Finding Bright Spots in the Gloom

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Most people want the first week of their New Year to signal a fresh start – to rethink old habits and patterns, become invigorated by the thought of positive change, and to see the world full of promising signs and new movement. The turning of the calendar page somehow offers us an imagined threshold over which we give ourselves permission to ‘reset’ all that we have sullied in the previous year, and “get back on track.”


My beloved Maine makes this bright, fresh start a challenge. Because, quite literally, the physical world is so dang DARK right now! As I write this on January 5, here in Maine we have only about 9 hours of daylight – meaning 15 hours of darkness. And day-“light” is relative: today I’d call it more of a day-“foggy-whitish-gray.” Because humans need sunshine to produce vitamin D, many people living in these climates experience vitamin D deficiency during these darker months; and because Vitamin D is critical for healthy mental function, some experience this D deficiency as a non-characteristic depression, termed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – myself included. Long technical explanation short… it’s a shitty way to launch the New Year!


This depressive feeling manifests in different ways for me personally and professionally. In general I am not excited about all the things that normally motivate me, my energy and normal zest is at its lowest levels, and it’s difficult to focus on and articulate things. I am normally a highly motivated, highly zesty, and highly focused and articulate person, so this is particularly out of character for me. However at 42, this ain’t my first rodeo with SAD, and I’ve developed strategies. One of them is to look for the Bright Spots that are well hidden in the Eternal Gloom of the Darkness to help get me through.


Dragging my lethargic ass outside and getting into whatever sun there is, and, even if it’s cloudy, just being in nature always, always helps. Sun – even cold-air, short-lived sun – and nature, are Bright Spots. Embracing my Mantra – that a flower would never force itself itself to bloom in the middle of winter – and allowing reflective, creative energy some space to manifest, creates a Bright Spot. I’ve noticed when I fight the slower, more meditative energy of winter, it zaps me. So I try to let it be. To be dormant like the roots of all the beautiful flora of Maine right now. When I can find and achieve these Bright Spots, they refresh me a little. They sometimes even manage to motivate me a little. And they always remind me of why I bother with all of this. So at the beginning of each day or week, I’ll assess my do list, and at this time of year I’ll look for and prioritize anything that looks like a Bright Spot.


Let’s use this week as an example. Here were my main priorities for this week:


*Complete the realignment of the project Gantt Chart with new scheduling/timing realities and let impacted partners know
*Begin to build-out a detailed 18 month sub-Gantt for the construction schedule as we line up the dozens of Contractors this project requires
*Follow up with the Lighting Designer regarding his proposed project scope
*Coordinate our Architect with our Interior Designer to transfer CAD files so that Interior Designer can get her input on the plans
*Site the Sauna in immediate relation to the plunge pool sited last fall and get coordinates to Civil Engineer
*Check on the Plunge Pool in the southern stream and measure it’s height and flow at this time of year
*Name that stream
*Choose from the options our Interior Designer provided for coffee/end tables and order 1 of each to put in our “model” cabin to ensure that all furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) function smoothly before launch
*Coordinate with Structural Engineer to get the log cabin designs stamped
*Check on the Certified Forest Therapy trail at this time of year to determine any potential issues with winter access


Now train your eye to look for opportunities – is there anything in there I can convert to a Bright Spot to get a little boost? ANSWER KEY: There were 4. Site sauna, measure plunge pool, name stream, hike forest therapy trail. Openly weeping in my cereal gets a bit depressing for the kids and huz to witness, so I try to space the Bright Spots out as evenly as possible to keep my head above water and not fall apart on any given day. Using those Bright Spots as leverage, I was able to get through about 80% of my list, so I feel OK about my week.


The strange and welcome feeling of joy and excitement I felt when I came around the corner to see that that beautiful, deep plunge pool was palpable. The pool was overflowing and I clocked depth at 41”! I sat there for awhile and envisioned where the sauna should go. I moved around and sat on different rocks. I listened to the sounds. Water flowing. Chickadees. Occasional twig cracks. I remembered how important it is to feel this peace, and to create a place where it can be sustainably shared with others. This is how I will get through the next few months. Chasing Bright Spots, feeling gratitude for the ability to do so.


I named the cove MoonSoak after the intense feminine energy I feel resides there, and in anticipation of the experiences to come in that sacred place for ourselves and our guests.


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