Note: The winter solstice occurs on Thursday, December 21st, 2018. While I know that this doesn’t hold true for you in the Southern Hemisphere- I am specifically writing for this audience, this time. Let me know if you’d like a similar one for your Summer Solstice.
Ah, it’s that time of year again. Of course, the new age-sphere is aflutter with talk of manifestation. Most of this involves a half step: but not the full deal. It is a delightful fantasy to imagine you can in fact, imagine your perfect existence- but, let me ask: if this is all you’ve been doing, how’s that working out for you?
Even on a more mundane level: what about last year’s New Year’s Resolutions?
Oh, I see. And I feel you, I do.
Say you belong to that first camp. You followed all the astrological timing advice. You did everything right in terms of setting up all these rituals and performing them at just the right time. And then, you waited. And you waited.
I hear this all the time. People bought the books, they bought the rugs or whatever- but, the things they wanted, just didn’t manifest. It’s frustrating, I’m sure.
I also hear about people who never followed through on the New Year’s Resolutions.
In both cases, people come to me and I’m forever answering with, “I’m sorry, I can’t tell you how I do my own rituals- that’s a very personal thing. But, uh, what did you do after the ritual?” Or, “Well, yeah, focus is really hard but, you heaped changes on yourself and didn’t really have a plan or steps?”
Are you pulling the equivalent of “thoughts and prayers” on your own existence?
Because that’s what it’s all about. The follow up and the follow through. I don’t care if you do the Hokey Pokey covered in glitter and painted designs- if you follow up on it by acting on what you were trying to manifest with it: it’s likely to work better than any deeply involved ritual with no real follow through. Even if you did it on all the right days. Did you pay attention to the signs you were being given that things weren’t working the way you were going? Did you change course or just cling to the idea that, well, wishing or praying for it was going to be enough?
I don’t deny there’s a ton of power in positive self thought and talk. And I don’t think prayer and good wishes are pointless, either. Spell casting, or whatever you want to call it- same deal. It’s all the first step, though.
There is no denying that this time of year has a natural sort of push, a time when, well, the chronology matches up with tangible goals. This is a good thing. The New Year is usually seen as a time of new beginnings- and I have always loved it for that, personally.
However, it’s the time frame we are in now, that sets the stage for everything. This gives us a wonderful period for being able to transform our lives and renew ourselves. To revisit the year we’ve experienced: in totality, not just happy nostalgia or brooding on the bullshit that’s occurred. We are now in the time frame when we go from the darkest part of our year into the time when the planet begins to slowly awaken again. This makes now, the perfect time to get things moving by way of clearing out the old in many ways.
Of course, the move from 2017 into 2018 will have you thinking about the new beginnings you want and need. The thing is, whether we are working with our emotions, magic, or something more mundane: everything works better when the slate’s clean. We often talk about letting go of old baggage, getting rid of the shit that no longer serves, and letting go- but, it becomes a lot more powerful when it becomes an integrated part of your life.
Intention- or Intentional Practice?
There are tons of things I meant to do this year.
I am sure you’re the same.
I fully intended to do them. I had every intention of doing them.
I am sure you have heard that intention is a powerful thing- and of course, it is. But, it’s intentional practice that gets shit done. Even if you are working with some high power sort of thing: you still need to take responsibility for your own life, your own happiness, and make the changes, take the steps and do the work.
It isn’t as glamorous as some of the rituals you may have seen: but, honey, sweep your floor.
There’s a very real internal process that happens when we tackle the practical. It isn’t just the fact that we’re clearing out the garbage and clutter: it’s that intentional practice of clearing and brightening things that brings on the real magic.
The Solstice is one of the very best times to do this because, this is the time of year when we can strategically rid ourselves of anything that doesn’t flow. Anything that’s not really working out. We’re still in that Mercury Retrograde cycle, to boot: which acts as a boon in that it is clearly showing you where things are screwing up: if you stop long enough to pay attention to it, rather than complaining and blaming a planetary cycle that happens 3-4 times a year, anyway.
This is a powerful time to reflect on those things in our lives that have been a drag. Those things that have been holding you back, weighing you down, and in general: just not doin’ it for you. Resentments, jealousies, negative mindsets and patterns of thought and speech, stressful things you do or did, bad habits, addictions, and otherwise: anything that’s gunking up the works and preventing you from creating a flow of action that can actually allow your own natural creativity, passion and, yes: intentional action to proceed.
I am, therefore I do.
Explore, I am the Weaver.
I do, therefore become
A seer and believer.
That’s about as much woo as you’re gonna get from this point on, sorry-not-sorry.
It starts with gratitude-
Oh, I bet you thought I was going to open this with thinking about the shittier things. Nope. Stage setting begins on a high note, and it always should.
Now, a lot of people spent November listing things they were thankful for, each day, leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. I don’t actually practice a “traditional” Thanksgiving holiday but, I can’t deny what an excellent practice that is. However, the time frame we are now in, is an excellent time to build a pattern that starts things off on the right foot.
Of course, you can thank whatever deities and all that you like if that’s your thing- but a more powerful thing with a bigger impact is a direct approach. Consider your day to day life. First, engaging in some introspection, consider those people you’re most grateful for. Think about ways that you can thank them.
I like to use this time of year to make a list, reflecting on those who have helped me even in small ways and also, how I might actively thank them. Even the act of sending someone a card that expresses your gratitude is fine. Take it much further than the big things- for instance, for those of you with partners: you may be very grateful for them, for some very deep reasons. But what about all those things they do for you on a day to day basis? The little things you do, for that matter? Think not just about big actions: but the emotional labor those around you engage in.
