Norse mythology doesn’t mess around when it comes to Winter.
When Norse mythology does Winter, it’s called Fimbulvetre, an apocalyptic weather event ending almost all life on earth. Translated, Fimbulvetre means a “great, big, awful winter” that essentially clutter clears the world so thoroughly that nothing is the same after.
I like the way the Norse do things. Sometimes, a full-scale Fimbulvetre is long overdue.
|What Winter really looks like where I live.|
I don’t mean that literally. I live in the Central Valley of California, where we panic when the temperature dips below forty degrees Fahrenheit. I would probably last three minutes in an actual awful Winter, but as a metaphor I find Fimbulvetre useful while looking back on the past few months.
I am a full time teacher, writer, a wife, and a mother of two daughters. This past fall I wedged a Masters in Education program into my schedule. I suddenly found that I didn’t have the energy for the stuff, people and habits that didn’t nourish my family and me. Like a deciduous tree in Winter, I shed dead leaves and pooled my resources to the inner core.
Fimbulvetre is about clearing away the non-essential. It’s not about trying to solve problems through compromise. Fimbulvetre is about getting honest about what isn’t working and letting it go without equivocation.
In my own personal Fimbulvetre this past year, I forced myself to be honest with a few people who were hurting my family and me with their actions and words. It was a relief to get back the energy that I had been wasting on disappointment and anger.
On a physical level, I stopped eating refined sugar. I stopped bothering with moderation. I faced the fact that sugar is a problem for me in my diet and I dropped it altogether. My joints stopped aching and I lost enough weight that I liked how I looked in jeans again.
I got rid of some pieces of furniture in my house that I hated and cleared the spare room altogether. Rather than fill it with new things, I put down a throw rug and turned it into a yoga room.
My third grade daughter had been coming home from school depressed by a culture of relentless testing and mean girl social dynamics. When it became clear that nothing was going to change, my husband and I went Fimbulvetre on the whole issue. We left the school and parish that had been our community for eight years and found Waldorf education, which suited our little girl much, much better.
Fimbulvetre as a problem-solving approach has been a life-changer. Facing a new year, my family and I have never felt stronger and happier. We have never felt like more of a beautifully working team.
Not every year can be a Fimbulvetre year, but clearing out what wasn’t working with a Norse-like, no mercy approach has helped me to cultivate presence and awareness in all aspects of my life. It has allowed me the energy to focus on the essential and the true for myself and for my family.
In true Fimbulvetre form, nothing will be the same in the aftermath. I will emerge from the great and awful Winter strengthened at the roots, prepared to grow wildly in the warmth of the coming Spring.