Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Years

Whether you're feeling prepared or not, 2010 is nearly upon us. And what would New Years be without the guilty murmurings of resolutions... "This year I'm going to learn how to speak Yiddish!" "This year I'm going to lose 75 pounds!" "This year I'm going to be a better brother/father/son/grandparent!" "This year I'm going to finally realize my dream of professional yodeling!"

I used to be kind of down on New Years resolutions. Why should an arbitrary holiday be the turning point for realizing our dreams? Most people don't keep their New Years resolutions, so what's the point? Isn't it better if we all worked towards our goals right now? After all, progress is generally made when we carve out time to work towards our dreams each and every day... one piece at a time... not jumping into them until we're over our heads and then give up.

But lately I have begun to see that many of us require that extra little push to feel like we are ready to begin a new journey, a new challenge. The promise of a new year and a clean slate provides the backdrop for a fresh undertaking. The post-holiday motivation can be the perfect catalyst for developing new habits and taking the first steps towards a goal.

Whether you choose to usher in 2010 with a resolution or simply look forward to your continued growth over the next 365 days, new years is a great time for some honest reflection. If you're still not sure what you hope for the start of the 10s, here are a few tips for kicking off the new year in the right frame of mind.
  • Make a list of all the things you hope to be doing in the next year, no matter how ludicrous or optimistic they may seem. See how detailed you can be. Go through the list and circle, star, highlight or bejewel those that are top priorities, and get started on making them a reality.
  • Pull out a stack of old magazines and clip out all of the images that appeal to you, arrange them into a collage and post it somewhere you'll be sure to see it everyday. What images spoke to you? What does your visual taste tell you about what you're looking for in your life? Let your collage be your inspiration.
  • Grab a calendar and, for each month, vow to do one thing that you really want to do... Write it down and, if you can, set the time and date now - being specific will help you to stick to your plan. For example, maybe you want to go apple picking in September, or spend a night at a bed and breakfast in June. Perhaps you're counting down the days to see the next installment of Harry Potter (midnight showing, anyone?) or would like to host a theme party in March... The idea here is to plan 12 different activities that are fun for you, whatever that may be, and end up with something special to look forward to each month for the entire year.
  • Try picking just one theme for the upcoming year. Perhaps this will be your year of independence, of delight in everyday things, or of epicurean adventures. Maybe you'll decide on an affirmation, motto, or mantra to carry with you this year, such as "I am learning everyday" or "I will be open to the opportunities the world presents". Perhaps you can even boil your intentions for the year down to one word, such as embodying simplicity, balance, or honesty.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Solstice

Photo found here

If the dark days have been getting you down, rejoice! Today is the Winter Solstice, which in layman's terms is the shortest day of the year. Now while that may not sound like means for celebration, the result is that every day from now until the Summer Solstice will be longer and longer (Wondering when the Summer Solstice is? It's typically on June 21st - 6 months from the Winter variety). More scientifically speaking, the Solstice is the day that the earth's axis is tilted at it's most extreme degree either towards or away from the Sun. In today's case, we in the northern hemisphere are leanin' back like Fat Joe (if you don't get the rap reference, we're leaning back a lot) while our friends south of the equator are leaning in for a kiss of sunshine.

The Winter Solstice has been celebrated in countless ways by cultures around the world for well over a thousand years. Many interpretations of Sun Deities are honored at this time - such as the the Incan sun god Inti, or the sun-goddess Beiwe who was believed by the Saami (the indigenous people of current-day Finland, Sweden, and Norway) to travel across the sky through a structure of reindeer bones. Many cultures and faiths have viewed the Winter Solstice as a time of rebirth or renewal - including various Neopagan and Christian sects which celebrate the rebirth/birth of prominent figures of their faith during this symbolic time of year. Whichever tradition you choose to carry-out this season, it's likely rooted in the current angle of our round, spinning home.

If the change in weather and the stress of the holidays has you down, why not celebrate your own renewal of spirit today? Do something that helps you feel rejuvenated - be it heading to the gym to sweat out toxins, drinking a big green juice to revitalize your body, or booking a massage to rub yourself anew. Honor yourself by being mindful of your needs as you prepare for the winter ahead. Don't forget to be patient with yourself; the short days and long nights may affect us biologically, mentally, physically, and emotionally. And even at the most challenging of times, remember; it'll only get brighter from here.

