These past few weeks have been a period of hibernation for me. I’ve been laying low, feeling quiet, and the need to just take a bit of a breather. As winter solstice has happened in this time, I’m not surprised at my need to bunker down and cocoon a little. I’ve enjoyed lots of long cuddles with my kids and also my fair share of afternoon naps. I’ve also had a couple of lunches with friends and few extra yoga classes. And my workday has been short, some days, very short. I have had the paintbrush out far more than I have been sitting at my computer.

Once upon a time, I would have had they whip out in noticing this behavior in myself. I would have pushed myself to get my but into gear and stick to my schedule.  But the thing is, that time is done in my life- the time of pushing the river, the time of whipping the very tired horse. It’s a new paradigm for me, one where I listen when my body and emotions tell me to slow down for a while. One where I question the schedule rather than blindly following it, because I need to check that I am on course to a destination that I actually like, as opposed to one that looks good on paper.

But this process is a relatively new thing for me, so I’m not sure yet that I trust it. All I really know is that when I push myself through these times to perform, is that I am not terribly effective and I generally wind up a bit of an emotional wreck- at which time I end up taking the break that I should have taken in the first place! Of course, there are times when you absolutely need to push through and perform, but this has not been one of them. This is the time after the great energy of delivering, when the energy needs to restore. This is the ebb, after a great flow.

Being a lover of nature, it has got me thinking how, really, if we take our cues from the seasons, we really cant go wrong. Here is a fact: not a lot of blooming goes on in winter. It is a time of diminished energy, where even the trees strip themselves back to the bare essentials and bunker down for the season. There is no foliage to show.

But all kinds of energy generation is going on under the surface. A spring is waiting to arise and burst forth life on those branches, but not quite yet, there is a little more waiting to do, a few more buds to form, a little more slumber to be had.

And I have decided, as uncharacteristic as it is for me, to honor my ebb as much as my flow, and also to change my definition of it.  I used to see times where I was ‘unproductive’ as unproductive times, but I was so wrong. What is really going on in those moments of pause is a re-alignment with my values and also a reassessment of my current course of action.  And the result of that kind of considered pause can be incredibly productive.

I call it Create and Adjust. I have intense periods where I create things and deliver them in the world, and then I have a period of seeing how that worked and didn’t work for me. Sometimes the process of delivery takes such a toll, that is it necessary for me to consider if it is a trajectory that I want to continue on. So I adjust that course.

The process of ebb takes time, and it is a time that should be honored. It is a season just as valid as all the other seasons. And it is, I believe, a time that should be valued in our creative process, just as much as the season of creative flow.