She’s Dreading the Winter Solstice

Dear Vicki: The Winter Solstice is approaching and that means the start of winter. I hate it! The dark and cold always make me very unhappy. My sister (a writer) loves December, the darker and colder, the better for her. Personally, I think she’s crazy, but how can we be so different when we’re just one year apart? Could this have something to do with our elemental personalities? I don’t even know which personality I am, I just know that I hate winter. Can you help me understand why? Signed: Hates the Cold and Dark 

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Dear Hates the Cold and Dark: Winter Solstice does indeed herald the start of winter in the northern hemisphere; December, January and February are usually the coldest months here. But they are not the darkest months. The Winter Solstice represents a pause in the year-long journey from longest day to longest night, then back again. And while it’s true that December 21, the Winter Solstice, is the shortest day of the year and the longest night, it’s also a turning point. Beginning the very next day, the nights shorten, and the days lengthen. So, if you hate the dark, the Winter Solstice is actually good news for you because beginning December 22, the days get longer. But the cold? Well, that’s around for several more months.

To answer your question, how we respond to a time of year absolutely can have to do with our elemental personality, especially since (as was mentioned in last week’s post), each elemental personality has a seasonal affiliation. On the surface of things, it seems logical that each personality would resonate with their own season – and that can be true – but it isn’t always so straightforward. If someone’s primary element is unbalanced in their personality, they may not do well with their own season and may need what another season has to offer. 

Bottom line, each elemental personality will respond to winter in predictable ways depending on how balanced they are within their own elemental personality and how that personality relates to Water in the Five Elements model. Let’s look at how this might work and perhaps you will recognize yourself in one of these elemental personality descriptions.

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Can the Holidays be Merry this Year?

Dear Vicki: This is supposed to be such a joyful time of year, but try as I might, I always end up sad and depressed around the holidays. And of course, with Covid this year, it’s even worse. I think of family and friends who have passed away from natural causes, and more recently a few from Covid, and I miss the holidays of my childhood. I am an adult who has been very content in her singlehood and happiest alone, but this time of year makes me question whether the effort I put into my legal career at the expense of relationships was wise. I know your blog is about relationships, but do you have any suggestions on how I can get through the holidays this year? I act like all the fuss is a colossal waste of time, but in all honesty, a small part of me wishes I wasn’t so automatically dismissive. I don’t expect to be joyful, but it would be great not to be so down. Signed: Sad in Sycamore

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Dear Sad: Bless you for reaching out. The holiday season is a complicated time of year for all of us, especially this year. If we were lucky when young, we had parents who tried to make the holidays as magical for us as possible. We likely didn’t see the sacrifices they made to do this, or the responsibilities they juggled to manage it all. Even if we were this lucky, few of us ever experienced the kind of highly idealized holidays that the advertising world seems to insist is normal. Yet when we admit that we just don’t have the time, energy, or means to meet the expectations they create, we feel like failures.

For those of us whose holiday experiences centered on friends and family, the inevitable loss of loved ones over the years no doubt puts a damper on things. And this year, due to Covid-19, we’re all being encouraged to stay isolated, or at least keep celebrations to a gathering of the immediate household. Naturally, we all long for the magic of more normal holidays and times when we could gather freely with family and friends. 

I want to assure you that these are all normal reactions and responses to our current situation and the procession of life through the years. People come into our lives, and people leave. There are wonderfully magical times, and times of sorrow and loss. That is life at its most basic. But that doesn’t mean we are destined to be victims of the past. There is much we can do to manage our response to the holidays this year, so let’s look at ways you can make a difference for yourself.

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More Critical Than Usual Lately?

Dear Readers: Welcome to a new feature of the Ask Vicki blog: Five Element Fixes. Over the years, in addition to questions regarding relationships, as a naturopathic physician I’ve been asked about a variety of other issues. Questions regarding physical concerns, certainly, but also emotional, mental, and even spiritual issues, as well. And in truth, they are all relationships questions because they address how we relate to ourselves and our environment. The answers to these questions are usually short and sweet, but also rational and logical. And of course, they are grounded in the Five Elements model! The information seems more important now than ever before, so I’d like to share some of these with you here. 

Question: I understand that these are exceptional times what with Covid-19 and all, but lately I’ve been a real Scrooge! I criticize everything my husband suggests (I know he’s just trying to help, but his ideas aren’t that great). What can I do to be less critical of him (and actually, less critical in general)?

Answer: Yes, these are exceptional – really unprecedented – times, but that doesn’t mean we have to make things worse for ourselves and others by being harsh or too critical. There are fixes for being overly critical, but first I think it’s important to understand that done kindly, some criticism can be useful. In truth, criticism can be seen as just intense (or repetitive) correction of a perceived impropriety. For example, children need to learn how to handle a knife safely, and if they do it wrong, a parent steps in and corrects them, ideally in a kind way. As adults, we often comment on the “wrongs” we see around us, often with a desire to correct the perceived incorrectness. Again, done kindly, this correction is a gift. Done poorly, it comes off as criticism, which is rarely well-received.

