Spring Equinox and Intentions for Spring

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The first time I really thought about spring as a time of renewal was in my first year English class in University. We were studying Chaucer. The second time was during Fallas when I lived in Valencia. It seems odd to me that those were the first times I really gave it much thought considering I grew up celebrating Easter and come from a country with very distinct seasons where a gentle spring is a much needed reprieve from long, hard winters. Still sometimes it takes another perspective to really make us think. Modern Christian traditions don’t tend to focus on the earth and nature but, city girl that I am, the smells of spring, the longer days and warmer weather, the promise of more time spent out doors make me feel closer to God/the world/the Universe. Fallas is a festival where, besides drinking and dancing the night away, Valencians construct massive structures representing political and cultural figures and norms and after parading them through the streets, set them on fire. The symbolism of irreverence for politics and culture, and spring cleaning and of course just having a lot of fun wasn’t lost on me. This spring I need to be more patient, to enjoy the moment and to find ways to make the world a better place.

The sun is shining here in Ireland but there are dark clouds too and bursts of rain and isn’t that what spring and growth are about? When we grow and learn it isn’t painless, the darkness is there but like any birth or rebirth there is pain but there is joy too.

On that note here are my intentions for spring:

1.) To not throw away any food

2.) To buy what’s in season

3.) To spend time in nature

4.) To meditate more

5.) To continue to learn

6.) To spring clean

7.) To make a habit of taking breaks from social media

8.) To spend money conscientiously

9.) To listen to others, especially to voices that aren’t often heard in mainstream media

10.) To love

Lastly I leave out with your this quote fromfaithandworship.com

May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.

What are your spring intentions? How do you want to make the world better this spring, this year?

Five “30 Day Challenges” You Can Start Right Now

I know we’re already almost through February but if you’re like me this is always a hard month. As Jane Austen says in Emma

“May was better for everything than February “

I read a while ago that if you are feeling stuck in life a good way to make your life feel more interesting is to take a 3o day challenge. That is, do something every day for 30 days. It can be as simple as taking a picture or writing everyday or running daily in preparation for your next marathon (that will not be me, but hey,  there’s something for everyone). Personally I’ve been on a quest lately to finish books I’ve started but for whatever reason abandoned (generally because I still hate experimental literature even though I keep thinking I will like it if I just keep trying it, a thing that has sadly not happened). I have also recenetly started the following five challenges.

picture in post about 30 day challenges

1.) Grow some herbs
Small herb plants are available in almost every grocery store so next time you are buying your wine  groceries why not pick one up. Plants are good for your house, good for you and good for the environment. Plus growing something green makes spring seem less far away.

2.)Practice or learn a language
I studied German and Spanish in University and those are some of my fondest memories from that time. I also spent a lot of time reading in those languages and watching films in them.  Some people have criticised the simplicity of the idea that “learning a language equals learning a culture” but I found that immersing myself in a language gave me a different perspective and helped me feel more compassionate. So I’m hoping to make a practice of spending a few minutes s a day reading, watching films or listening to music in another language. Netflix has an okay to good variety of foreign films and watching one, even in a language you don’t know or haven’t studied can be a mind opening experience.

3.)Pick a person to keep in your thoughts
I originally saw this on a religious website and so its focus was on prayer but I think this can be adapted any which way. The idea is to pick a person, especially someone we may find difficult to get along with, forgive or be jealous of and keep them in our thoughts, try to see things from there perspective and try to cultivate compassion for them. I have selected two people in my life and am focusing on being kinder to them and wishing the best for them.

4.)Start a creative project
When we are creating we are our best selves but sometimes when we talk about creativity we imagine that it means writing a masterpiece or creating some meaningful modern art. I disagree. Creating can mean working on a project for the house, working on a business plan, doing a paint by number, writing five minutes a day, knitting a scarf, playing with those instagram filters or trying a new make up look. Make time, even a few minutes a day to do something creative that you love.I am personally still working on my pom pom pillow which was way more work than anticipated. That “DIYs you can do in a weekend” article was full of lies!

