Barbara: Little things

Fairy Tale Series by

Fairy Tale Series by

Long time, no see!*

Traditionally, we all want to make big sweeping changes in January.  Out with the old, in with the new–so you toss out all the pasta and the cookies and resolve to work out four times a week and walk 500 miles per month.  Anyone who belongs to a gym dreads the January crowds and endures, knowing everything will be back to normal by February at the latest.

One of my spiritual teachers is a Native American healer who advised us to observe nature and follow the wisdom of the natural cycles. In winter, the daylight hours are short, which means we should be sleeping more, resting more, storing up energy for the coming spring.  Because of that natural cycle, it’s quite difficult to actually make big sweeping changes in January.  We want to rest, and we should rest.

This was never an easy thing for me to hear.  I’m a resolutions kind of gal–make plans, set goals, work hard, that’s me. I like having lists and goals and direction. But I do believe in the wisdom of nature. I do believe in the wisdom of the body and the cycles of the year, and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to make small, easy changes.  Here are a few I’ve come up with for myself.

1. Sleep more, just until spring. I’m going to aim for a whopping ten hours, because I’ve noticed that my joints feel better, my skin looks clearer, and I’m much more productive when I actually sleep that much. It’s a lot, I know. In America, that’s kind of a lazy amount of sleeping, but I don’t care. My body likes it. In truth, I probably only sleep around 8 1/2 to 9, because I take a book to bed with me and read for a long time before I sleep.

2. Swim more.  I keep saying I’m going to blog about my experiences with swimming and haven’t done it. This is another teaser. I like swimming and it has given Christopher Robin impressive muscles in his chest and shoulders. It doesn’t hurt my knees and feet. It makes me sleep like a lazy log. More swimming. Eventually, someday, I’d like to be able to swim a leisurely mile without stopping.

3. Be consistent with my little changes.  Consistency was a word that showed up for me at the end of last year, and it’s been helpful.  Every long time writer knows that showing up is the real battle, not the actual writing. We learn, early on, to show up and write even when it’s not exactly the thing we’d choose to do right that minute. Same thing with good habits. I might not want to haul myself out in the wind to walk the dog, but I’ve promised myself to be consistent, so I do.

4. Do more of the things I love. We went snowshoeing in Breckenridge last week and I had one of the best days I’ve had in ages (even though I was coughing through my scarf much of the time). I love hiking and snowshoeing and I haven’t been doing enough of them. I’m going to add in a really good hike or snowshoeing day at least once a month, more when summer comes.

5. Be loving toward my tender, lovely body. Feed it as if it were my toddler grandchild–good food, healthy food, nourishing food, and a few little treats. I sometimes give up wine and beer for January or February, and I’m doing that this month.  Clean eating and drinking.

That’s it for my resolves for this month.  This year, I’m trying something new by taking the seasons one at a time, seeing how it goes, listening, and making the next ones.

Can you come up with a few minor things to try this month? Maybe adding something like sleep or some new sweet habit that makes you feel happy? 

*Sorry to be so absent. I was knocked absolutely sideways by a flu that has been very hard to kick, followed by the Christmas joy/madness. Just now getting back on my feet. Promise to be here every other week for the coming season.

25 thoughts on “Barbara: Little things

  1. As a Pagan, I definitely try to follow the seasonal energy. I don’t love the upstate NY winters (especially right now, when it is heading into both snow and brutal cold), but I try to focus on the positives–the quiet, inward time to rest and recharge.

    My word for this year is balance…we’ll see how that goes 🙂

    Happy New Year, Barbara!

  2. These are fab resolves, and I think I’m going to follow your lead in the sleep thing. I’ve been all over the place with that. The priority this month is buying a new mattress. The old one is 15 years old and very saggy. Backs are suffering, sleep patterns are skewed. Sleep is really vital to our health, and you are quite right, we should do plenty when the weather encourages us.

  3. Happy New Year, Barbara, and to all the Re-Fabbers!

    I agree with you. It’s the little things that count. If we can focus on those and be consistent then they build, and before we know it we’re dipping our toes into the waters of the bigger things. Or something like that. *grin*

  4. Always good to see you, regardless of the absences.

    The guilt over sleeping (or at least lying in bed, daydreaming or reading) is a biggie for me. Somehow, we’ve made not-sleeping a virtue, instead of insane behavior (or simply a matter of different bodies requiring different amounts of sleep).

