Winter Solstice Appreciations from a Santa Rosa Therapist

Winter solstice reflections and appreciations from Therapist and Life Coach Patty Bechtold at, Santa Rosa CA

Well, we’ve arrived at the solstice, the start of winter and the shortest day of the year. Here in Santa Rosa today, I’ve had a fabulous phone conversation with a dear friend, strolled the creekside path behind my house and lit candles as the darkness approaches.

Sunset will officially descend at 4:54 pm, 10 minutes from now. I’m ready for it, cozy and warm. Snuggled in for the night with a little white cat by my side.

And I’m poised to do some reflecting and writing, starting here, on the blog.

It’s been a little over a year since I unveiled this website and blog.

On December 15th of last year I made some promises to you, my readers. I said I wanted to…

  • create a welcoming environment that’s inclusive and diverse
  • be genuine, honest and real
  • steer clear of questionable marketing tactics
  • find a balance between too much sharing and not enough
  • focus more on stories rather than advice
  • write meaningful and thoughtful content
  • design an online space for women that reflects my deeply held values: belonging, creativity, love and wisdom.

Reading them again now, I can see how these promises have pulled me along, especially when I thought I didn’t have anything to say or didn’t feel like writing.

But seeing as how this is my 25th blog post, I fully intend to keep going.

I so appreciate you coming along with me for the ride. Your feedback and comments have been so helpful.

And strangely enough, I suspect the practice of showing up here regularly has, perhaps, made me a better counselor, therapist and life coach.

Professionally, it’s been quite a year.

I was certain it would take a fair amount of time for my Santa Rosa therapy and coaching practice to get off the ground. That’s how it was years ago when I started in Sacramento. But wow, was I wrong!

Thanks to an awesome web designer and a lot of reflecting about the women I serve, things took off fast. Although it caught me off guard for a moment, I managed to step into the flow pretty quickly.

I’m tremendously grateful to the women of Sonoma County who have trusted me to be their therapist and/or life coach this year, as well as those women from outside of the area with whom I’ve worked.

This is the the year that I’ve learned it is truly possible to have both local face-to-face counseling and coaching services right alongside telephone/video services.

Although it’s fairly new, particularly in the therapy world, I think most of my clients would agree with me that distance counseling (officially known as “teletherapy”) can be as intimate as in-person sessions. It’s also helpful for local clients when schedules are tight or life just gets in the way of making it into the office.

Speaking of life getting in the way, it’s been a personally challenging year at times.

I’ve had my share of bumps in the road. Like many of my clients, I’ve struggled to cope with the aftermath of last year’s election. I’ve experienced the sadness, stress and depletion too.

It’s been heartening, though, to feel like we’re all in it together, trying to find a roadmap through the chaos.

And then, of course, there were the Santa Rosa fires, something most of us never imagined could happen in our beautiful town and region. There are so many layers to the grief, loss and transition that have come in the wake of those fires. So much so, in fact, that I expect we’ll be dealing with it for a long time.

For me, there was an added layer of grief after the fires, the loss of my dearest friend and soul sister, Martha Russell. I knew it was coming and was able to travel to Washington to be with her near the end. For that I will be forever grateful.

Looking ahead to the next year.

After this past year, I’m more convinced than ever that none of us can predict the future.

But one thing I do know for sure is that my mission will stay the same: to help women find their way home to the deep, abiding wisdom within themselves.

Since Martha’s death, I’ve been reminded (again) of how important it is for us to do this in the company of other women.

In fact, it was Martha who encouraged me to start my first women’s wisdom circle seven years ago, after I’d said for the zillionth time that I wasn’t sure I could fit it into my life.

And last summer, even though she wasn’t feeling too good, we sat in a beach house and watched the waves as I told her about my plans for a women’s writing group.

Not long after, Wise Women Writing to Replenish and Renew took root, and it’s now a Meetup group with 99 women! It also inspired me to create a podcast of sorts. And my heartfelt thanks go out to all who have joined.

During 2018, in addition to the Meetup group and my 1:1 therapy and coaching work, I’m moving toward (and returning to) creating a small group coaching/support circle for women. I’m also hoping to offer some retreat days and a four-day October retreat in beautiful Sonoma County.

These plans aren’t quite ready to be birthed yet, but they’re in there. If you’d like to be the first to know when they’re ready to come out, please join my email community right here.

A final word of appreciation…

It will probably come as no surprise when I tell you I believe every woman deserves a place where she can let her guard down, say anything she wants and feel supported by other women. (If she wants that, of course.)

It might surprise you to learn, though, that it took me awhile to understand how important this is in my own life. But I’m so glad I did finally get it. And I’m glad I learned to reach out to ask for it.

This year, in addition to Martha, I’ve had the honor to have three amazingly wise women in my life: Kristie, Charlotte and Sas. With each of them, I can let my guard down, say anything I want and feel totally supported.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, dear women.

This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath…”

-Margaret Atwood






Patty Bechtold

Patty Bechtold

I help women find their way back to their deepest wisdom when they feel like something’s missing in their lives or themselves. On my blog I write about the stories, insights, ideas, and wise words I’ve picked up along the way. Thank you for being here.