Solstice

There is a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

Today is the Solstice, the shortest day, and this month’s Happiness Project theme is Light. It is not a coincidence! Embracing the Seasons is about accepting the cycles of the year, embracing the passing of time. So on so I thought I would give a little update on how I’ve been attempting to bring more light into my life in the darkest month of the year.

The first is… I’ve been lifting my face to the light. This doesn’t always mean outside. In the office I work in, there is a stairway with a landing and a tall window that looks out on to a main road and some other buildings. One a particularly sunny day, I stood by the window and watched the winter sun burning, the light catching on the cranes of Cambridge’s building boom, and in the windows of the white painted house that looks like a wedding cake. I maybe stopped for two minutes, but it was restorative.

Secondly, it’s been amazing how something as simple as some cheap fairy lights have made me feel so happy. This year’s Christmas tree was pimped with three new strings of lights from Tiger (amazing shop), proper classic multicoloured fairy lights, no faffing around with clear white bulbs, no thank you. The tree is wider than it is tall, and the furniture had to be rearranged, but the pleasure I’ve taken in it sparkling in the bay window has been a cosy and contented feeling. I’m not about to go all hygge, but it did make me wonder about embracing fairy lights more. There is a colour changing bulb, too, which I enjoy setting to ‘fade’ of an evening. Meanwhile, the decorative lights I’ve seen on houses and the lights on the high street have contributed to some excited feelings about Christmas, which is not my most wonderful time of the year.

Thirdly, I decided to approach ‘light’ metaphorically, in the sense of ‘lighten up’. I’ve been trying to treat myself very very kindly, and also to allow myself some light entertainment. This year I have watched all of Strictly Come Dancing, and since I claim not to watch tv, that is an achievement, and I enjoyed the finale greatly. On the weekend when it snowed, I also watched ‘Bad Moms’, which I thought was pretty funny as a Bad Mum myself. I read ‘The Hating Game’, which had a whiff of retro about it, and a very sexy plot. I had my highlights done, eliminating a good inch and a half of roots. And finally, as one of our Christmas traditions, there was a trip to see The Last Jedi with the oldest Mini. Nil spoilerandum, as the Latin might say, I won’t go into the plot, but all I am saying is, I could feel the light in the darkness when watching that film. Or alternatively I could have been feeling the burger, chips and ice cream I ate, like a big kid.

A friend posted a beautiful picture on Instagram of winter light, with the quote above. It’s been following me ever since. I think I’ve already mentioned that I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown recently, and if you don’t know her, please watch her TED talks, she’s amazing. But that quotation plus a conversation with another mum friend, about the lump in throat feeling of watching the school carol concert, made me think more deeply about my own feelings about Christmas, and about how I feel about the darkness in the winter. Because my instinct is to sort of put my head down and push on through to January. Paper over the cracks, and pretend I’m not bothered. But it doesn’t make me feel better, it makes me feel worse. So for me, thinking about light has actually been a quest for quiet moments of joy, in Winter, in the darkness. I’m learning to recognise those tiny moments, to find them for myself. I’m learning that, actually, if I allow myself to be vulnerable, to be flawed, and acknowledge the need to look after myself, to stop and soak in the sparkle or the stars, or admire the full moon in a cool blue sky, to turn off my phone and watch a film, run a bath and read a book, that’s when I find the darkness doesn’t bother me so much. It’s not about papering over the cracks. It’s about not being scared of admitting that the crack was there in the first place.

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