    I need a solid eight hours of sleep to be baseline functional, and an additional hour or two of daydreaming or cuddling with the cats makes me much happier. I will work on accepting that as a fact of life and not a moral failure.

    I may be able to use your comment about the seasons to help with the acceptance. I hadn’t thought about the winter being a time to rest (hibernate), in anticipation for spring activity. I’m drawn to seasonal activities otherwise (spring planting, summer gardening, fall harvest/preserving), but never thought about rest as a sort of seasonal activity.


  5. Danielle says:

    Aaahhhh, I love your seasonal approach to resolution-making.

    That makes SO MUCH more sense to me than this “we’ve been eating way too much good food and having way too much fun and now we must be made to repent by depriving ourselves of all the good things” approach.

    I have chosen, instead, to limit the holiday binge and avoid the guilty hangover.

    And aiming to get 10 hours of sleep per night seems perfectly normal to me: we all know that we never get as much sleep as we hope to. I aim for 10 also (always have) and end up getting 8.5-9.5 hours, as you do. My husband functions just as well on 6-7 hours (I have no idea how he does this – if I got 6-7 hours consistently, I’d be one of the walking dead). I make absolutely no apologies for being a “lazy” sleeper: I wake up well-rested and don’t require any caffeine to get going. I have lots of energy and am uber-productive with my time, so I consider the sleep hours as an investment.

    So yeah! No guilt for sleeping!

  6. Danielle says:

    Mmmm. Daydreaming. Yes. So good.

    My mom used to pop her head in my room all the time and find me flat on my back, staring out at the ceiling. I did that for hours at a time and it was fantastic! People don’t do that anymore, and I think it comes as a serious detriment to their imagination.

  7. Sure Thing says:

    I think I found this on Twitter, and it is an excellent way of looking at things.

    If you follow me on Twitter you’d have seen the New Year’s Day photos I posted. It is Summer here and perfect time to get *better* at something that is not snow-related! 😉

    But it is good to have bright light shining on our beginnings. Wear sunblock and hats and all shall be well.

    Happy New Year all.

  8. Carol says:

    Committed to be consistent every day in the little things, like healthy eating, sleeping, walking and laughing. My husband said to me, why to you have to be so serious all the time? Okay, less serious and more laughter. Being consistent to achieving my goals and dreams… hope so.

    Cheers and Happy New Year Refabbers.

  9. Glad that you’re feeling better, Barbara!

    I’m working on consistency too. I can start with little things, aim for one day at at time, and build from that point.

  10. Thea says:

    Imma gonna try new fruits and veggies. First up: Daikon radish, do your stuff! Oh, and arrange more garden flowers for the house. I’ve got the garden, I’ve collected the containers, they oughta come together and make pretty.

    Happy you’re feeling better. I too align my life with the Seasons, and – I’m sorry for those who don’t want to hear – but I indulge my way through the Twelve Nights with the luxuries of food and drink and light and merriment. Then comes After, which lasts until Spring stirs. Another year, and it’s gonna be a good one.

  11. I don’t do diets: never have. I weigh more than I want to these days, so it’s time to get back to being healthy: cut way back on sugary treats, increase body movement, and sleep more. I’ve gotten into a rotten habit of not going to sleep until I basically fall unconscious anywhere between 2 and 5 a.m. It’s nuts and part of the unhealthy cycle that developed the summer my mom was sick. I imagine that many things in my life would get better if I were getting enough sleep. Nine hours tends to be my norm, but I’m flexible. I’d just like to be less flexible and get at least 8 every night. That means going to bed earlier. Much, much earlier. With that in mind, I’ve been washing the bedding today, from the mattress pad to the pillows, to get rid of all the dust mites and everything else so I can start sleeping tonight fresh and clean.

    Tomorrow, as part of continuing to make my “sleep hygiene” better, I’ll be working on cleaning up and organizing my bedroom. That is definitely another part of the cycle: having an untidy, dusty bedroom.

    Minor things to try:
    Move my body. Return to my last year’s habit (just through March, unfortunately) of doing a series of simple exercises first thing in the morning. I worked up very gradually — starting with 1 sit up, 1 push up, 1 squat, and 1 heel lift — so that it was very easy. Then I increased by 1 every day so that the increase would be smooth an easy to implement. So that’s my intention, beginning tomorrow. And walk, even if it’s just down to the mailbox at first.

