Whatever the weather: Slowing down

Katie Berning

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It took two separate book recommendations — one from a dear mentor and one from my counselor — to name what was happening to me. I was wintering. I was hibernating.

Don’t get me wrong, I spent more time on my skis than ever. But I have also spent more time at home than ever. Some of that is related to the global pandemic, which just celebrated its sullen birthday this month. But the rest is on me.

There are positives. My houseplants have never looked better. I finally bought real blinds for my room (after almost three years). I have learned to love my quiet mornings listening to podcasts and sipping Earl Grey (I’ve also slowed way down on caffeine). I have started to go to bed earlier.

It all adds up to more rest, more time alone and more time to reflect.

In a way, it feels similar to the state of the backcountry: low-angle lines and cautious objectives.

There was a time when I was so set on maintaining my seemingly endless summer energy through all seasons. It’s something I didn’t realize was actually causing me harm. I was ashamed when I wanted to cancel plans to curl up with my cats. I felt like a slob when I didn’t do my absolute maximum at a workout.

Why wouldn’t I join the trees, the animals, even the river? Why not slow down for a few months to recharge. Am I so detached from the natural world that I think I can defy the inevitable?

Instead, I embraced the shorter days and used the time to recharge myself. I’m currently storing energy until the increasing daylight draws me from my bed earlier and earlier. I can already feel the stirrings of spring — new leaves on my houseplants, sprigs in the oak trees — even with a snowstorm looming.

As vaccines are distributed across the county, state and world, I feel hopeful that a new season is near. One where people can emerge from their solitude and eat lunch with their friends and dance with strangers to some fast-pickin’ fiddle tunes. Where we value the people who sacrificed so much to keep working so we could enjoy takeout or pick up that necessity.

I hope everyone can take a moment to reflect and get ready for yet another wave of change. Show yourself compassion as winter wanes. Time to start the transition to spring, to happy hour patios, to longer days and the promise of blooms and buds.

I can’t wait to see what the reset will bring. I am hopeful for a rekindled gratitude for human-to-human interactions. But until then, I am unapologetically hibernating. I am extending compassion and kindness to myself and what my body and spirit need.

Katie Berning is the Colorado Mountain News Media print production manager.

Suggested reading

“Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World” by Bill Plotkin

“Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times” by Katherine May

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