5.)Learn more about an issue
If you’re like me you are weary of the world these days. Everything seems  impossibly bad and there are many things to be worried about. Of course it is possible to and indeed vital that we care about all of them and all the time but sometimes it is useful to focus on one issue and learn as much about it as possible.Learning gives us focus and helps us better fight  prejudice. Now more than ever we need to take time, even if it’s 15 minutes or half an hour a day to learn, fight and stand up for what’s right and in doing so make it an every day practice. I have been listening to the Colour Code Podcast which deals with racism in Canada and have found it very useful in understanding Canadian issues and giving me tools to address it in my own life.

Well February is over in 5 days so we’ve made it through this month, hopefully we can go into spring with renewed energy and strength to make the world better and live our best lives.

 

 

January Linkspiration!

It’s Monday, it’s a new week, and I have to plan my wedding! Ahhhh. I’m working on a post about he struggles we’ve had planning the wedding but for now I’m going to share the things that are inspiring me right now! My current obsessions are, in no particular order: Star Wars: Rogue One  black heart Working  on my pom pom pillow black heart Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novelsblack heart This Brit and Co-Free Downloadable Calendar black heart Bliss Lemon and Sage Bubble Bath black heart My bullet journal black heart And this article from Slate about bullet journaling  :Why Is Bullet Journaling Popular? It Makes You Feel Productive for Doing Just About Anything black heart Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey black heart  These pictures of Ziegfeld Follies from The Redlist  black heart

Ziegfeld Model - Non-Risque - by Alfred Cheney Johnston
Ziegfield Follies, photo by Alfred Cheney Johnston// The Redlist

 Cranberry Bars  black heart This wedding which is reindeer goals AND make-up goals: Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride-Festive Farm Wedding With Reindeer  black heart Guys when I travel I bring alllllll of my beauty products but if you want a more sensible approach  might I suggest this article: Travelletes-9 Travel Bloggers Spill Their Beauty Secrets?  On a more serious note this dad has the right idea: I’m Not The Keeper of My Teenage Daughters Virtue

Life is not a Liam Neeson movie. The chances that I’ll need to travel to Paris and go on an Albanian-sex-trafficker killing spree are remote. And yet, these so-called “rules” for dating one’s daughter present imagery that barely differentiates between boyfriends and kidnappers.

black heart Looking up cake recipes black heart and cake toppers for that matter black heart that I’m almost finished Ulysses  black heart this article about millenials :Stop the generational gaslighting: The definitive guide to why millennials aren’t whiney and entitled

But we are also the generation that is slowly but surely rebuilding our economy, reworking our social and political structure, and fearlessly asking for equality for all human beings.

black heart This Doggo: Find Momo black heart planning my next trip black heart thinking about palm trees black heart talking with friends and family black heart  wheat beer with peach slush (Shock Top or Belgian Moon for me) black heart counting the days until I see my bf again black heart

What’s keeping you going this week/month?

 

A January To-Do List For Your Empty Bank Account

Hello friends and happy January! Are your jeans  yoga pants a bit tight after the holidays and are you using your debit card with your fingers crossed? Yes and yes are my answers. So, on that note I’ve compiled a few activities to tide us over until things return to normal!

1.) Organise your beauty supply
If you’re like me you have drawers and cupboards full of products. I love beauty subscription boxes and tend to collect small products from hotels since I can’t stand the thought of them being wasted. Organise yourmeandlarryyestercolour make up collection, throw anything that’s out of date a way, give everything a good cleaning and then make it a mission to use up
your oldest products first. You might even discover a lipstick you forgot you had (at least that happens to me fairly often)

2.) Organise your finances
Make a budget, define your goals for 2017, make a debt payment chart anything to get you back on track!

