The winter months can be a rough time for me. I’m a sunny-sunshiny kind of gal who needs bright days to keep her motivated and her heart happy. The winter months, with their cold temperatures, along with gloomy and shorter days, can be difficult for even the most happy-hearted of us.
Do you find yourself dragging through the winter months? If you get snow, I’m sure it’s beautiful at first, but as winter drags on, the snow turns gray and muddy, does your attitude do the same?
We don’t need to fall into this pit of doldrums.
Let me share a few things I’ve explored over this past year of learning to slow down.
God’s creation teaches us so much about how to live our lives. Each season offers interesting life lessons if we are willing to stop and pay attention.
During the winter, the earth sleeps. It rests and prepares for a time of rejuvenation when Spring brings on new growth. With a New Year, we want to make resolutions, work harder, and maybe smarter, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Except, do you end up feeling exhausted and worn down from all the hustle and bustle?
That tiredness left me wondering … why do we feel the need to “plow” through the winter months, extending energy we simply don’t have? If I feel weary, my body is telling me to rest. And by rest, I don’t mean to sit and do nothing.
What I do mean is to slow down, stop striving, and listen to your heart and the spirit inside you that wants to guide you into perfect peace.
How often do we stop to admire the beauty in these dormant, seemingly gloomy months? The beauty is there, but we have to seek it. Let me show you how.
A Year of Retraining My Perspectives
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate winter. Here in Texas, winters can be mild for the most part. I’m grateful for the rain, especially when it’s so dry. However, prolonged days of gray clouds which often hit us between the end of January and early March leave me feeling blue and unmotivated.
Since learning the Art of Slowing Down, I’ve become more aware of how I cheat myself out of experiencing the peace and abundance that I know the Lord has for my daily life.
What is the Art of Slowing Down, you may ask?
Well, it’s stopping the mad rush we often get ourselves into. It’s not necessarily stopping to admire the roses, but rather, slowing down and appreciating the small moments, those little miracles that happen to us each day.
This is more than just writing down a couple of things you’re grateful for, as well.
It’s stopping to bask in the sunlight filtering in through a large window. Letting the warmth sink into your face. Or letting yourself relax for a few moments, with no TV, music, or anything else around to distract you. Just you and your thoughts. Even better if you do this outside on a nice day to sit and close your eyes, and listen to the sounds of God’s world around you. (If you live in a city like me, there will be sirens and other such noises. But when I listen a bit harder, I hear the wind blowing through the trees, or marvel over how the leaves fall like rain, or watch as squirrels scamper through the trees chasing each other. Moments like that bring so much peace and clarity.
Moments like this become special if you’ll allow it.
Try not to rush through each task, only to get on to the next thing on your list. (I’ve always been a big list maker and I still am, but I’ve had to retrain myself to be more realistic about what I truly can do in the hours given to me.) I’ve also cut way down on multitasking. One thing at a time. Do it to completion, and do it as well as possible. Then move on to the next task. This has cut down on the mistakes I make because I’m rushing through trying to get as much done as possible.
You know, we only have so many hours in a day… let’s make sure we fill them with activities that are truly important and meaningful.
Let’s slow down and savor our meals. Instead of throwing together something quick. How about making time to plan at least one homemade dinner a week and making it special for our family?
I’ve learned how to make bread this year. Something is so fulfilling about mixing the dough, cutting little designs in the crust, and then filling your home with the amazing scent of freshly baked bread. Oh, and that first slice covered in melted butter… Glorious!!!
The thing is, in learning the Art of Slowing Down, my life, my attitude, and my joy for what I do has thrived. Some of the benefits I’ve experienced so far are:
We are not meant to live like machines. I look around how how angry people have become over the past few years. Yes, we’ve been hit with a lot, but we are not alone in all this.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26 NIV
There is no need for us to push ourselves to the breaking point. I love this passage in Matthew 11:28-30 from The Message’s perspective:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
In slowing down, we can hold our heads high, take a deep breath, and offer people a genuine smile. one that’s contagious, one that brings light and not more darkness into this world.
Are you in? Would you like to turn your striving around and enjoy life more? We can still get done the things we need to accomplish. But by slowing down, we have time to consider what’s truly important and what’s not. We also have time to check our motivations and why we are so tired and despondent.
Here are three things we can all do starting now to simplify our days and appreciate the moments we’ve been given.
Let’s make the most of 2024. Let’s do what we can to be bright lights in our sphere of the world. We can’t fix everything, but by taking care of ourselves, in turn, we will be able to influence others. I’m tired of the hate and anger I see out there. I can’t stop it, but I can change what I do and how I respond. So can you.
Blessings dear friends.
Until next time,
Blessings and Peace,
J. R. Castle
Author & Artist Jackie Castle