Shelley J Whitehead

Coming back to life

7 March, 2022


Every year, there’s a moment at the tail end of winter when I am suddenly aware of the stirrings of growth in the garden. It’s that moment, when the earth has long lain still and lifeless and the first little shoot of a snowdrop starts to poke it’s head up out of the soil. Cautiously at first, then bursting into a modest little bow of white budding beauty.

In my coaching practice, I often first meet clients when they are in the depths of despair. When they are frozen stiff with the grief of heartbreak and can’t even imagine the idea of a life full of warmth and pleasure. In these moments, my role as a coach is to hold the space to allow them to process their grief, help them start to tap in to their inner resources and at the same time gently remind them that life is cyclical. This too shall pass.

The desolate months of winter will ultimately yield to the budding joys of Spring and eventually leap into the delights of Summer.

If you are in the grips of grief and aren’t able to process and transmute this pain into new growth, it can feel like your life is now in perpetual winter. When the enormity of an experience feels too overwhelmingly huge to be able to process, it would be described as a ‘trauma’. Rather than moving through a cycle it can feel as though you are in a tail-chasing spin of a never-ending spiral. But there is always a way through and out. And my personal view is that the golden cracks of a kintsugi soul (a spirit that has had to dig deep and overcome harsh challenge) are filled with a profound and incomparable beauty. The snowdrop is all the more glorious for the courage that it has had to muster up to push through the cold and lonely winter soil.

Part of coming back to life after the wintery hibernation of grief comes from noticing things. Grief and pain can narrow your field of vision, as a self-protective way of getting all your energy pointing inwards and focused on healing. And reconnecting with nature is a powerful starting poin for looking up and ahead at what is ‘out there’. I have a vivid memory from my own journey through heartbreak (which somehow neatly seemed to follow the trajectory of the seasons) when I found myself looking out of the window one early-Spring morning and noticed a solitary green shoot. It gave me a little rush of joy. I suddenly realised that it was the first time for months I had really connected with anything outside of the screeching agony of my own inner turmoil.

I made a promise to myself that day that I would remember to keep on noticing and to keep on connecting to nature. I flexed that mental-muscle more and more, day by day, until I found myself more connected to the world again. My garden had always been there, cycling away through the seasons, but I hadn’t really seen it properly and hadn’t drunk in its beauty the whole time I was in the mire of my own despair.

Wherever you are in your journey, remember to occasionally look outwards. You can find inspiration and solace in connecting to the forces of nature. And, as the first shoots of this new Spring season start to shyly show their face to the world, remember that there is always a life force stirring inside you, waiting to be ignited, getting ready to burst into bloom.

With love

Shelley J Whitehead
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