Every year without fail, I would find myself sitting in the waiting room of a doctors surgery a couple of days before Christmas. Tonsillitis was the usual unwelcome visitor but some years my body threw in some other kind of virus or infection just to keep things interesting.
This began long before I had children and the cycle only really stopped a few years ago. Whilst the malady may have differed, the cause was always the same. I was simply exhausted. Burnt out, run down, knackered.
Not just due to being busy at work, but because I was thoroughly overwhelmed. You see, I love festivities - people, parties, events - and get pretty excited about all the opportunities to make and cook and entertain that the festive season provides. Now these are all good things of course but I found that I couldn't say no to ANY of it. On top of all that, I would put highly unrealistic pressure on myself that Christmas was going to be *perfect* and that I had to have any unresolved issue in my life (or mind) fixed and and tied in a neat little bow by the end of the year.
Yep, no wonder my tonsils gave out.
When I started to embrace simplicity in my life, which was essentially the beginning of Nourish and Nest, I started applying those principles to Christmas too. And it really, really helped.
Especially once I had three children on the scene, I realised I wanted them to have beautiful memories of this time of year, not of a manic woman who was too frazzled and frantic to enjoy it all.
The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind of projects and events and plenty of hard work, up until the last two weeks when I experienced the rather humbling back-to-back visits of both a nasty infection and the flare up of a neck injury. I just got back on my feet after feeling quite poorly with the infection when I was laid out again with a seized up neck and a considerable amount of pain to go with it.
It was a timely reminder of the importance of self-care, especially at this time of year, and of being intentional about how we spend these celebratory seasons. What really matters, what really doesn't and how to be present and joyful and content throughout it all.
So, for my own good, I have put together a little series for the first week of December - Calm + Bright. I need it and I thought I would share it in case you do too. Think of it as a week of daily ideas and inspirations for enjoying small rituals, embracing simplicity & finding beauty in the everyday this festive season.
Want to join me? Simply sign up below and you'll receive your first e-mail on December 1st.
I really do look forward to Christmas. I love the meaning and the gathering and the kindness and the giving. But to be honest, one of the things I look forward to the most are the days directly after Christmas.. when all the festive engagements are finished, and there's a lull in between Christmas and the New Year. Even if we're working during these 'in-between' days, things seem to be a little slower and a whole lot quieter.
One of my favourite Christmas rituals is to find some time on Boxing Day to drink tea and read in bed (possibly while the kids watch Elf for the 100th time.. ahem..)
After all the gathering that the festive season involves, it's rather delightful to spend time alone and recalibrate, with a full heart and the promise of a fresh start that the New Year brings.
When the pre-Christmas days are busy and long, I look forward to the upcoming 'in-between' days. I'll be sipping French Lady Grey (the most indulgent tea to drink in bed) out of my favourite ceramic tumbler, burning our Lime & Cucumber candle and tackling my way-too-ambitious book pile (or Kindle line-up as it may be).
If you want to put together your own 'in-between days' self-care stash, don't forget to purchase your goods of ritual by Monday 18th December to ensure your order arrives before the Christmas break!
I was sharing in this post that it's taken me a little while to find my groove this year. You know, adjusting to the new schedules of the fresh year, emerging from cruisy January with some focus and purpose and finding a rhythm to the day that works in this current season of life.
I love a good list and also find that having a daily focus, small rituals to look forward to and gratitude reminders all help me fall in to a good groove.
So I put together a daily list with a few little Nourish and Nest-style extras to help myself along.
There's a place for the necessary 'to-dos' but also somewhere to write down a simple focus for each day, some self-care rituals to incorporate into our rhythms plus space for notes and gratitudes.
Sound like something you'd be in to? Then print yourself out a few copies of the Nourish and Nest Daily Rituals sheet, click on the image to download.
Small rituals: lighting a candle, pouring tea, running a bath or gathering around a meal allow us to pay homage to the beautiful wonder of the ordinary present.
