Embracing the start of a busy couple of weeks of holiday travel and festivities by making use of idle time in to car to work on a knitting project with my hand-spun yarn.
Holiday travels = knitting season in my world!
Where ever you are, I wish you a safe and peaceful start to these busy weeks of family, friends, and celebration!
A friend recently pointed me in a direction of this quote, which pretty much sums up the way I strive to live.
I am writing this post on a Friday evening. My own children are tucked into bed and I am working to quiet my mind after a full week of both being a mom and kindergarten teacher.
Reflecting upon a couple of moments captured in snapshots that are true reminders of what wonderful gifts that these children I care for are in my life.
I really do have room in my heart for them all.
.:happy weekend friends:.
It is the season of darkness in our neck of the woods. I am counting down the days until winter solstice and the much anticipated return of daylight. Until then, doing what I can to add a little glimmer to our days by making ice luminaries to spread a little love and light. I welcome you to join along!
To Make an Ice Candle Luminary:
You need: a bucket (five gallon ones work well as they are strong, but any bucket will do). More buckets mean you can make more luminaries!
Let me know if you give it a try!
These directions have been adapted from instructions posted at elynordicskiclub.org
Sharing with you today a guest post written by Xan Holyoak, contributing in this space all the way from South Australia! Enjoy Xan's timely inspiration to stay grounded this holiday season.
Managing the Christmas Crazies
Can you feel it? I can and I believe that anyone within reach of a television, a smart phone, his or her inbox, a shopping center, or any other connection with society probably can as well. It takes a strong filtering system of mindfulness and awareness to remain centred. The media and commercial retailers fuel the idea that we need to achieve everything and consume beyond our needs. Even some of our family members or perhaps our local school community perpetuate the feeling. Christmas is big business you see and our spending makes it the most lucrative season of the year. That all sounds rather disheartening, but I aim to place my priorities toward the true essence held within this time of year and that helps to keep me connected rather than dissected.
Whatever your faith or belief systems, we all strive to move through each moment of every day with love, compassion and gratitude. The Festive Season serves as a reminder of this but I know I am not alone when I confess my struggles to keep this intention. Most other people I am surrounded by are also feeling it and there are many among us who are yet to gain awareness of their deviations. I do not mean for that to sound like a judgment, more so that this is how we have all been conditioned by the ‘powers’ we have been exposed to over the last few generations. This feeling runs deeply, far beyond what we touch, see and hear. At the risk of sounding melodramatic I sometimes think it feels like an assault upon all our senses and energetic bodies at once. An electrical current that seems to shock our entire Being - Mind, Body and Spirit. Goodness, that does sound melodramatic. That force within the air around us gains momentum throughout the Festive Season and creates a static charge similar to the positive ions that fill the air before a spectacular lightning storm. In fact, the irritability and agitation that comes about toward the years end is very like that before a storm. At least, this is something I have observed within my own outward environment beyond the sanctuary of my own home. I have no scientific background, however, and so these thoughts of mine stem purely from my own observations.
Reading this, one would think I lacked the enjoyment of the Christmas Season when in fact it is the opposite that is true. I love it and reliving that unbridled excitement through the innocence of my own children is where the true spirit of Christmas becomes reborn. Keeping that filter in place is what becomes so important to me at this time of year. Not only is teaching my children the beauty behind making and giving important, but showing them through my own actions helps to instill the love, compassion and gratitude that they can then enriched upon. It is through my own behaviour that they will learn and that is why I try to be even more mindful of my personal levels of self-care throughout this season.
It is common (and so easy) for us all to rush that much more, for our tempers to be shortened and for the ‘To-Do’ list to become impossibly long. There are the extra commitments to squeeze into an already full schedule and often our sleep is lessened (or not of quality) as the hour we make it into our bed becomes later and our minds are still full.
So far, my words here have been generalized with the assumption every one of us feels this same way. This is incorrect for there are so many who seem to thrive with this frantic energy. I am not one of them. In fact, there exists a little part of me that is slightly awed by those who adapt their lives and welcome in this rush. I know my limitations and I know what brings me peace and joy. I relish in a simple quite life with my family and although we enjoy socializing, we try to remain mindful and selective to what we commit ourselves and always consider the needs of our children and ourselves as paramount.
I forgot this for a short time last week and felt the inevitable challenges because of my oversight. You can read all about that in this blog post over at The Conscious Caterpillar. Those days last week were a very timely reminder for me to take stock with my priorities. Over the years and with the passing of each “Silly Season” I am learning what works best for my family and me. It is a work-in-progress and I am sure I will continue to refine these ideas and methods as my children grow and our lives flow forward. For right now though, it is about planning, organization and the gracious decline of most invitations that stand as our strongest filters.
In the weeks before Christmas and for us here in Australia those are also the weeks which close our school year, I can usually expect a moment of overwhelm as the inbox is flooded and the collection of notices begin to burst from an overstuffed school bag each day. That becomes my signal of when to pull back. I watch our wall calendar and my diary and I note those things in which we choose to commit, everything else gets placed into the recycle box and I let it go. Making time for my family to go gently and quietly is an absolute priority for me and as a former “people pleaser” and “yes-maid” I have come a long, long way in setting those boundaries.
