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.
When I find myself becoming complacent, even a little jaded and dull around the edges, it is then that I am more likely to miss the beauty that exists amongst the ordinary, the mundane and the chaos around me.
It is always there, it just takes a different perspective to see it.
'Next Time' by Mary Oliver always seems to help me get in the right frame of mind.
I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
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. I love that we have the power to create beauty in the most common of moments. It is one of the things I relish about small rituals. These simple acts - the lighting of a candle or the pouring of tea, create pockets of grace. It is a mindset, a way of looking at the world and a daily choice.
May you find beauty today.