Champagne toasts, red envelopes and fireworks celebrating the appearance of a new year are like the “bridge” in a song. They alert us that another theme/melody/movement/directional change immediately follows. The same visual triggers also prompt movement in other areas of life. People building new careers or making bold professional moves are not disregarding or disengaging from reality when they hear the tinkle of glasses and the midnight gong. The “sudden” far-away look in their eyes is not to be mistaken for some unclassified madness. It is the early-stirring “Snowdrops” of intention and direction. The earliest manifestations of the end of a career/ job winter might be unusual inner calm; a mysterious confidence that defies the obviously icy outer conditions.
Confidence developed during the winter is churning out energy for the mind’s muscle in response to the brightening light of renewed purpose and hope. One day soon, the air will have that distinctive, sparkling smell of spring and the iron cold of winter will loosen its hold. The Winter Crone’s cloak will turn into Brighid’s mantle. In this very moment there is work to be done in rhythm with the steadily increasing pace of development below the ground. It is now time to start the first seeds of the new reality indoors.
The seed of taking on a new profession in the earliest stages of development needs protection the most. It should be started indoors close to the heart and others who can guide the growth and development. Newly taken professional direction is a fragile plant because it still needs to develop the strong roots of experience and the sturdy stem of practitioners’ community that will keep it standing against the blustering suspicions of experts, friends and relations.
This is the time of beginnings: the season to welcome a new year and a new professional–a cultivar unproven with bloom never before seen. It is not a wish; not a threat, but a promise.
The solstice of winter approaches and it is no time to lie inert–not in the career and not in life.
The earth may seem to be merely rolling over in her sleep, but appearances can deceive. Actually, this is the midpoint of life’s Big Changes. This is the place where a chain of discrete but related, significant actions happen that result in the cumulative effect others will see as a “total change”. All this work goes unseen by the sun. This is the time of putting on the finishing touches of the new form of career existence.
Put ear close to the soundless speech of midwinter, the time of active dreaming. This could be called the period of REM sleep in a career change. This is when practicing and integrating acquired new knowledge happens; when we actualize and activate the dream in practical ways with purpose and motivation combined with intention. This is the stage when we make the dream real; when we take and compete the tests which prove the strength of our new competence and the readiness to go into the work using all the newly acquired skills.
In Autumn, decisions to change are made after assessing spring and summer’s produce. By the fires of memory in early winter, we indulge deep thought, consideration and meditation on the meaning of what we gained from examination of seasons gone by. All this goes on while healing and repairing from earlier hurts, coming to the acceptance of the “new reality” stage in the mourning process and the re-warming of purpose grown cold. Then, right in the middle of imagining a new future harvest, while rifling through the seed catalogs of the new desired result, while envisioning that result, drawing the images and wisely planning the needed steps to gain that result, we look up and see that the sun is returning!
The time of silence is coming to an end. Every detail of the plans for bringing that new career into existence must finalized. All the “seed beds” of progressive, positive career movement must be drawn in their places and ready to be laid. All the seeds must be chosen and ready to be planted–Allies to be acquired must be located. Their names, faces, and positions must be assembled. Direction must be be clear. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Spring is not far away. More and deeper snow is ahead, but in mid-winter the vision of the new career spring must be in place and strong.
It is too easy to dismiss this very long, very dark, very cold (In the northern part of the globe at least) season when everything skids to a rude end and collapses into lifelessness. Has death won? Look again. Winter is really where things begin. Beneath her icy quilt the silent land is dreaming of spring. Bulbs need winter to gain strength as they wait for the first thaw. I remember bringing home a packet of heather seed years ago that failed to grow. Though I passed the seed for specific times in and out of the refrigerator according to the directions, none of my doings could never mimic a Scottish winter. It has always impressed me how the rose of the highlands links arms with winter in a circle dance of thaw-harden-thaw that actually promotes growth.
We humans also retreat into some place of warmth in our hearts and minds during the earth’s winter and in the winters of jobs, careers and lifetimes in a massive, pensive moment of resting, rethinking, dreaming and planning. Naturally a slow time, winter is a magic season perfectly suited for healing, recovery and regaining from loss; where the reweaving of broken dreams and ideas for entirely new forms happens. Days are mercifully short and nights languidly extensive enough to work things out privately, away from summer’s blaring noise and frenzied activity. We do, because of our natural fear of darkness, periodically distract ourselves with gaudy, artificial glitter at this time. However, this is winter’s real work: making a quiet space for memory, analysis, evaluation and reformation. It is the time we stockpile deep wells of creative energy to fuel the ardor of the coming spring .
Autumn is my favorite time of year. Autumn is an artful stripper and I love the way she strides boldly on to the seasonal stage with a glamorous dance. She titillates the senses with golden maple, then a tingling breeze. At last, she walks off with a flourish of crimson oak.
Of all the seasons of the year, autumn is the one whose core work is transition and most of it involves harvesting. Harvesting is losing, choosing, and stripping. It’s the same way with these autumn days of my life: bold and honest; brutal and beautiful all at the same time. Consider that once upon a time I used to prance down the street in my hip-hugger bell bottom jeans, turning all the heads, thinking to myself in Ebonics, “I cool! I cool, y’all”. I am harvesting the results of the spring and summertime of my life these days. In my tailored power suit, I stop by the pharmacy and search the shelves with my short-sighted eyes for a product called, “icool”. I am losing the favor of a society that prefers youth and beauty. I am choosing to ignore that preference and to strip my life of the idea that anything in Forever 21 will fit.
I am harvesting–taking in and examining–all the fruit of the ideas that grew in my thought garden to see what I will preserve, take cuttings or seed from and what I will compost. The idea that I have intrinsic worth apart from and exclusive of my net worth gets preserved by the gallon. The idea of tagging myself “damaged goods” because I do not meet all the “must have’s” on a job description gets bagged for the curb. Autumn is such an awesome season so full of creative chaos that it has to be the earth’s studio where she makes the beauty of the rest of the year.