Admittedly, I am a thinker, a planner and an organizer (although you wouldn’t know it if you saw my desk!) and my secret to gift giving is quality over quantity. I don’t mean the purchase of an expensive item, quite the opposite. As the first few months of any new year pass, I begin to germinate vague thoughts towards our Christmas gifts of that year. Yes I’m serious! I start that soon, annoying right? Well, yes it would appear that way, but for me this is one of the keys to remaining calm and less financially stretched come the end of the year. This season for example, I made the decisions for what I wanted to give to family members sometime around June. By August I had gathered my materials and begun the making. Granted one of them is a knitted gift and knowing I am a very slow knitter, I knew I had to get started. December is only just upon us and I am now very close to complete with my entire holiday 'making'. Sometimes, depending on the homemade gift, you may have to be organized in advance. Take soap making, the bars need time to cure, and for me this year our teacher’s gifts are beautiful bottles of vanilla extract. It was around the middle of the year when I infused the vanilla pods into a large bottle of vodka and hid it away on a dark bottom shelf in the pantry. I’ve maybe checked on it two or three times and this week I will dispense the extract into the small gifting bottles I ordered a month ago, finish them off with some pretty labels and they will be ready to give next week.
More recently, I have spent a few moments clicking around the ‘blog-a-sphere’ and gaining inspiration for next year. Already, I know what I’ll be making for some people and my hope is to start on it even earlier than in the past. Told you I was annoying!
Planning and being organized in this way is what keeps me relaxed at this time of year. The making without the pressure is gentle, slow and pleasurable. I am able to put into the gift all those golden thoughts of love, compassion and gratitude. I do purchase gifts as well, but like the homemade ones, I try to shop well in advance and stow away until the Christmas wrapping begins. These gifts are bought mindfully with the same intentions as those that are homemade and we always choose to spend our money with small businesses that are ethical and sustainable, and even better if they are local.
Of course, last minute things always crop up but I find I can adapt and manage them in a far better way if I know I am balanced in my three key areas.
My wish is that you take from this whatever parts may work for you and your loved ones. We all have different needs and the measures of our boundaries are unique to each of us. Happiness and joy is there for us to grab hold of so may you seize it tightly within your grasp and hold it close throughout this Festive Season.
Xan is a lover of life and fills her days with her family. She is also a writer, maker, baker, and all around home creator. With her husband and children, the four of them are carving out their dream to live the 'good life' and are learning how to be homesteaders on a suburban block in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Xan blogs at The Conscious Caterpillar, where you can follow along and join in on their adventures.
Oh December........a month of anticipation and activity!
This weekend, working together to continue traditions and make new memories.
Reminding myself to take it day by day - even moment by moment,
in my efforts to stay focused, present and grounded in the fullness of the days ahead.
Wishing you a peaceful start to this holiday season, may it be one full of comfort and joy!
Are you looking for some reading and writing inspiration?
I am excited to share with you an interview with award winning Minnesota author,
Mary, you have written numerous award winning books in a variety of genres for a wide span of ages for children, ranging from lyrical picture books to historical fiction young adult novels. Can you tell us briefly how your career as a writer has developed and grown to include such a rich variety of published literature?
I love reading historical fiction that somehow illuminates a time period and a slice of history. That's why it's no surprise that my favorite genre to write is historical fiction. Unfortunately, it's also the hardest. It requires so much research. Every detail must ring true and be plausible to the time and location, which is why I always do research on location (Norway for THE KLIPFISH CODE, set in WWII during the Nazi occupation), and the islands and locations used in FROZEN, set in l920 northern Minnesota on Rainy Lake.
One Dog Sleigh:
Harness bells jing-jing-jingle under branches frosted white, but is there enough room for everyone when squirrel, owl, lynx, and other forest animals ask to play?
Filled with lyrical text, bouncy rhythm, and whimsical illustrations, this is one heart-warming and adventurous sleigh ride you won’t want to miss. Bundle up and climb aboard!
Libby loves her horses, and although she doesn't have one of her own, she's lucky she can always visit with the horses that belong to her neighbors, the Porters. For years Libby has helped Mrs. Porter—Jolene—care for the horses in exchange for lessons. And during her time there, she has forged a special bond with Jolene's prize horse, Thunder.
Libby's world changes when Jolene mysteriously leaves and Libby is no longer free to see Thunder as much as she'd like. Bound and determined, she sneaks into the stable to visit Thunder. But Libby notices blood around his eye and realizes that Mr. Porter is taking his anger out on the horse. With the help of Griff, a new boy in her class with whom Libby is spending increasingly more time, she decides to steal thunder to ensure his safety. But Mr. Porter is on the lookout for Libby and has a backup plan of his own ...
In this fast-paced adventure, Libby finds her own voice as she stands up for what she believes in a world of adults who think they know best.
Struggling against a storm, a bear, and hunger, Alex uses resources she never knew she had to make it home again.
Readers will find When Eagles Fall to be an exciting adventure story of survival and self-discovery.
We are in the process of making for the holiday season!
Into the mix this year........beeswax lotion bars!!
The process of making lotion bars is so easy!
Think: I could do this on a Wednesday evening with my kiddos while the daddy was away at a meeting. Easy.
The internet is full of recipes. I created this one by adapting the recipe I found here, to create a more solid bar:
Beeswax Lotion Bars
Simply melt the ingredients on the stove-top over low heat, pour and/or syringe into a mold, and let cool.
Store in a tin or plastic bag. Use as you would lotion. Enjoy & give!