What Grows in the Winter?
The holidays are not just upon us, they are HERE. It does not surprise me that every person I’ve talked to in the past week is not just busy, they are overwhelmed. If you are not at this tipping point, I’m proud of you! In fact, if you are not at the point of being overwhelmed, I want you to close your eyes and thank yourself for not overbooking, overscheduling, or overcommitting! You are my hero.
In the midst of the holiday and end of the year frenzy, we are also faced with the longest night of the year. I recently learned that in some faiths, the night is considered the beginning of the day. It suddenly became clear why celebrations in some communities began at sunset. I have to say I am a quite embarrassed that I was this old before truly understanding the tradition!
I really bit into this concept of the night beginning the day and have been chewing on it. Thinking about how important sleep is for our brains, this idea supports the firm foundation of a good night’s sleep BEFORE we start all the hard tasks that lay before us. My dad used to say that June 21st, the longest day of the year, was the most depressing day for him. I always had trouble understanding his perspective, asking him, “But we get SO much daylight today, how can you be depressed?” He explained to me, “It only goes down from here; the days are going to get shorter and shorter and shorter.”
To that end, we face the longest period of darkness of the year this week. While it has been raining, snowing, and dark – even during the day in Chicago – we have the hope of feeling just a few more seconds of light each day. This change in seasons is happening whether we are ready or not. And though these nights seem long, I realized that this also means that this week we get the longest period of preparation to start our daily journeys ahead of us.
What I’ve realized is that the change from light to darkness is inevitable, but growth in this time is optional. Maybe you will take some of these long days to sleep a little longer and grow the connections in our brain. Maybe you will choose to get up a little earlier and take a moment to reflect on your firm foundation of sleep and what you need to accomplish during the light. For me, I’m going to shift my perspective a bit and think about the longest night as the most exciting time, not for staying up late or soaking in the hours of summer that I miss so much, but for the opportunity to set a firm foundation for the growth that is yet to come.
Happy Holidays NAON Colleagues!
Amber S. Kujath, PhD, RN, ONC