Lazy Sunday: Snowed In

Lazy Sunday: Snowed In

The hour-by-hour forecast shows the little snow icon for at least the next 12 hours. Anything I had planned on doing today has gone out the window, but that's alright. Days like this are perfect for helping us to slow down and take it easy. Nothing sounds better right now than wrapping up in a big sweater, slipping on some fuzzy slippers, and getting settled in for some indoor delights - say making a batch of cookies, playing a long game of Scrabble, stringing some forgotten Christmas lights somewhere unexpected (the bathroom!), and enjoying them while taking a deliciously scented bath. Ahhh...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Smart Water Use

I saw this great video on Jason Mraz's blog and found it so interesting I wanted to share. It is eye-opening to see just how much water we use in our everyday lives. Looking to use a little less of this precious resource yourself? Decreasing or cutting out your meat consumption and eating locally (i.e. starting your day with domestic produce, not fruit flown in from New Zealand) are great ways to start! Shave outside of the shower. Don't wash your clothes after each and every wear (underwear is a definite exception) - quality clothing can be worn multiple times before getting tossed in the laundry basket. Opt for garden and landscaping plants native to your area and you'll avoid constant watering. Check out the video below for some more simple ideas:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winter What-to-dos

I'm not generally one to get excited for Winter, what with it meaning months of cold feet, soggy mittens, bad hair, icy commutes, and sniffles. However, its presence is undeniable, and since the month of December is already more than half-way through it seems appropriate to celebrate the chilliest season while it's here. Need a little inspiration for getting into the snowy spirit? Give some, or all, of these tips a try.
  • Bake a tray of gingerbread people cookies and decorate them to look like people you know or famous folks. Then host a festive party and display said cookies for your guests - use them instead instead of place cards or turn it into a game and see who can guess the cookie's likeness... then enjoy!
  • Suit up and enjoy the snow like you did when you were a kid. Grab a friend and make a snow man, build an igloo, make snow angels, have a snowball fight... you get the idea. Once your fingers are frozen and you've got snow in your boots (or perhaps down your pants), change into something comfy and make a heaping mug of hot cocoa.
  • Pop some corn and settle in for an evening of holiday films. Mix up some old favorites with something you haven't seen yet. On my list: A Charlie Brow Christmas, The Holiday, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Shop Around the Corner, Love Actually, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Elf, and of course, A Christmas Story!
  • When you make it home from a long cold day, pop your pjs and some fluffy socks in the dryer for a few minutes before hoping into them. You'll be warmed-up and relaxed in no time.
  • Catch your favorite winter sports on TV, or better yet live! There's the X-Games, competitive ice skating, ski racing, snow mobile racing... Once you're feeling up to the challenge head to your local mountain, rink, track or trail and get in on the action yourself.
  • Of course, you don't need to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy winter sports. Both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are great ways to take in the changing scenery, no prior experience required. You can make either sport as leisurely or vigorous as you like, so bring your camera to capture the sights or plenty of water to rehydrate while you burn off that fruit cake.
  • If you're of the crafty persuasion, get busy hand-making thank you cards. Draw, paint, stamp, glue, weave, bedazzle, however you like; with all the thank yous there are to send out this time of year, you'll be glad to have a stack of personal cards to help deliver a heart-felt "thanks".
  • It may seem like your culinary choices are limited during this rather dormant growing season, but there are many options for seasonal produce yet. Citrus fruits, and more specifically Clementines, are my favorite whole-foods winter treat. Food and Wine, Real Simple, and Chow all have some great ideas for delicious meals made with Winter produce too.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lazy Sunday: Need to Buy


When I first completed my Christmas shopping, I vowed not to step foot in a retail store for anything but the necessities until the New Year. However, I had forgotten just how cold New England winters can be. My attempts at layering a few long sleeve t-shirts under a trusty cotton cardigan have been futile against the bone-chilling wind and 8 inches of snow-turned-slush this past week. My office window provides not only a view of the whitened landscape but a consistent draft too, and by the time my little car warms up at the end of the day I'm half-way home and shivering. My need for some new sweaters, boots, and, if I'm lucky enough, stylish flannel-lined jeans (okay, that may be an oxymoron), cannot wait until the holidays are behind us. So today, I'm off to see what the retails have in store for me this year. I can only hope fleece jumpsuits and woolen balaclava's are the latest must-have items.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Been Up To...

Photo found here

I don't know whether to attribute it to the busyness of the holiday season, the darkness and coldness that's come over the northeast, being preoccupied with personal changes and challenges, or just feeling like sleep is a better option, but I haven't been in the mood to write lately. I have, however, been...

Trying to fix my broken ipod
Trying to revitalize my mom's old Creative Zen (fixing the ipod didn't pan out)
Doing other people's Christmas shopping (if you finish early, why not?)
Learning to bake (correction, burning things at my baking class - it's not for me)
Swimming myself sore
Moving to a new office
Reading and crafting by the tree
Collecting recipes of yummy things I can't possibly burn
Eating the most delicious raw coconut cream pie; I'm still dreaming about it

What have you been up to?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thought for the day

"Tortoise walks about red earth
going nowhere
in plenty of time"