The winter is the season of lights. Walking down the busy streets of Manhattan this time of year, it's hard not to be enchanted by how festive the city becomes. Whether it be Hanukah or Diwali (the physical celebrations of light); the candles of Kwanza, the lights of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center; the glowing ball that drops at midnight on New Years Eve; the twinkling holiday lights lining apartment windows; the comforting warmth of a fireplace; or the bright white reflecting off of the ice skating rinks scattered throughout the city, light is a huge part of what makes the holidays so beautiful and so important. And just as we choose to celebrate and embrace the light around us this time of year, we can also choose to celebrate the light within us.
I often use the terms "emotionally heavy" and "emotionally light" in my fitness classes as a metaphor for how our minds can and do rule our health. You can be physically thin but still feel weighed down by your emotions. This season, let's take that metaphor and think about the word "light" in terms of what brings us happiness and peace; what makes light turn on in our hearts and how it brings people together.
The Light of Love: Love brings us joy, plain and simple. It can emotionally lighten us and brighten our lives. Love manifests in many ways. It is the relationship between a mother and child, friends, peers and mentors. It is the respect and honor for our wise grandparents. Love is the way we look at a newborn or the glossy eyed, fluttering hearts of a young couple, even the way some of us look at our pets. Love comes in many forms, so find yours and celebrate it. Tell someone special to you that you love them! Your expression of love is like an expression of gratitude and your chosen people may already know it, or they may not, but affirming your love for them and acknowledging the light and joy that shine on your life is a great way to honor the beauty of this season.
The Light of Mother Nature: When we think of winter, it's common to think of heavy coats, frostbite, windy streets and fear the potential of another polar vortex! But, winter truly is a gift. Not only is it a necessary time of year for plants, animals, and more to shed the weight of the year, rest, and return more vibrant in spring but the crisp rejuvenation for the soul that can happen to us as cool air fill your lungs can be priceless. With shorter days, we have even more reason to tap into the light of our days as there are many things to explore outside. From taking a walk around your neighborhood to picking out your favorite holiday lights, from window-shopping to grabbing that hot chocolate from your corner shop; celebratory and festive activities are waiting for you. Even though it's tempting to curl up and never come out of your home, finding the warmth of the winter spirit outside can provide the comfort your winter soul may need. Try and cherish the daylight and explore mother nature's gifts. After a crisp winter day, jumping into your favorite pjs and cozy socks will feel that much more well deserved.
The Light of Giving: Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, you've likely heard the story of the Gift of The Magi. A young couple can't afford to buy each other presents during Christmastime, so out of love, they each sacrifice something to buy each other a gift. By the time they exchange them, both gifts have become useless, as both husband and wife have sacrificed the very thing needed to make the other's gift whole. Della, the wife, cuts and sells her long beautiful hair to purchase her husband, Jim, a chain for his beloved watch. However Jim, out of his love, sells his watch to purchase Della combs for her once long hair. The gifts aren't important. What remains is their love. Love and the spirit of giving are priceless. This time of year, it's important to remind ourselves of how lucky we are and to express our gratitude for all that makes us happy in any number of ways. I encourage you to celebrate the light in your life by giving back to the people that make you happy. You can also give to those that may not be as fortunate, as there are many accessible causes all around us. It doesn't have to be financial; you can donate an hour or two at a soup kitchen, pass along a kind word to someone on the street, be a voice of reason or lend an ear to someone who just needs to talk. Do one kind thing for a stranger who you think may need it. The gift of generosity no matter how small has lasting power and can provide light to someone's life.
So, the next time you're looking at the lights of your Christmas tree or Menorah, think about the light that you possess and the light you have the power to share. 'Tis the season to let the bright light outside inspire the lights within our lives!