Simple Seasonal Pleasures for November

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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!

Honoring Our Ancestors

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We are in extricably woven with our ancestors.  My belief is that if we tap into that fertile unseen world much healing wisdom will surface.

-Gigi Stafne

The timing of Halloween coincides with several ancient holidays and festivals which not only marked the halfway point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice, but also served as an opportunity for people to remember ancestors and departed loved ones (The Day of the Dead in Mexico, All Souls’ Day in the Christian tradition, the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Norse festival of Winternights).  It was believed that the veil between the world of the living and the ancestral realm was particularly thin at this point in the year.

In the modern western world, we don’t have many formalized rituals that help us honor our ancestors.  We might display photographs of them in our homes or own cherished heirlooms that they passed on to us.  Maybe we occasionally get into the kitchen and prepare old family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.  Or maybe we share fond memories and stories about our grandparents and great-great grandparents around the dinner table.  You might have been fortunate enough to grow up in a family that placed some importance on reaching back through time to connect with those that came before you through food, stories, heirlooms or genealogy research.  But what if you didn’t?  Maybe that information was never made available to you, or maybe, through complicated family dynamics, the connection with your ancestors was deliberately severed at some point along the line.  It is not uncommon to not particularly like or agree with those that came before you.

And yet, we sense that there is something about our ancestral connection that matters, regardless of the complex human relationships that come with it.  I recently heard a podcast interview with John Lockley, author of Leopard Warrior:  A Journey into the African Teachings of Ancestry, Instinct, and Dreams.  Mr. Lockley is a South African healer and shaman who writes about the importance of our ancestral connections.  He writes:

“To forget one’s people represents a sadness beyond words.”

He goes on to explain that it’s not about liking or agreeing with your ancestors.  It’s simply about having an appreciation for the life that they have passed on to you.  I love this idea of stripping down the honoring of our ancestors to a very basic practice of gratitude for the gift of life that we received from them.  Maybe your grandfather was a real jerk and you would rather forget that you were related to him altogether.  But by simply honoring the life that he passed on to you, one can set aside his imperfect humanness for a moment and see that he is just one in a line of many that made you being here possible.  When we can find this basic gratitude for the life force that flows through our body, we can see that this ancestral connection runs deep.  Everyone descends from someone else.  This realization brings with it a sense of peace, humility and interconnectedness that runs through all of life, not just the direct line of people we came from.  Suddenly it’s easier to sense our connection to the ground beneath our feet and the humans, animals and plants with whom we share this Earth.

As this season of remembrance begins, honor your ancestors in any way that speaks to you.  Make your grandmother’s cookie recipe or tell your children the story of your great-great grandmother fighting to save her home from a raging grass fire on the desolate windswept plains of the upper midwest.  If you are sketchy on what your roots are, ask your living relatives for help or join http://www.ancestry.com and do a little research.  They offer a free two week trial which is plenty of time to get a basic idea of your family history.  If you really have no idea about your lineage, take an online DNA test (also available through http://www.ancestry.com)  and find out where you come from.  Do some research on those cultures and see what resonates with you.  But most importantly, be willing to take a moment to offer gratitude for the roots of your being, regardless of what they look like.  See if that simple act of appreciation opens you up to a greater sense of connection with all of life.

Creating a Sense of Sanctuary

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There are no intrinsically sacred objects or experiences; they are made sacred by the special context that we give them.

-Louise Thomsen Brits, The Book of Hygge

Now more than ever we all need a sanctuary, a refuge from the world, a safe place to reflect and restore.  But the word sanctuary implies more than just a safe space or refuge.  It suggests reverence.  Holiness.  A sense of the sacred.  When we think about our homes in the context of creating sanctuary, we see the value of a living space that is simple, comfortable and cared for, a space that is ready to calm and nurture those who enter.  When we bring this sense of sanctuary to the seemingly mundane details of our daily lives, the ordinary has the potential to take on new meaning.  A morning cup of coffee in our favorite mug suddenly becomes a quiet, restorative ritual to start the day.  Our favorite corner of the sofa is transformed into a cozy writing nest to contemplate and dream.  Preparing dinner becomes a sensory meditation.  As we infuse our lives with a new awareness and appreciation for the everyday moments, we create sanctuary for ourselves and those we love by elevating the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The creation of sanctuary is an intentional practice, a willingness to make room for and find the sacred in the everyday.  Here are a few ideas for how to begin creating a sense of sanctuary in your own life:

  1. Make Space.  It can be difficult to cultivate the sacred in the everyday when we are buried in clutter or an over-scheduled calendar.  Clear out and simplify.  Make room in your home and your planner for a more intentional, well-lived life, for what nourishes and sustains you.
  2. Own a few small, well-chosen items that comfort and delight. A warm blanket, a favorite mug, a pen that flows effortlessly across the pages of your journal…sometimes it’s the small luxuries that become talismans of comfort, familiarity and meaning in our daily round.
  3. Slow down. Our lives move at the speed of light.  How many times have you thought to yourself on a Thursday evening, “I can’t believe it’s Friday already tomorrow!  Where did the week go!?”  We can live our whole lives this way if we aren’t paying attention, racing unconsciously through our days, just managing to get by.  This kind of living is simply skimming the surface. We are not immersing ourselves in the richness that is right in front of us.  As a way to counter this pace, practice doing things SLOWLY on purpose.  Take a stroll through the neighborhood.  Not a power walk, but an easy stroll.  Prepare dinner at a leisurely pace.  Linger over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.  Luxuriate in a hot bath rather than take a quick shower.  Take up an activity in which success depends on time and patience, sourdough bread baking, for example.
  4. Unplug. We don’t cultivate the depth and richness of life by staring at a screen.  We need to be wholly available to participate with our environment and the people in it in order to notice and appreciate our everyday experience, at least for a little while each day.  Be gentle with yourself on this one…unplugging from a virtual world and plugging into our real one with all of its messiness and the possibility of boredom isn’t easy.  Start small if you need to by setting aside designated times where you don’t check your phone.  Having a no device time before, during and after dinner is a great place to start.
  5. Engage with your senses. We can come back to the wholeness of the moment, to the beauty of the here and now just by really seeing, smelling, touching, hearing and tasting what is right in front of us.  This is why cooking is such an extraordinary activity for discovering the sacred in the seemingly mundane tasks of daily life.  The smell of garlic sautéing in olive oil, the bright orange flesh of the squash we are cutting into cubes, the softness of a plush Colorado peach in late summer.  Cooking offers so many wonderful opportunities to stop and take in a moment of sensory wonder and appreciation for the everyday gifts that are right in front of us.
  6. Don’t just eat dinner…dine. Find a bit of ceremony in your day where you can.  Light candles at the dinner table, lay down some placemats and cloth napkins and open a bottle of wine.  Not only will you invite a sense of the sacred to your meal, research suggests that gathering around the table at the end of the day is a source of social connection and an important aspect of our physical health.  In his book, How to Make Disease Disappear, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee talks about what life was like when humans existed in hunter-gatherer tribes.  After the sun went down, these early humans shifted their activities and conversation from the work of finding food to telling one another stories around the campfire.  “The researches call this ‘firelight talk.’  It’s a time of calmness, reflection and-perhaps most importantly-connection.”  We are wired to reflect, connect and find meaning in our existence by sharing our stories, the happenings of our day, with those around us.  “In the modern West, the table rather than the campfire is where our connection, or our ‘firelight talk,’ happens.”  Elevate mealtime to a higher plane by realizing that this is where we strengthen our sacred connection to one other….especiallyon an ordinary Wednesday night over meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
  7. Bookend Your Day with Rituals for Reflection. For me this means meditation and journaling.  But it could just be a simple quiet moment with your cup of coffee in the morning before your day begins.  Taking even a few moments before the day gets away from you to quietly center yourself is invaluable.  You will enter the morning in a more intentional, peaceful frame of mind.  In Circle of Stones, author Judith Duerk tells the story of a woman who lights a candle when she first wakes up for a brief ritual of quiet presence:

    “as long as I take time every morning to light a candle to my life, it remains my life.  But if I hurry into work without that small moment of quiet, then I’ve already lost myself, and the day.  The task, for me, is to care, daily, for myself and my life….to love and to nurture, within myself, moment by moment, the quality of quiet presence, quietly being present to my life, which sanctifies it…to live as if the candle is lighted.

    Likewise, take time to assess the day and find gratitude for the moments that touched your soul in some way, especially the small ones.  This is an excellent way to thoughtfully and intentionally shift into the evening hours.