When you find yourself being too critical, it usually indicates an imbalance in the Metal aspect of your personality. People with a primary Metal elemental personality will be more suspectable to being overly critical, but since we all have all five of the elemental personalities in our energetic make-up, we can all fall prey to a tendency to be too critical. And when this happens, the easy fix is to surround ourselves with red! Wear more red clothing. Sleep under red sheets. Go bold and paint one wall in your house red. The more red around you, the less Metal energy you will have, and that will lessen your tendency to be too critical.

Why: As mentioned, the tendency to correct people sits in the Metal element. That’s because Metal people have strong feelings about what is “right” and “wrong, “appropriate” and “inappropriate,” even “good” and “bad.” Their ability to make this level of discernment is a gift, but taken to extremes, it can be a curse. So, when we or someone we know becomes too critical, we need to decrease some of the Metal energy being exhibited. And as the Five Elements model teaches us, it is the Fire element that helps to keep the Metal element in balance. Red builds Fire energy, so more red will mean less Metal and therefore, less criticism. 

Fortunately, red and green are popular colors during the holidays, so it should be easier than ever to surround yourself with red. Even a red poinsettia will help! And an added benefit of more red in your life will be that this extra Fire energy will help support the emotions of joy and times of celebration, something we can all use a bit more of these days. Blessings to you!

Stay safe and well,

Vicki

Cancelling the Holidays During a Pandemic

Dear Vicki: I live in a state experiencing high Covid-19 numbers and we’ve all been told we should cancel Thanksgiving, and maybe even Christmas. I’m devastated! No family gatherings? No grandchildren? No best friends? Not even any neighbors? Just me and my husband? Why bother with a turkey or baking pies? I’m so depressed; we probably won’t have anything at like the normal holiday season I look forward to every year. Even my husband, who often complains about all he has to accomplish as part of “doing the holidays” seems a bit frustrated by the changes. Do you have any suggestions on how to cope with all this? Signed: Feeling Empty

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Dear Feeling Empty: During these difficult times, we find ourselves moving into uncharted territory: How does one “do the holidays” during a once-in-a-century pandemic? The short answer is that one does the holidays differently. And what that looks like will depend on the situations we find ourselves in. Do we have children living at home? Local family or friends with whom we’ve created a “pandemic bubble?” Weather that allows for outdoor events? How we approach these holidays also depends on our elemental personality, so let’s start there.

Given how upset you seem about not having “normal” holidays, I suspect that you are a primary Earth personality. Family and food, people gathered together, special traditions, etc. are of paramount importance to Earth people. This gives life meaning for them. But the holidays are not just for Earth people. Each of the other elemental personalities will have aspects of the holidays that matter to them, too. And remember that we all have all of the elemental personalities in our energetic wiring, so even though you are a primary Earth personality, you may find that some of what matters to, say, a Water personality might matter to you, as well. So, let’s look at what’s important to each of the elemental personalities during the holiday season and see how you might be able to incorporate aspects of each during a pandemic. I think you might be surprised.

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Missing Time with Friends and Family?

Dear Readers: Welcome to a new feature of the Ask Vicki blog: Five Element Fixes. Over the years, in addition to questions regarding relationships, as a naturopathic physician I’ve been asked about a variety of other issues. Questions regarding physical concerns, certainly, but also emotional, mental, and even spiritual issues, as well. And in truth, they are all relationships questions because they address how we relate to ourselves and our environment. The answers to these questions are usually short and sweet, but also rational and logical. And of course, they are grounded in the Five Elements model! The information seems more important now than ever before, so I’d like to share some of these with you here. 

Question: Thanksgiving is coming and because of Covid, I’ve decided it’s best if I don’t travel home to be with my elderly parents this year. It’s the right thing to do, but my heart literally aches over this. Is there anything that will help?

Answer: This is a question many of us will have to face as the holidays approach: Do we or don’t we travel to spend time with those we love? The answers will be different for each of us, but the overall issue of missing the important people in our lives is going to be the same. The loss of time with people we love does create an ache in our heart, even if the choice to stay away is the right one. 

When heartache has settled upon us, fluorite (a beautiful multi-colored crystal) can be very helpful. Try wearing a fluorite crystal around your neck on a chain or leather cord so that the stone rests near your heart. Wear it as much as possible and it can help lessen the feeling of heartache.

Why: The vibration of the mineral fluorite has been known as an excellent support for the Fire element. The heart organ and its related emotions sit in Fire, so anything that balances Fire energy will also help balance heart energy. And in general, when our Fire energy is balanced, not only will heartache lessen, it’s also much easier not to panic or become scattered. Plus, fluorite is a beautiful stone!

Stay safe and well.

Blessings,

Vicki