The Womb in the Room

November is here. As a northeasterner, it’s long been a month of preparation for the coming cold and a time to build fires (real and metaphorical) to keep the body and spirit warm until Spring.

I miss the wood stove we had in our Yorktown Heights, NY home. For nearly two decades, chopping wood and fire-building were important rituals. As the years went by, Beth and I both grew to be quite good with an ax and tending the flames. And everyone – our kids, dogs, and us – seemed to enjoy the warm fire we shared in our living room. It was like a nook, a comfy womb in a room, that made me wonder “how could anyone not love winter?”

Well, there are some! I recently received a text from on of one of our local friends, Judy, saying, “I need to move south!” Evidently, Judy is one of the people in the northeast who loves it when it’s warm and hates it when it’s not. While neighbors might be looking forward to hunting season or pulling the snowshoes down from the attic, Judy and her fellow spring and summer lovers are looking at the calendar and saying, “Oh, shit. It’s a long time till May!”

For many people, winter can also be a lonely time of year. Some even suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder. Alas, when the sky is gray and the trees are nearly bare, melancholy comes to many. They wake up with dread and carry it with them throughout the day during the too-quiet days when there’s less light and laughter. I know. I’ve been there.

In fact, I feel a bit of sadness, today.

Last night, we returned from a weekend near Philadelphia and I was sad to leave the embrace of friends. As in the past, we stayed with our friend, Bill, a single fellow who I’ve known for a half dozen years. Bill always expresses his big joy at being with us and an equal amount of sadness when we part.

Over the years, I’ve learned that I, go through a cycle like Bill’s, too. When I am arriving, I feel anxiety and excitement. It gives over to joy as the deep conversations inspire new learnings and connections, only to be followed by the realization that we will soon leave, which ushers in the sadness. And it can be worse during the winter months.

When I feel melancholy, I wish that we could all gather in a great big living room for a group hug – a great big “womb in the room.”

But that’s not always possible, right?

So, I can use the quiet and isolation that sometimes comes this time of year to write, to immerse myself in lyrics or music. This blog, too, has become a place where immersion generally leads to a lift in my mood. I am so grateful for this love of creating.

I’m grateful, too, at this moment for my practice. I got up and did yoga and meditation at 6:00 am. The practice, a warm shower, a little caffeine and a writing session are bliss.

All of us can strategize how to use our tools (physical and spiritual) to get through difficult times or seasons. Overall, I think we need to follow through with a commitment to our own self-care and keep asking, “what do I need and want today to feel good?” Only then, in my opinion, can we turn ourselves to others and love them fully. So, perhaps a massage? A long bath?

In meditation, I often use this tool…

I say, to myself while breathing in, “I am lovable” and allow a smile to come to my face. On the exhale, I think, “I am loving,” extending that smile like open arms to the world. It always works for me.

In the meantime, know that I love you. May you keep warm inside and out.

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