Rest and restore in the sanctuary of everyday moments. Our lives are abundant in the ordinary, and it can be a profound gateway to something greater if we simply shift our perception a little.  The depth and meaning we seek in life is often not found in the big things….the parties, weddings, promotions and extravagant vacations.  Instead, we can find richness in our lives right where we are as we practice taking pleasure in the everyday stuff of life.

Simple Seasonal Pleasures for October

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Welcome October!  My favorite month of the year.  It’s been cold and rainy here in Nebraska, and no one seems to be complaining.  The sky hangs heavy with low gray clouds, and the leaves are just beginning to turn.  I’ve put away the summer clothes and unpacked the sweaters and scarves.  I just made the first batch of chili of the year.  Finally, the time for coziness and inner warmth is here.

  1.  Visit an apple orchard.  Here in Omaha we are fortunate to live near Nebraska City (it’s where Arbor Day originated, if you weren’t aware), which is home to several apple orchards.  In addition to stocking up on apples, we will stuff ourselves with warm apple cider doughnuts and buy a gallon of cider to take home and make this apple cider cocktail.  One of my favorites!
  2. Pack a fall picnic.  There is something about having a picnic on a crisp fall day that is utterly charming.  A plaid blanket and a thermos full of a hearty, soul-warming soup are essential!
  3. Read a scary or witchy novel.  I love snuggling up with a good scary story this time of year.  Some of my past October reads have been DraculaSalem’s Lot, and the Dark Witch trilogy by Nora Roberts.  This year it is Beneath a Blood Red Moon by Shannon Drake.
  4. Bake pumpkin bread.  Such a delicious quick breakfast or afternoon snack with a cup of coffee or tea.  This recipe from Smitten Kitchen is my favorite.
  5. Take walks in the crisp leaves.  I love the sound of fallen leaves crunching under my feet!
  6. The smell of woodsmoke.  As the evenings get chillier and people begin using their fireplaces and wood stoves again, the woodsy scent of smoke rising from the chimneys around the neighborhood evokes such a sense of warmth and coziness.
  7. Honor my ancestors.  The timing of Halloween coincides with several ancient holidays and festivals which not only marked the halfway point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice, but also served as an opportunity for people to remember ancestors and departed loved ones (The Day of the Dead in Mexico, All Souls’ Day in the Christian tradition, the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Norse festival of Winternights).  It was believed that the veil between the world of the living and the ancestral realm was particularly thin at this point in the year.  Whether or not you believe there are thin places in the year in which we are closer to the spiritual realm, it is lovely to have a time set aside for honoring and remembering our ancestors.  A great place to do this is in the kitchen, of course!  This month I will make my dad’s famous pasta dish (simply known as “The Dish” at our house…it was that good) and my great-grandmother’s Pepparkakor (Swedish ginger snaps).  Cooking and baking are tangible, delicious ways to connect with our ancestors.
  8. Let go of what no longer serves.  I’m taking a cue from the falling leaves this month and letting go.  Letting go of clutter, jewelry, clothes, shoes, books, ideas, beliefs, habits, relationships, commitments….ANYTHING that isn’t serving me.  My very wise friend, Siobhan, who happens to be a very talented life coach, has proclaimed October the month of letting go.  Why?  In Siobhan’s words, “to create the space I need to be more ME.”  YES.  It’s amazing how both mental and physical clutter can stand in the way of our authenticity.  And so I will clear out the closets and the garage.  I will go through the kitchen cupboards and drawers.  I will journal my way past beliefs and ideas that are no longer helpful.  I feel lighter and more spacious just thinking about it!
  9. Watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”  Whether you have kids or not, you are never too old for this sweet little Halloween special.

A very happy October to you!  I hope you find your own simple ways to make it special.

Saying Yes to the Sourdough Life

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Last weekend, I had the privilege of teaching eight lovely women how to bake sourdough bread.  I absolutely adore teaching these workshops.  The participants are always so enthusiastic and willing to get their hands right in the dough (which is exactly what we do….no mixers here!)  We cover a lot of ground in a three hour span, basically a Sourdough 101, and everyone leaves with two loaves of bread ready to put in the refrigerator overnight and bake in the morning, along with a sourdough starter of their own to feed and nurture so that they can continue baking bread in their own kitchens.  Sourdough bread instruction tends to be very technical and intimidating.  My approach to teaching it is to make it fun and inviting.  Baking sourdough bread should not be an activity reserved only for those who love hydration percentages and baker’s math.  It’s for everyone who is willing to say “yes” to the sourdough life.