    Eat fewer sweets. Say “no” to at least one sweet attack a day.

    Create more. Work on revising my novel, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day because that’s more than zero minutes. Draw, paint, crochet, and more. Daydream and work on my creative thinking muscles.

    Look for work daily. Apply for 1 job a day, even if the job is rather a stretch. That can be all the job hunting I do, is apply for a single job. I’m willing to swap it for spending an hour researching companies or going to a networking event.

    Living up in the gray and wet Pacific NW, I totally hear you about hibernating. I’m there. I want to find ways to acknowledge and honor the season while being healthy within that. Need filling, warm comfort food? Have yams or sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Pack cheesey scrambled eggs with spinach. Really need a sweet? Have a honeycrisp apple or a mandarin orange. If I make only one healthier choice a day, I’m better off than I was last year.

  12. A new mattress is a great idea. When I moved in with CR, he had the hardest mattress in the known universe. For a couple of years, I tried everything to make it bearable, and finally had to say, “I can’t sleep on this.” We know have a very soft, wide bed (with room for many cats!) and I sleep SO much better. Happy shopping!

  13. I know, I never thought of it either. And then once you do, it’s so plain. The garden is resting. The trees are resting. Why am I so busy?

  14. I love the indulgences, too. All of them–food, drink, merriment! Staying up late talking, playing games with family and friends. Then…sleep.

    I planted Daikon radishes last year for the first time. Still not entirely sure how to use them, so I’d love to hear how you eat them.

  15. Lois says:

    I always need more sleep in the winter, I’ve always blamed it on SAD. I like the idea of resting because of the season so much better! My sleep has been off again lately. I’m awake at 4am for a few hours, then dozing when what I really need is 7 straight hours.

    Meditate each day, even if it is just a few minutes or a walking meditation.
    Do something creative. I so enjoyed the sewing I did over the last few weeks.
    Sort something. I seem to have a life full of boxes of junk. Instead of making it a huge project I want to do a little bit almost every day
    Eat mindfully. I often read or watch TV while I eat. I think if I could focus on the delicious food instead maybe I would feel more satisfied.

  16. Happy New Year one and all. I’ve been thinking of the things I want to happen this year and I am only going to focus on three things.

    1. My health. More sleep. Get into bed at 10 pm every night unless it’s a special event. Cleaner food. You know the whole foods thing with an emphasis when possible on organic and local. Exercise that I like – yoga, swimming, hiking, biking and dog walking. More movement but less plans like go to this class, do that thing.

    2. My writing. Less volunteering. More saying the word no. Begin a practice with morning pages.

    3. Practice TM. Renew my practice and move back into daily practice.

    I think most of us can have five things. My other two are what they have always been which is spend time with family and practice good financial planning.

    To start the new year, I bought a new car! It’s been 15 years and I loved my old car but it was time. Stayed with Honda and bought an Insight. It’s a Hybrid and I LOVE the gas mileage.


  17. Kelly S says:

    Congrats on the new car! Mine is 13 years old and I’m still holding out before replacing her.

    What is TM (third item)?

  18. Kelly S says:

    This week I’m back to exercising. Next week, better eating by then the goodies will have all been eaten. 😉

    I’m driven to be productive and my husband has encouraged me to relax more but when I am unproductive and not sick, I feel guilty. So, that’s something to work on. Enjoy being unproductive and not feel guilty about it.

    As for sleep, that is one thing I do allow myself to do without feeling guilty, usually. It started in college when I had a week when I averaged 3-4 hours of non-continuous sleep a day. It was a rough week. I then slept for 19 hours straight. Ever since I’ve held the belief that if I can sleep then my body needs it and I am doing it for my health. Truly I am a nicer person when I get enough sleep, so I’m also doing it for everyone else.

  19. Micki says:

    I love the idea of more sleep . . . I used to need quite a bit, but since I started using a CPAP machine, I usually only need 7 1/2 hours, and even when I indulge, I’m up in 8 or 8 1/2 hours naturally. I’ve been using it for just over a year, and I’m still amazed at how much healthier I am when I can actually breathe at night!

  20. aunt snack says:

    Daikon is delicious! Try tossing a lot of daikon and a little carrot in rice vinegar for a refreshing salad.

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