Surrendering to the Darkness

The Dark
We in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, NorthEast and parts of Europe experience a dramatic darkening of the days each winter, leaving what seems like no time at all for light in the sky. And when the sun *is* shining, it’s likely covered up by low-level grey clouds and heavy precipitation. Those of you in California are like, “Huh?”

I was once that California girl, barely noticing the seasons change. I’ve been in Portland, Oregon nine years this January and for the life of me, I‘m STILL surprised by how my mind/body/spirit respond to the darkening of the days during this season.

The Irony
We are only days from Winter Solstice and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been feeling the desire to nest, stay inside, get in my jammies by 4:30 and sleep longer than ever. I’ve been feeling slightly withdrawn, a lot more still, somewhat reflective and mostly, a slowing in my own rhythm and pace.

And yet my calendar, regular days of work, busy schedule, and holiday plans were reflecting just the opposite! I was doing even more, even faster given the “holidays are upon us”.

Being the rebel that I am, (or, perhaps, just desperate to slow the pace a bit), I bucked my own calendar system and cancelled a few things all the while asking myself, “What’s wrong with me? Why is it that all I want to do is crawl inside to read, nap, or even just watch my cats sleep?” Weird, I thought.

The Flash Insight
And then, like a frickin’ bolt of lightning, I remembered (AGAIN) what time of year it is. In that moment, I could feel myself being called to surrender to the darkness. And the calling was coming from something much bigger and more powerful than my iCal (sorry Apple).

The Surrender
Nature designed the seasons for a reason (disregard the fact that that rhymes). The earth needs to get dark and slow down in order to replenish and rejuvenate itself. Being of the earth, why would we humans be any different? We are not. It’s in our nature to slow our pace and our bodies, hibernate with our families and go inward for winter, despite the irony that the darkest days of the year are also the busiest days of the year.

After my “Oh, yeah, it’s the time of year again” recall, I felt my entire self relax and give way to what wants to be. The awareness alone settled me. Then came the remembering and knowing that I don’t have to force anything into existence but rather ride the waves with grace (or grit, as the day may be). This is one of the ways I nurture myself and am able to sustain my love and service to others (and truth be told, my sanity) during this deeply inward yet very busy time of year.

The Hope
I shared this insight with my BFF and she said with a quick gasp, “Me, too! That’s right! I forgot. That’s what’s going on with me, too. I just thought I’d had a busy week. Or that it was me. But I forgot about the darkness!” Yep. Me, too.

And so I choose to share this itsy-bitsy insight in the hope that it may be a reminder for you as well. Or, that it simply give you space to “be” a bit different this year, even inside all the flurry.

Trust yourself. Nothing is wrong with you if you are tired/exhausted/less social (fill in the blank). Rest when you can, listen to your body and do only what feels right.

At the very least, I invite you to surrender to the darkness. You never know what you’ll find.

With love,


  1. Posted December 15, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Perfect timing Regina! Just a few more days to hold out…and then each day gets longer and longer and brighter and brighter. Recognizing the cycle is comfort food (no calories) for the soul!

    Loved your writing here!!!

  2. Jillian
    Posted December 16, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Regina, I read this blog on a Wednesday morning at 10:30 AM. While laying in my bed, lights off and snuggled under the covers. Restoring from a few hectic days. Was feeling flashes of guilt until this gentle reminder. Thank you!!

  3. nahbois
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    You are so wise. I think there was a study recently that said people who were born around the winter time actually have a more difficult time dealing with seasonal depression than those born in the summer. Isn’t it so cosmic how our brains can be affected that way? How intimately we are tied to the earth.

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