Reader friends, a most joyous of winter holiday celebrations to you, if you celebrate any, and good wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous new year.
This year, I celebrated the Winter Solstice/Yule for the first time with my daughter and husband. It was a simple, homespun evening baking, cooking, making mulled wine (another first), setting the table with fresh evergreens, crystals, and a beeswax candle, the reading of a David Whyte poem, and a fire in the cold, wild, and windy night. It was such a beautiful start to a new tradition.
And now, after a fleeting Advent season, we are celebrating the twelve days of Christmas, another tradition I’m building upon each year. I didn’t know till I was in my thirties that the twelve days of Christmas, now relegated to the song by the same title, is a long-forgotten but rich tradition that allowed the magic, joy, and wonder to ring out for a dozen days and nights. At the end of which is a twelfth night celebration, and then the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.
I love these twelve days between the old year and then the first few of the new. We usually spend them quietly, with Christmas carols playing in the background, candles, trees, fresh greens, fairy lights, good food and drink, books, puzzles, favorite films, and creative pursuits. Yule, which predates Christmas, overlaps part of the twelve days, so as I learn more, I incorporate more delightful merriment into the season.
Whether you have children at home, adults, or you live by yourself, I encourage you to seek out beautiful traditions that are meaningful to you. They can add a depth, a richness to your daily life, to your years. They’re worth the work, the planning, and the extra-ness because you will look forward to the splendor, the enchanted, transformative quality of the traditions you choose to call your own.
I’d love to hear about your winter traditions and celebrations, wherever you are in the world.
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Hello, readers, and happy August Saturday to you! May you savor the day, move a little more slowly, and find a way to live toward more ease. These are intentions I have set for myself that I want to extend to you.
This August morning is one of the magical kind, that makes me wish I was taking the day off to spend at a beach or on a new trail in a forest. The colors outside are a perfect balance of blue sky, green landscape, and golden sunlight.
I may not be on holiday today, but I will enjoy quiet moments in the garden, picking a few flowers (if the bees will let me.) I’ll make some herbal sun tea and hang laundry on the clothesline. And perhaps Alan and I will drive down to Seneca Lake to eat our dinner and walk along the water’s edge.
It’s been a while since I shared weekly sources of inspiration, learning, or enjoyment, but I’m picking back up with a few of my favorites.
The Goal Digger Podcast with Jenna Kutcher: This week I needed some entrepreneurial inspiration (AKA a kick in the pants business-wise). Yes, Jenna is bubbly and always sounds a bit extra, but she is a super smart entrepreneur with a seven-figure business. Here are two I listened to this week:
Yesterday I finished reading The Heron’s Cry (Two Rivers Series) by Ann Cleeves. If you’re a mystery lover, you’ve probably read the Vera Stanhope series and Shetland series and possibly seen both series on tv. The Two Rivers series features DI Matthew Venn, who lives near the sea’s edge with his husband, Jonathan, who runs The Woodyard, a local non-profit that supports both differently-abled people and artists. They’re a fascinating pair, along with Jen Rafferty, the detective on Venn’s team. And the mystery aspect is very satisfying as well. More about this book in an upcoming post. Publishing date is September 7th.
I’m also reading People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry. This is a bright, upbeat novel that so far seems to be about two friends who are figuring out whether they want to just be friends or if they’re in love with each other. The protagonist, Poppy, is a travel writer who works for R+R, a popular travel magazine. She’s best friends with an Instagram influencer and, yes, she gets to travel around to different locations. I love the travel aspect, as I am most likely staying close to home for the rest of this year, anyway. More on this book when I finish it.
Jonna Jinton is a Swedish artist/musician/videographer and more. Her Youtube videos are stunning vlogs of her life in Northern Sweden: the landscape, the music, the close-to-nature lifestyle, her latest creative projects, and more.
Even though I haven’t had as much time as I hoped to spend weeding and planting this summer, the flowers and vegetables are abundant. To hear the humming of dozens of bees collecting pollen from the flowers makes me so happy. It feels good to know I provided some food for these valuable pollinators in the middle of the neighboring GMO cornfields that surround us. I’ve scattered the photos in this post.
