People talk about New Year's being an aribtrary construct in time, how time is continuous and we should always be reflecting and striving to be better, not just once a year. This is absolutely true, and it is an intention I continually strive toward throughout any year. And yet, we as humans are intertwined in this concept of time to help us make sense of our world and our lives. This is what compells us to categorize a year as good or bad, even though 365 days usually includes a mix of both lessons and laughter. I like the idea of honoring the New Year because I think it's a good reminder for us to check in and see that we are in alignment with our highest values and intentions. We can't have an extraordinary life if we are not.
One of the most valuable things I do around New Year's is an "Inegrity checklist." This is an opportunity to see where I am not in alignment with my values and to recommit to my integrity. Notice that I said values, not goals. Goals are essential in their own right, but goals should reflect values. If your life isn't aligned with your values, then your goals aren't aligned either. To live in alignment with your values is the integrity upon which all grace is built.
Integrity means wholeness. For myself, I cannot feel whole when I have let loose ends fly. There are a lot of mundane human-type things that I hate to do and which I procrastinate (sometimes a whole year!), like going to the dentist, opening my mail, cleaning out my closet, and canceling that damn gym membership I never use. But I know that if I don't have a clean living space my mind will feel cluttered; if I have to-do lists constantly running in the background of my mind, my attention and energy will be sucked up; and if I have financial leaks in my life, I will not feel supported. I also know that being disorganized and late on correspondence or appoinments do not reflect my core values of being considerate, organized, financially stable, and in good physical health (among other things!).
In order to be able to focus time and energy towards bigger goals, to feel whole and capable of achieving one's highest dreams, a person has to tie up loose ends. If we say we want to live a life without stress, we need to stay on top of the things that, when they pile up, cause stress. For me, as a regular human like you, I am not perfect and I can be forgetful and even (gasp!) lazy about doing this. So, the New Year is a good time for me to check in with myself and see where I can be doing better to live in alignment with what I say I want. I take the last few weeks in December to complete any tasks that have been consciously or subconsciously weighing on me. In addition to my own end-of-the-year to-do list mentioned above, this process can also look like: scheduling a health exam, getting your car detailed, paying off any debts, collecting any debts, making that phone call you've been avoiding, cleaning out your email box, cleaning the gutters, returning any borrowed goods, donating unused items, etc. Make a list and do what you can to check them off. Even if you don't complete it before January, you will at least move into the new year more organized about where your focus is.
When I think about integrity meaning wholeness and integration of parts, I also consider the value of nurturing the connection between my mind, body, and spirit. For me, staying aligned with spirit is one of my most heart-felt values and intentions. That's why I love marking the New Year with a special ritual. When we add ritual to an action we add meaning and purpose. When we live from intention in this way, whether during ceremonies, holidays, or just in daily life, we live in integrity with ourselves. This is how we create the foundation for our most courageous dreams to root.
For the last few years I have chosen not to do the typical New Year's activity of going to someplace loud and crowded - that is not my scene anymore (frankly, it never really was). Instead, I have chosen to spend some sacred time with one special person in my life (last year it was my mom, the year before it was my soul sister Rachel). I create a ceremony to honor what has passed, reaffirm my comitments to myself, and call in the highest expression of my dreams.
How a New Year ritual looks is a personal choice. For me it includes setting sacred space by creating an altar with some candles, crystals, and scents, and calling on my spirit and higher power (if that doesn't resonate with you, you can call on your higher self). Sitting in meditation, I review the last calendar year and, with an eagle's perspective, open my heart in graritude for all the lessons I have learned. After that, I will get a candle (one of those tall clear glass ones) and with a Sharpie I write my intentions for the new year on the candle. Then I light it and let it burn for the whole first day of January. I also like to do tarot card readings for guidance and have fun creating vision boards to further anchor in my intentions in a way I can be reminded of them throughout the year.
It's true that we must strive toward living in integrity with our deepest intensions every day of the year. The beginning of a new calendar year is an especially potent time to anchor in this way of living. I invite you to have some fun making meaning with your loved ones and getting aligned with your highest expression!
One of my favorite ways to both de-stress and elevate mood is to take a bath. A bath is one of the easiest healing therapies we can do to facilitate our body’s natural detoxification system, which in turn calms and refreshes the mind. I’ve created a routine that feels nourishing and sacred for my mind, body, and heart, and I try to make it part of my routine at least 2 days a week.
1. Set up the space: As I’m drawing the bath, I light candles, put out fresh towels, and burn sage to cleanse the space and set an intention for healing. Setting an intention is a powerful way to create positive change and also brings in an element of ritual, which helps anchor in healthy habits.
2. Epsom salt + baking soda: Epsom salt calms the nervous system, relaxes muscles, soothes pain, and detoxes the body of toxins. Baking soda also removes toxins, as well as neutralizes and regulates pH levels. I’ve read differing opinion about which ratio of these ingredients to use, but I typically use 1 part baking soda to 2 parts Epsom salt. Once I put that in the bath, I add my favorite essential oils and then stir the bath with my arm while thinking again of my intention for healing.
3. Essential Oils: My favorite part of the bath is the combination of essential oils I choose to use. My recipe varies depending on my intention for the bath. If I am feeling sensitive and sad, I will use Lavender, Wild Orange, and Frankincense. If I have anxious feelings and want to soothe my nervous system, I will use Clary Sage, Lavender, and Chamomile or Geranium. I typically use 2 drops of each oil, as the doTERRA oils I have are very potent and only a little is needed for a therapeutic effect.
4. Soak and drift off into serenity: Depending on your mood, you can take your time in the bath for different things. This is a good place to practice relaxing and cleansing breathing techniques. You can also listen to music or read. Sometimes I just like to practice being present, do a self-love meditation, or connect with Spirit to pray and receive wisdom.
The best part of this self-care tool is that the possibilities are endless! Have fun discovering what works for you and creating your own unique sacred ritual of self-care.
As we move deeper into winter, our bodies and minds need different things than what nourished us in previous seasons. It’s important to understand how winter affects us and what will nourish us. When we can tune into what our external environment is asking of us, we can easily support our internal systems to find more balance and harmony.
It’s essential to tune into the wisdom of the season so that you can respond to what arises instead of reacting. When we react we tend to cause chaos in ourselves, our families, and our environments. This can lead to feeling imbalanced, overwhelmed, drained, and even sick, When we can instead respond with awareness and wisdom, we are able to create an internal and external experience of peace, health, and wellbeing that invites in even more love, joy, and connection.
What opportunities does this season offer? This time of year asks us to go deep within the self. The shortened days invite us to seek replenishment and rest. The lower temperatures ask us to protect and nourish ourselves in healthy ways. The close of the calendar year invites us to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and where we still have work to do. The holidays encourage us to be present with gratitude, joy, and celebration. It’s time for us to be aware of and attuned with our senses.
If you think about it, winter is a time to grow deep roots into the ground. It’s also a time of shedding and cleansing. This is an essential moment for you to look within and see where you can grow your roots down, what you can release in order to foster your expansion, and where can you bring in joy and celebration, because that’s what life is truly about.
As we move into the holiday season where the focus is often on others, I encourage you to keep your commitment to your own wellbeing. You are your greatest investment. If you take the time and action to nurture your own growth and wellbeing, you will be more likely to be a positive force in the lives of your family, friends, and coworkers during the holiday season and moving into the new year.
Here are some tips that I personally use during winter in order to stay grounded and focused on my personal growth and to support my emotional and physical balance:
Did I miss any tips and techniques that you swear by? Do you need any recommendations for anything I mentioned? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know how this season is shaping up for you, and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions - I’m here to support you through this season and beyond!
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