Simple. Clean. Uncluttered. Life well-lived! We can make room for some of these qualities!
Well...we've made it through the busiest days of the Holiday Season. My hope is that everyone had a blessed, joy-filled Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, Yule, and more!
It is during these "backwater" days between Christmas and the New Year that I practice Radical Simplicity and Self-Nurturing.
Oh, I know there are lots of great after-Christmas bargains to be had...and if I really want or need something I will venture forth to acquire it (like the new vacuum cleaner I needed to replace the one that died just before Christmas).
However, barring the "needful thing", my tradition is to practice Radical Simplicity and Self-Nurturing. Basically, I rest after the busy run-up to and through Christmas. I catch up on my reading and sitting. Radical sitting! In front of one of the several fireplaces or cast iron stoves throughout the Cottage (I do have central heating but where's the "atmosphere" in sitting in front of furnace vents?).
There's something "elemental" and evocative about gazing into a flame be it a flickering candle or the glowing embers of a campfire, fireplace, or woodstove. So, I indulge myself mindfully and often, taking time to sit, sit, and sit some more.
The gardens are dormant under their blanket of snow (yes, we did have a white Christmas!) and aside from feeding the animals, little calls me outside. It's cold out there!
I fix simple, good things to eat. In and out of the kitchen quickly with a bowl or plate laden with something yummy. Comfort food!
Pajama and "warmy" days call for a simple, "loungey" wardrobe! What is a warmy? It's a long, down-to-the ankles dress/robe thingy that's loose, comfy, has long sleeves, is presentable enough for company or a quick trip outside. It's cozy-warm, too, hence its name.
Lots of reading material is scattered around my primary sitting and lounging areas. Books - entertaining or inspirational. Magazines that it's past time to catch up on. Old favorites - cookbooks and others I dive back into time and again that beckon like old and comfy friends inviting me to visit, to commune awhile.
Naps. Early bedtimes. Sleeping in. Long, soaky baths! Radical Simplicity and Self-Nurturing...'cause baby, if you don't do it for yourself, it's probably not going to happen!
Yes, we all have our problems, duties, and obligations that require our time, attention, concern, and worry...still we must make time - quality time - for ourselves and those we love. Time alone. Time together. Nurturing ourselves in all of our favorite, elemental, and fundamental ways.
If we don't "treat" ourselves to some "time outs" our lives can become a relentless, meaningless grind that drags us through the days of our existence, unrelenting, un-fulfilling, joylessly. Something to be endured in shades of drab.
In spite of everything, we must experience the fullness of lives well-lived whenever, however, we can! Thus, I invite everyone to include a bit of timely, needful Radical Simplicity and Self-Nurturing into our lives.
Even if you feel you can't "have your cake and it it too", you can at least cut yourself a big, gooey, luscious, candlelit, slice of sublime sweetness!!!
Karma Kitty enjoys his nap on the slipcovered sofa in the sitting room. But for a fore-paw stapled to a pillow he would be in danger of sliding off!
There's something about cold temperatures and snow-laden, gray clouds that instill a desire, a yearning, for a cozy nap on a dark, Winter's afternoon.
While Karma finds his napping pleasure, instantly, on any upholstered or padded surface I must create my own nappery!
Any soft surface serves Karma as a napping spot such as this chair near the dining room fireplace.
My bed is my best and only option as my slipcovered sofa, while comfy for sitting and reclining, is too short for me to stretch out upon.
I don't own any blankets! I've never been satisfied with any I've ever purchased. They either shrink, pill, shed, become misshapen, and are always too full of static electricity. So, I simply layer on coverlets, quilts, comforters, and spreads for a welcoming layered look and feel.
An old quilt, a matelasse coverlet, and a toile comforter make for a beckoning, layered sleeping spot that just begs me to come take a nap!
To make my bed even more nap- and sleep-worthy I like to add one cup of white vinegar to which I've added fifteen drops of lavender essential oil to the final rinse water when I launder my bed linens.
