The Winter of Change is that creatively barren time that happens cyclically in a person’s life. It’s when the harvest of your last cycle in now gone and the Spring of the next phase of your life has yet to begin. This is the time most people feel uncomfortable, because they cannot see what’s coming next, and humans seem to be genetically programmed to contract when faced with the unknown.
Being an artist of your own life
Yet, there is a part of everyone’s intelligence that can see beyond the horizon. I call it being a “Change Artist”. It is the part of the human psyche that can sense into possibilities before they become manifest. Pablo Picasso once said “Everyone is born an artist, the trick is to recapture that artist as an adult.” When I once asked a group of kindergarten students to raise their hand if they considered themselves an artist, all hands went up. When I asked that same question of a group of adults instead, what do you think happened?
Only about 25% put their hands up. Somehow the older people get the less they seem to frame themselves in terms of artistry. Perhaps it’s how you define artistry. How I like to frame artistry is that it is not about doing something such as drawing, playing music, or writing, it’s about who you are being. For example, you can play music very un-artistically, whereas you could plan your busy day very artistically. To be artistic in conducting your life is to sense into the natural creative flow of life and to get in synch with it, using that energetic flow to manifest just the right outcome in just the right way. It’s an intelligence beyond what we typically call IQ. Let’s call it AQ….your Artistic Quotient.
Symptoms that you may be in The Winter of Change
Using your AQ during The Winter of Change can be very beneficial because it’s usually the time in your life when your outward creative abilities are lying fallow and replenishing themselves. When you feel less outwardly creative, it’s time to tap into a more inward creativity. Few people in our goal oriented culture effectively model this inward creativity and so it’s not as well practiced. The tips below may help you tap into exactly what you need to move forward. Symptoms that you are in a replenishing phase may be:
• Feeling low energy and unmotivated
• Confusion and having little clarity about what’s next
• Grieving the old identity that has fallen away
What’s going on is that the old identity that was tied up with your previous life is breaking down and dying. It’s like what happens in your garden when the cold rain and snow set in. The remains of the last harvest start to disintegrate and the soil begins to compost to get ready for Spring. Humans have an aversion to death and dying, so it’s natural to feel uncomfortable during this phase. But ironically the more you resist it the longer it seems to take. Also, if you try to skip this step, you may find you miss out on the next harvest of your life, or at least miss out on having the best possible harvest. Here are some tips to make it through the Winter with more ease and grace allowing you to get to Spring faster while also replenishing yourself more fully for what’s next:
1. Focus on the breaking down process: If you find yourself wanting to escape the discomfort of the breaking down process, try giving yourself just 10 minutes of being with it. Often people avoid going into those sensations because they are afraid they may end up being consumed by the feelings of loss. However, feelings are like clouds. They come and they go. The focus of your attention on them ironically causes them to evaporate. Just sit quietly in a private place and breathe into the areas of discomfort and see what happens. You may be surprised about how much relief this can bring. If you don’t allow yourself to grieve the old and let go, then you cannot make way for what is next.
2. Time out: People are far more validated in our culture when they are in the Spring and Summer of change than during the Autumn or Winter phases, yet you can’t have one without the other. Giving yourself permission to be less active, less productive, to just rest and muse, will actually make the Winter phase easier and quicker. Different types of “time out” activities work for different people. It may be short, regular activities like walks in nature or meditating, or spending more time doing something you love like a hobbies or a sport. Or it could be a longer activity like a vacation or focusing for a few weeks on your gardening or writing. Be mindful however of doing activities that bring rejuvenation rather than just distraction, for example the difference between watching a soul stirring movie, and watching 10 episodes of The Simpsons. 🙂
3. Explore new options: Give your imagination time to explore that is beyond the horizon. Gurdjieff, a Russian thought leader (1866-1949) once suggested that within each person is a committee of voices. Sometimes that committee is in harmony, sometimes not. If you have spent 20 years being a parent some members of your committee may have had to be overruled. For example, if you are recently an “empty nester” chances are those more silent committee members are now voicing their interests. Exploring new options means focusing your attention on areas of your life that may have been ignoring, or welcoming in new inspirations or new committee members who have something valuable to contribute to your next phase of life.
If you would like a process to help you explore new options feel free to check out The Art of Reinventionn. It is a 19-page white paper that allows you to explore the next phase of your life from various angles. It only takes about an hour to complete and can be surprisingly rejuvenating, insightful and can help you more quickly usher in the Spring.
I would love to continue this conversation with you. Feel free to post comments, insights, or questions below.