You made it! It’s Friday and the weekend ahead is perfect with possibility. I’ll share a few resources that have inspired me lately in hopes that your heart will be encouraged.
Have you heard of #Last90Days Challenge? Rachel Hollis started this challenge so that we can all end the year strong. You can listen to this episode from the Rise Podcast to hear Rachel share the story behind the challenge and talk about her 5 to Thrive. I am participating this year and would love to know if you are as well!
And if you’re into watercolor painting, Wildthorne is doing an art journal challenge and giveaway. Even if you don’t paint, check out this gorgeous Instagram and website. Alan gave me one of their handmade paint sets last Christmas and it was my favorite gift!
Since I am a new Ayurveda student, I bought a few Ayurvedic cookbooks to help me with my learning process. Here are two that are great for beginners that I’ve been cooking from the past couple of months.
Eat Feel Fresh: A Contemporary, Plant-Based Ayurvedic Cookbook by Sahara Rose Ketabi. This book is beautiful! Every single page has photos of flowers, gemstones, Sahara Rose, delicious food and of people and places in India. All of the recipes I’ve made so far were easy to follow and came out successfully. The coconut lime quinoa is a keeper!
In Episode 200 of What Should I Read Next podcast, Anne and her producer Brenna interviewed 8 guests of past episodes to see what recommendations they read, which ones they didn’t, and what was new in their reading lives.
And I must mention this book: The Abundance Project: 40 Days to More Wealth, Health, Love, and Happiness by Derek Rydall. I realized this summer, that I had some mindsets that were holding back my personal and business growth and success. I’m about halfway through and am going slowly, doing all the practices, taking notes, and intend to read it and his former book, Emergence, over and over, until the principles take root and become a natural part of my thinking, emotions, and actions.
Readers, I would love to know: what has inspired you this week?
This is where I share inspiration from the week–podcasts, books, music, art, movies, food, and more!
Alan and I made a fantastic new vegan gluten free soup recently in the Instantpot. Although I’m not much of a gadget person, since my mom gave me an Instantpot, (thanks, Mom!) we gave it a try and the soup was amazing. Honestly, I probably could’ve made the soup just as quickly on the stovetop. It’s not “instant” at all.
First you have to wait for the pressure to build (about 20 minutes), then it cooks (about 25 minutes for this particular soup), and then the pressure slowly releases (another 15 minutes). But it would come in handy if I was cooking several dishes at once and needed an extra burner.
I have four great books to share with you and I recommend all of them. Yes, all of them! They are like vitamins that will boost your nutrition in different ways.
Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon can be read in about an hour. If you’re an artist, maker, entrepreneur, influencer, etc., grab this book and prepare to be encouraged. Kleon’s ten ways are so helpful to be reminded of: The first one is that “Every Day is Groundhog Day”, meaning every day we start over. Have a to-do list and work through it.
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra is also a shortish book. This book was the first I’ve read by Deepak Chopra, and it won’t be the last. The Laws include The Law of Pure Potentiality, The Law of Giving, and The Law of Intention and Desire. At the end of each chapter are several ways to practice and act upon what you’ve read. If you know you have inner work to do in order to develop a more mature character who can handle success, start with this book.
Where does she start? With earlier, lighter dinners, moves on to go to bed early, and start your day right. Ayurveda is super practical and gets right to work dealing with your habits and what needs to change in order to have a better life. If you need a wellness boost or want to learn more about Ayurveda, here is practical place to begin.
Emergence: Seven Steps For Radical Life Change by Derek Rydall is one of two books by this author I purchased this summer. There is so much in this book that was new to me and many things that aligned with what I learned while living much of my life in a Christian culture.
Some of the many valuable pieces of wisdom he shares on are: giving, generosity, visualization, and acting from where you want to be, not where you are. This book is great if you recognize you need to develop a more positive, grateful mind and attitude and if you have goals you are working toward but have a feeling it all starts with you. This book will show you the way!
We just finished the first week of September and I feel all the things: a little melancholy that summer is waning, excitement for the start of a new season, and the sense that I am myself as this is my birthday month. Transitions–endings and beginnings blurring together–are always difficult, even when you are looking forward to the new.