You may not realize this but closure isn’t just about getting apologies or coming to terms with bad things. A tremendously powerful way of doing this is also in letting your gratitude flow. There is also a wealth of scientific research that indicates that the act of expressing gratitude actually improves your joy and wellbeing, too. Beyond that, though, this enables you to reflect on the more positive aspects of the prior year and opens the way for more positive experiences to come.
Who are you particularly grateful for, this year? Someone who was a shoulder when you needed a good cry? Someone who listened to you when you needed to be heard? Maybe it was someone who helped you out with your kids or a project, maybe someone who just helped you flesh some thoughts or ideas out. Sit down and list the ways they’ve had an influence on your life, then send them a detailed letter telling them so.
Eating the Frogs
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”- Mark Twain
Yeah, sorry, this is not some “eye of newt” shit, here. Figurative frogs. You know the ones.
If you’re anything like me, you have rapid fire ideas and probably notebooks upon notebooks you’ve used to try to pop together to do lists and otherwise. It’s time to do a little housekeeping there, now and eat some frogs. Unfortunately, our very best ideas are often stymied with the nuts and bolts things we’ve got to do, to get them moving.
The idea here is that we all have these things we don’t want to do, but have to. Those odds and ends that we tend to procrastinate on. Might be fear causing it, might just be whatever it is sucks, maybe the timing just never worked out- whatever it is: it’s time to make some movement on those things, in particular- and get them out of your way. Remember, the goal here is that you are getting your mind and energy freed up so that you can be more playful, more creative and actually enjoy your year ahead.
When you think about those things left undone, what’s the one that you could do, that’s been just sitting there, smirking at you and stressing you out? Maybe it’s actually sitting down and working out your budget- maybe it’s a garage that needs cleaning: or maybe something more emotional like reaching out to someone you care about but never get around to talking to or spending time with. Whatever it is….take at least one step towards getting that done. You don’t need to take on the whole thing, just get it started.
About that “sweep your floor” thing…
Something happens when the environment we live and work within is a mess. You don’t have to believe in things like “flow of chi” or otherwise to know that when your house is a mess, things feel a lot more stressful. Clearing the environment in which you spend the most time involves getting rid of old papers, clothes, toys, or otherwise useless clutter. You might not realize this, but there’s an actual science behind this: physical shit cluttering up your home or even your desk at work will draw your attention in ways that can not only elevate your stress levels but, it also reduces your ability to get things done. Simplify, streamline, and modify.
Commit to getting rid of at least 10 things, in every part of your home. Completely clear out the junk drawer. When you’re going through your kitchen looking for 10 food items to donate: please make sure you’re donating things they can actually use. Clean the 10 toys and 10 items of clothing you donate, too. Keep going, a room at a time or a part of your living space at a time: and 10 things, out of each.
Take back- and make your time
The Danes have a concept called hygge- you pronounce that hoo-gu for those who constantly ask me “How do you say that?” The word stems from a 16th century Norse term, hugga, which means to console and to comfort and it doesn’t really have a real direct translation into the English language, but when you go back to “Hugga”, the word probably looks familiar, doesn’t it? That’s because it relates to our English word: “Hug”.
This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to run around hugging people. What it is, is actually meant to be this action, any sort of action, that has a comfort element to it- but, it is an action. Love is a verb.
More than making time for actions that convey a sense of comfort with those you care about, think about all those times you said you just “didn’t have the time”. Dialing back on the focus of everything necessarily having to be productive- actually increases your productivity. Allowing yourself- and those you care about, free time to simply enjoy one another is a huge step in not just being happier on the whole, but also: much more conducive towards getting shit done when it’s time to do that.
Take a day out of your weeks and toss the damn to do list out. Go somewhere and do something simply for fun. If there is something you used to love doing but no longer seem to have the time for: make the time to do it. If you’re a parent and your child or children seem to be “going through a phase” where it seems like a tantrum every five minutes: try slowing down, spending some focused time on them and see what happens there. (Spoiler alert: it’s great and no, you’re not spoiling your kid- you are, instead, responding to a need they don’t yet know how to communicate.)
Rid yourself of that shit that hurts you and others-
Is there something you do all the time but you really don’t like doing? Is there something about your life you keep doing but it just wipes you out or maybe you’re just sick of doing it: but you keep doing it anyway?
Most of the shit you feel like you have to do, you really don’t. However, if you find yourself hollering at your spouse, your kids or whatever and feeling bad about it- if you find you’re forever having to handle some mundane task but you just can’t stand it: change how you do it or, frankly, simply stop doing it. Even if you have to take this one and pop it on up into our “Eating the Frog” item: even a small step, is a step. But keep stepping.
Take a long hard look at your day to day routine. Name one thing you do that you don’t like and start making a really clear plan about how you can handle it differently. You will discover, the more of these things you put out of your life: either by simply not doing them or finding more constructive ways of doing them, the lighter you feel. (And please note: this is not some glib assertion you can just “stop” being depressed or having anxiety. I don’t play that shit. You might, however, reconsider your treatment options in some way, or even look into counseling or medications, or in some way, take action.)
Is cleanliness next to godliness?
Oh, I don’t know about all that. But what I do know is this: in a 2010 study in the scientific journal of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, they discovered that women who either talked about their homes as being cluttered or having unfinished projects laying around: were more likely to experience depression and fatigue than those who felt their homes were relaxing and sort of a sanctuary where they could feel restored. Additionally, those who talked about their homes as being messy had higher levels of stress hormones than those who didn’t. Even something as simple as making your bed in the morning can have a tremendous impact on how well you sleep the next night.
Our minds are without question, the most powerful tool and also, the one that needs the most maintaining. As you consider the things you can do to close this year out and usher in a much happier year to come, as you go through the holiday celebrations and rituals- consider for a moment how a little practical magic goes a long way.
Have a great new year!