November. We begin this month by setting our clocks back an hour. The days are short and dusk falls early. We bear witness to the final days of autumn in all of their fiery glory. By the end of the month, a hush has fallen over the landscape. The grass is brown and the trees are barren, skeletons against a gray sky. We may even see a snowflake or two. Winter is almost here.
- Create inner warmth. As we lose heat from the sun outside at this time of year, it’s important to create an atmosphere of warmth in our homes and in our hearts and souls this month. Light a fire in the fireplace, make sure your thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature, keep your favorite blanket nearby for snuggling up. Set aside extra time for meditation, reading books, journaling or other introspective activities that comfort your soul.
- Embrace the darkness. Just as we lose outer warmth in November, we also lose light. There tends to be a lot of complaining about this, particularly right after we fall back to standard time on November 4. This year, instead of wishing this time of darkness away, try making peace it, maybe even enjoying it a little. November is a great time to practice slowing down, turning inward and spending a little more time being rather than doing. Welcome the early evenings by lighting a candle or turning on a low lamp. Cook something warm and nourishing for dinner while you sip a glass of wine. Turn in early with a cup of tea and a good book. Write in your gratitude journal (see 4 below). Make a cozy ritual out of these early evenings at home.
- Visit a cozy café or coffee shop alone. Find a warm, cheerful place you can go to fortify yourself with a warm beverage and soak in the presence of other souls without having to directly engage with them. This can be especially healing if you work from home or in an office setting and need a change of scenery. Bring some work, a creative project, your journal or a good book and bask in the warm glow of the company of strangers.
- Commit to writing in a gratitude journal. Sarah Ban Breathnach famously introduced us to the concept of the gratitude journal in her 1995 classic, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (which I still read daily, by the way). The idea is to write down five things you are grateful for each evening before bed. “You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life, ” she says. “And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” Sarah suggests having a journal that is solely dedicated to the expression of gratitude, a written record of the blessings and abundance that are already yours: “As the months pass and you fill your journal with blessings, an inner shift in your reality will occur…As you focus on the abundance rather than on the lack in your life, you will be designing a wonderful new blueprint for the future.” Ready to give it a try? Find a journal or notebook and take a few moments at the end of each day to review and appreciate the good in your life. Commit to this simple practice for the month of November, and see if it shifts your way of being.
- Go for a walk just for the pleasure of returning home. There is nothing quite like the feeling of crossing the threshold of your front door, rosy-cheeked after a brisk walk in chilly weather. The contrast of outer cold and inner warmth heightens our awareness and enhances our feeling of sanctuary as we make our way home after braving the elements. Set the scene for yourself by making sure your house is toasty warm before you leave. Have the makings for a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate at the ready.
- One word…slippers. I haven’t had a pair of slippers in years, and this year I decided to go ahead and treat myself to this pair of boiled wool slippers from Garnet Hill. What a luxury for my always cold toes! It is so nice to know that they are waiting patiently for me next to the front door when I arrive home. And a bonus….my floors are cleaner because I’m not wearing my shoes in the house.
- Establish a fika ritual. Fika (pronounced fee-ka) is essentially the Swedish term for coffee break. It is meant to be a sacred pause in the day, an opportunity to rest, reconnect and nourish ourselves with a hot beverage and possibly a tasty baked good. The Swedish fika at least twice a day…usually late morning and mid- afternoon. You can fika alone or with company. At home or out at a café. What is important is that you are stopping what you are doing and taking a true respite from the day (we don’t fika in front of the computer while we finish up some work or while we check our social media feeds, for example). Try setting aside a little time in your day for a hot cup of tea or coffee and maybe a little treat to go with it. Sounds like an excellent time to write in your gratitude journal!
- Make porridge for breakfast. Did you know that there is a restaurant in Denmark that is solely dedicated to serving porridge!? Yes my friends, porridge is hot right now (ha!). Prepare something warm and comforting to fortify you for the day ahead. Steel-cut oats are one of my favorites, but there are so many different grains that work in a porridge situation. Rice, quinoa, barley, farro….the options are endless. If you are tight on time in the mornings, do your future self a favor and prepare your grains ahead and simply heat them up at breakfast time. If you are a savory breakfast sort of person, give this oatmeal with egg on top a try. It’s quick as can be and one of my favorites.
The happiest of Novembers to you all! I am so grateful to have this online space to write and share what I’m thinking and doing. Thank you for stopping by!