New Year's Traditions #inspiredbyyoga

I love the last week of the year.  I feel like so much settles and calms down, giving us a peaceful moment to catch our breath and be more still.  

I find myself more and more effected by the hustle energy that leads up to the holidays.  It’s then — when the outside world creeps into my mind that my yogic practices come in extra handy to keep me centered and calm.  Or at least working toward being centered and calm!  Then, once that whole fast paced, 8,000 sale emails a day, extra tasks to do, festive activities not to be missed, scattered and busy (albeit love-filled and truly enjoyable) season passes, it feels like a giant exhale to me.

All nighters filled with clanging glasses and loud horns to ring in the new year are a cherished memory of my past.  Though I do love to don a sparkly crown and dance the night away, now once New Year’s Eve rolls around, I’m in the mood for a simple, heartfelt evening spent with my favorite people.  There’s still bubbly and delicious food, but I’ve traded the fanfare for something a bit more #inspiredbyyoga.

MY FOUR FAVORITE NEW YEAR’S RITUALS

#1 NEW YEAR’S REFLECTIONS
Taking this time to reflect can bring forth clarity you’ll carry with you in the new year.  It can allow you to feel peace within and take mindful actions.  And, it can be done simply by the even the busiest among us.

I want to be clear, I’m not talking about taking time to make new year’s resolutions and contemplate all the things you “should have done” in 2017!  If that’s where your head is at New Years, I encourage you to stop should-ing on yourself and be here now:  in acceptance and grateful for the opportunity of today as well as every opportunity the last 365 days have brought you.  Opportunities to be authentically you.  Opportunities to expand your capacity to love.  Opportunities to connect.  Opportunities to be present.  Opportunities to learn and grow forward.  Opportunities to choose happiness.  It would be virtually impossible to take advantage of every opportunity life gives us every moment, but taking time now to reflect on them allows us to really see and benefit from them.  Science tells us that mentally reliving or imagining positive events is almost as heart connecting as actually living those moments.  Amazing!  After reflection, when wonderful opportunities appear again later, we tend to be more aware of them, more ready for them.

So, give up the pressure of New Year’s Resolutions by releasing judgement and embrace New Year’s Reflections!  You can do this alone or with a loved one (who probably has some memories of amazing moments of you that you’ve forgotten!).  

Here are some of my favorite prompts to reflect upon.  See if you can come up with at least one for each of these:

  • What have I accomplished?
  • What failures gave me something to learn from?
  • What's worked?
  • What hasn’t worked?
  • What have I wished for more of?
  • What have I wished for less of?
  • What new things did I learn?
  • What have I forgotten about that I might like to rekindle?
  • Where and when did true happiness bloom in my days?
  • What has brought me great joy?
  • What am I currently feeling most passionate about?
  • What might I like to let go of?
  • What were some happy moments of 2017?
  • What am I looking forward to in 2018?


#2  HONORING THE EARTH
In our family we like to make a sacred circle around a globe each New Year’s Eve, surrounding it with symbols of each season.  We sit together doing a short Vippasana mediation (focusing on our breath) and then I usually guide a little meditation conjuring gratitude for Mother Earth and all her wonders.  After that we go around the circle sharing happy memories from, and discussing the brilliance of nature during each season.  Last year our friends made a giant crisp rice globe and we even lit a candle in it and sang happy birthday to the earth.  I hang out with incredible people!

 symbols from each season for us to circle

symbols from each season for us to circle

#3 HAPPINESS/GRATITUDE JARS
A fun tradition among my tribe is making an annual Happiness Jar (or box, or bag, or envelope….).  If you don’t already know, a Happiness Jar is a place to keep little reminders of your happiest moments throughout a year.  Some people like to write their happiest moment of each day (we say ours nightly at bedtime) and others like to write down something special to remember each week.  The notes get dropped into the jar, filling it as the year goes on.  On New Year’s Eve/Day it’s fun to go through the notes from last year and read them aloud, reminiscing sweetly.  

Additionally, started a few years back by my dear friend, we now like to make a gratitude jar on New Year’s Eve.  As with the Happiness Jar, we drop notes of grateful memories from the passing year and one by one we pull them out and read them aloud.  Our hearts feel fuller and our spirits glow as each note is read!

 my friend uses cut pieces of her kids' artwork for happiness notes - so pretty!

my friend uses cut pieces of her kids' artwork for happiness notes - so pretty!

