I love the idea of being so in tune with the seasons that I shape my life accordingly. For example, spring is a time of rebirth, the perfect time for beginning projects and setting new goals.
Winter, in contrast, is a time of stillness and beauty. In my imagination, there is a hush in the world beyond our cities, as quiet woods are blanketed in snow. Nature holds her breath, anticipating longer days and greener leaves. Winter, at its best, can be a sacred pause for weary souls.
During the holiday season, however, we rush madly in our effort to maintain traditions and fulfill our “obligations.” Our focus is on giving and receiving. We must buy the perfect gifts, wrap them, and mail them to our families far away. We attend parties, gatherings, bonfires, concerts, religious services, and intimate dinners. We forget to breathe.
And we do all of this, as fundraisers, while working like crazy to meet year-end goals.
Our busy-ness makes it almost impossible to hear winter’s whisper – this season is not meant to be frantic, but still. It’s a time of reflection, not consumption. It’s a time of completion and letting go.
As a professional coach, I help my clients to enjoy a sacred pause. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, click here for a free strategy session.
Don’t misunderstand, I do exchange gifts and maintain traditions as well. But I’ve been on a quest the last few years to embrace winter as a sacred pause.
When I was fundraiser, it wasn’t easy to take time off in December. (If you’re wanting to hibernate now but are concerned about the pressures of work, keep reading!) Now, for the last several years as a coach, I’ve wanted to take a lot of time in December to rejuvenate, and have felt frustrated by the fast pace that ran counter to the inherent peacefulness of the winter season.
As a self-employed coach, I control my calendar. This year, I promised myself that I’d work part-time in December, and I planned accordingly to make that possible. I want to hibernate and rest. I want to decorate, bake, and make ornaments for friends. I want to anticipate the holidays, while enjoying a peaceful stillness.
I’m looking forward to enjoying the season in a new way. I’ll fill you in later with the results!
Would you like to embrace a sacred pause of your own?
How You Can Enjoy a Sacred Pause
From my perspective, there are three key points (and I encourage you to add your own):
1. Connect with Nature
Nature heals and soothes us. It makes us happy. In fact, doctors in Scotland are prescribing nature to their patients!
For me, being in touch with nature is a shortcut to the divine. I love walking in the winter – even right in my neighborhood – enjoying the chilly air, softer light, and rain clouds. When I can travel to the coast or mountains for a day or longer, my joy increases.
Connecting with nature, to me, also means celebrating the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. At this time, the dark half of the year surrenders to the light. Our ancestors celebrated winter solstice, joyfully welcoming longer days and anticipating the coming of the light. This year, winter solstice occurs on December 21 in the Northern hemisphere.
Does nature help you connect to the great, mysterious realm? What shortcuts to the divine can you enjoy?
Everything creative is play. . . I enjoy photography and writing year-round, but in December I’m happy to step away from the computer. I find myself delighted with a new cookie recipe or making ornaments out of wine corks.
For me, it’s a time to make things with my hands. It’s also a great time to play board games with my husband!
What activities did you enjoy as a kid during the holidays? What would you like to incorporate into your own sacred pause?
3. Minimize Your Sense of Overwhelm
My best friend gave me great advice years ago when I felt overwhelmed with the holidays. She told me, “Just choose one thing you really want to do, and have fun doing it. You don’t have to do anything else.”
A key part of her advice is to have fun doing it. Did you catch that? If it’s something you think you “should” do, or feels like a chore, you’re probably not really enjoying the activity.
A great way to keep yourself in the present moment and have fun with your selected activity is to focus on your senses. For example, if you make peanut butter balls, focus on the feel of the dough in your hands and the smell of the melted chocolate.
If you decorate a tree, notice how the lights twinkle. You can appreciate the sound of chimes as you listen to a bell choir. Mulled apple cider tastes delicious and makes your home smell sooooo good.
Give yourself permission to do one fabulous, wonderful thing, and remember you don’t have to do more. Life will go on if you don’t send holiday cards this year. Letting go is a natural part of the season.
But, let’s be real.
You may like the idea of a sacred pause, but you’re a fundraiser. Year-end activities are intense, doubly so if it’s also the end of your fiscal year. I totally understand, having spent many holiday seasons as a fundraiser, myself.
What can you do?
Meeting Year-End Deadlines (When What You Really Want is to Hibernate)
• For starters, be gentle with yourself, recognizing that your development department may require you to vigorously work in a way that is disharmonious to a sacred pause.
• Take time off, if possible, and leave your laptop at work. Fully disengage and focus on the spirit of the season instead. For me, a sacred pause means a connection to nature and creative pursuits. . . what does it mean for you? Incorporate those aspects into the days off you do have, and let go of extra activities that may overwhelm rather than fulfill you.
• If your co-workers take time off, allow them to fully disengage as well. Respect their time away and don’t call or email unless it’s an emergency.
• If you aren’t able to take time off in December, use some of your vacation days as soon as possible. You’re not an automaton who can keep up this pace forever – you’re a human who requires time off. You’ll be more creative and productive after time away from the office.
• Perhaps there is another time of year when you can create your own sacred pause that works well with your organization.
Tips for Team Leaders
If you’re a manager who wants to create a culture of wellbeing in your nonprofit, be sure to:
• Keep in mind that if it’s the end of your fiscal year, staff need a break to rejuvenate after months of stress and deadlines.
• Remember that some staff are introverts, and need time alone to recharge. Office holiday parties may be fun but aren’t rejuvenating for everyone.
• If you can’t be generous with time off in December, encourage your staff to take time in January.
• Model wellbeing by taking vacations, and don’t work while you’re away. Also, be sure you take breaks to renew your energy throughout your workdays. Your employees will follow your lead.
• Banish any warrior mentality and peer pressure that discourages employees from taking time off. Create a culture that instead honors the needs of your employees to rejuvenate.
• Celebrate your success in meeting annual goals with all your staff. Celebrate BIG!!!
• Whether or not you meet your financial goals, be sure you acknowledge the hard work of your staff. Remember that their overtime this past year was time they couldn’t spend with their families, or pursue their own interests.
My wish for you this season is peace, rejuvenation, and love.
You deserve it!
P.S. Are you craving a time-out from the frenzy of work? As a wellness coach, I can help you overcome your fatigue. Click here for a free strategy session.