Celebrating the return of the light

Yesterday was one of my favourite days of the year -- winter solstice. Though winter in my idyllic village on Vancouver Island is nowhere near as harsh as in the rest of Canada, I still struggle with the darkness this season brings.

I get that the planet and my body are telling me to slow down, recharge and reflect on what to do next. And I love cuddling up with a good book and hot chocolate as much as the next person. But the cold dark days also make my world feel much much smaller. And way more stressful.

I don't get outside nearly as much as the rest of the year – so feel cut off from the sun and my neighbours - human, furry, feathered and scaled. As an introvert, Christmas brings an impending sense of doom, with ridiculous pressures to eat, drink, shop and be merry whether you want to or not damn it. The daylight cues make me want to wrap up work by 3, go to bed at 6. And the transition from end of year to new year reminds me of all that I failed to do this year, and my unfinished preparation for the year ahead. Dark stuff, right?

Then, a few years ago, I found a way to turn things around.

To kick all this doom and gloom out of my life and bring in more light, I started a new tradition to celebrate winter solstice. Though each year has been different, I've established a few constants. Reflection. Writing. Fire.

On the darkest day of the year, I write down all my regrets from the past twelve months and set them ablaze. Then, in the warmth of the flames, I give myself permission to open my heart up to see what deep desire pops up. And I use that vulnerable tiny dream to set one – only one -–intention for the new year. A promise to myself, forged in the flames of my failures, so to speak.

Every year, without fail, this little ritual leaves me feeling refreshed, relieved and hopeful about the future – in control of my path, as opposed to wandering, lost in the darkness.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, may the end of this year and the return of the light bring you peace, love and joy for all the days to come.