I am not good at letting myself rest. I never learned the value of stopping, letting down, cutting loose, recovery. Allowing myself to not fill my hours with projects, chores, and self-improvement is something I have been trying to teach myself over the last decade, but it is hard to change ingrained learning and temperament.

I have been fortunate to have partners who recognize the value of rest, and who have encouraged me—usually on the point of burnout—to slow down and just. do. nothing. It is still hard for me, but I try to learn from them.

I am grateful to have had 11 blessed days off work during these darkest weeks of winter, and for these 11 days I’ve not been doing much other than giving myself permission to truly, deeply rest, to recuperate from the challenges of the past year and gather my strength for the next. My husband and I had a quiet holiday—just the two of us—where we ate delicious food and exchanged beautiful gifts. There has been a lot of cuddling, and just being close and loving, filling up the reservoir. The furthest we’ve ventured is to walk the fields around our house, mud-slipping through cornfields and scaring up pheasants. These dark days of winter have an underwater feel. Everything is damp and never fully bright. We creep through the mists, holding hands, recovering.

Dec. 21: Happy Solstice

It is the day of the darkest night, and my most important holiday of the year. Flowers, with all their vibrancy and vigor, just don’t seem appropriate for a day dedicated to drawing in and embracing the shadow side of winter as we anticipate the return of the sun.

I took this photo out the window of my car as I was stopped at one of the innumerable roadworks I encounter in my daily commute. It was just past four in the afternoon, and today the day length will be one second shorter than yesterday at seven hours and 54 minutes. But tomorrow, we gain four seconds of new light and begin to climb out of the dark. Happy Solstice, wherever you are.

Edinburgh Solstice

Today will be just six hours and 57 minutes long, and what little sunlight there is on this darkest day of the year will soon be obscured by the heavy rain moving in from the west. Sunlight has been in short supply lately, but yesterday my brother, who is visiting from the U.S., and I walked up Calton Hill and were surprised by a few breaks in the clouds. This city, which can look so bleak in the grey, lit up for a few seconds in the low rays.

Tonight's Solstice celebration will be lighting lots of candles to beat back the dark, cooking dinner with friends and family, and then treking out for a pint and a fireside pub quiz. I have really enjoyed the coziness and hibernation of the recent dark days this winter, but I am always happy to welcome the returning light. I hope that whatever your Solstice plans are they bring you hope and joy.