With November at our door steps, I can not help but feel the pressures of the holiday season pressing in. Don't get me wrong, I am as festive in my heart as the next holiday season zealot, but these last three seasons, I have found myself becoming more and more languorous as this global pandemic pushes on. I have allowed it to strip me of my joy as initial job loss tightened my financial purse strings, a world event I had been training so hard to compete in was canceled, new health scares and stressors played circles in my psyche, and my mindset submitted to other's derogations & negativities. I noticed I slowly became a different version of myself; one riddled in anxiety, unease, angst & self sabotage. Friends and family began to become incredibly divisive amongst seemingly never ending global events and we clung to the news anchors & reporters to hear minute by minute updates. I became uncomfortable sitting alone in my thoughts as my world crashed and burned around me. I was at my crest of this proverbial success I had built in March, and now eight months later I am pulling myself up for the first time and strapping on my boots for this upcoming winter.
I am starting slow. But this is God's work. This week, I released what needed to be unbound and I was met with the most glorious gift. There is much work to do to emend the damage but alas, I have turned it over to a higher power. There is a new light within me and I must protect it. Our light is as sacred as our joy. May you also be protecting your light too.
There is great power in watching your self-built structures burn. There is grief and there is tremendous sadness but there is also great avowal to build yourself again within this growth. Things, sometimes have to burn down for us to see it as it really is. And, as most times there is true beauty underneath the ash.
I am choosing to lean into a month of Hygge, pronounced Hue-gah, rather than the typical seasonal hustle of overspending and feeling pressure of keeping up to selling my wares (for which I am grateful!). I am focusing on this light and curating moments of lightness within this season to continue healing. I am sure you have seen, the now American-adopted term, Hygge sprinkled about in all sorts of trendy magazines and influencer socials, but we may not know what this Danish concept really encapsulates. It is an untranslatable feeling of cozy contentment, of being present in a moment alone or with loved ones or a feeling of love, kinship, warmth and simplicity. It cannot be bought nor can it be a sold; it is a feeling you create within yourself. The Danes coined this concept to acknowledge life's simple moments of joy, of coziness of togetherness. It is a way of being gentle to ourselves in the presence of long, cold, dark winters by lighting the fire, of making a cup of tea or sitting by the glow of candle light.
This year I became overwhelmed when my social feeds were over saturated of fully flocked holiday homes on November One, while my pumpkins still sat frozen to the porch. I heeded the feelings which began to well up inside that I was already behind yet again. We have been in a long dark season of 2020, so instead of pulling out my seasonal decor right away, I am leaning into these feelings of hygge and slowing my pace.
I believe this season will look different for many of us between added stress of 2020's events and stay at home orders. We are for the most part confined to our spaces, so why not allow a little more hygge into our homes this season.
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1.Create a space or hyggekrog (the Danish word for "cozy nook") with what you have. Allow light in where you need, tidy your extra clutter and let this be your space to rest. Add a book, blanket, slippers, candle, or add a meditation pillow. Decorate it or organize it with the intention of feeling joyous contentment.
2.Light a candle and turn out the lights & sit in the silence. There is something quite wonderful about learning to be alone with our thoughts. This doesn't have to be a time to solve all the world's problems, nor does it have to be a time guides by schedule. Enter your thoughts gently and get up when you're ready. Use this to meditate, manifest, practice gratitude, think about loved ones and why you love them or use this time to organize head clutter.
3.Indulge in a favourite tea or try a new warm drink. The idea of egg nog lattes used to completely freak me out until I made my own at home this week and was pleasantly surprised. Be creative. Roast your own chai mix, make a hot chocolate & tea infusion, a new cocktail or mocktail or put a pot of gløgg (mulled wine) on the stove.
4.Gather firewood and light a fire. If you have a home with wood heat, you understand just how much warmer a wood fire is. You are most likely to know the phrase ' chop your own wood; it'll heat you twice' as well. A large aspect of hygge is bringing warmth and light to a cold dark winter, but another aspect is getting outside to rejuvenate yourself in the cold air. Signe Johansen, author of How to Hygge: The Secrets of Nordic Living, recounts how, "outdoor adventures in the wild, being in touch with nature, are . . . at the heart of hygge as a concept.” Get outside this season and collect wood to last the winter months or enough for a fire outdoors and allow yourself to soak in the warmth twice.
5.Use the good linens on the bed. We tend to think like our grandparents at times and save the good linens, the good candles, the good china and the good chocolate for when guests arrive. It's time to use the good linens on your bed, not only because they feel better, but because it's showing you that you appreciate you. Hold your worth high. Use the good china and use the good candles because if you save them for someone special to come over, that day may never come before styles change and they no longer bring you joy....hello Marie Kondo over here. And definitely eat the good chocolate....it has a shelf life.
6.Sit amongst the glow of the tree lights. This is one of my favourite moments of the year, when everything is is quiet and finished for the night and you are able to sit and bask in the glow of everything you have created. I think this is something that has followed me since childhood when I would lie on my back with my head on the tree skirt and look up through the branches at the lights. When I think joy, simplicity, cozy hygge, I think of this scene.
7.Gather natural elements to bring indoors for garlands, wreaths, vases and bowls. This year I am leaning into simplicity in my holiday decorating. Natural elements will never loose their ornateness nor will they go out of style. For many of us, we reminisce on particular smells during the holiday season; pine, cedar or a sweet earthy musk of dried oranges and spices. Bring cutting pliers and a basket on your next walk to gather pine cones, cedar boughs or various clippings.
8.Eat more soul nourishing meals. The holidays can be a time of over-indulgence which is typically followed by uncomfortableness, guilt or forced limitations (which is never fun). Try to create easy nutrient packed meals in the crock pot, or balanced meals which make you feel good.
I began making a calendar with a daily hygge- feeling goal, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it kind of goes against what my first intentions were in bringing more joy, coziness, contentment, mindfulness and simple presence into our lives. Please take these eight goals into the season to do as many or as few times as you need. You can run through them weekly or simply once. Perhaps I will do a December Hygge calendar instead.
Season's Greetings friends, be gentle on yourselves and add a little hygge into your November
A note of interest why Hygge is so important to me:
When I first was creating Caribou Farmhouse, I played around with different Nordic words, as my family is both Danish and Swedish. I wanted to honour my heritage and many of my traditions within a name, but I also wanted to give grace to our new start here in the Cariboo region. I decided to go with Caribou Farmhouse as a play on Cariboo (our region's name) and to bring a bit Scandinavian spirit through the reindeer- or Caribou as we call them here.