I don’t know how the weather is where you live, but here in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, we are experiencing pleasant weather in the high 60s to mid- 70s (Fahrenheit). Although it still is warm, there is a tinge of a chill, and the nights fall a little earlier with each passing day. My daughter began eleventh grade this week, my stepson twelfth grade, and I am in my second month of Ayurveda school.
How I start my day determines how successful the rest of it will be, so I wanted to talk about morning routines. What does yours look like? Mine varies quite a lot. On Sunday, my wake-up time depends on whether my husband and I have a music gig or not, but most of the time I can sleep in.
Monday through Wednesday during the school year, I get up to drive my daughter to school. My choice is to either get up at 7 and launch directly into making breakfast/coffee/tea, and then drive her to school, or I can get up early at 5:30ish and meditate, journal, practice visualization and affirmations, exercise or do yoga, shower, and then start making breakfast, etc. The latter is my ideal.
Even the rest of the week–Thursday through Saturday–if I get up early and get all of those important soul-nourishing pieces of the morning done before the rest of the house wakes up, I feel amazing! I have a positive outlook, feel confident, and am ready to face the day. This way I can begin work, meet the needs of my family ,etc., without resentment or trying to figure out how to squeeze in a workout.
It might seem crazy to contemplate getting up an hour or two before everyone else. That obviously means going to bed earlier. As a certified lifelong night owl, it is challenging for me to stick to this. And I am not religious about it. If I don’t have a good night’s sleep, am not feeling well, or if I go to bed late because of work or a special occasion, I don’t get up super early and I don’t beat myself up about it. But as soon as I can realistically get back into my morning routine, I will.
So my hat is off to you if you’re already an early bird and rise before the sun to do what you need to in order to make your day a success. But if you’re like me and are still moving toward your ideal morning, that’s great too! The best thing is to ask yourself why would you want to do this and then write down a good long list of reasons why. The more reasons you have, the more likely you will continue working toward your goal. If you can display your list of reasons somewhere visible to motivate you, all the better!
Design the morning that works for you, at this stage in your life. And like I said in my Facebook and Instagram Lives on this topic, please, if you’re a young mom with a baby or toddler, or you’ve got an elderly parent or sick family member you are caring for, or anything else that is super demanding, this is not the time to begin a new routine, to get up early, etc. Be extra gentle and kind to yourself and take time for yourself when you can.
And since I am always looking for ways to share what I learn about aromatherapy with you, here are two diffuser blends that are great for mornings. They are motivating, positive, promote confidence, perseverance, and a bright outlook.
Morning Blend 1:
1 drop Basil
2 drops Cedarwood
3 drops Lemon
Morning Blend 2:
1 drop Tulsi
2 drops Cedarwood
3 drops Orange
Alright, I’d love to hear about your morning routines: what works, what doesn’t, and what new habits you’re incorporating into your life this September.
After completing nearly 43 trips around the sun, I know that the direction we are supposed to take at different points in our lives can seem unclear and even confusing. I mostly make choices based on what my intuition tells me and that usually serves me well. But once in a while, absolute clarity presents itself while I am decision-making and that is what happened to me recently.
And when things become clear, I can often see a thread of seemingly unconnected incidents, inklings, conversations, and thoughts can be connected and lead to a decision or new life choice.
So what am I even talking about? MY PATH TO AYURVEDA! It started when I enrolled in aromatherapy studies in early 2018. Various lessons referred to Ayurveda and everything I read made sense, seemed balanced, and like something I would want to learn about.
While studying for some aromatherapy classes late winter/early spring, I read about Ayurveda self-care tips and listened to a podcast (LifeSpa with John Douillard) that benefited my digestive health in a big way. I bought a few of the recommended herbs, began taking them after meals, and guess what? My digestion is about 98% better than it was before I started taking them. But more about these herbs in another post…
Then, about three weeks ago I began thinking of what I could add to my aromatherapy studies to round out my consulting services. I really wanted to be able to offer clients a whole life approach for helping them with their wellness goals. Traditional life coaching programs didn’t seem to have what I was searching for.
