Find Ritual Through Story and Cultivate a Wintertime Practice

Today we'll explore through story what might support your own life through the busy holiday season. Bring a pen or pencil, and a hot cup of something to sip on.


It’s a gorgeous bright wintry day as I write in Portland, OR. Outside the window I’m captivated by bare branches stretching up into the blue sky.

The trees rest this time of year, their leaves reintegrating with the earth, replenishing vital nutrients.

Our ancestors before the modern era were also taking this time to rest and replenish. To nourish the spirit on long nights with storytelling around fires, and to contemplate the heavens above before sleep as their breaths curled in white steam towards the stars.

They fed themselves from the stores of a bountiful harvest, or they weathered with grit, hardship and determination through the lean months.

We are the extensions of our ancestors in the modern era, and while the world has evolved, we still have basic needs that would be nourished with slowing down during the winter months. It’s no understatement that we need to unplug more often and on a regular basis.

How can we do this when even the holiday season is go go go?

We can tell stories.

Now! Before you panic and say “Ellen, I’m not a storyteller, I write technical reports for a living!”

Fear not.

I simply ask that you brush aside your current doubts, and endeavor to try the simple exercise that follows.

It’s storytelling for a party of one. No judgment. No expectations. No need for finesse. Forget grammar and punctuation rules entirely if it helps.

All you need to do right now is reserve the next 30 minutes, shut the door, turn off your phone, and close your other browser tabs.

Grab a sheet of paper, notebook, or journal, and a writing instrument.

This is about YOU and you alone. When was the last time you gave yourself this time? Take it now. You are infinitely worth it.

We are going to take a trip.

Take a deep breath.

Imagine yourself during the winter months in a time before internet and even computers. If you want to go way back, you can go before there were landline phones, cars, or even electricity.

Take yourself as far back in time as you want, but pick a place that feels good.

Maybe it’s the homelands of your ancestors.

Maybe it's your great-grandparents on your mom's side parlor room.

Maybe it’s purely a place of imagination.

Wherever it is, and whatever the truth of where travel, as you go back in time, you arrive in a place where you are warm and safe. You are not destitute, poor, or without people. You are warm and safe.

Allow the image to come into mind.

Look around yourself.

Where are you?

What clothes are you wearing?

What kind of shoes are on your feet?

What does it look like around you?

What kind of structure are you in or near?

What artifacts or furniture is there?

Is it day or night time?

How is the lighting? Where does light come from?

What’s the weather like on this day?

Is there snow on the ground, or is the earth bare and dry?

Is it clear and cold, or cloudy and soft sounding, with snow muffling voices and footsteps?

Find a place to sit.

What does it look like where you’ve just sat?

What’s the object you’ve just sat on like?

What’s it made of?

What is it covered with?

How does it feel as you brush your fingertips across its surface?

Someone enters the place you are to invite you to eat. You are hungry and follow behind them.

You arrive to a room with a long table. Many others are there. They welcome you. They are glad you're here.

Who are they? What do they look like? What do they talk about? Are they laughing? Serious? Quiet? Boisterous?

What are you eating? How does it make you feel?

After the meal, the people you’re with are standing up, they warmly invite you to come with them. You stand to join them.

As you go with the people, time passes. You’re in no rush and you are here as a welcome guest for many days. It’s now been two weeks, a month. You learn and observe some of the rhythms of daily life, and the rituals people practice. Everything is safe, voluntary, and done by people as they wish.

As you watch, you feel a desire to participate. You are never encouraged or discouraged. The people here are welcoming but want you to choose your own desires.

As you’ve watched the people here, you understand an ebb and flow with the practices they have as a way they can pace themselves and their energy. You understand how the people are supported with these practices.

You decide to join one of the daily practices.

What is it?

How does it make you feel?

More time passes. You’ve now been here for twelve months.

It’s again winter and you’ve experienced a full year with them, without having to lose even a day in your present-day life. Amazing.

It is however, time to return home. You know what awaits for you there, and yet you also now have a blueprint of new/old ways of being with you this time.

What do you bring home with you?

What does it mean to you?

How will you use it?

When will you start?


Thank you for taking the time to travel today. By bringing us into more creativity through telling imaginative story, we tap into other ways of knowing ourselves and our needs without having to do a lot of research or hard thinking. Intuition crops up for us more readily, and we find ways to feed ourselves in another way.

I hope you’ve found some inspiration through your journey for ritual, practice, or even just a slowing-down that can help support you through the winter months. If you’d like to share where your journey took you, I’d love to hear, please share in the comments or send me an email.

Be sure to subscribe below this post to the weekly(ish) newsletter so you’re up to date on new posts, and other good things I may have cooking up through the year.

Happy Winter,


#winter #ritual #storytelling #holidays #mindfulness

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