As this winter begins, I find myself reflecting on the Winter Solstice. This December 21st, the sun will set at around 4:35pmET where I am living on the traditional territory of the Mississauga Anishinaabeg.

I have been thinking about how to honour the Winter Solstice; simultaneously the shortest day of the year and the day that marks a shift towards longer days and more light.

I appreciate the links, both historical and allegorical, to the New Year celebration on December 31st: in part, an acknowledging of what has passed and a looking towards what is to come. For me, it brings the concept of hope to mind.

Ecopsychologists Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone discuss “active hope”, where hope is a verb that requires activation (2022). Positive psychologist Dan Tomasulo similarly describes hope as a habit that can be learned (2020). I appreciate how these approaches to hope honour life’s challenges by responding to them with action.

Seeing possibilities, noticing beauty, and cultivating positive feelings can strengthen feelings of hopefulness (Tomasulo, 2020). And here, I see direct links to music. So, in considering what I would like to offer our community at this time of year, I have come to this:

  • Encouragement to draw on resources, including musical resources, to strengthen our hopefulness.
  • Encouragement to engage in hope-inducing actions, including musical actions, in whatever form those take for you.

If learning is a spiral, what I have been re-learning these past few months is that active hope is necessary for me to meaningfully engage with the complex challenges we’re facing. It also makes the engagement more joyful and uplifting.

I have created a short workbook of prompts to support you in using music to nurture hopefulness this Winter Solstice.

I am wishing you and those you love all the very best in the year ahead.


Macy, J., & Johnstone, C. (2022). Active hope: How to face the mess we’re in with unexpected resilience & creative power (Revised). New
World Library.

Tomasulo, D. (2020). Learned hopefulness: The power of positivity to overcome depression. Raincoast Books.

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