Why ignoring the seasons harms your creative self – and what to do about it.

create-with-the-seasons

I write this as the clocks go back in the UK today, which really signals the start of winter for me, I’m thinking about how to stay in touch with the feeling of entering into winter.

I’ve also had a cold all week – it was not pretty, there was snot, and I missed three out of the four gigs we had on at The Art House.  Boo.

Luckily I was able to keep upright, with the help of a lot of elderflower cordial and tea, to see the amazing Professor Elemental and Spacedog on Thursday.  What a night – it was the sort of evening we created the space for!

I also have some amazing chats with the Professor (aka Paul) about creativity, his process and how he went from office job to being a full-time Steampunk Professor.  I did make some notes, which will distill into blog posts soon, I promise!  In the meantime there’s a lovely clip on Youtube I will embed at the bottom of this post, where he talks about finding your niche.

We live in a society that is increasingly cut off from nature and the seasons.

With electric light, heating, year-round summer veggies, transport options that mean we spend very little time walking outside – and largely indoor lifestyles, mean we don’t suffer the ill effect our ancestors must have when the cold comes.

I’m really, really happy about that, by the way!

This isn’t a rant on modern living being oh-so-awful.

What I do worry about, though, is the expectation that our energy levels will remain the same, no matter the season.

It’s a little like the expectation that we will feel well, and perky, and at the top of our game all the time – but that’s the subject for another post!

Living in tune with seasonal changes honours our natural cycles and, most of all, keeps us in close contact with nature – and our own inner creativity.  Ignoring the cycles of nature, and forcing ourselves to live as if we’re in an eternal summer, can be damaging to our wellbeing – and our ability to create.

Our creativity and our wild, natural nature are intrinsically linked.

I’ve found that seasonal living, even in a modern setting, is very possible – and has supercharged my creativity, too!

Here are some tips on how to tune in to the seasons, wherever you live

1)  Try eating locally and seasonably as much as you can

Pumpkins and squashes, good for more than jack o' lanterns!

Pumpkins and squashes, good for more than jack o’ lanterns!

The fruit and veggies that are growing nearby are just what your body needs at each time of the year.  We evolved alongside these plants, and they form a tailored diet for where we live and what season we are in.  In Autumn, red berries, leafy greens, apples and squashes load our systems with immunity-boosting goodness going into the cold season.  In winter, root veggies and brassicas fill our tummies and warm us from the inside.  In Spring, young leafy greens freshen us up and wake our bodies.  In summer, we can even forage on the seashore for gorgeous sea vegetables, loaded with all kinds of nutrients.

The variety provided by seasonal food makes cooking exciting, too, teaching us to innovate with what we have and making sure we eat a wide spectrum of foods over the year.

Local, seasonal food connects you with your landscape, gives your body what it needs AND is good for Mama Earth – you know that’s a winner!

2) Get outside, even in the ‘bad’ weather

Matching wellies and brolly for the WIN!

Matching wellies and brolly for the WIN!

Alfred Wainwright said ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’ and he was so right!

Not only is it fun to see your landscape in different seasons, it’s also healthier to get outside and exercise than it is to hide indoors all winter.  As somebody who has SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) I find that getting out into daylight, even if it’s cold and rainy, makes a big difference to my energy levels.

Many country walks are pretty much deserted in the chilly or wet weather, giving you the added bonus of alone time in nature – something which is hard to find here in the UK.

Equip yourself with some good boots, hiking socks (something worth spending money on!) and a waterproof jacket and get out there in all weathers.

3) Embrace the indoors, too!

Winter is a good time to really enjoy the cosiness of your home, spending time working on crafts, reading, napping and snuggling under blankets.

Add seasonal touches to your daily routine and home – candles on those dark winter nights, moving furniture to allow for changes in your daily habits, eating al fresco in the summer and planting bulbs somewhere you can see them in the mornings, so that you don’t miss the first signs of spring.

4) Mark the seasons with an altar or hearth area

This year's Samhain (Halloween) decorations

This year’s Samhain (Halloween) decorations

Every six weeks, following the wheel of the year, I change the decorations on our fireplace (we don’t have a real fire – yet – so I use the hearth as a focal point).  This brings the outdoors into our home in a very real way, and helps to establish our own family traditions, which is truly lovely.

It’s also a good time to connect with where you were this time last year, and perhaps any changes you’d like to make in your life before the next time this season comes around!

5) Encourage wildlife

Mama Robin looking rather threadbare at the end of the breeding season!

Mama Robin looking rather threadbare at the end of the breeding season!

This week we’ve spotted seasonal visitors – a pair of garden warblers on their way to Africa for the winter, and during the year we see hedgehogs (especially in the autumn), baby birds in the spring, slow worms in the summer and frogs in our pond.

6) Notice the small, everyday beauties

This is easier in the summer when we get outside more, perhaps even take holidays, and beauty seems to be everywhere – but there is a lot of beauty even in the middle of winter, so take your 1509062_701905789844028_1759532464_ncamera, sketchbook or notebook out with you and find some lovely things – or even just take a glance out of your bedroom window in the mornings to notice the changing scene.

Feeling connected with where we live, the other species that live there and the changing landscape can feed our creativity in new and interesting ways, so make sure you make time for it!

How do you connect with the changing seasons?  Please pop over to my Facebook page and share your ideas and traditions on the special thread for this post.

As promised, here is the Professor!

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