A Woman in all Seasons

Just when I thought the spring was coming, with swathes of snowdrops dancing in the breeze, and daffodils optimistically poking their green shoots skyward, last week’s Beast from the East has floored me. It was even too cold for the kids to want to go sledging and the mist turned everything into a ghost world. We’re into March already; where is the sun?


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I don’t like the winter; my energy is low and I struggle without the light. January and February were dormant months for me, and now we’ve reached March I’m still tired, going early to bed and not wanting to head out after dark. My energy is inward and my to-do list is as short as I can possibly justify; I just can’t face complicating my life at this time of year.

This wasn’t always the case. I used to busy myself all year round; however, in the last 18 months, I’ve been consciously tuning into the seasons and cycles of my life.

I moved from the South East to a Welsh village 20 years ago and I was cold for the first two years. Never before had I been so affected by nature and the seasons; there is simply no escaping them here. I have a river that floods at the bottom of the garden and work with colleagues who get snowed in up in the hills for days at a time. When the sun comes everyone dives out into it, so rare an occasion is it, but we are a hardy lot and so walk and bike and cycle until the absolute limit of dark, cold, wetness forces us inside.

And yet I have fought the seasons, wanted to carry on going no matter what. My to-do lists haven’t varied in length in spite of having children and working in different roles and jobs. I have been busy for so many years it has taken me these last 2 years to learn how to be still, how to sit with a good book even when there is housework to be done, how to go to bed early, even though it is the same time as the children. I have given myself permission to rest more in the winter.

I think this move towards tuning in with nature’s seasons has been connected to a change in my inner seasons. I’m definitely peri-menopausal and find myself standing in classrooms in short sleeves with bemused students in coats shivering as I suggest opening the windows. My energy is lower, and I’ve had times when I have felt like I have shed who I used to be with no idea of knowing who I am now.

I’m still not sure. But what I do know is that I am paying attention to my inner and outer seasons. I am learning about the seasons of my weakening menstrual cycle and using these fluctuations in focus and energy to guide my life, and I’m passionate about sharing what I know with the young women I work with. There is so much more wisdom about menstrual awareness for today’s young women whilst my generation of women fumble our way through the menopause, groping for information and support.

We are not just living in nature; we are nature, we are mammals like the rabbits, and dogs and lambs we share our world with. Electricity and all its distractions can lead us into a 24/7 world of light and sound, and yet what’s lost as we burn the midnight oil? I’ve found myself coaching increasing numbers of people with suffering with stress and anxiety. Something isn’t working for us.

So, this is my exploration of the way the cycles and seasons affect me and what I can learn from them. This is a place for you to share your stories about how the seasons and nature affect you. I look forward to our walking together through the year.

So now it’s time for my morning yoga before getting the kids up. Roll on longer days and shorter nights; I’m ready for some light.

 
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Julie Leoni

Julie Leoni is an academic, teacher, writer, coach, yoga teacher and mum. She somehow juggles all the different parts of the time so that her work fits around her family life. She moved from Kent to the hills nearly 20 years ago and can still remember the first two years when she thought she would never feel warm again. Nowadays, when she goes back down south to visit friends, she heaves a sigh of relief as she sees the Shropshire hills on her return after the chaos of the M25.