#4 MAKING WISHES & SETTING INTENTIONS
You might like also to make lists of wishes or intentions for the upcoming year and share them with each other so you can check in throughout the year and see how those are manifesting.  The only rule I set for this is that there is NO pressure, attachment or expectation placed on any wishes or intentions by you or your vision holders!  Simply state what’s in your heart now and allow things to unfold naturally, in the ways that feel best in the new year.  If it feels right, they can be let go or changed at any time!

Some people like to use flash paper to make their wishes — that nifty stuff you can write on and then light on fire and watch as it floats up and dissipates.  A lovely reminder of the impermanence of everything, the importance of letting go of attachment to the outcome, and the sweetness of trusting all is well.  I was gifted adorable seed paper this holiday and am looking forward to writing some wishes and intentions on it, planting the pages, and watching them bloom!

 my wee girl (even wee-er) making wishes & listing gratitude

my wee girl (even wee-er) making wishes & listing gratitude

 so sweet!

so sweet!


Whatever your traditions, may you feel loved and supported from inside and out as you step boldly and welcome this new year into your heart!

Halloween Loot, Minus the Poot! (that's my wee girl's word for "poop"; maybe I shouldn't have let her name this post)

I L♥VE Halloween!!  With a capital heart!

Since I was old enough to be a greeter for all those excited trick-or-treaters, one of my absolute favorite parts of Halloween has always been giving out treats.

In my house we don't eat chemicals, pesticides, GMO's, food dyes, refined sugars, or excesses of sugars of any kind.  So, why would we give that out to all the sweet witches and ghosts who visit our doorstep?

When all is said and done, kids want to have fun more than anything!  I believe we put too much emphasis on sugary "treats" in our culture and not enough on the treat that is pure joy.  JOY HAS LASTING POWER!!

Soooooo ... many, many years ago I decided to give out toys and useful, fun stuff instead of candy.  MANY years ago.  Like, long before the words "gluten intolerance" or "nut allergy" were ever uttered in common vernacular.  Once they were, it was simply convenient that I was already in the flow of finding fun "treats" to share.

The first year I spent Halloween with my husband and he saw me gathering Autumn themed pencils to give out to kids, he said, "Ok. I'm gonna ask you a question.  I'm only gonna ask it once and then I'll move on, but I HAVE to ask.  Are you SURE -- POSITIVELY, ABSOLUTELY SURE -- that you want to be the lady who gave out pencils on Halloween???!!!"  I was sure.  And he stood corrected as the kids went through our stash, genuinely excited to pick out the pencil of their choice!  Not 1 egg was thrown at our house.  ;)  Now we have our own wee kid with a hilarious pencil fetish and year after year, no matter what else we give out, there are always pencils in the mix.  My husband still laughs and shakes his head, saying, "Pencils!  They really like the pencils!"

 Why yes those are monster temporary finger tattoos.  Why yes those do double as tattoos AND monster finger puppets.  GENIUS!

Why yes those are monster temporary finger tattoos.  Why yes those do double as tattoos AND monster finger puppets.  GENIUS!

BE READY FOR FUN!  If you would like to give out non-junk-food items, and need ideas, some that have worked well for me in the past are:

  • Bubbles (small bottles)
  • Stamps
  • Super balls
  • Tiny journals
  • Mini crayon boxes
  • Whistles
  • Rings (big enough to be safe for wee ones)
  • Mini parachute people
  • Mini toy cars/airplanes
  • Stickers
  • Finger puppets
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Glow Sticks
  • Necklaces (especially glow ones!)
  • Mini games
  • Mini activity books
  • And of course, PENCILS!  (Fall ones, sparkly ones, lego ones, monster ones...)

You can find these at discount stores (like, $1/Reject stores), craft supply stores, Target, and online at Oriental Trading Company or Amazon.  Be sure to check locally owned makers and toy shops as well!

