burning up things we’re ready to release makes a little imprint on our minds that we are officially ready to let go. It may not happen overnight, but it becomes the first step to a new pathway forward.
How do you want to feel?
Finally, bring together the energy of the Full Moon AND the Solstice by writing out your intentions for the new year. As the Sun shows up more and more every day, how will you show up more and more for yourself in 2022? Rather than a super broad list of things you want, or big sweeping changes you want to make, I recommend focusing on three words for how you want to FEEL in 2022. That way, whatever “goals” you achieve (or don’t achieve), as long as you feel the way you want to feel, you’re on track. For a longer method to deciding your three “Core Desired Feelings,” check out Danielle Laporte’s book “The Desire Map” — it’s one of my favorites.
It all starts with a hole.
We step right over it for weeks without any consequences… the snow has already blanketed the ground, but through this little hole, we can see that what we’re walking is a creek running casually underneath the surface. Slow and steady. That’s the thing about water — it’s designed to move.
Then as the temperatures freeze and thaw, and freeze, and deep freeze, and warm up a tiny bit (and on and on), that water rises and freezes in ways we never dreamed possible. The little hole we were able to easily walk over is now unrecognizable — it has become layers (and layers) of widespread ice, making a once decent dog mushing trail a veritable ice-skating track. The ice will literally creep up hillsides! And this is no mistake of Nature. Nothing is wrong. Water is simply doing what water is was designed to do.
She can either be your friend, or your enemy. She forces you to re-think your trails, reconsider where you fill up your water supply, and at times, re-do your entire winter plan completely. If you only focus on her negative qualities, she’s sure to drive you nuts.
But there’s some deep wisdom in Overflow. First off, she is a total renegade. As cold winter air meets cold water reaching the Earth’s surface, the result is the result is a dynamic, changing field of ice and/or open water. It seems crazy, really: OPEN WATER even in the coldest conditions of -40°F+!
At Arctic Hive, our Overflow originates in the mountain headwaters of Mollie Creek. The creek runs all year round, and the overflow grows and grows as the months go on. We keep hoping things will get blanketed in more snow to make for better mushing, but her route (like the weather forecast) is different every year, keeping us on our toes. More snow also causes more stress and pressure on the flowing water and creates more overflow hazards further down creek — so the cycle never ends!
Oh, you don’t feel like paying attention to Her? She doesn’t care. She’s doesn't need you.
Too lazy to put on your crampons when it gets real bad? She’ll throw you down.
Want someone to come and move her out of your way so you can get on with your life? Nope. Not going to happen. This is the bush, and this is Alaska. You change your routines to accommodate her thankyouverymuch.
We learn to co-exist with Nature in all her madness. Through that process, we get creative because complaining is futile. We are attentive to her every move. We come to appreciate the fact that we learn over and over (and over!) again:
Nothing out here is in our control. Literally nothing.
Sometimes we get a glimpse of the method to her madness. Overflow, with her widespread cloak, can create a buffer from the harsh climate in Alaska. Scientists tracking Overflow, a.k.a. Aufeis, as they call her (it's a German word that sounds like "off-ice") just a few hours north of us at Toolik Field Research Station have actually found up to 30 feet of unfrozen habitat underneath her.
Like I said: Total renegade.
This unique natural feature of life here is another reminder to Sean and I that we might have a deed in our hands, and we might have built some stuff. But at the end of the day, we are visitors. Visitors lucky enough to see what we see. And — because we’ve done this a time or two before — lucky enough to know to anticipate Overflow’s springtime twins: Flood and Mud!
(More stories coming about those two hooligans in May, ha!)
So, as we learn from Overflow, the wisdom is clear as a sheet of ice: Let it flow. Instead of fighting against the grain, move with the season, give up complaining (because #winteriscoming no matter what!), and if you really want to get wild, come see our Overflow for yourself on retreat at Arctic Hive!
Sending gratitude to you and yours,
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