In the stunning New York Times bestselling book Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, Katharine May writes that wintering is “the active acceptance of sadness. It is the practice of allowing ourselves to feel it as a need. It is the courage to stare down the worst parts of our experience and to commit to healing them the best we can.”
In her acknowledgment of sadness and unhappiness, Katharine opens the door to the possibility of healing from those inevitable dark times when we don’t think we can bear more suffering.
One of the things I so appreciate about her book is the normalizing of difficult times: “A great deal of life will always suck. There will be moments when we’re riding high and moments when we can’t bear to get out of bed. Both are normal.”
Yes, suffering is part of being alive. Yes, there is hope. And choice about how we respond to those inevitable times.
Part of what helps us get better at navigating metaphorical winter includes doing the “deeply unfashionable things [of] — slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting — [it’s] a radical act now, but it is essential.”
I was thrilled to find out that not only is Katharine’s a great writer, she’s also a charming guest!
There’s lots of laughter, lots of transparency, and lots of deep, well-lived experience in this episode.
Katharine May is the author of several books that focus on dealing with stress, including the novel Burning Out (2009), the guidebook No-Stress Meditation (2014), and a memoir about coming to terms with your Asperger’s diagnosis, called The Electricity of Every Living Thing (2018). She lives by the sea in Whitstable, England, with her family.