Check for environmentally friendly options and always get nontoxic toys!  They do exist, even in the $1 bins! :)

Please consider doing this.  It teaches kids about being healthy, it gives kids with allergies and special needs a treat they can enjoy (and puts their parents minds at ease), and it inspires creativity and play.  Plus, less chemically-laden candy sold sends a message to candy companies to clean up their acts.

Thanks!  Happy Haunting!!

My Family Loves The SWITCH WITCH! Does Yours?

Hooray!!!!  (Or, "Weehoo!!" as my wee girl says!)  The Switch Witch came!!

Those are some of my favorite words to hear hollered from my doorstep!

 Running out, magic wand in hand to see what magic was left on our doorstep!

Running out, magic wand in hand to see what magic was left on our doorstep!

For those of you who don't know about this, let me first say, I did not create this.  The second I heard of it years ago, I knew we would be adopting it into our annual Halloween tradition as a family.  More and more I am learning that many naturally inclined parents haven't heard of this and are at a loss when it comes to trick or treating, so I'm sharing how it works here ....

But first, let's be clear -- all of this is easiest when we are yogically kind and mindful parents ALL YEAR LONG who model and promote a natural lifestyle.  Not pushing ideas on our kids. Not making a big deal out of food. Rather, just eating great, natural foods and being ready with simple, clear, consistent answers regarding food choices and how they effect our minds and bodies.  Having to explain over and over again on an annual basis why they can't partake in Halloween fun stinks.  If you simply live a certain lifestyle all the time, you avoid this altogether.  I also feel we must allow kids to make some food choices on their own -- even occasionally ones we don't necessarily love.  They are here on their own journeys and it's empowering for them when we can step back and remember that.  More often than not, they're going to try that hot dog or way-too-sugary-sweet piece of cake and realize it's not all it's cracked up to be.  Being a little less attached and a lot more balanced about it all will bring a sense of ease to the whole situation, and probably less rebellion on the part of our kids.

But. I digress ....

We LOVE Halloween.  We especially love the idea of merry making in our community by trick or treating and dressing up in creative costumes with friends and family!  It can be such a bummer to have to either skip the trick or treating merriment or, make your kiddos sad by not letting them keep their loot.  Solution? Enter -- The Switch Witch!

Every year we trick or treat with the best of 'em and when we are done, we go through our loot to see what of our stash is keep-able and what isn't. (Keep-able:  anything made with no chemicals, nasty preservatives, artificial ingredients, artificial food dyes.  There actually are some things people give out that aren't things I'd buy, but we deem keep-able.  In the case of Halloween every treat doesn't have to be organic, they just have to be free of additive crap that stunts our health.)  Before bed, the "ick" stash is left outside on our doorstep for the Switch Witch who wanders the land after dark in search of goodies for her magic brew which powers her broom. If a child chooses to leave her something, she gratefully switches it out for a longer lasting toy and/or more healthful, festive treats.  Easy peasy.  Plus!  It extends Halloween into November 1!! (In our house, it is how we kick off Day of the Dead!  We get to start by celebrating our excitement for our lives and then we honor those who have passed.)

 Reading her special note from the Switch Witch!

Reading her special note from the Switch Witch!

This next part is all me:
For older kids, the Switch Witch is still very effective.  When it becomes noticeable that perhaps some belief in magic is waning, the Switch Witch simply leaves a note with her switch treats explaining that now they are getting bigger so it is up to them to keep magic alive and to uphold their choice to eat naturally.  She will continue to come and switch out their loot and they can continue to have as much Halloween fun as their heart desires for as long as they want!  However, it is up to them if they would like to be surprised, or if they would prefer to spend the next year planning something (within reason) they would like to have or do that the Switch Witch could provide for them.  Some parents choose to openly take the Switch Witch's duties over, giving her more time for the wee kiddos of the land, while other families always love the element of surprise and gifting.

 LOOT!

LOOT!

It's a good day when your kiddo literally jumps for joy at the sight of new airplane pajamas!! 😍 We receive things like yummy, healthier, organic treats, new pj's, coins, small toys/craft kits, games, puzzles, books, coloring books -- limitless possibilities for FUN!  This fun, these memories ... these will last way longer than icky candy would!

Fun & Festive!  Voila!  Now you know (if you didn't already).  Happy haunting!!