Those who show up at my workshops willing to say a hearty “yes” to this way of life bring with them so many reasons for wanting to do so:

I need something creative, just for me.

I love the idea of doing something real, with my hands.

I don’t even eat bread but I want to make this for my family.

I want to know what’s going in to the bread I eat.

Each one on their own path but wanting to enhance their lives by giving themselves over to this ancient, creative practice.  It is a beautiful thing, this sharing of the sourdough life, and I am grateful to be able to do it.

What is the sourdough life?  It is a commitment to nurturing a living ecosystem, the sourdough starter, that is your partner in the baking process.  It is a willingness to be present for your sourdough starter when it needs your attention, which at first is as often as twice a day.  It is an opportunity to dance with the ancient rhythms of life and nature that are inherent in the baking of sourdough bread.   It is a intentional slowing down to an unhurried pace that runs counter to almost every aspect of the modern world.  It is a surrendering of control and an opportunity to simply allow things to happen in their own good time.  It is a creative ritual that brings a sense of simplicity, connection and well-being into our lives.  Oh, and there’s the reward of the bread itself….fragrant, warm and rustic, unlike anything you would find in the grocery store.  And you made it with your own two hands with a simple combination of flour, water and salt.

My introduction to this life came in culinary school, three years ago.  I had just gone through a divorce and was faced with the prospect of what was next for me.  I had been a stay-at-home mom for 12 years.  What would I do to support myself?  Before I had children, I had been a practicing attorney.  A very unhappy one.  I wasn’t too excited about returning to that career path, but I investigated my options, networked with my former colleagues and went on some interviews.  In the end, I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t put myself back in that toxic environment.  So I went to culinary school instead.  It was something I had always wanted to do, cooking and baking had been long-standing passions in my life.  Artisan Breads was known as a demanding class, but I absolutely loved it, particularly the sourdough aspect of it.  I fed my starter religiously, even taking him with me on vacations.  After the class ended, I continued to bake on my own and even considered the prospect of owning my own bakery for awhile.  The more I baked the more bread I gave away to friends and family.  They began asking if I could show them how to make it themselves, and so the workshop was born.

Now I write, teach yoga and journaling classes, and host bread baking workshops.  A far cry from my lawyering days and not nearly as lucrative, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I don’t know where this journey will take me next, but I do know that settling into this ancient practice of sourdough bread baking has changed me.  Yes, it can be a bit of an ordeal to create a starter, to continue to nurture and feed it, to plan ahead so that your bread has enough time to ferment in the refrigerator before baking.  It’s so much easier to just buy bread from the store!  But the results of your efforts are well worth it, both in terms of the rewards of the creative process and the delicious bread itself.

Consider saying “yes” to the sourdough life, to dedicating yourself to a practice that grounds, delights and nourishes on so many levels.  Come to a workshop or read a book on the topic (I recommend Sourdough by Sarah Owens).  Simply begin by creating your own starter and see where that takes you.  I will follow up this post with instructions for beginning your own starter, but if you can’t wait, there are plenty of resources on the internet for getting started.  The good people at www.kingarthurflour.com are always a good and reliable source.

 

Simple Seasonal Pleasures for September

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Finally, after one of the hottest summers I can remember, the days and nights are beginning to cool down.  Humidity levels drop, and the air has a crisp clarity to it, bringing the world into sharper focus.  Greens slowly turn into gold, orange and deep red.  There is a sense of anticipation and aliveness as the seasons change and we begin turning inward towards fall.

1. Celebrate what feels like a new beginning.  As I wrote about here, for many reasons September 1 feels like my New Year’s Day.  I will take some time with my journal to give thanks, reassess and make resolutions for the year ahead.

2. Put the winter squash from the garden to good use.  We have a bumper crop of winter squash this year!  Butternut squash risotto with bacon and sage, pizza with roasted squash and caramelized onions and my favorite squash soup are all on the menu this month.

3.  Light the first indoor wood fire of the year.  We have a little wood stove in the corner of our living room that has been patiently waiting since April to be of use again.  Hopefully we will have a chilly morning or two towards the end of the month that will require a little fire to get things warm and cozy.

