I was introduced recently to the word “koselig,” a Nordic concept conveying light and warmth deep inside a person that radiates out and translates to their surroundings. I was captivated by the concept that in the midst of their long, dark winters, they cultivate light and warmth in their homes and families and communities. I love the intentionality of it, the idea that we can generate far more beauty than we think we can. They don’t just endure, they don’t waste time or energy wishing away the cold and dark they can’t control, they embrace the goodness of the season – the coziness and candles and festivals and skiing and long conversations over hot beverages – and they thrive. (For more about this beautiful concept, click here).
I spend way too many days really only looking to get by. I have a hard time believing that it will be OK. I want to be that soft and confident woman who gives the impression that all is right with the world, but most days, feel the opposite. I feel like it’s all so hard, and I’m a mess, if not downright crazy. How do we practice this intentional cultivation of lightness and brightness in our day-to-day? How do we get past the things we wish were different and spend our energy on the things that matter?
I think we need one another. I want to be able to tell you that you’re all you need. “You’re responsible for your own happiness,” they say, and okay, to some extent that’s true. We choose what we dwell on and what we cultivate, but I can’t get away from the fact that it’s so much easier for me to share light with someone else than to shine a light on my own darkness. I’ve gone through seasons over the years where I felt alone and isolated, and you know what? I missed this, the connection and sharing and community I have now. I tried to be positive, but there was no one to share the burden with, and I felt an elemental sense that something was missing. I needed friendships and relationships that carry enough meaning and heft to let my heart feel their presence in this world. It gives me an enormous appreciation for this gift of presence.
We only really recognize the light because of the darkness. We only sense lightness because we’re familiar with heavy. I asked some friends what it means to say that someone “lights up your life,” because I want to get better at this, and here’s what I found: more than anything else, it’s about presence. It’s about showing up, and checking in, and being counted on. We need to know we’re not alone.
I don’t think cultivating light means avoiding the heavy topics. If anything, the ones whose presence we crave are the ones who accept us with all our quirks and doubts and all the things we wish had gone differently. We have no need to keep our filter on with them, no need to keep up appearances, or bury our true thoughts and feelings. It is pure relief to be with the ones who let us be true. They dance through all the highs and lows with us, celebrating the good times but unafraid of the hard times. They’re willing to hold steady while we vent or cry. And then, they help us believe that it will be OK. They help us take a good creative look at all the things weighing on us and seek out all the best, wherever it may be hidden.
Here’s what I know I need to do: I need to be less afraid, and I need to prioritize time with my nearest & dearest. In the moment when I’m missing someone and thinking about sending the text or making the phone call, it’s so easy to let convenience get the best of me – mine or theirs – and to hold back because I am unsure. Do you ever feel this way? So let’s agree together, no more holding back. Let’s be the ones to reach out. Send the text. Make the phone call. No more going on auto-pilot and let weeks or months pass without having a good long conversation with someone who means a lot to you. Let’s light up each other’s lives.