These simple acts, undertaken with intention, have the ability to calm, nourish, inspire and foster gratitude. Such small rituals are ordinarily, elegantly beautiful. They are ancient and yet they are ours.
A candle-lit bath, an early morning cup of coffee when all is quiet, an end-of-the-week glass of bubbles, a stolen moment in your lunch break to sit on the grass with the sun on your face.. the possibilities are boundless.
It is a simple but profound luxury to have a few uncomplicated pleasures in life that nourish and allow you to create your own personal sanctuary, even if it is just for a moment.
Often we look for happiness, inspiration and sustenance only in the big moments, in the occasional, in the grand. But, perhaps, joy is to be found in the small rituals, in the everyday. This perspective looks upon life with wonder, believing that there is beauty to be found.
Small rituals allow us to create beauty in the most common of moments, these simple acts create pockets of grace.
The virtue of small rituals is that they allow us to see the beauty in the most common of moments. There is a shift when we start to become aware of the sweet moments of joy hidden throughout our day. Gratitude is fostered, the tribulations of life are put into perspective.
To seek and discover the endless beauty that surrounds us amongst the ordinary day-in, day-out of our lives is not to bury our heads in the sand. It is not a delusional facade that all is perfect. Rather, it is an intentional quest for the joy amongst the heartache, the peace amongst the chaos and the beauty amongst the ordinary (or better still, the beauty in the ordinary!)
Beauty can be hidden in plain sight unless we intentionally distinguish it amongst the mundane moments in which it is intertwined. It is the sun on your cheek, an unexpected warm breeze, the steam from your tea cup, a small kindness, morning light in the kitchen, laughter at the table, a brief caress, the flicker of a candle flame.
When it is our daily ritual to seek beauty, it is our daily experience that we find it. Everyday beauty inspires us, it colours in our life and invokes gratitude.Small rituals create pockets of beautiful grace. To embrace the art of small rituals is a mindset, a way of looking at the world that brings beauty and joy to the rhythms of our days and our life.
If you know anything about Nourish and Nest, you will know that the premise of the goods we handcraft and handpick are that they are goods of ritual. And that rituals, however small, can bring joy, beauty and rhythm to our days.
There are rituals that are for the everyday, rituals of celebration, seasonal rituals and then there are the time-honoured (and occassionally experimental) rituals of wellness. The small acts we turn to when we are unwell or just plain exhausted. The rituals that bring comfort and aid our recovery.
As the colder month encroach, sickness can become a little more present. And if, like me, you have a little tribe you're caring for as well as yourself, you might share the experience that nursing unwell little people (especially when you're not feeling 100% yourself) can be overwhelming at times.
Rituals of wellness, whether they be in the care we give ourselves or that which we provide to others can supply solace, comfort and bolstering predictability. And whether we are feeling well or not, isn't that something we all need sometimes?
So, I am going to share just a few of my own personal wellness rituals and would love you to share yours too in the comments if you're so inclined. The following rituals are nothing if not small and simple but that is what makes them easy to incorporate into the daily rhythm.
We believe in aligning yourself with the seasons, in nature and in life. To live seasonally is to embrace the beauty in where we currently find ourselves in the rhythmic cycle and celebrate accordingly, despite the challenges the elements or a life circumstance may bring.
As a tribute to the season at hand for those of us south of the equator - Winter, we have created a limited edition candle. As with all our candles, it is hand-poured in small batches and is created from natural coconut and soy wax.
The aroma of our newest candle is fresh and rugged, with notes of sweet pine forest, earthy cedar wood and just a hint of smokey campfire. We hope you enjoy it and that it perhaps even finds a place amongst your small rituals during this season.
As always, $1 from every candle sold is given to organisations doing their good. So far this year we have given to Unicef Australia, the A21 Campaign, One Girl and currently our donations are going to World Vision Australia's Nepal Earthquake Appeal.
Available now in our online store.