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Wintering, Complete Works, and Wiser: Messages for Transformation.

By Sherrilene Classen, PhD

As I was recovering over the last three weeks from my left total hip replacement surgery, I engaged in reading three extraordinary books, with the content that was most striking to me, shared below.

The first was "Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times" (2020), a book by Katherine May. "Wintering" takes us on a journey through the metaphor of winter, a season often associated with cold, darkness, and dormancy. May uses the idea of winter as a framework for challenging periods in our lives when we may face illness, loss, depression, or any kind of personal crisis. Just as the natural world goes through cycles of growth and dormancy, so do our lives. Wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience and wisdom resides in those who have wintered. May describes that we are trying to shield ourselves against the onset of winter, yet, also encourages us to understand that the “wintering” times in our lives are not a failure of nerve or a lack of willpower, but rather that this period is real, and that it is beckoning us to learn to invite it in. We may never choose to winter, but we can choose how to winter. Plants and animals don't fight the winter; they don't pretend it's not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Winter is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing limited resources, and vanishing from sight. Once we stop wishing it were summer, winter can be a glorious season affording us a time for reflection and recuperation, and transformation.

The second book was "The Complete Works of Florence Shinn," (2016), a metaphysical book and spiritual book. This book is a compilation of lessons from her four previous books, each referred to below: From "The Game of Life and How to Play It" Shinn proposes that life is like a game, and we can learn to play it with wisdom and success. She emphasizes the power of positive thinking, affirmations, and aligning one's thoughts with their desired outcomes. Clearly these teachings align with the Law of Attraction and the belief that our thoughts and words have a direct influence on our reality. From "Your Word Is Your Wand", Shinn emphasizes that the words we speak and think can have a profound impact on our lives. She provides practical guidance on how to use affirmations to bring about positive change and manifest one's desires. From "The Secret Door to Success", the author contends that success is not solely determined by external circumstances, but rather, it is an internal process that can be cultivated through faith, intuition, and right action. The section provides insights into overcoming challenges and achieving one's goals. Finally, in “The Power of the Spoken Word", Shinn reiterates that words are powerful tools to shape one's reality. She offers affirmations and illustrations to show the impact of positive thinking and conscious communication on one’s life.

In the third book, "Wiser: The Scientific Roots of Wisdom, Compassion, and What Makes Us Good (2020), Jeste, a psychiatrist, and LaFee, a science writer, examine the nature of wisdom and its impact in our lives. Drawing from research in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy they provide insights into what wisdom is and how it can be cultivated and understood. Six themes emerge: 1. Defining Wisdom— as a construct surpassing intelligence and knowledge, and encompassing qualities of empathy, emotional regulation, and the ability to make sound decisions. 2. The Science of Wisdom – is explained via its neural and psychological underpinnings. 3. Development of Wisdom— occurs over a person's lifetime and suggest that individuals become wiser with age and experience. 4. The Link between Compassion and Wisdom— indicates that wise individuals demonstrate higher levels of empathy and concern for the well-being of others. 5. Practical Applications for Cultivating Wisdom—suggests enhancing our relationships and engaging in personal growth. 6. The Societal Impact of Wisdom— may greatly benefit society by fostering more compassionate and ethical decision-making, particularly when done among those in leadership roles.

In summary: “Wintering” revealed to me the importance of the meaning of rest and nurturance, employing self-compassion, appreciating relationships, and being open to self-discovery. Florence Shinn’s Complete Works left me with insights regarding aligning one's thoughts, words, and actions with the desired outcomes, while embracing a spiritual approach to life. And finally, "Wiser" made me understand the meaning of wisdom, it’s equanimous benefit when applied to our personal lives, and most excitingly, the eudaemonius advantages for society.

If you are interested in applying these transformational principles to your own life, visit us at or join us in our Book Club Community Corner

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1 Comment

Nancy Baumann
Nancy Baumann
Nov 12, 2023

I very much enjoyed your reflections, and reading your summary of the books excites my interests to go read some of them. Thank you

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