When I was a City lawyer I frequently felt like a battery hen, laying my 7 “billable hours” each day. The pressures of a workplace that required relentless productivity took their toll and after 10 years I left to set up my own business, where I had the freedom to set the pace for myself and respond to my own rhythms.
Today is Imbolc, the ancient Celtic festival that marks the mid point between the winter solstice on 21 December (the shortest day) and the spring equinox in late March, the point in the year when the days become longer than the nights.
Also known as Candlemas in Christianity, Imbolc traditionally celebrates the beginning of the end of winter; snowdrops are appearing and the days are ever so slightly longer. It’s a subtle shift and one I can easily miss in my artificially lit, 24/7 London life, yet if I take the time to pause and mark it, I feel comforted by noticing the lengthening days. Like a deep sea diver ascending from the depths of the ocean, I can now see the surface of the water above me and the blue sky beyond. I haven’t reached the air yet but I’m travelling up towards the light.
Even though I am now answerable to no-one but myself, I still get caught up in the “busy” work culture of modern life – fearing that I won’t be able to relate to my clients who are still working under this pressure if I’m not experiencing it myself. Learning about these ancient festivals and how to pay attention to these transitions in the seasons has been a revelation for me and a powerful antidote to this unspoken expectation.
Imbolc is a time for spring cleaning, both literally and metaphorically. I invite you to pause, light a candle and take a few moments to reflect on the winter months, asking yourself:
- what have I been hanging on to that I’m ready to clear out?
- what new ideas have been forming over the winter months that I want to explore in the spring?