© Hunter Page Photography

Finding Joy In Winter’s Stillness

Joseph Shumway
February 2, 2023

This winter we have been working to be more aligned with the cycles of the natural seasons. This is the first winter where we are both 100% self-employed, and that has brought several new dynamics into our lives (both beautiful and challenging). We recently wrote this saying on our chalk-wall in the ice cream shop as a way to remind ourselves (and share with others) how we’re striving to see this cold and dark time of year:

“Winter dreams bloom in spring.”

Winter is often a time people lament, dread, curse, and seek to escape. It’s certainly understandable. We have certainly had our fair share of “winter woes” over the years, but this year, we have tried to find a deeper and more beautiful relationship with this season we call “winter.”

Our ancient ancestors (and probably most indigenous peoples around the globe) held a much richer perspective when it came to the natural world. They understood the importance of the changing seasons, the shifting temperatures, weather patterns, etc. They understood their interconnectedness and how they all played a role in the shared health of the overall planet. They also learned to hold a kind of relationship with those elements and honored their gifts and place in the cycles of the earth.

For many ancient peoples, winter was respected and honored as a time to slow down, rest, dream, and nourish both body and soul. In the natural world, the trees and most plants rest and go dormant, and many animal species hibernate or shift into a restful state. But the rest is not a form of being lazy. On the contrary, the bodies of sleeping plants and animals are bustling with deep, internal movement. Trees, shrubs, and other plants are migrating nutrients into the roots systems, building the needed energy to re-emerge their visible beauty come spring, and they are even sharing their stored abundance with the microorganisms who share homes in their soil beds.

Because we are also a part of the natural world (as opposed to being “apart” from it), our bodies and souls have their own natural inclination to rest and slow down. Sadly, our modern world and Western culture do not provide us the with the expectation to honor that natural instinct. Instead, most of us continue running just as fast as always—maybe looking to a Spring Break or summer vacation as the time to finally take a break! We have certainly lived that way for much of our lives, so no judgement or shame to anyone!

Yet, perhaps our cultural distain and dread of winter is a result of the fact that we have not found the joy of allowing ourselves to truly REST, SLOW DOWN, and NOURISH our bodies and souls for the upcoming summer season (just like so many other non-human beings do!). So, this winter, we decided to try allowing ourselves to really slow down and become more in-tune with the spirit of the winter season and listen to our bodies’ natural instincts. Here are a few things we have learned:

Nourishing Body & Soul

As mentioned previously, most plants and animals use the winter time to build energy to not only sustain themselves for the season when food and sunlight energy will be less available, but to also prepare to become fully alive when the spring season shifts into motion. For plants, their winter attention is mostly in the root systems, building inward growth, rather than devoting the energy to outward growth.

For us humans, winter can be a great time to bring our attention inward—building emotional, mental, and spiritual strength. It’s a profound time and opportunity to fill our minds with new information (reading books, online courses, group discussions, etc.), practice new skills, learn a new language, create things with our hands, and do nourishing soul work to confront and heal wounded parts of our selves.

Then, on a body level, winter has also been much more enjoyable for us this year because of the nourishing foods we have been able to store from our farm this past season. We have been learning to appreciate and rely more heavily on the nutrient-dense foods that have either been canned, frozen, or that naturally keep for the winter months (like squashes and potatoes). It has been a shift, for sure, to try and meal plan more with what we have stored rather than just rely on other produce at the grocery store that was shipped from far away places.

Dreaming and Planning

Part of resting may not mean sleeping, but rather, devoting our energy to dreaming and listening to what wants to manifest through us in the coming spring and summer seasons.

For us, dreaming, planning and brainstorming have been welcome practices during the winter so far! Coming up with ideas and then really giving space to listen more deeply and ask better questions has been enriching and allowing us to, we feel, create more thoughtful plans that we will be able to execute much more effectively and efficiently!

One of the biggest new plans we have been working on is expanding the gardens here at the farm and seeking to incorporate more biodiversity with many new species of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers! We even just received all of our seeds since some of them will need to be planted in-doors soon in order to be ready for transplanting in the later spring!

Being better winter dreamers and planners has also reminded us that despite the slow pace that winter imbues, time actually goes fast, and that before we know it, spring will be here and we’ll need to be ready to awake and get busy!

Learning to Confront the Uncomfortable

In November we welcomed three new baby alpacas to our farm. This has naturally added to the list of daily chores and periodic other outdoor tasks. So, we are finding the need to be working outside in the cold more than we have been accustomed to in winters past.

While it can certainly be uncomfortable to have to be out in the cold, there is a beauty in being able to learn to embrace discomfort. It helps us build resiliency and learn to confront other difficult and uncomfortable situations with strength and clarity. We’re learning to see the beauty, place, and purpose for the cold, so taking time to be in it more seems to be good medicine.

In Summary

So, as the winter months continue, we invite you to join us in finding ways to allow your minds and bodies to slow down, rest, dream, and nourish your inner self! It’s certainly natural (and okay) to still get anxious for spring and warmer weather, but learning to appreciate the unique beauties of winter has been a healing practice this year.

Here are a couple of questions we would love to offer as you consider your own practices and relationship to winter:

  1. What is seeking expression through you this next spring and summer season that you can now begin nurturing in its ideation state?
  2. What parts of our soul could use some love and attention? What wounded parts of the self would benefit from a quieted mind so they can speak their truth and find healing and renewed vision?

May your winter be nourishing, warm, cozy, restful, and inspiring!

Landscape Photography

The landscape photography used in this post is by our good friend, Hunter Page Photography. We love his photography and the way he captures the beauty and sacredness of our incredible land. Thank you, Hunter, for letting us use your beautiful work in our post! Go check him out! He does incredible photography tours of the Capitol Reef area and southern Utah!

Photo of souther Utah's red rock mountains covered in beautiful snow.
“Core Connection” - © Hunter Page Photography
Photo of souther Utah's red rock mountains covered in beautiful snow.
"Undulating" - © Hunter Page Photography

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Finding Joy In Winter’s Stillness
February 2, 2023
This winter we have been working to be more aligned with the cycles of the natural seasons. Here are a few things we have learned.

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