Friday, January 18, 2013

A Matter of Hibernation


How are you doing on those New Year’s resolutions? Did they fall by the wayside yet? Are you achieving some of them?

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Here’s why:

After many rounds of the time wheel (I’m still in Mayan mode), I have learned that I need to hibernate in winter and it is winter here in the San Joaquin Valley of California.

We don’t put much thought into what Nature is telling us in our modern, electronic-gadget filled world, but we are not electronic beings. We are children of Nature, with a capital N, and we should listen to our mother. Many creatures of Nature hibernate in winter—or at the very least, their activity is limited because cold slows everything down.

What does hibernation look like for a human? Reflection, taking stock, sleeping more, fewer to-do lists, re-evaluating our life, to name a few. Think about your spiritual, physical, mental and emotional bodies or states. Tend to them—make sure you are taking care of each one.


I have read a lot of blogs this month and there is a rush to activity—make those goals, get on the bandwagon, push to achieve, do more, hurry—all increasing stress at a time when we should be reducing stress. This can easily lead to feelings of failure when we don’t measure up to someone else’s goals (or our own that we have made without proper reflection)—and we aren’t even out of January yet.

Um, no thanks.

For some people, that may be a good strategy. Maybe their hibernation period is much shorter or at a different time of year, but it is not who I am, and I suspect not who many of you are. I have found that when Nature tells you to slow down for a bit and you don’t listen, you get ill, which is Nature’s way of forcing you to slow down.

What if we thought of hibernation as a soup; the ingredients gathered throughout the year—books read, new skills learned, emotional highs and lows, physical trials and challenges and periods of spiritual renewal. Now that the ingredients are in the pot, we add lots of water (something you probably don’t do enough of in the winter-drink water) and let them simmer over a warm fire during the cold months, until done. The timing is personal. Only you know when your soup is done.

I used to think January was a bad month for me. Everything seemed to go wrong this month, every year, and I would inevitably feel depressed. It took me a long time to understand I was pushing when I should have been pulling—back, and letting go. Nature has its seasons.

Think of the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. It is not the hare, jumping around, back and forth, bragging about how much faster he is than the tortoise, who reaches the finish line first, it is the slow and steady progress of the turtle that wins the race.

(and taking time to smell the flowers-or eat them as the case may be)

So if you have blah energy, feel uninspired, or have thoughts that you are not measuring up or not doing enough, maybe you need a hibernation period. Be kind to yourself, remember you are not a machine; you are a child of Nature.


What is your finish line-the long range goal to which you aspire? 

Are you a tortoise or a hare (hares definitely get things done-but that's a different post).

Is your soup still stewing or is it ready to be eaten? 

Let’s hear your comments on this subject. We all learn when we share.






18 comments:

marja said...

Honestly? I felt more peaceful just reading your post. Sometimes the most difficult thing we attempt is slowing down. Great advice!
Marja McGraw

S.M. Hutchins said...

Hibernation periods are so important and I think January is a good month for it since we're coming down off back-to-school Fall that went right into holiday season. I think I go in hibernation phases throughout the year in waves. Great post!

jrlindermuth said...

Totally agree, Cora. Never a fan of winter. Since I can't afford to migrate like the smarter animals, I tend to hibernate.

Sally Carpenter said...

Last December I took time off from my day job and ended up busier than ever, trying to do all those things I couldn't get done when I was at the office. Not much of a vacation and I didn't feel rested. You're right that humans need to slow down and stop at times to reflect and renew. Over the years I've gone on church retreats, which are aptly named--one "retreats" from or leaves ones hectic life for a time of renewal. As writers we all need to "retreat" at times from our work.

C.L. Swinney said...

I was a ball of stress until reading this blog. Thanks so much for sharing. I feel better now :-)

Cora said...

Peaceful? Goal accomplished.

Cora said...

Thanks for commenting. I do the same thing--take withdrawal times throughout the year as well. January is big for me though. It is like re-booting, clearing out all the things that slow down the system.

Cora said...

Migrating south would be my choice, but it was not to be this year.

Cora said...

Spiritual retreats work wonders. If I had the option, I would do a spiritual spa retreat-for body, mind and spirit.

Eileen Obser said...

Great blog, Cora. I printed out the last part: I used to think January...to the end: Be kind to yourself...

I HAVE been putting stress on myself. Like Chris, I feel better now!

elizabethfais said...

I want to hibernate too! I think I need a good long nap before I answer any more questions though. ;-)

Cora said...

Gotcha. Thanks for letting me know you are there. Helps when you are blogging out into the internet and never really sure if anyone is reading it;-)

Cora said...

That's nice. Thank you.

Cora said...

Happy to make you feel better:-)

Ellen Gregory said...

I'm not sure I have a hibernation period... Things here tend to slow down over December/January because of Christmas and Summer holidays; but because it's Summer I tend to line up lots of things to accomplish! Winter here is in the middle of the year and it doesn't quite seem like the right time of year to drop off the planet -- no doubt because it all continues in the Northern Hemisphere. Interesting, huh?

Cora said...

It is true that the letdown after the holidays and the cold here tends to cause a natural pause, I still believe wherever you are, there is a cycle and rhythm to life. Everyone and every place is different and we experience the cycles differently. I would be interested, if later you find there is a period in your area when some people need that time to regroup, please get back to me and let me know. I'm truly interested how this cycle translates to other and warmer areas that do not have the cold. Looke to the animals.

Tami Clayton said...

I like the idea of a hibernation phase. A friend recently told me about a conference she went to on helping people through major life changes (of any kind) and one of the phases was the "resting" time. It's sole purpose is to give us a break from the emotionally draining aspects of adjusting to whatever changes are going on and to prepare us for the next phase - taking action of some sort. Your post reminded me of what my friend shared. Hibernating is an important thing for us humans to do. It's not something I do well, though.

Margaret Miller said...

A wonderful post Cora, thank you. I'd like to add to Ellen's comments re Southern hemisphere. I used to live in QLD and it was hot from October through to March. While we did do the family trips to the beach and evening BBQs, for the most part it was so hot and humid I stayed as still and quiet as I could - I always joked that I was hibernating. It was the cool of winter I looked forward to when I could go outside and not swelter. It was a big reason we moved down to Tasmania where I've had to completely change - right now I'm half writing, half gardening and reviving the bottling industry. But no resolutions - not ever - for all the reasons you have given.