Friday, December 30, 2022

Friday Five - Best of 2022

2022 was a big year for me. Here are five things I changed that made my life better. Fueled by the constant threat of death and disability that the pandemic instilled in me, I had to act before it was too late. I felt a sense of doom that my life was being wasted, that I was merely existing in a stagnant pool. I envisioned living in my van if it got me back to feeling. 

1. Planning - I decided to make the following changes without knowing how I would accomplish them and without any guarantees. After YEARS of thinking about what I would change, I realized I'd get there. I used the SMART method to set my goals. Lots of deep breaths and forcing down fear were involved. 

2. Finances - I took an honest look at my money situation and realized I was getting poorer as time passed. I made a budget, cut out what I could live without, and finally faced my fear of money. We never discussed money growing up, it was in poor taste to do so, and a particular shame was attached to it.

3. House - Related to #2. I took advantage of the market in the spring. I had felt a duty to keep it, but it was too big, too expensive, and going to waste in our ownership. Selling it was like cutting an anchor loose.

4. Work - Because of #2 and #3, I could retire. I thought for sure I'd work for someone else until the day I died because of all of my perceived obligations. Only slackers don't have jobs. lol

5. Family - I lived in New Jersey for 55 years. Now, I live in Florida with my daughter and her family. I couldn't have made any of these changes without her. I always said she saved my life when I had her, and now she's done it more than once.

These are just the Big Picture Changes. There were so many smaller ones along the way this year, and some big ones I left off the list. I don't usually do a year-end review, so that's different, too. 

2023 here we come.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Friday Five - Savor the Short Day and Delight in the Long Dark


1. Red glass hearts, poinsettias, holly berries, candy canes, apples, Merlot, ribbons, Rudolph's nose.

2. Rebel against the busy: relax, rest, recline, slow down, and take it easy. Snuggle under a comforter, and doze at noon.

3. Read a real newspaper all morning or a beautiful magazine full of romantic ideas like bella GRACE, or disappear into The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer

4. Remember days gone by: happy moments that make you smile, sad times that bring on the tears. Both will refresh your emotional well.

5. Rejoice that you survived another year. Light a fire or a bunch of candles, fill a mug with hot chocolate, sip slowly and watch the dancing flames. 

What are five ways you will enjoy the extra darkness?

Friday, December 16, 2022

Celebrate the Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is on December 21 this year. This date marks the shortest daylight moment, the longest night's dark, and the official start of winter.

Revena and the people of the Duchy of Bavaria celebrated The Night of the Mothers and Geol (Yule.) 

The Night of the Mothers is on the eve of the winter solstice and honors the triple female deity. While in Roman and Greek pantheons, the Sun is masculine, in ancient Germanic and earlier Europen Celtic traditions, she is referred to as The Mother Sun. In the Bavarian Alpine regions, she is embodied as the Percht, "the bright one" and predates the Krampus.

Yule has a long and documented history in Europe. It has informed many religious traditions such as Nordic folklore (Yule is one of Odin's names) and the Christmas customs we follow today.

We can participate in centuries-old rituals anywhere by sitting with the darkness and contemplating what it means in the cycle of our lives. Watch the setting sun, turn off the lights for an hour, or clean your fireplace. 

Use a smudge bundle you made last year to clean out any lingering bad feelings in your home.

Smudge bundles can be made with herbs found at most grocery stores. Use rosemary, sage, and bay leaves. Holly and evergreen sprigs enhance the magic. Tightly wrap your choices with green or red natural strings such as cotton or hemp. Hang them to dry until next year.

Inspire and encourage The Sun's return by watching the sunrise, lighting a new log you saved from last year, and setting as many candles as possible aglow.

If you are near a body of salt water, fill a bottle before sunrise and allow the new light to infuse your own personal holy water with its energy and magic. You can do the same with a clear or yellow crystal to carry a bit of the "bright one" with you in your pocket.

Foods for your feast can include roast pork, fruit competes, and ales, and if you are feeling particularly inclined to ancient traditions, include a blood wurst that harkens back to sacrifice. 

Don't forget to honor the trees. When I was young, we decorated our tree on Christmas Eve with candles, sparklers, and small wrapped chocolates. You can decorate any tree native to your area as all trees are sacred. Consider donating to a charity that plants trees.