I have a love-hate relationship with the month of January. On one hand I love that life slows down and settles back into a predictable routine. On the other hand I don’t always love how work speeds up and how there is a long stretch of winter doldrums before there are any other holidays to look forward to.
I love how the new year brings with it a clean slate and a fresh opportunity to start over, do better, reach our goals and be the best versions of ourselves! Then again, I hate that the hangover from Christmas can make the everyday obligations of real life seem more like drudgery than at any other time of year.
I do love the calm, peacefulness of winter in January, and although I equally love the festive nature of the holiday season, by the new year I am ready to be still, quiet, reflective. I’m ready to focus on cultivating nourishing, nurturing habits that will help me be a better version of myself with each passing year.
Last year was a big year for my husband Ryan and I in terms of resolutions. First off, both he and I resolved once and for all to quit smoking. Yes, I, Mrs. natural health and wholesome foods advocate and frugal homesteader… I used to spend between $5 and $10 a day on killing myself slowly with toxic chemicals. I smoked for 15 years (Ryan for 20) and finally, after many attempts at quitting, we had enough.
All you need to get motivated is the right motivation…
Our daughter was our biggest motivation, but aside from the other obvious health and money reasons, it just didn’t jive with our lifestyle or our homestead dreams and goals. When we think of who we want to be, “smokers” doesn’t make the list. So we quit! Once and for all. And we’ve never looked back.
It’s been almost a year now since I put out my last cigarette, and when that one-year mark hits next week, it will be one of the proudest moments of my life.
For anyone reading this who is also a smoker wanting to quit, I can’t recommend the book Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Quit Smoking highly enough. It really helped me in my journey and was pretty much the driving force behind Ryan actually quitting for good. To this day he maintains that the book changed his life and he has never wanted to smoke again since reading it.
I also love the Smoke Free app for my smart phone (not an affiliate… I just genuinely love this app). It keeps track of the time since my last cigarette, how much money I’ve saved, how my health has improved and even how much money I will save each year I don’t smoke (the savings are jaw-dropping). Plus, it’s free!
Anyway, I won’t go on about this anymore, but I truly am living proof that quitting isn’t as hard as we make it out to be in our minds. I literally woke up one morning last January and decided I was done and I never picked up a cigarette again. Miracles do happen. Just sayin’;)
Cultivating the seeds of peace
This year I also have a different type of resolution. This resolution isn’t about pushing harder, doing more, losing weight, running a successful business, quitting bad habits or getting out of debt. While those are all noble goals (and are all also on my list of resolutions in one capacity or another), my overarching resolution this year is to cultivate peace in all that I do.
I tend to be a bit of an anxious mess from time to time. In fact, this could be the understatement of the year so far. I’m much better now than I used to be because I’ve worked really hard on learning to manage my anxiety and emotions, but it’s still something that’s ever-present in my life that I continue to learn to work past.
This year, the big “theme” is to make myself a priority and do what’s in the best interests of my personal health and well-being. Like many mothers, I devoted my life to my child the day she was born. But I also know that it’s in her, and my, and our family’s best interest if I take care of myself too and follow my heart and my passions along the way.
Part of this is to really start practicing self care, and for me (a natural introvert who prefers peaceful silence over raucous festivities any day) self care entails finding peace and calm in the every day, and cultivating it among the chaos.
I want to take time to focus on my breath; meditate and connect to the higher vibrations of the universe; be mindful as I’m cooking or doing dishes or gardening; go inward and find a quiet place even when the world outside of me is loud and overwhelming; make exercising my body a priority, not for aesthetics, but to feel good and to keep the vessel in good condition; let go of things that do not serve me; take time to just be without doing, producing and accomplishing all the time.
Slowing down for self-care (and to savour the moment)
We, as a culture, place such little value on self-care; on slowing down; on doing less. Every day is about how much you can get done in a 24-hour period. Can you speed up productivity? Knock off your entire to-do list every day? Time-block every last minute of the day to accomplish more? Multitask? Skip breakfast? Stop sleeping?
If we want to be healthy, happy, strong and self-sufficient individuals, the answer to all of the above is a resounding “No!”
Not to say there isn’t a time to speed up. Especially as a homesteader in the making, there is always work to be done. In fact, the work is pretty much never-ending. But the lifestyle allows us to escape the rat race a bit. That’s a huge reason why we’ve followed (and are continuing to follow) our homestead dreams.
Indeed there is always work to be done, but we must make time to do nothing as well. Time to be quiet and still and gaze out the window on a snowy morning while mindfully sipping on a cup of coffee (do you know I haven’t finished a cup of hot coffee since I became a mother? It’s insanity!).
And so I am scheduling in time to unschedule this year. I am setting my intention to cultivate peace and calm in all that I do, because just like cultivating a garden, the seeds of peace must also be sewn and nurtured until they grow big and strong. And I’m starting now, because while there is always a busy season in life, winter is the perfect time to slow down. Now I must rest.
A very happy new year to all of my dear readers. I wish you peace, love and joy in 2018 and beyond.
Until next time,