What lights you up in deep winter?

Candle in the spiral

What lights me up in winter is quiet.
I become more than a bit anti-social.
I am hibernating.

Oh, I talk to my family.
I do all the things I am supposed to do.
I go teach. (Not in my jammies)
I prepare what is ahead of me.

I work on our holiday card, which every year gets strung out later and later until
it is nearly a Valentine’s Card. But I figure, why clamor to be part of the Christmas
chaos? My people receive our card when the table is uncluttered and we can nearly have a visit.

But I don’t make dates or do stuff that requires getting out of my studio. In deep winter, I cut out everything else.

Which means, I get a little lonely. It is almost like fasting. The ache that comes from not buzzing around town, listening, talking and listening, talking and listening, is supplanted by a sublime quiet within me.

For much of my life I have lived in response to what I thought other people wanted or needed of me. I like to be part of groups, I like to be included in happenings, and I love being a friend. I like making stuff happen. Today, what I do, I do with a whole heart, no longer out of a nagging need to be part of what is going on outside me. More and more, my relationships and work begin with a very elemental, original spark that is nurtured over time. I carry out what feels real and supportable.
This takes slow time and quiet to discern.

And all of it still has to work around my domestic life. And writing.
Writing means I am not doing a bunch of other stuff.
I am coming to realize that my writing is important, perhaps only to me, but to a few others for whom I can offer a beacon of light on this next hill over.

I write and make art, teach classes and produce events because I am responding to the world I am in. Terry Tempest Williams, one of my soul mentors who writes passionately and assiduously about the environment, women’s lives, and social change, often featured in Orion Magazine, writes this:

“Writing becomes an act of compassion toward life, the life we so often refuse to see because if we look too closely or feel too deeply, there may be no end to our suffering. But words empower us, move us beyond our suffering, and set us free. This is the sorcery of literature. We are healed by our stories.”

Last night at my Powder Keg Ramsdell Session writing workshop, I had eight women at the table. 8 women enchanted by the sorcery of literature. 8 women willing to step in to the unknown of a blank page. They are brave. They drink lots of hot tea. They listen with open hearts. I am so grateful to the library for hosting us and that I don’t have to go that far out of my studio to make it happen.

Julie Jordan Scott posted this today. Read it aloud. Then carry on with this post. Perfect, huh?

Julie Jordan Scott posted this today. Read it aloud. Then carry on with this post. Perfect, huh?

This week cannot pass without a note of gratitude for my writing mentor and beloved friend Janice Lawry. She and I met in January 2007 when I joined her writing group that met once a month in her home over a period of six months. Jan placed a key in my hand over that period of time; a key to my voice that I never knew existed. Joining her class was one of the first moves out of my mothering fog and it changed my life. Jan’s grace, brilliance and friendship continue to light up my life. I am deeply touched by her.

Happy Birthday dear Jan!

At the Heart of Me



What about you?
What lights you up in winter?
I am strapping on my snowshoes today to take a look at the ice on the lake.
All this cold is good for a few things that I love.
Ice skating being one of them.

Blessings on your day,


Here are some links to good wintry support for your cave time:

Julie Jordan Scott’s writing prompts
Katherine Miller’s cocoa elixir
Brenna Layne’s Best Day
Janet Elsbach’ viennese sponge omelette
Mary Campbell’s weekly call
Deb Kern’s ginger tea



Recommended Posts
Showing 2 comments
  • Brenna

    Your blog is simply wonderful, and this post no exception. I think that when our lives mirror the natural rhythms of the year, we’re living in the way we’re intended to live–hibernating in winter included. 🙂 This is a lovely reminder, and it’s inspiring to read about how you’ve moved toward placing your work and yourself at the center of your day. Love, Brenna

  • Kathy

    Suzi, I am learning to enjoy my life so much these days. Always before seemed to need to reach out to get something in return. Lately it’s been enough simply to BE and I am loving the quiet hibernating dance of it! And yet there’s always going forth in the world, too, to work, out with friends, into the snow. Enjoyed reading your blog so much this morning and picturing you in your morning jammies with your journal.