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January 23, 2024 12 mins

Sometimes we go through seasons of life (and writing) where it feels like nothing is happening. Progress seems halted. Momentum feels paused. What if — when life feels like it’s happening in backward motion — more progress is taking place than you can sense or measure? That’s what I’m talking about in today's episode. The concept is called “Wintering” and I hope it brings you as much peace as it has for me.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Pick up the pieces of your life, pulled them back
together with the words you write, all the beauty and
peace and the magic that you'll start too fun when
you write your story. You got the words and said,
don't you think it's time to let them out and
write them down and cover what it's all about and

write your story. Write you write your story.

Speaker 2 (00:29):
Hi there, writer, this is Ali Fallon. I'm your host.
Welcome back to the Write Your Story Podcast, the first
episode of this podcast of twenty twenty four. I am
so excited to be here and so excited to be
chatting with you again. It's been a long time since
you've heard from me, and I'll talk about why that
is today, and I have so many things that I

want to share with you. I hope you had a
lovely break. I hope you had a nice Christmas. That
feels like a lifetime ago now talking about Christmas, but
we've had a Christmas since I've talked to you, so
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year
and time with your family. I had a wonderful break
and Christmas and New Year, and I have two little
kids and it was so fun to watch them experience

the joy and the magic of Christmas and open presence
and all of that good stuff. I also was very
sick for almost all of Christmas Break, which was a
huge drag. It was really disappointing to me, and it
also is part of what I want to talk about
today and part of the lesson that I feel like
I've been learning since I've talked to you last, So
it's kind of perfect. It was dropped into my lap
at the exact right time. I got sick, like on

the twentieth of December, and genuinely wasn't feeling one hundred
percent better until I don't know, a week or two ago,
so it was like three full weeks of being sick.
It was a big drag. I got the flu first,
I got the stomach bug. Second, the stomach bug made
its way all the way around my family and we
were all down for the count. And in the midst
of all of that, I found this book called Wintering

by Catherine May. I don't know if you've read this
book yet or not. It's been around for a little bit,
so maybe you already read it. But this was a
new book to me. I picked it up because I'm
part of a book club, and this was the book
we were reading for book club, and I had a
chance to read it while I was flat on my
back in bed overbreak, and this book really spoke to me.

I wanted to talk about it today. I think it's
such an important concept in our culture and such an
important concept in our writing and in publishing that we
don't talk about enough. So I wanted to talk about
what is it to winter? What does it mean to winter?
What does it mean for us? And like I said,
it's kind of perfect timing for me because it came
into my life. This concept, the idea of the book
came into my life while I was sick over the

winter holiday. And then I was supposed to have this
episode up and ready for you last week, and then
we got a massive snowstorm. The file that I originally
recorded had something happen with it. So here we are now.
I'm finally getting this episode to you. I don't know,
two or three weeks late at this point, but maybe
also write on time because it gave me a chance

to think about what it really means to winter, and
I want to bring this concept to you today. Catherine May,
in her book Wintering, says Wintering is a season in
the cold. It is a fallol period in life when
you're cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked
from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider.
Perhaps it results from an illness or a life event
such as a bereavement or the birth of a child.

Perhaps it comes from humiliation or failure. Perhaps you're in
a period of transition and have temporarily fallen between two worlds.
Some winters creep upon us more slowly, accompanying the protracted
death of our relationship, the gradual ratcheting up of caring
responsibilities as our parents' age, the drip drip of lost confidence.
Some are appallingly sudden, like discovering one day that your

skills are considered obsolete, the company you worked for has
gone bankrupt, or your partner is in love with someone new.
However it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely, and deeply painful.
This concept of wintering really spoke to me for a
lot of reasons. But I think one of the main
reasons that it spoke to me is it gave language
to something that I've been experiencing, and I think we

have been experiencing collectively for the last couple of years.
I don't know about you, but really, for me, at
least since March of twenty twenty, it felt like I
started to go into what I would now consider a
wintering season of life. The author is very careful to
point out that wintering doesn't have to happen when it's
cold outside, that it doesn't necessarily align with the actual

seasons of winter and summer, but that wintering is this
period in our life where we feel rejected, sidelined, block
from progress, cast into the role of an outsider, and
in my mind, when the pandemic hit in March of
twenty twenty, this thrust us all as an entire global
community into a season of wintering, into a season where

the control was taken out of our hands, into a
season where we didn't have access to the things that
we were used to having acts to, where resources were
more limited, where we had to go inward. We couldn't
go outward in the same ways that we were used to.
We couldn't go to lunch with a friend, or go
to coffee, or go meet up with people, or go
play games or whatever. So we had to find a

way to go inward instead, and that created this kind
of wintering time for all of us. Now that's what
was happening on a global level, but for me personally,
not only was there that kind of wintering happened, but
also I had a daughter in July of twenty twenty
and then got immediately pregnant with my son, Charlie, and

