Christmas in October

One morning last week, as the darkness unfurled into first light and the night’s dreams still lingered at the edges of psyche, my younger son asked, “Why are there Christmas decorations in the stores already?”

Without thinking I responded, “Because people are afraid of the sadness and darkness that arise this time of year so they focus on the next holiday and the season of lights.”

“Why does this time of year make people sad? I don’t feel sad!”

A lover of winter and snow, our younger son celebrates the change of seasons. But as the minutes of light decrease daily I can see the melancholy descend on the other members of our household, as well as in many of my clients. As the twilight hour approaches, I sometimes see the loss embodied on my older son’s face, as if a cloud has crossed over his normally sunny disposition. When … Click here to continue reading...

September Anxiety

The slightly crisp air. The sight of school supplies lining the aisles of the pharmacy. The sound of the school bus. Autumn leaves. The loss of light at the day’s end. And my clients are suddenly sharing dreams about showing up at school without any clothes on or forgetting to study for the test.

Why would September bring anxiety? One reason is because it reminds us of school. And, sadly, for many people school was a place where their freedom, creativity, love of learning, and social exuberance were clamped down and, quite often, annihilated.

I often think about the one-room schoolhouse that my grandparents attended in upstate New York. Back in the 1920s, school was a luxury, a place where farm children could escape their chores, learn the essential skills that would help them elevate themselves and attend college, which would then secure a career away from the drudgery and … Click here to continue reading...

Yes and No

Sometimes an anger surges up in me about how abysmally this culture guides and takes care of its members around transitions. We expect engaged women and men to put on a happy face from proposal through honeymoon, ignoring their innate need to grieve the loss of their singlehood and honor their fears about getting married. We applaud pregnant women and new mothers for not allowing their baby to interfere with their regular life. (My heart sinks when I see a mother with a one week old baby at the grocery store.) And just when the body wants to turn inward to slow down or come to a complete stop at the year’s end, the culture orchestrates an overwhelming time filled with the outward energy of consumption and socializing.

The theme in my work with clients last week was exhaustion. Despite all of them knowing that their bodies needed rest, … Click here to continue reading...

December: Turn Inward Against the Tide

There’s a natural rhythm to each season and each month of the year, an archetypal energy that, if we could allow ourselves to tap into, would guide us toward loving actions that would serve our inner selves. In spring we’re guided toward the energy of rebirth; in summer toward celebration; in autumn toward letting go. Then we arrive at winter, a time of hibernation, stillness and reflection.

Yet, because our culture fails us quite miserably in the realm of transitions, rituals, and teaching us to attune to the energetic stream of each season so that we can align with its current and tap into the wisdom, we flounder through these thresholds, feeling alone, confused, and scared.

As such, quite often what I hear in my work with clients is that January, instead of a time to connect to the rich, quiet darkness of winter which would prepare them for the … Click here to continue reading...

The Grief Place

There is a room in your heart where sadness dwells. Each story of sadness lives there like a stagnant, frozen particle of light waiting for you to see it, to hold it, to wrap it in a blanket and bring it tea. When you visit your grief place with love, the particles of light start to shimmer and move – dance, even – for all things, even our pain, especially our pain, only want to be seen and loved.

We can live our lives ignoring this grief place, until we can no longer ignore it; until anxiety or intrusive thoughts or physical health jut up with such force that we must pay attention. The frozen particles start to move now with a new desire for attention, and hopefully, if we’re guided skillfully, we see that the anxiety is a messenger that can bring us into direct contact with our pain, … Click here to continue reading...