Honouring Our Seasons #35
Knowing your needs, limits and having realistic expectations.
You are receiving this letter as you have subscribed to Honouring Your True Self with me Karen Robinson. Thank you for allowing me into a corner of your life.
These Love letters are for people who are worn out from caring too much and need to put some zest back into their lives.
It is my intention, every week, to share through stories (and sometimes poems), tips and hints so you can become more of your True Self and let go of the shoulds, have tos and musts that keep you stuck and start taking some actions towards more freedom, flow and fun.
Dear Lovely You,
October is always a bumpy month for me because I forget.
I forget that my energy dips with the light and I keep trying to push through.
I get frustrated that I can't do as much as I have been doing through the summer and I don't notice at first how my energy has taken a dive.
I don't mind the weather and love to walk in nature through sun and wind and rain.
As it gets darker, climbing the hill behind our house gets harder. Dragging heavy legs along fields wet with mud sometimes doesn't feel like fun. I want to curl up and hibernate but I know my body needs to move and my skin needs as much light as it can get and it gets easier once I get up into the woods.
Eventually as we slide towards winter, I realise what's going on because I can’t win by pushing and striving. My body just won’t have it.
I remember I feel like this every year and at some point, I surrender to it and do less.
It coincides with the anniversary of my son's death. It's not a day I mark particularly and I don't go to his grave unless I have an impulse to do so. There’s no making myself or pushing out of some fantasy belief that I should.
You can't do any more for the dead. It's time to look after the living.
These were the exact words that came into my head on the way home from the hospital after viewing my son’s body and thay are so true.
And I am alive (at least for now ha ha…).
A welcome pause
As a teenager during the last years at school, we had two consecutive winters of severe snow. My brothers and I had never seen anything like it before. We had to dig our way out of the front door.
For weeks and weeks it froze and snowed and froze again. No vehicles, apart from farm vehicles, were seen on the roads, chains around their wheels. Schools were closed and adults didn’t go to work. Living in the middle of the countryside was suddenly a great boon to us and a relief for a few weeks as we slept in, ate and played.
We occupied our days walking the mile and a half to the next village where our friends lived and we sledged. The field we sledged on became a sheet of ice as most of the village’s children gathered there day after day. Most of us had coal bags to slide on, every clump of grass or odd stone being keenly felt but we didn’t care. It was worth it for the thrill of the speed with which we flew down the hill. A few kids had proper sledges but they frightened me. Too fast and more likely to go straight into the hedge at the bottom. I preferred to have a bit more control even then.
We sledged until we were soaked through and exhausted from the climbs back up the hill. We walked back home with legs burning from cold and wet denim jeans. We walked gleefully, talking and smiling and knowing we would do it all again the next day.
But it's not often (barring a pandemic) that it's acceptable these days to slow down, pause or stop when you need to rest. It's seen as a weakness or not normal.
But in fact it's completely normal and absolutely necessary for our continued wellbeing and health.
Honouring Your Energy Through the Seasons
A few years ago, I went back to using a month by month calender. Being very visual I need to see very clearly how much I am trying to shoehorn into my life because I have had a habit of saying yes to too many things and people.
If there's not enough white spaces there, I have a visceral feeling of panic and then I have to look at what I need to prioritise.
What has to been done this week and what can wait?
Do I really need to see this person or these people or can it be postponed?
Can I rearrange anything?
But it’s a lot easier in the first place, to be able to see the calender filling up and then put lines through spaces when I know it is full enough for me.
Prevention is always better than cure.
Which probably explains why I enjoy having plans cancelled. It's like a weight lifts and then there's space. Ahh… I can breathe again.
Know your needs and your limits.
It's not that I don't want to see people, I really do, but if I am honest with myself, I know my needs and I know my limits.
I need solitude to recharge.
I need appointments and meetings spread out and spaces in between.
I need to recharge after being with people.
I need time for nothingness. To let my mind wander. To rest. To watch the birds that come to the garden. Walks in the woods. Reading and listening to podcasts. Learning and creativity.
And swathes of space to breathe…
Handling the Silly Season (Christmas run up)
But it's challenging to slow down when everyone's speeding up to Christmas and I remember there are presents and cards to buy, to write and wrap.