One evening, I typed in “holistic life coach” or “wellness coach” and stumbled upon Ayurveda programs. I signed up for a free three-hour course from Kerala Ayurveda and loved it. Right after that, I signed up for a three part mini-course from Cate Stillman at yogahealer.com. I recommend both of these schools based on what I learned in their free courses. I became obsessed with Ayurveda training and began researching other online schools. Of course, I had one minor obstacle: I couldn’t afford to enroll in any of them.
Around the same time, I had my friend Laurie Petrisin over for lunch and a painting afternoon. While we were painting, she shared how she listens to Wholetones by Michael Tyrell during prayer/meditation. Being curious, I looked up free music on Spotify that was in different frequencies and found several playlists. My favorite is 528 Hz, the frequency of transformation and miracles. Apparently it’s the same frequency that the sun emits!
I began listening to a playlist of 528 Hz when I was in the car and for a few minutes every day. I also purchased two books about abundance, which I am currently reading and gleaning much wisdom from, and will share with you when I’m done.
In my head, I knew Ayurveda school was out of the question right now because of my financial situation, but in my heart I felt full of anticipation and joy, like I was a child expecting Christmas morning to come. Really, I can’t explain it other than I wanted this so much and kept focusing on Ayurveda school and looking for free or inexpensive courses I might be able to take in the meantime.
Then, a couple of Saturdays ago, the idea of scholarships popped into my head. So I typed “Ayurveda scholarship” into the search bar. The first few results were unsuccessful, but I landed on Yoga Veda Institue which had a scholarship application. This was crazy because when I searched for aromatherapy scholarships and herbal studies scholarships last year, I never found anything. I though alternative health studies had no scholarship programs. I thought wrong!
So I spent a couple of hours on the application and clicked “Send”. For the next day and a half, I was full of anticipation and excitement and butterflies in my stomach. Late on Sunday night, I got an email from Yoga Veda informing me that I had received a 75% scholarship for their two year program!!! I was over the moon with gratitude and I still am! What made me so incredulous was that I was able to make the change in my mind and heart from “Oh, that only happens to other people” to “Why not me?”
If you have no idea what Ayurveda is, check out Cate Stillman’s book Body Thrive, which I’m reading right now and watch her free video mini-course at yogahealer.com. She brings an ancient tradition like Ayurveda into the 21st century and takes away a lot of the “woo-woo” that might lead you to dismiss it with a modern, skeptical wave of the hand.
Anyway, so the takeaway points here are: 1. That we all may have dreams that might seem impossible. But if you begin to stir up the inner desire for that dream and visualize where you want to go/what you want to do, listen to positive messages on the abundance mind and heart, who knows what might happen? Because, why not you, right?
2. My journey to Ayurveda was a process of hearing about it, learning about it, seeing an aspect of it work in my body (the herbs), finding out that there were programs, listening to music and messages about abundance and growing my faith level to believe it could happen to me, and then applying for the scholarship while facing the possibility of rejection. While I was living it, I didn’t see the dots connected, but looking back the path is clear. That’s always the way, right?
Do you feel the pull of summer on your goals and motivation? That beckoning to abandon your chores and just come out and play, like that neighbor kid when you were little? It’s not that I have let go of my goals, but the pressure to accomplish, strive, and go, go, go just seems to have eased a bit with the warm weather. I’m guessing the extended daylight lulls us into believing we have all the time in the world, so why not relax a bit more?
That is why I am forever indebted to and full of admiration for the people I look to as mentors. Among them: Rachel Hollis, Jenna Kutcher, Brendon Burchard, Jen Hatmaker, and Seth Godin. These people consistently put out great content no matter the time of year. Yes, they have people helping them behind the scenes, but still, they make stuff happen. Here’s some of what they’ve been making lately:
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you will want to read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the creator of Nike. I’m only halfway through this book, somewhere in the mid-seventies, and it is crazy to read about how he did business and that he even stayed in business. This man had courage and boldness, that is for sure! I’m listening to it on audiobook.
Have you read anything by Rachel Hollis yet? Have you listened to her Rise podcast? If you’re an entrepreneur–particularly a woman entrepreneur, you need to read this book. If you’re someone who dreams of something more, but is afraid to try, this book is for you. If you have goals, but are in “the dip”, as Seth Godin so aptly named the space and time in between starting and finishing, you need to grab a copy of Girl, Stop Apologizing.