3.)Go outside
If you aren’t heading anywhere this winter there is always something to do in your hometown. My bf and I have a special affinity for finding and loving hole-in-the-wall places and dive bars so we discovered a few of those in my city, we wandering the market  and also went to a museum and gallery. If that’s not your style you could go for a walk, have a winter picnic or get all your blankets and candles, get a book and curl up in bed.

4.)Have a broke dinner party
Everyone makes something with their leftovers and you feast! Don’t forget the leftover wine/gin/etc.

5.) Dramatically leave social media
Do as the celebs do and unplug for an hour/a day/a week/ a month whatever you’re up to. It’s good for our mental health to take a break from the constant stream of news and the perfectly cleaned up versions of everyone’s lives. Take some time to escape, to think of all the good things you did this year and to think about what your hopes and dreams are for this coming year.

6.)Pinterest your goals
If unplugging isn’t for you, get some tea/coffee/wine, download a new screensaver for your phone and make a pinterest board of the things you want or are dreaming of for this year. Pin recipes to try, projects to make (if you’re into that) decor tips for your apartment/house/room, affirmations, money or career goals, a destination you would like to visit or absolutely anything you can think of. Years ago I read that planning a trip makes you almost as happy as actually taking one so daydreaming is an important way to spend your time. Thinking about what you really want can also help you take steps to get it. When I looked over my boards for 2016 I realised that what I want from life is much clearer and simpler than I thought.

However you spend your January, here’s hoping it’s a good one!

Welcoming 2017

Here we are in 2017 at last. My holiday has been rejuvenating and relaxing, exciting and hectic but now I want to take some time to reflect on my goals for 2017. Last night I re-read my 2016 journal and was pleasantly surprised. Despite the fact that some (a lot) of things didn’t go the way I wanted or intended and despite some genuine complaints I found that I lived my life the way I wanted to. I traveled to new places and learned new things about myself and the world around me. I read books on topics that were important to me. I took time to cook (when you work in a restaurant all the time this sometimes fall by the wayside) and drank wine. I talked to my family and friends and cuddled with my pets. I got to visit a new country and explore Ireland/Northern Ireland. I danced (badly) and bought myself flowers (inexpensive though they were) and feel spiritually better than ever. bracelet-and-scarfOn that note one of my goals for 2017 is to live life with confidence and ease, to not be in competition with others and put thought into everything I do. To sit on park benches and daydream. To wear a signature scent and sip coffee.  I also want to blog 6-8 times a month. I’ve been using this blog as writing practice and way to organise my thoughts and genuinely love it and hope to be more consistent. I also hope to visit at least one new country while using my Cancer tendencies of being a homebody to create a cozy living space filled with blankets, candles, cushions and fairy lights. I want to exercise at least 3 times a week rather than my current method of going all in or not doing anything for weeks at a time.  I want to read 40 books consisting of some classics (this will be the year I finish Ulysses) but also books by authors I haven’t yet discovered. I intend to keep educating myself about the issues that face the world and engage in debate and activism. I want to commit to continuing to reduce my debt. Most importantly I want to be kinder, give more compliments, live spiritually, eat and shop with the well being of others and animals in mind, be less negative and spread more love.

What are your goals for 2017? What do you want to achieve?  Here’s wishing everyone the very best in this new stage. black heart

 

 

 

50 Things I Did In 2016

image of holiday decorations in post about 2016

I hope everyone has had a wonderful and renewing festive season, however you spent it. The holidays are over and 2016 is nearly at a close so in the spirit of celebrating every victory no matter how small I’ve made this list of things I’ve done this year. Some are big, some are small,some are mundane, but all are  things that made this year what it was.

