Friday, December 21, 2012

Return of the Light!

My chapter members have been writing about Solstice, which is wonderful. How can I not follow up on that theme, given that today is actually - finally - Solstice? Solstice brings back the light. It reminds us that the world won’t always be plunged in darkness. As much as Spring, it is a time of renewal. A time to work the creaks out, stretch, and lift our faces to the sun.
Aside from the emotional and spiritual aspects of solstice, in Alaska, getting minutes of daylight back every day is important. Really important.

In other places, though, Solstice is often overlooked. If it’s acknowledged at all, it’s with an almost indifferent shrug. Other dates get the attention. Hanukkah has just ended. The last minute rush for Christmas is in full swing. Plans for New Year’s Eve are being set. It’s easy to forget that Solstice is here, too, which is a shame. So I have a suggestion.

Back when I worked in human services, I had an exercise I did with my groups. Take a piece of paper and brightly colored pens and write everything you liked about yourself all over the paper. It was good for these women to see it, have it there in front of them. One woman, though - it was eighteen years ago, but I remember her so clearly. When it came time for me to show off everyone’s papers, hers was almost blank. In one corner, in little tiny letters, in black ink, she had printed “I’m a good friend.” All I could do at first was look at it. Finally, I looked at her and asked if that was really all she liked about herself. She nodded. My heart broke.

I did the only thing I knew to do; I told her it was the saddest thing I had ever seen. I told her we were going to fix this. The rest of the group chimed in. They loved her. They knew there was more to her than that to like. As much as I wanted to let them go, the point of the exercise was to acknowledge what we liked about ourselves. In this instance, the group didn’t matter.

Instead, I turned her paper over and handed her a hot pink marker. This time, though, she wrote:


It filled the page. Those five words took over those 8.5 x 11 inches in hot pink. She started to weep, saying “it’s so beautiful…it’s so beautiful…” Let me tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in that room.

Which brings us to my suggestion. In a few weeks, many people will make New Year’s resolutions. Now, I dislike them, I have to be honest. Starting a new year that way inherently requires us to make a list of things we don’t like about ourselves. Why would we do that?? But I get that I am in a minority, so I’m not going to tell you not to make a New Year’s resolution. Go right ahead. Still, along with those resolutions, this year, let’s start by celebrating the things we like about ourselves here at the Solstice.

Get your piece of paper. Get your colored markers. Fill your page. Make it big. Make it loud. Make it yours. I promise you, there is something wonderful about you. You are worth hot pink letters pouring off the page. What better way to celebrate the fact that the cold winter is on the way out then by embracing the light inside of us?

When you’re done with it, tuck it away somewhere safe, frame it and hang it on your wall, tape it to your bathroom mirror. Whatever you do, don’t just throw it away. We can revisit them next Solstice and see what we can add to it.
Until then, may your 2013 be even better than your 2012.
---Pauline Trent


Lynn Lovegreen said...

Beautiful, Pauline. I wish everyone a long list for this solstice, and the ones ever after.

Anonymous said...

OMG-Pauline, thank you. What a beautiful way to start the new year.
Happy Solstice.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Trent, you always write the best things! Some people don't have the luxury of liking much about themselves, and that's alright with me. Not everyone can be complex or fancy. If there is that one sparkling thing, like being a great friend, which eclipses many positive traits in my opinion, then let her shine in that aspect...Too many people try to be too many things these days when underneath they're just normal everyday people. So sparkle and shine anyone with only one or two or three things to like about yourselves...I like simple. Thanks for the inspirational words.