4.  Apples!  As we sadly say goodbye to peach season for another year, we welcome apples back into our kitchen.  They are obviously delicious as is, but I will find an opportunity to make a tarte tatin (upside down French apple tart) at lease once this month.

5.  A cozy wrap for chilly mornings and evenings.  Dressing comfortably at this time of year is a challenge….chilly mornings give way to warm days leaving me too hot or too cold at some point.  Enter the wrap!  Stylish in a way the a cardigan is not and almost like a socially acceptable way of wearing a blanket out into the world, the wrap is the obvious answer to this dilemma.  I bought a cashmere wrap from Garnet Hill several years back and it is still as lovely as ever.  A worthwhile investment.

6.  Football games.  Nebraskans take their college football very seriously!  While I am not the world’s biggest Husker fan, I do love game day rituals….tailgating, drinking beer at ungodly hours (I am the world’s worst day drinker, by the way), the wafting scent of brats, burgers and all things grilled.  And there is something about the sound of a football game that brings me back to cozy fall days growing up in Minnesota.  Kids played football at the park near our house, and the sound of the whistle blowing and crowds cheering could be heard from our open windows on cool fall evenings.  And every Sunday, my dad would build a fire in the family room fireplace and we would watch the Vikings play.  We did not always do much together as a family, but I still associate watching football games on TV with warmth, coziness and family togetherness.

7.  Mrs. Myers Clean Day Apple Cider Scented Products.  On Labor Day weekend, I will head to Target and buy enough of these delightful products to see me through the end of the year.  It is a small indulgence, to be sure, but to have the tiny zing of sensory pleasure every time I wash my hands, clean the kitchen or do the dishes is absolutely worth it.  And no, I’m not getting paid for this endorsement.  I’m just a big fan!

8.  Decorate with pumpkins, leaves and gourds.  Tomatoes and corn will give way to pumpkins, gourds and winter squash at the farm stand this month.  I will buy a few for our dining room table and living room for a little natural seasonal decor.  As the fall colors begin making their debut, I will collect leaves on my walks around the neighborhood and press them in between the pages of a heavy book before scattering them here and there around the house.

9.   Stock the freezer with homemade chicken or vegetable stock.  It is officially the start of soup season!  Soups are infinitely better if they begin with the solid foundation of homemade stock.  I will use my recipe for chicken stock…easy, versatile and classic.  I may also make a simple vegetable stock as well.  My future self will be so grateful!

10.  Celebrate the Autumnal Equinox on Saturday, September 22.  We will light candles and have a celebratory feast featuring fall produce to mark this special time of the year when day and night are nearly equal in length.  It is also a good day to contemplate the role of balance in our lives….what do I need more or less of right now in order to feel centered and grounded?  I will take a little time in my cozy writing space with my journal to explore this topic.

Sending you love and hoping you dive deep into your simple seasonal pleasures this September!

Happy New Year!

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“It seems to me that January resolutions are about will; September resolutions are about authentic wants.  What do you want more or less of in your life, so that you can love the life you’re leading?” –Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance:  A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

September 1 is my New Year’s Day.  Rather than feeling depleted and weary as I often do when January 1 rolls around, I feel more alive than ever as summer shifts into fall.  It’s a day for new beginnings, authentic resolutions, and tapping into the energy of harvest and change that flows into our lives in September.

Where does this surge of creative energy come from?  Maybe it’s because September coincides with the start of a new school year or because the earth’s energy is shifting from the outward (spring and summer) to the inward (fall and winter).  Maybe it’s because this has traditionally been a month of harvest and so it feels natural to assess and be grateful for what we have and to look forward to what’s ahead.  Whatever the reason, September is an excellent time to contemplate creative new beginnings.  Take some time today or tomorrow and snuggle into a cozy writing space with your journal and a pen.  Acknowledge and celebrate the seeds you have planted and what you have harvested over the past year.  Consider what’s working in your life right now and what’s not.  Explore the desires and longings of your authentic self and set your resolutions for the coming year.

As Sarah Ban Breathnach points out in her book, Simple Abundance:  A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, “the beauty of autumnal resolutions is that no one else knows that we are making them.”  There is no pressure to share your resolutions with anyone, and they can be absolutely anything that speaks to your soul and feels right for you in this moment.  Think of September 1 as a quiet opportunity to reassess and return to your true nature, to whatever “simply true north” is for you.  Happy New Year!