Winter: a time to throw away and a time to gather

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A good beginning is half the work.

(Old Irish Proverb)

Happy New Year, friends! How do you approach your new year? Do you set goals? Make resolutions? Come up with a word for the year?

Winter, especially the first month of the year, is all about bringing things into fresh focus. The snowy landscape even reflects this in the way you can see a tree’s actual form and shape without the covering of leaves. Everything in nature becomes more obvious against the backdrop of white snow and bright skies. The clarity is refreshing.

It is winter proper; the cold weather, such as it is, has come to stay. I bloom indoors in the winter like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out. At night I read and write, and things become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year’s planting.

(Annie Dillard)

Mentally, most of us use this time of year to prioritize and plan. The cold days and long nights seem to provide more opportunity to take stock of how we spend our time and allows us to alter and adjust for the year ahead. For some this means doing a health cleanse or detox. For others it looks like committing to a budget. And for others, it’s simply taking the inspiration to change a habit and making a commitment to do certain things differently.

All change begins with removing the old, the stuff that doesn’t work, the dusty unused things, the bad habits and practices and replacing them with the new, the new gifts, the useful and helpful things, and fresh habits and practices for a new season.

These cold months provide a time to throw away material clutter and to gather fresh organization. It’s a time to throw away negative mindsets and habits and to gather positive attitudes and practices. It’s a time to throw away striving and comparison and to gather contentment and confidence. This snowy, cold season strips everything down to the most essential, the core, the heart and gives us fresh eyes to see what matters most. It blows in winds of inspiration that lead to transformation.

For me personally, this looks like going through my day and making small adjustments where I feel led to change. Life with a newborn can be a challenging season with sleep deprivation and learning a new rhythm, but there have been a handful of things I’ve felt convicted to change in the midst of this transition.

In spending habits: to purchase with the environment and the local economy in mind

(think beeswax wrap over plastic wrap and local stores over Amazon)

In health: to move two times a week (think walks in the woods and yoga with Adriene) and eating a vegetable with every meal

In parenting: to value presence over productivity — this one is especially difficult for my type A personality, but it’s something I’m keeping top of mind with the time I spend with my kids

In relationships: to encourage and reach out more often — as someone who doesn’t mind going days without connecting with friends this looks like being more intentional with being the one to send a text or message rather than the one who always receives

Within each of these areas there are things that need to be thrown away in order to gather the new intentions and make them a reality. If you haven’t yet taken time to reflect about this new year, take some time this week and ask yourself what habits, thought patterns, or things need to be thrown away in order for you to gather some healthy, fresh ones. Don’t feel pressure to start big, rather think of something achievable and maintainable and go with that.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.

(Mary Oliver)

It’s easy to lament the lack of sleep during this season and the challenge to wake up each morning with a song rather than a complaint is intense, but so worth the effort. Psalm 59:16 says, “but I will sing of your strength and will joyfully proclaim your faithful love in the morning.” This has been top of mind as each day begins with the opening of the curtains. I’ve created a bright and restful playlist on Spotify called Winter Wonder 2018 if you need something to listen to this season.

Click here to find listen.

I pray this is a time where you are able to throw away those things that have become hindrances in your life so you are able to gather the things you feel rising in your heart to do. Letting go of the old to grasp onto the new can be difficult, but God’s grace is sufficient and His mercies are new every morning so don’t feel disheartened when you stumble a little. As Scarlett O’Hara famously said, “after all, tomorrow is another day!”

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