It’s snowing as I write this, the first time this year in Chicago. A muted brightness in the sky is fading fast and it will soon become a dark, velvety night.


If you’ve checked out one of those lists that review 2023, you may have seen alleged Chinese spy balloons, “Barbie” grossing over $1.38B, the destruction of the Ukraine and Israeli wars, Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, and the beginning of the 2024 presidential election cycle.


What’s been most predominant for me, and in my listening with all of you, is just how tired we all are.


Bone tired…

…of weird weather – like virtually no snow in December.

…of erupting wars and brutality across the world – with fears that they may come to roost here at home too.

…of pervasive gun violence across the country – and down the block.

…of extreme politics and malfeasance by leaders – here and abroad.

…of the emotional roller coaster that drains us and strains our connections when a quiet Sunday would be so soothing.


Years ago, while working in my Chicago office, the building began to violently shake.


The ground underfoot was moving and pulsing. We thought it was a truck careening over the nearby viaduct, but come to find out, a 5.0 magnitude earthquake had erupted 200 miles south along the New Madras Fault in Missouri


The experience led to unsettling effects and disbelief at what seemed impossible and unreal. That’s the kind of tired we’re feeling today – unsettling, surreal, and despairing.


Which is why I’ve been inspired by Mary Pipher’s piece, Finding Light in Winter.





Assured by Dr. Pipher that we can find the light, I’ve been musing about how to practice Light Finding when darkness encroaches.


Of course, we can find the light in a variety of ways:

  • In the beauty of nature – the murmuration of birds on my walk last week was spectacular and full of chatter.
  • In what brightens a child’s face with a smile – a simple finger puppet did the trick this week.
  • Always in art and music– like the instrumental jazz I’m listening to right now as the snow falls.


Being a Light Finder involves two things:

1) the intention to look for the light.

2) allowing the light to shine brightly within once you find it.


This morning my circadian rhythm had me up early, seeking the morning light as I prepared my coffee and paused to take it all in.


Our daily practices – preparing coffee, reading the news, making our bed – can brighten our moods, not to mention our days. I practice sitting most mornings, settling into awareness that offers me the space to set an intention for the day – like finding the light.


Pipher reminds us that “Deep inside us are the memories of all the people we’ve ever loved. . . And when I think of my people, I’m suffused with light.”


Because we’re tired, and because we’re easily sidetracked and distracted, our intentions to practice being present enough to look for light wobbles and wavers.


Intention is, from the Old English/French root intendere, to stretch.


Our intention to stretch into Light Finding is to move toward purposefully noticing light even when we’re tired and unsettled.


“Intention is everything. If your mind is always aligned with your intention to practice, you are always practicing. Practice is the spirit of practice more than any specific activity. The mind of practice is practice and that’s the intention,” says Zen priest Norman Fisher.


How do you go about finding light? I’d love to hear from you to help spread that light around. Reach me here:



ABOUT THE CREATOR OF The Leadership Pause

I’m Dr. Chris Johnson, I coach changemakers and leaders with practical tools to pause, feel, and zero in on their old strategies to renew their energy, extend compassion, make clear decisions, and create real change by using their power skills.


If you want to find the light and set intentions for real change in 2024, I can help.


Using research and content from my book, The Leadership Pause,  I crafted Calm the Chaos for Busy Professionals,a powerful online course that’ll begin in February 2024.


Check out both here: The Leadership Pause: Sharpen Your Attention, Deepen Your Presence, and Navigate the Future: Chris L. Johnson: 9781956072044: Books (see if you can shorten this link), and Calm the Chaos: Calm the Chaos for Conscious Leaders | Q4 Consulting (


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