As the short days and cold night settle comfortably amongst us, I've decided to write a series on keeping cheerful in the chilly weather.
I've made a huge list of things that personally make me happy in the A/W months but rather than compiling it into one massive blog post, I've decided to break it down a little and give each pointer a bit more time. After all, if there's one thing that longer nights give you, is more time to sit in and write a line or two.
Last month I attended a Meditation Workshop. It was very makeshift, we all gathered in a neighbour's living room talking about bad habits and good wishes. This modest but yet incredible experience made me see things a little differently. I notice how nice it was that a group of almost strangers could be together and find so many words to exchange. It was curious how such a mixed room, could have so many commonalities and how much we all needed a little time to forget about our jobs, the children and the piling bills and just talk about something a little deeper and a little further than our own routines.
Of all the things I learned that day, pulchritude was the most surprising one. By this I mean, the simplicity of tidiness and cleanliness in our day-to-day lives.
It's obvious, at least to the vast majority, that a life lived in order is an easier life. No more looking behind sofas for keys or misplacing matching partners to our socks. Having a system by which we conduct ourselves allows us to go through our days without losing our minds.
However obvious, I had been finding myself in inexplicable states of discomfort lately. Not entirely sure where to point the finger, I did my best to exercise, talk about my worries and buy bunches of pretty things to fill my home and wardrobes in the hope that that would bring me some respite. It didn't. I was happy but something was bothering me.
Then somebody in the meditation group mentioned the necessity of keeping your surroundings at ease and behold, the shoe dropped. I noticed that in my longing for happiness and beauty, I had been collecting (or rather hoarding) things I didn't use, want or need.
Items of clothing I hadn't worn in the last few years greeted me each morning from the railings, half-used, not-quite-finished beauty products crept across the shelves and shoes that were simply too uncomfortable to wear taunted me any time I lay my eyes upon them.
'ENOUGH' my brain was screaming. These things I had once bought to fulfil a certain need or simply because the sale tag seemed irresistible, were now making me feel guilty, trapped, remorseful. I thought about the differentiating gap between me and many parts of the world and it made me ashamed. Why did I have so many pairs of unwearable shoes when there are kids that track to school barefooted?
So I did as the Meditation guru had suggested and I started filling bags with anything I hadn't worn in the last 6 months. Then anything that I wouldn't wear in the following 6. And anything at all that was uncomfortable, clingy or made me feel scruffy.
I filled 5 bin liners and took them to the charity shop down the road, convinced that the things I now deemed as rubbish would be riches to the brand new eyes. Not to mention the money I'd help raise. Obviously.
Thanks to this purge, my wardrobe smiled back, light and sweet smelling, bearing only those items I absolutely loved, making it so much easier to dress and keep track of my clothes on a daily basis.
I won't bore you with the details but the next step was my room and bathroom that suffered a massive facelift, losing everything from loose wires to empty boxes. Now these areas are the places where I go when I need a little silence of the head. I do yoga, I sleep, I have breakfast in bed and all with a wonderful vision of space and harmony.
'Some rooms are sick' - the Meditation Mary had said. She is a nurse and often works on the home visit runs. She talked about the energy that she perceived when she walked into some people's houses. 'They feel sick. There's clutter, darkness and the air is heavy. It's not just the patient that needs help, the house itself is crumbling'. I often think of her words and thank her for the help she offered me without much notice.
So hopefully, now I can pass on the aid to you. If you're feeling uneasy, look around you. Does the room that shelters you whisper calm and order or is it yelling with filth and messiness?
Take a calm breath and pick up a bag. Follow these quick tips for extra willpower:
1. Everything (or very almost everything) is replaceable:
If you've not worn it, used it, applied it in the last 6 months, chances are you don't need it. If you do chuck it and it turns out in a few weeks you miss it, get a new version of it. It will make you feel better because it's new and clean and you'll take care to use it more because you've realised how much you missed it. Absence makes the heart grow stronger and what not!
2. Open your window:
Everyday. Let the air (no matter how cold) into your home for a few minutes every day. Ventilate the bad energy and the problems aways. Let the cold freeze clean and oxygenate your house.
3. Fall on a friend:
This activity will rejuvenate you but it is hard work. If you can't go at it alone, call on the help of a family member (my mum LOVES chucking things away!) or friend that can completely detach themselves from the items that you love. More than that, offer them to take home whatever they like that you no longer need. In my last clear-out, I created a pile on my bed and had my mum, sister and my sister-in-law go through it all. They all kept a few things for themselves, which made them look great and made me feel like I wasn't saying goodbye forever to my beloved garments. Everything else, I donate to my local charity shop.
4. Keep it up:
Don't let it pile up again! Next time you buy a new mascara, put all the packaging (no matter how nice or how useful you think it's going to be) in the recycling bin. Train tickets, shopping bags, receipts, everything needs to be chucked away as soon as you're done with it. Same goes for the clothes you're wearing. No more piling on chairs, no more throwing on floors. Wash or fold and put away.
And here you go, here are some thoughts to help us all keep jolly through the hibernation season.
More to come very soon but until then, keep happy my amigos!