Beyond the Solstice….

This is the solstice, the still point

of the sun, its cusp and midnight,

the year’s threshold

and unlocking, where the past

lets go of and becomes the future,

the place of caught breath, the door

of a vanished house left ajar.

Margaret Atwood: excerpt from Shapechangers in Winter a long poem in her 1996 collection Morning in the Burned House.

Now we are past the winter solstice of 2020, a year many people are looking forward to bidding good-bye to. A year that has been defined by Covid, fires, protests, election. People across the world have been in and out of lockdown, restrictions, changes and of course losses of all kinds. And then a different Christmas, not travelling, not gathering, re-inventing rituals, adapting them to smallness.

We stand on the threshold between 2020 and 2021 where the past lets go of, and becomes, the future. How are you making sense of the way you’ve got through the last year, what have you learned? Before Christmas I worked with many of my clients on identifying the strengths, skills and experiences that had supported them in difficult times.

Some people have read their way through the year of Covid, others have watched their way through it. People took up different activities, abandoned others. Making lists is one way to see where we’ve come from (the media are full of end of year lists) and aslo of weaving together the strands of the past. What do your lists look like?

Make a list of:

  • Reading: books, poems, papers etc
  • Watching: films, series, shows
  • Walking: places, routes, observations
  • Eating: changes in habits

Then devise your own taxonomy for your list – put things into categories and write about what you notice. Reflect on what it tells you about your life during Covid. What have you learned?

Christmas Day: I gave myself the Christmas gifts of a long walk in nature and Margaret Atwood’s new poetry collection Dearly. What did you give/receive?
  • What haven’t you done this year?
  • What did you let go of? [These lists will contain both positive and negative allow yourself to be surprised]

One new and surprising activity for me was discovering digital story-making, a fascinating combination of words and images to tell personal and therapeutic stories. I took a workshop with Patient Voices where, under the skilled tutelage of Pip Hardy and Tony Sumner, I found myself making the story I needed to make before I knew it myself: A Story of Death and Birth

Some people wrote books:

My student Yocheved Rottenberg published her book combining the wisdom of Jewish writings with therapeutic writing:

Write Your Way Home: A Torah Guide to Therapeutic Writing

Begin the year with a gentle combination of writing and yoga: The Pen and the Practice: Envisioning 2021 with Journalling and Breath-Centred Yoga is a two and a half hour zoom workshop on January 9th to help you look ahead. Details here.

6 thoughts on “Beyond the Solstice….”

  1. Dear Kate I so enjoyed your storying. It is powerfully and simply told and it was good to hear your voice. Very best wishes and love for 2021, Jane.


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  2. Kate,

    I just watched and listened to your Story of Death and Birth. I have goosebumps. What courage it took to share your story Kate, and what a blessing to hear your voice and heartfelt words.

    With deep love and appreciation,



  3. Vicky,
    How interesting that Blencathra is so significant to you too. I look forward to being able to walk the English fells when travel is again possible. Re-landscaping your life through peaks climbed would be a wonderful writing exercise.
    A Steppingstones exercise (Progoff) : list the mountains that come to mind from different times etc


  4. Kate,

    Thank you for all of this–photos, poem excerpt, wisdom on this time of year and on intriguing ideas for lists.  I just watched your Story of Death and Birth.  I am deeply moved, the images, the music, the words, your voice, your story.  I am amazed, stunned at the tender beauty and deep wisdom of what you created, in awe of all the work it must have taken–but I can see that it would be the type of creative work that could fill you with energy, even with the grandness and the sadness of the subject.

    Thank you.  Sharing it seems a brave thing to have done.  I’m glad that you did.

    I’m so deeply touched.  What a gift.

    my heart to yours, Carolyn

    Liked by 1 person

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