Every year I put out my notice of Hibernation.  I am not leaving the house for frivolous reasons during the winter.  I was born and raised in the Midwest but I have yet to get a handle on winters.  I don’t like to be cold.  The ritual of adding extra layers of clothing and taking them off seems ridiculous to me.  Shoveling snow and sliding on icy roads are not worth the effort.  If I didn’t have to work I would take the whole season off.

I’ve been sending out this notice for several years now.  It’s funny how my friends and family anticipate it.  They look for this notice and question when it’s late.  One year I tried to brave the weather and be a social snow bunny but the inches of moisture quickly brought me back to my senses and I retreated.  I couldn’t do it.

Hibernation season is a great time to take care of little projects around the house, catch up on my reading or just to rest.  The people who don’t mind the terrible winter conditions are gladly welcomed to my home.  It is understood that I would not be returning the invitations.  My friends have come to accept this part of me.   They no longer try to tempt me with invitations to dinner, movies or events.  I am not interested.  I give the perfunctory greetings for the coming holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.  Much more is not to be anticipated.

What is not understood about Hibernation season is its time for renewal.  All year long I am actively taking care of life. The meetings, event planning, developing, coordinating, practices, school activities, church activities, etc.  The energy spent during the year is exhausting.  You have more hours of light and you have to make good use of it.  The point of hibernation is not to escape the winter conditions but to allow the body to breathe, slow down , conserve energy and rejuvenate itself—until the newness of Spring.  So for me everything slows—breathe.

My hibernation notice was seen as a funny antidote to the Midwest winters.  I know there is a spiritual aspect to stopping and escaping the fast paces of life’s demands on the mind and body.  Breathe.  I don’t struggle with my pathway to calmness and awareness.  You have to connect to your source and sense of being.  When we pack our lives with “things to do”, we tend to disconnect with who we are and what we really came to do on this earth.

I am always amused by the responses to my hibernation notices each year.  Most find it humorous and typical of me.  What is not realized is hibernation is what makes me be the person I am because I recognize the need to slow down and torpor.  Breathe.

by:  Michelle J. Agnew


About The Author: Michelle J. Agnew resides in Chicago, where she is a single parent of two nieces.  She is employed in the healthcare industry as well as a part-time venture in the financial services industry.  One of Michelle’s favorite hibernation activities is reading a good novel.

3 thoughts on “Hibernation

  1. This is such a wonderful idea and I’m so jealous that I did not think of it first. My hibernation season is Summer. Having lived my entire life in South Carolina I crave the few weeks of “winter weather” we are allowed each year. I love it all – the scarves, gloves, hats, pink boots, layers of sweaters, coats …. these things make me smile. SC Summer which can start in March and last until Thanksgiving means sweating off my makeup before I make it to my car in the morning. I love the look of pantyhose but develop a rash just thinking about them in the heat and humidy we endure more days than not. I turn into a snivelling snit who resorts to tears and curses when the meteorologist threatens 100 degree heat indexes. So I am all for a Hibernation Season and suggest we all make such a declaration – Mine Is Summer! You can find me reading, writing and smiling indoors with the thermastat set at 68 degrees – just don’t ask me to join you for lunch at an outdoor bistro or roof-top happy hour.

  2. Seems so elementary, but THANK YOU Michelle for naming this “condition”. I would feel so guilty for wanting to nest away the winter months. Now I will hold my head – and pillow, good book, hot apple cider – high for now on. And wait for spring.

  3. Really enjoyed reading this blog. This is exactly how I feel in the winter but could never put a name to it. As a social worker, I would diagnose someone with the feelings I have during this time as suffering Seasonal Affective Disorder (ironically titled SAD), however the depressive symptoms are not there. I like the classification of “hibernation” instead. It is a sense of bearing down (no pun intended) in anticipation of the renewal that comes in the spring.

    Keep up the good work and keep the blogs coming!

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