Our Real Work: Jess Ryan, MS

Coaching and consulting. Something's calling. It's your life.

When the holidays make you want to cry on the inside (Make room for “and”)


December is here with twinkling lights and jingling bells, joy and merriment, gifting and giving.

Or maybe you see December with its darkening days and nonstop noise, seasonal sadness and letting go of the year, consumerism and excess. Maybe the peace you seek within seems at war with the events of the world without.

All of it seems bigger and bolder than usual and the gulf between sides seems deeper and wider.

We face paradox every day, but, wow! it comes on strong in December. For those of us grieving at this time of year or missing someone, there is a strong pull between sorrow and joy. For those of us who enjoy quiet reflection, we’re tugged by the parties and gatherings. For those of us who want to focus on family and giving, the constant barrage to buy, buy, buy seems incessant. And even as we offer greetings of Peace on Earth, we see signs of war and hatred and strife. Whoa.

Don’t despair, my friends! The pull you feel between joy and sorrow, light and dark, all these extremes may be uncomfortable. It’s also normal.

It’s part of the plan for us to say goodbye, let go of the goals and dreams we had for this cycle around the sun. It’s part of the plan, as we do so, to turn forward to the next cycle. We shift from end to beginning to end to beginning . . .

The days grow darker and shorter, but the return of light and lengthening days is approaching rapidly.

Endings and beginnings. Dark and light. Quiet and social. Joy and sorrow.

Often I find that my clients think of these things as either/or. You can make space for joy or you can hold space for sorrow. You can retreat to your quiet side or you can embrace the festivities. You can welcome the dark or long for the light.

If it’s not an either/or, you struggle with the tension between these opposites and extremes, pulling you this way then that.

What if December wasn’t such a push-and-pull month?

Here’s a profound truth: You can hold both sides of paradox.

You can sit with both.

Be with both.

Instead of tug-of-war, you can experience peaceful paradox.

Sounds good doesn’t it. Who doesn’t want more peace this time of year (anytime really?) But if you’re on this path, you probably know that peace doesn’t mean smooth and easy. It does, however, mean a step away from struggle.

Paradox tends to awaken a sense of tension within us, so I ask you to do this: acknowledge what you are feeling—ALL of it—without judging. Make space—for ALL of it. Sit with the darkness and the light, whatever form they take for you right now.

I’ll be holding sacred space for our paradoxes with a healing meditation on the winter solstice (that’s tomorrow!) In this time of transition and tension, I invite you to slow down, create space, welcome your darkness, sorrow, endings and your light, joy, and beginnings. I invite you to breathe deep and open as we delve into the fullness of these paradoxes. Please join me for Winter SOULstice on December 21 at 7 PM MT (9PM ET). And if you know other souls who are also feeling the tug of these paradoxical, transitional days, share the link and invite them to join us.


WinterSOULstice 2015


  1. Hi Jess, I really enjoyed this and wanted to tell you a quote from the philosopher Kierkegaard (sp?) He said “truth is the tension between paradoxes.” Fits with your blog, yes? I look forward to tomorrow’s solstice celebration.

    • Pam, wonderful quote! Thank you! So glad you’ll be joining us for the Soulstice celebration tomorrow. Many blessings to you and your family this season.

  2. Yes I want to be part of the meditation
    thank you for appearing on my phone this morning

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