Christmas itself means very little to me. It’s midwinter. A time in limbo. A time for rest. A time when the light is about to turn and the days to get longer. A turning point.
But I know my loved ones will be disappointed and feel unloved if I don't make an effort and I get that. I really do. For some people a card or a gift makes them feel cared for.
I don’t like the societal expectations and pressure.
We're conditioned to expect to keep going at the same pace all year round regardless of how the seasons might impact our energy levels.
We're conditioned to expect to keep going at the same pace all our lives regardless of what’s going on in them.
We're conditioned from school to keep going no matter how we feel. And the school year (at least here in the UK) starts in the autumn just when we all need to start slowing down.
We have seasons in our lives as we age, children turn from angel faced cherubs to curmudgeonly teenagers to adults.
Unexpected events knock us sideways but the expectation is we'll carry on regardless. And if we don't or can't well there must be something wrong with us, when what we need is to recalibrate, reflect and feel and express what we're feeling before we try and put our lives back together.
And women have even more seasons to contend with on a month by month basis as hormones swing and sway and again during midlife. But still we expect and are often expected to carry on working the same hours, supporting the family, keeping house and sometimes looking after older relatives.
But we don’t have to buy into all that. We can choose to tune into our own needs and true nature.
And it can take time to Rediscover what those needs and desires are. It takes practice.
Know Your Seasons and Have Realistic Expectations.
For me, winter runs from October to March. It is a season for doing less, reflecting and seeing less people.
It's the season for lighting the woodburner and hunkering down with a good book or a film.
It's the season for bracing walks and a bit of pruning in the garden.
It's the season to say no more and yes less.
Winter is an opportunity for deep nourishing rest.
An opportunity to reflect.
An opportunity to slow down and listen.
An opportunity to notice what we need to let go of
And what we still value and need to keep.
It's the Season for honouring my energy and having loose plans but not to start those plans yet.
And it’s an opportunity to welcome in new light and new adventures for the Summer.
Because the New Year doesn't start for me until March when my energy
starts to rise.
With all this in mind I have been pondering what I can offer on a sustained basis to all you lovely people here.
My plan is to continue with Encouragement, Tips and Hints to help you Honour Your Energy and Wellbeing through to March through these letters.
And paid members get Coaching Prompts and Insights along with a smattering of Guided Meditations to help to deepen and Embody the Essence of an Empowered Caretaker.
I will be honouring my energy and creating resources as that energy allows.
And I need to know what you want help with.
So join me in the comments and let me know what makes you keep over-caring and over-giving when you’re tired, frustrated or resentful?
HINT: it’s often a pick and mix, to do with feeling guilty if we don’t, fear of hurting others, a habit (you’ve always done it so people expect it), a sense of failure or shame at feeling less able than we used to, fear of being seen as selfish and fear of rejection and judgement.
As we slip into the darker months in the Northern Hemisphere, I want to encourage you to listen to your needs. Pause and check in with your body. Allow your mind to empty a bit.
Park those niggly jobs that need doing but would benefit from more sustained energy.
Do less. Rest more. Cosy up.
Of course, if you are reading this from a warmer climate right now, the opposite might be true!
From My True Self to Yours
Coaching prompt coming next.
To Know Yourself Means to be Honest with Yourself
You need to first know what you’re doing to be able to change it. Awareness is key.
Remember. Remember. And Re-Remember.
Changing old habits of over-caring and over-giving takes time.
Be gentle with yourself and know that this is a safe container for us to share and support each other to find ways to be Empowered and Caring.
To give from Abundance not an empty cup.
To honour our own needs and energy.
You only have so much energy, time and let us be honest, motivation. We are not machines afterall. And even machines need attention and tweaks.
Let's get real and choose how we want to spend that time and energy.
Take some time to reflect and ponder on how many seasons you have through the year.
How are you feeling in this season now?
This week I am trying something different. Using the Substack Chat facility I am inviting you to a private conversation Monday to Wednesday. You will get an email notification on Monday and also a notification on the App if you have it.
See you there…
If you get stuck, let me know. You can always ask for help. That’s what I’m here for. ;o)
From My True Self to Yours