What I love about Rachel Hollis is that she has been at the bottom, but she had dreams and goals like a lot of us do, but she didn’t quit. She didn’t give up. This woman has drive and she knows how to focus on what she wants and does not give up though all the disappointments, all the setbacks, all the negativity that would crush most people. She’s not superhuman, she’s just dedicated, and she shows us how to go after our goals.
There is practical, usable advice in every single chapter of this book, but not one word is dry or boring. You won’t find your mind wandering or read it just because you know you should. Rachel is a great writer! She is hilarious, outrageous, and unexpected.
Another thing I love about her is her honesty. She shares deeply personal, even humiliating stories from her life experience because she wants us to know who she is, where she’s come from, and how she got to where she is now. She does not hold back and because she’s so real, she builds trust with her audience, and makes us listen to what she has to say.
Rachel comes against the patriarchal ways of thinking that have held women back for thousands of years. She addresses downright lies about what women are for, how women should behave or what we should want out of life. It is very liberating, life-giving language that, even in 2019, women (and men!) need to hear.
Her chapter “Choose One Dream and Go All In” or “Ten Years, Ten Dreams, One Goal” is worth the price of the book alone. In this chapter, Rachel explains exactly how to go after your dreams. This is priceless information! Her chapter “Planning”, about reverse engineering your goal, or starting with the end in mind, was another chapter I found extremely practical and helpful.
So, yep, it’s another highly recommended, “You Need This Book in Your Life”, book review. Get it on Amazon or your local bookstore or public library, but definitely put this in your TBR pile for this year!
This is where I will share my sources of inspiration from the past week: it could be from books, podcasts, blogs, films, artwork, food/recipes, etc. I hope you find some encouragement here as well!
Yes, you read that right! Trees. There is research to support what we know–that being outside does a body good. They help us de-stress, benefit our overall health, and even help us socially. Read this article!
This week I listened to some notable podcasts! How I Built This with Guy Raz is a podcast featuring owners/founders of successful companies like Burt’s Bees, Lyft, and Zappos. I am usually inspired by their stories of starting small and building something big and all the obstacles and struggles they had to overcome along the way.
My recent favorite is the episode with farm-to-table movement founder Alice Waters, who’s been cooking at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA since 1971. What a lovely woman with such a lovely vision for local, sustainable, ethical food. Listen here!
This What Should I Read Next episode featured Michele Cobb, publisher of AudioFile Magazine talking all things audiobooks with Anne. She gave some great recommendations and also talked about the free summer audiobook program for teens called SYNC. This is fourteen weeks of free audiobook downloads: two each week! If you have teens at home, see if they know about it.
Seth Godin’s podcast, Akimbo, had an episode that I wish every person would listen to, but especially entrepreneurs, small business owners, and thoughtful people everywhere. In the episode BREATHE, Seth talks about the status quo and the environmental crisis the world is facing as a result of marketing gone bad. Please listen to this one, think about it, and have conversations with friends and family. The planet’s future is up to us.
I just finished On The Come Up by Angie Thomas. I listened to it on audio and the main character, Bri, a teen who has a gift for rapping, definitely grew on me as the book progressed. The narrator does a fantastic job of bringing all the characters’ personalities to life. The parts about her church experiences are very entertaining and I could definitely relate to some of it-especially the length of the services! Highly recommended–especially in audio. I listened to The Hate U Give also by Angie Thomas last summer and it opened my eyes to experiences that are part of everyday life for some people that are very different from mine. Also recommended on audio!
As far as poetry goes, I finished Otherwise by Jane Kenyon. I’ve been featuring plenty of her poems in Evening Poetry probably because the subjects she writes about: living in the country, her family, her religious upbringing, her mental illness, and her everyday experiences hit home. When poetry “gets you in the gut”, as my friend Britt wrote to me a few weeks ago, then you know it is speaking your language.
English folk singer/songwriter/musician Kate Rusby’s album just came out!!! It’s called Philosphers, Poets and Kings and it is just the sort of beautiful, original music fans that like me love her for. This is a must listen!
Alright, that’s all for this week! I’d love to hear about what’s been inspiring you lately in the comments.