“Winter, while it can be one of the hardest seasons to embrace, has a lot to teach us about about true beauty and wisdom. Stripped of her flowers, leaves, and warmth, the earth reveals her naked self through her skeleton branches and barren ground. She becomes completely simple, having discarded everything but the bare essentials. Her scarcity and fierceness command our respect and attention, and, without apology for not being a warm and gracious hostess, she retreats into frozen silence. When we look to nature as our teacher, we see that she’s reflecting back to us a prolonged opportunity to hibernate and renew.” -Sara Avant Stover, The Way of the Happy Woman
Last winter, on a bitter cold January morning, I glanced out our window to the uninviting sight of gray clouds and frozen snow. It was the kind of weather I used to dread leaving the house in, but on this day there was no reason to venture out being that I was a stay-at-home mother to a six-month-old. Despite not having to brave the cold, a certain sadness still came over me. I wasn’t sure if I was depressed, but I did know I wanted so much more than to be confined. I couldn’t quite understand how why my mind was so anxious, yet my body lacked the energy to do more. As had been the case my entire life, this weather brought me down. Being a new mother, and the only stay-at-home mom I knew at the time, the season had become even more of a challenge. I felt isolated and restless as I longed for the vibrancy of spring to take away the dullness of winter. Days went by until I found the energy to bundle up the baby and leave for a much needed vacation to Barnes and Noble. A warm cup of coffee in hand, I strolled the book isles with no real idea of what I was looking for. As my son began to quietly doze off in his carrier, I breathed a sigh of relief. He was asleep. I had a moment to breathe. It was then that I looked up and found the book that would forever change my life. The cover was graced with a photo of a woman twirling in a white dress that compliment the captivating title, The Way of the Happy Woman. I turned the book to read the back cover when my eyes were immediately drawn to one sentence.
“When we honor spring’s seedlings, summer’s vibrancy, fall’s harvest, and winter’s quietude, we harmonize our inner and outer worlds.”
Fast forward a year to the present moment. I sit at my desk, looking out the window of my home on a bitter cold January morning. The clouds are gray and the ground is frozen, covered in snow, but contrary to the past I feel an innate sense of peace. I have learned to embrace the season. In The Way of the Happy Woman, Sara Avant Stover illustrates that just as nature retreats into herself for the season, so our bodies are naturally meant to follow the cycle. She notes that winter is a time for rest and reflection. It is meant for nurturing dreams, moving through fear and facing inner darkness to find your light. While being restful can often be associated with laziness in our culture, it is important to remember that in this season, it truly is not. We are naturally meant to hibernate, to keep warm, to dream, to renew. It is a positive state of being. The chapters take you through the natural rhythms of all four seasons while providing a look into a lifestyle that allows us to live in harmony with them. Along with emotional elements, it also incorporates wholesome food recipes, as well as yoga and meditation techniques specifically designed to bring out the beauty to be found in each season. Reflecting with this book allowed me to realize that while winter can prove to be a difficult time for many of us, it is very much possible to find an inner grace and balance if we learn to live in accordance with nature–to rest when she rests, to dream when she dreams, and to search for beauty in stillness while preparing for a vibrant spring. I write this for anyone who may be in need of a renewed sense of being in the dark chill of winter. If you look close enough, there is brightness to be found. I also wish to give the much deserved recognition to Sara Avant Stover for writing such a heartfelt and enlightening book. Your words inspire many.
Sara Avant Stover is a yoga and meditation teacher, bestselling author, and founder of The Way of the Happy Woman. She resides now in Boulder, Colorado. You can visit her website and find her other books at www.thewayofthehappywoman.com .