Does weather like this ever just make you want to hide? Just hole up, start a fire in the fireplace, grab a warm cup of grog, snuggle under the blankets, and delve into a good book. That’s what this weather brings out in me. It’s the way I wish I could spend my 24/7. Alas, life… But I do find myself longing for these bits of hibernation: surrounding myself with warmth, slowing down, and shutting the world out for the most part. It’s blissfully centering. I love the way this pandemic has made me go back to the roots of rest and self-cultivation. The ability to just spend the weekend at sloth-like speeds.

This hibernation has followed me in other areas too. Much of the pandemic has made me feel isolated and craving interaction and physical presence. It’s been a struggle. But I’ve had much time to think about the reasoning behind the need for attention and connection. And so through some thoughtful exploration I’ve realized that I need to narrow my interactions and hone in on those people/relationship that bring me joy, genuinely support me, and amplify my life. As someone with a love/hate relationship with social anxiety (and the anticipation of things) there has been a great release in recognizing that I had been misguiding much of my energy over the last several years. And so I’ve “hibernated” by concentrating on myself: my needs, my dreams, my magic, my direction. I realize some will see this as a “pulling back,” and I can imagine that some might be hurt by it (definitely in no way my intention). I have learned (slowly and steadily) that I need to put myself first, and only but cultivating that relationship can I best show up in my outward relationships. Not easy to do or embrace as a giver!

This means I’ve also taken steps away from certain social media platforms. I’d like to think I’m capable of distancing myself from the “comparison culture” and the “refresh addiction” but I found that I wasn’t. And so instead, I just took away the temptation. And there is a certain loss there as it means I won’t see what other post or communicate with them on those platforms. But if it’s important, I know it will be shared anyway. It has meant cultivating and maintaining my connects in different ways, it’s a learning curve for sure. It has meant not everyone understanding my choices, which I am more and more comfortable with as I age. It has meant each day stepping a little bit more into the evolving me.

Hibernating has also shown me I need more time to read and more time to create (actually, that may be a chicken or the egg happenstance–perhaps reading more and creating more showed me the need for hibernation–I digress). I have read 11 books so far this year (number 12 and 13 have been started in tandem). I finished my OWU t-shirt quilt (finally) and have several baby gifts in the making. It feels good to remember to make time for those things (and people) that feed my soul. Somehow, along the way, I got away from that. But day by day (cue Godspell, or Meet the Parents) and inch by inch, I’m getting back there. Hibernating, I think, is a. good thing. It lets me breathe, set priorities, and just be me.

Artwork by Morgan Harper Nichols