black heart 1 learned to poach and egg
black heart 2 bought flowers for myself
black heart 3 stuck with an exercise plan
black heart4 visited Sligo
black heart 5 visited a  new country (Denmark)
black heart 6 paid off my student loans
black heart 7 took an online writing course (at Skillshare)
black heart 8 and a fashion one  (at Udemy)
black heart 9  wrote more love letters and thank you notes
black heart 10 tried new lip colours
black heart 11 read 30 books
black heart  12 started this blog
black heart 13 watched more documentaries
black heart 14 re-watched The Gilmore Girls
black heart 15 reduced other debts
black heart 16 completed the 52 Lists Project journal
black heart 17 baked cookies
black heart 18 donated to charity regularly
black heart 19 improved my relationship
black heart 20 made a clam bake
black heart 21 went wild camping
black heart 22 spent more time on spiritual pursuits
black heart 23 went on a winter picnic
black heart 24 wrote more
black heart 25 and took more photos
black heart 26 went on a hike
black heart 27 visited Belfast
black heart 28 and Madrid
black heart 29 learned new make-up techniques
black heart 30 visited Oxford
black heart 31 went to a music festival
black heart 32 made something from my must-try board on pinterest
black heart 33 knit a blanket
black heart 34 discovered 2 Dope Queens and My Dad Wrote A Porno
black heart 35 made risotto for the first time
black heart 36 danced
black heart 37 went to the ballet
black heart38 and saw more plays
black heart 39 took a social media course
black heart 40 made a Thai curry for the first time
black heart 41  met new people
black heart 42 put more effort into recycling and caring for nature
black heart 43 finished Wuthering Heights (finally)
black heart 44 wrote more thank you notes too!
black heart 45 kicked my sugar addiction
black heart 46 and ate more healthy overall
black heart 47 tried a glittery eyeshadow
black heart 48 bought vintage shoes and adult jewelry (that is, not costume jewelry)
black heart 49 planned many dream trips
black heart  50 learned more about myself

On Transformation And The Winter Solstice

winter-solstice-2017

When we stop learning and changing we stagnate. I know this and yet personal transformation can be difficult. If I realise I did something wrong in the past I can wallow in guilt or stubbornly hold that I did nothing wrong. But harder than both of those things is to admit I was wrong and make appropriate changes. The first time I lived in Spain I had been saving up to travel and didn’t spend a lot of money on clothes. I brought with me one mix matched bikini, a black dress from the thrift store that went from beach to nightclub and one brown floral bag (a few other things to but you get the idea). The next time I went I brought five or six bikinis because I didn’t like only having one for the whole summer (and year round in fact). Sometimes I wonder which was the real me. Was thrift shop dress the real me or the one with a suitcase full of clothes? The answer of course is both. Changing is part of life and yet we often feel that when we change that one version of ourselves becomes null and void, that one is fake and one real, that we are trying to fool people. I love this article In Praise Of Fake Women from 2013 and have read it many times over.  Ann Friedman writes.:

Smart people evolve to stay relevant. And if you’re around long enough, changing often enough, people eventually accept it as a positive quality.

Of course wealth and power aren’t the only reasons to change ourselves. We can change for a multitude of reasons, for fun, for personal growth, because we need to or the world needs us to. Even embodying different personas is good, we are all different people when we’re at work versus when we’re at home. With some friends I’m fun and outgoing and others thoughtful and introspective but these are all the real me.

As I’ve been going through a personal time of doubting, reflection and uncertainty  I found the idea of the Winter Solstice to be particularly helpful this year. When we’re ill our bodies need sleep and rest, recover and be renewed and even when we’re healthy sleep and darkness are important for our health. Likewise times of personal darkness or introspection, creative dry spells and times when we feel things aren’t working in our favour can be vital to our growth. Even if they are bad times simply because they are bad times it doesn’t particularly help us to pretend they aren’t painful.No matter your belief system or where you are in your personal life, if you have one old swimsuit in your bag or a veritable swimwear collection, we all go through times of self doubt and pain. Hopefully we can use this time to heal and to find ways to better the world around us.

Lastly I leave this quote with you. If you believe in one God or many or none, hopefully this season will bring you fulfillment  and wisdom.

From progressivechristianity.org

Ponder the darkness as a spur to reverencing the mysteriousness of God. What place have you made for the darkness of the divine as fertile and transformative in your spiritual path.

 

image made with canva