March 2, 2023

As we head toward the end of the winter season, I wanted to share a few quotes from a book I read last year, Wintering: The power of rest & retreat in difficult times by Katherine May, where May discusses winter as a season of solitude, vulnerability, healing and transformation.

The books focuses on the personal work of wintering, woven between stories from the author's life, but I also think it has wider implications for the work we do as practitioners.

If we can help our clients through this work, or even help them acknowledge that wintering is a normal and healthy part of being alive, we'll have facilitated healing.

Here are two passages from the book that stood out to me in this context:

Doing those deeply unfashionable things—slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting—is a radical act now, but it is essential. This is a crossroads we all know, a moment when you need to shed a skin. If you do, you’ll expose all those painful nerve endings and feel so raw that you’ll need to take care of yourself for a while. If you don’t, then that skin will harden around you.


But if happiness is a skill, then sadness is, too. Perhaps through all those years at school, or perhaps through other terrors, we are taught to ignore sadness, to stuff it down into our satchels and pretend it isn’t there. As adults, we often have to learn to hear the clarity of its call. That is wintering. It 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. Wintering is a moment of intuition, our true needs felt keenly as a knife.

Here's to leaning into winter without trying to rush spring (which I, for one, have a tendency to do at this time of year.)

Take care,


p.s. Wintering is one of the memoirs I've recommended in my Bookshop list of recommended books.

About Camille Freeman, DCN, RH (she/her)

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and nutritionist specializing in fertility and menstrual health. I run the Monday Mentoring community of practice and also offer continuing education programs for practicing herbalists and nutritionists (Check out this year's Deep Dive!). I'm also a former professor with the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I taught physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating for 17 years. 

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