THE BLOG
12/22/2014 03:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Winter Solstice: A Good Time to Reverse Your Spiral

Eight years ago I was living in New Hampshire, and I was extremely depressed. It had been several years since my divorce, I couldn't find work that felt right, I was weary from first dates that didn't warrant a second, and for the first time in two decades I had no daily parenting responsibilities.

My friends were all in long-term marriages or recently recoupled, and though these friends knew me more for more than 25 years, they didn't seem to understand how my life had changed relative to theirs or the challenges I was facing. I felt alone and stuck.

I had a lot of time to reflect on my situation, and reflect I did. But it wasn't wheel spinning and rumination -- at least not entirely. I realized I had to leave New Hampshire. I had to go somewhere else and start again. I took a personal inventory of my marketable skills, work experiences, accomplishments, and interests, and figured how I could earn a living doing work that felt right for me.

I didn't want to move back to New York where I had grown up -- New York seemed downright scary after close to three decades in New Hampshire. But Boston made sense: I would still be near my son and my friends, and with all the hospitals, universities and institutes I was sure I could find research and writing work.

After exploring likely neighborhoods online, I narrowed it down, started exploring the two or three most likely neighborhoods on foot, and finally made my move. I left a place I had lived my entire adult life and moved to a place where I didn't know anyone. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I also knew there were better days ahead. I was ready to reverse my spiral.

Shortly after moving to the Boston area I met someone who, like me, was creative, stuck, and needed to reverse his spiral. I tried to encourage my friend to take baby steps outside his comfort zone that would yield a payoff, however small, and that would, little by little, change the trajectory of his life.

It's not easy to reverse your spiral. Pessimism, lack of motivation, and fear work together to create an enormous amount of negative energy -- energy that fuels the downward spiral. And as debilitating as despair can be, it becomes familiar and hard to leave.

My friend and I proposed a Winter Solstice celebration for a community organization we'd become involved with, and while we didn't know exactly what we would do at this event -- other than mark the shortest, darkest day of the year, the start of winter, and coming of lighter days -- we told people to bring drums, tambourines, guitars, blankets, candles, thermoses of hot beverages, and sharable snacks.

Winter Solstice is a good time to reverse your spiral. The moment when the earth itself can't get any darker is the perfect moment to decide that you're not going to get any darker, and to make a commitment to renewal and growth. And so my friend and I wrote a song for the Solstice event. He wrote the music and I wrote lyrics that expressed my "reverse your spiral" philosophy.

To mark this year's Winter Solstice, and perhaps to inspire you if you need inspiring, here are the words to "Reverse Your Spiral," and here's a link to the actual song.

When you get to the bottom and you find it's much too dark
and all the things you once believed now seem a world apart
When loneliness surrounds you like an endless void
And the things that used to make you happy just leave you annoyed.

Reverse your spiral
put yourself in a different place
find one thing that just may bring a smile to your face.

Think about the people who can make you feel alive
think of all the ways you can do more than just survive
Get out of your old head and engage with the new
amaze yourself with things you didn't know that you could do.

Reverse your spiral
make it wind toward the light
Give up ideas that keep you there
in your long black night.

Try to look ahead to see the tunnel or the bridge
don't be afraid to clear the tired pictures off your fridge
See the veins of pink light in the dark December sky
notice shapes and patterns as the winter birds fly by.

Reverse your spiral
make it wind toward delight
Give up ideas that keep you there in your long black night.
Reverse your spiral
make it wind toward the light,
Give up ideas that keep you there
in your long black night.

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