had Charlie in December of twenty twenty one. She even
gives the example in that quote, I just read that
the birth of a child could be the beginning of
a wintering season, and that was certainly true for me,
mostly in that having my children forced me to slow
way down. Slow is not the pace by which I

have lived most of my life. You could talk to
anyone who knows me, in particular my family members, who
know me better than most, and they would tell you
that the speed that I have lived my life is
one hundred miles an hour. That from the time I
came out of the womb, I kind of was just
set on that trajectory. I've always had a ton of energy.
I have always felt really ambitious, really excited, like I

have a lot of energy to give in the external world.
And my life has always happened at this really rapid pace.
And I'm not sure why I thought, but I thought
when I gave birth to my daughter, or even when
I was pregnant with her, that I would be able
to continue at that sort of breakneck speed, even though
I had this baby in my belly, even though I

have this baby that is in tow now, you know,
after she's born. And I was just really quickly met
with the reality check that that was not going to
be the case. When I was pregnant with Nella, the
speed at which I can operate in the world slowed
so dramatically and so completely. It was shocking, truly to

my system. And then when she was born, you know,
the birth experience. I've shared this elsewhere, but the birth
experience was a bit traumatic. I mean that I was
rushed from a birth center to a hospital. Nella wasn't
breathing when she was born. She was in the NICKU
for seven days, which is a relatively short nick you stay,
but was still really stressful for me. I had very

high blood pressure, I lost a lot of blood. I
was you know, I had an iron deficiency, and so
just on a physical level, even the way that my
energy was kind of draining out of my body, and
I'm having to drag myself out of bed to get
to the NICKU to see my daughter. It was a really,
really trying time for me, and I think one of

the reasons why it was so trying and complicated is
because this wintering was trying to happen for me. My
life is trying to slow me down. It's trying to
get me to focus my attention inward, and I was
in such resistance to the fact that this was trying
to happen for me. I just wanted things to stay
the same. I just wanted to be able to keep
going as usual. I just wanted to be able to

keep up the pace that I was used to keeping.
It felt so unnatural for me to move so slowly
and have so little on my calendar, and have so
little going on, and to move at the pace that
my body was begging me to move at. And so
I fought it for a really long time. And in
a way now I'm embarrassed to say that, because I

fought it at the great detriment of myself and my
daughter and my family and my business and everything else.
But I did. I fought it for a really long time.
And it wasn't until I was admitted into the hospital
with a kidney problem at eighteen weeks pregnant with my
son that I finally started to have my wake up
call that no matter how hard I fought this wintering,

it wasn't going to change for me. That this wintering
was happening to me, whether I wanted it to happen
or not. And in fact, the more that I resisted it,
the more that I fought against it, the harder it
was going to try to slow me down. That this
wasn't something that I was going to beat or overcome.
That I was going to have to find a way
to surrender to it. And like I said, that happened

in the hospital. I was admitted with a kidney issue
that couldn't be diagnosed. At first they thought it was
kidney stones, and then they said, you know what, we
actually aren't sure what's going on, but for some reason,
your kidney's not draining and it's very dangerous for you
and it's very dangerous for the baby. So we need
to do a surgery, we need to put a stint
in And I'll never forget my obi coming into the
room and just looking me in the eye and saying, Hey,

I know you're a very busy woman. I know you
have a lot going on. I was actually literally on
a zoom call when she walked into the room, and
I had to hang up the zoom call from my
hospital bed. She just had to come to Jesus moment
with me. She just told me, you know, if you
don't slow down, you're going to put your pregnancy in jeopardy.
I know you don't want to do that. I need
you to, as best as you can, figure out a

way to slow down, get everything off your plate that
isn't absolutely necessary, and to take good care of yourself.
And that that was the moment that I that I
really started to realize she was right. That I really
started to realize what had been trying to happen for
me all along, which is that my life was asking
me to slow the pace. And so I finally started

to take some steps in that direction. And it was
a really, really, really difficult and painful time for me.
It required letting go of the person who I thought
I had been, It required letting go of my employees.
I had to fire my entire team. It was literally
one of the worst days of my life. It required

letting go of some expectations that I'd had for myself,
of sort of business objectives or goals that I wanted
to accomplish. It required letting go of the position that
I had put myself in where I felt like I
was the breadwinner in my family, even though that was
never something that you know, my husband, my partner had

put on me, it was something I completely put on myself.
So it required letting go of that, letting go of
so many different things, like all in one fell swoop
kind of just deciding that this wintering was going to
happen whether I wanted it to or not, and I
had the choice to either break myself against it or
just to surrender and allow it to happen. And so

that was August of twenty twenty one, and from that
point forward, I really did start to see some relief.
And yet there's still been a lot of going inwards,
still been a lot of despair, still been a lot
of darkness, Still been a lot of loneliness, Still been
a lot of you know, just confusion about what this

means for me, what's happening for me, what's really going on?
And reading this book called Wintering was such a breath
of fresh air because it just showed me that what's
happening actually has a name, it has a category. There's
a thing that's happening to me and it's called Wintering.
And despite it being painful and lonely, it is also

a really really beautiful thing,
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