No surprise...Karma likes the new layered Winter-nap ensemble!
Yawn...I think I'll go take a nap. Here, kitty kitty! Oh...you've beaten me to my nappery!
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who sorrow in this Holiday Season when violence sometimes seems to reign over Peace and Reason. Peace will prevail, but for now our thoughts are with those who suffer.
The now leafless front elm and snow-covered sumac berries hide a secret.
This morning - Sunday - I awakened to a world cloaked in white! Not a deep snowfall but a reminder that Winter is here along with frozen water, dormant plants, Cottage cats plush with winter coats, and a browning out of the once-green gardens.
Still, amidst the frosts, the freezes, and the snowstorms, new life is unfurling in the gardens around the Cottage.
Despite Winter's freezes and snow, iris show tentative new growth.
Although most plants in the gardens are brown and dormant, a few, always, despite Winter's harshness, put forth early new life.
Most notably are iris, lilacs, bachelor's buttons, heartsease, larkspur, flax, and hollyhocks. Some herbs such as burnet, ephedra, and rue hold green throughout the Winter. These intrepid garden favorites hug the ground and shroud themselves in gelid, dark, and translucent, muddy hues as if to pretend death in order to thwart Winter's oppression.
In the frigid depths of Winter leafless lilacs put forth new buds, their promise of Spring's abundance to come.
So take heart all you who grieve and whose hearts lie frozen in hopeless sorrow! Nature promises that sown within deepest despair are the "seeds" of new life, hope, and joy that even now beneath the "snows" of a Soul's Winter stir into new life.
A Season of Peace, Plenty, Joy, Reflection, Sharing, and Holy Birth.
If we listen, watch, or read the news, and look at the lives of friends and family, the local and world events, it appears that life is rife with chaos, calamity, and ever-increasing complexity.
In some ways this may be so. However, while we cannot control outer events and circumstances to any great degree, we do have some inner adjustments and recognitions we may choose to make.
The days and weeks leading up to our coming Holidays may be, if we choose to make them so, a sacred time of peace and reflection on what and who is truly meaningful in our lives.
Yes, there is the glitter, glitz, and mind-numbing refrains to shop, shop, shop...until you drop! But there is also the nostalgia of shared Holidays and Christmases-past that we can choose - communally or individually - to remember warmly and joyfully. We can simply stop, gather with our loved ones, and bask in the simple pleasure of being together, sharing a quiet, simple meal (ahead of the big feasts to come).
There may be the clamour of in-store announcements that such and such a department is having a really big sale and to hurry, rush, and buy before "it" or "they" are all gone.
Yet, upon arriving home and numbly dropping the many packages to be wrapped upon the counter or floor, one may breathe a sigh of relief to simply, at last be home (where the heart is) out of the fray. And even in the midst of so much to do, take a few moments to kick off your shoes, make a restorative cup of tea, listen to the old carols, and enjoy the lights and tinsel (does anyone even decorate with tinsel anymore?), the evergreens, the gathered presents with which we've garnished and gilded our homes in celebration.
As we wrap our gifts, stuff the stockings, light each symbolic candle, or partake of the feast or ritual meal, let us not do so mindlessly or by rote and habit, but do so thoughtfully, mindfully, sacredly, gratefully, and lovingly.
As we travel "through the woods", over the highway, or wing our way between the clouds - to Grandma's house and beyond - let's be grateful that soon we'll gather together with loved ones in joy and good cheer.
And in those days leading up to the Big Day, let's practice peace amidst the pandemonium, embrace joy with a big, happy smile, and know that the Holy Birth is not just an anniversary of a miraculous event that happened countless centuries ago, but also reminds us that we can choose each and every day to be "reborn", again and again - soulfully, blessedly - into our truest beliefs and innermost holy selves where we can commune with angels. And that regardless of outer conditions we may with a mere thought and whispered prayer turn within to that sacred, heart's shelter and therein find love, peace, joy, grace and gratitude.