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Aperture /ˈapərˌCHər,ˈapərˌCHo͝or/ *A space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument, especially the variable opening by which light enters a camera

The Winter Purge

I am going to be really honest in this post today. This is for the people who continuously want to be a better version of themselves.  If that's you, keep on reading!

I would not consider myself a pro-winter person; each year, I am usually scouting new cities in the South or West to move to by mid-December. My cycle of this love-hate relationship with the Seasons is the most hilarious and hypocritical sentiment. I think Chicago is the greatest city in July - but maybe the least appealing place by January. I am sure I am not alone in my thinking. 

However, with anything I do, I try to find the silver lining. I have found that with changing seasons, especially as fall turns to winter, my emotional, mental, and spiritual self is called into question and I turn towards introspection. For myself, the transitioning of weather facilitates a type of personal growth and inner-change that I am unsure would happen if I lived in a warm climate all year (Sorry Cali folks!).  It is a time to come inside (literally and figuratively) and think about the prior year and yourself as an evolving human being. 

Changing seasons is essential for our ecosystem, but it's also a vital aspect of human transition and symbolism. Winter represents death, darkness, silence, and stillness. Not only do our trees, animals, and external life die off or hibernate, but for humans, it's a time for taking inventory, slowing down, pausing, and reflecting. It's a time to let pieces of us die. Of course, not everything, but let's be real for a second, we all have traits, quirks, and habits that are inhibiting our evolution.  We have patterns that need to be broken - especially as we age - and can no longer use excuses such as "I am finding myself," or "I will change naturally."  Change happens with intentional and authentic conversations with yourself or close confidants. 

In summer, we run around - exercise in the parks, bar hop, travel, wander into neighborhoods, date, attend festivals. Our focus is on the external; living life moment to moment at a pace that hardly leaves time for introspection. Which is OK - because we have six months of the year to slow down. 

As that first frigid day in December blows in, we slow down.  This year I am committing to an internal cleaning. Rather than complaining about the weather, I've begun to look inward and allow the season to facilitate my inner changes.  I am going to look inside and take inventory: What do I want to work on before the next season?  It is imperative (for my almost 30-year old self and new business owner) to take inventory, make changes, and become a better version of myself. 

So what do you want to focus on this year? What can you let die during this cold season? What is holding you back from becoming the person you want to be? 

I gathered a few aspects of myself that I am ready to let go and also feel like many others could do so as well. Many humans secretly experience the same condition. Feel free to take these ideas as you plan your own winter cleanse.  

The Winter PurgE - Things We Can Stop Doing Now:

1. Caring about what others think.  

I have social anxiety. It's undiagnosed and not necessarily apparent if you talk with me but I have irrational fears about being in the spotlight and having people notice me. I am introverted, but also anxious about putting myself "out there." I know that for my business to be successful, my social anxiety must be more controlled and overtime diminished. Who really cares anyway? We all must remember that everyone is far too busy to really care about each other. Finally, if people really do perceive what you're doing as negative, it's probably time to get rid of them anyways.

Action item: Keep people around you who support you and lift you up and forget about all of the naysayers. 

2. Comparing yourself to others. 

This is a deadly habit that most of us probably do on a regular basis. It's inevitable with social media. We need to realize that we all have a different path and reach milestones at different parts of our lives. I need to remind myself that my journey is exactly that - my journey. Comparing is a detriment to confidence and success. 

Action item: Stop checking Facebook and Instagram when you wake up. It can be poisonous to start your day looking at other people's lives. 

3. Worrying about things you cannot control.

This is probably a lot easier said than done. Sometimes I worry about stuff that cannot be changed in that moment. Probably way more than I should. The problem is that worrying affects our biology; stress creates toxins in the body which can ultimately trigger illnesses and chronic problems. Even thinking about that worries me :) But really, what can we do to help this? Control what you can: your thoughts. 

Action item: In the moment take a deep belly breath and ask yourself, "What is the worst thing that could happen?". Remember to stay present and keep breathing. 

4. Telling lies to cover up who you are.

For some reason I find myself unconsciously telling little white lies to cover up something or some aspect of myself. They are harmless to others but to me it's becoming more of a burden. Why do I hold back saying certain things? Why do I tell some people different information? I think a part of it is fear of judgement and reaction and another part is lack of comfort in myself and my situation at times.  My goal is start telling the truth the entire time to each person I interact with, to catch myself if I hold back or change the story, and to fully be myself in front of everyone. Freedom feels good. Let's all try this together.  

Action item: We can all be judgey at times - keep an open mind and ear when people talk to you. In return, don't hold back when you share. Let's create a more open society and open dialogue between each other. Share your thoughts even when things aren't going well for you. 

 Forget about summer! Use the gloomy days to find ways to make changes for the better. 

Forget about summer! Use the gloomy days to find ways to make changes for the better. 

To sum up - this winter, wherever you are, look deeply inside yourself. What's holding you back? Who do you want to be next year? Make your goals beyond the silly cliches - get real and look at those negative thoughts harboring side of you. 

See you soon,

A

Amanda Mausner