Updated: Nov 24, 2021
Thinking towards the close of 2021 and the beginning of a new year just around the corner, I find myself craving a new way of being. I’m beginning to picture how a different viewpoint could better serve me,
especially through the holiday season when simple joys can often be clouded by the stress of planning holiday parties, beating the holiday rush to get the perfect gift, or the chaos of holiday traffic or travel. Each year turns into an exhausting race to the finish line that I need to recover from.
Create a Gratitude List
In a life of constant go-go-go, I’ve been learning to more fully appreciate the joy found in slowness and take the time to express gratitude. I hold dear to my heart a book that was introduced to me by my pastor years ago – One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She beautifully writes of fully living life through the practice of eucharisteo, a word with roots in grace, thanks-giving, and joy. She takes you on a journey as she creates a running list of the gifts that she begins to notice as she takes this “dare” to live more fully in the present. She notes the beauty in the colors of reflected light in a soap bubble while she’s washing dishes, the crunch under her feet as she walks through frosted grass, the wind rushing through her car window, whistling of the tea kettle on a chilly afternoon.
After reading the book for the first time, I immediately created my own list – my eucharisteo, or gratitude list. For some reason these past few years I had forgotten about this practice, but it’s crept back into my mind again more recently. A gentle reminder to return to a more joyful and present way of living.
Last weekend I found myself in my yard, soaking up the golden rays of sun, sipping my hot cup of coffee, when I caught sight of a leaf falling from a nearby tree. I have never before taken the time to so intently notice a leaf fall. I watched it swirl gracefully through the air, getting caught up in the wind, almost dancing towards the ground. The corners of my mouth turned up into a smile and I recalled my eucharisteo list and mentally added this moment to it.
Living the Danish Life (More than IKEA)
This moment also got me thinking about a Danish concept I’ve learned of called "hygge". Hygge is an immersive experience that envelops all five senses in pleasure, happiness, and calm. Think a warm hug, in front of a crackling fire, with thick knit knee socks, while sipping a cup of hot tea, thoroughly savoring each morsel of the present moment. It’s sitting around the table with your family, laughing in the glow of candlelight. It’s a mood of coziness and comfortableness that encourages feelings of contentment. Following this concept, no wonder this culture has been noted to be among the happiest people in the world!
Speaking with a friend about the Scandinavian culture, I’ve come to learn more about this slower way of life and am intrigued by the picture she painted of fully enjoying the present, with no sense of urgency to rush to the next moment, merely a contentment with being exactly where one is and with whom at that present time. It’s simple. It’s joyful. It’s being 100% present. Living so fully in the present that you can take note of the beauty of a leaf falling from a branch.
Slow Down. Be Present. Live Fully.
The last two years have certainly taken a toll on my nervous system, as I’m sure it has for many others. But it’s also done something else for me. It’s given me a new perspective of how I want to fully live the rest of my life. This past year for me especially has been a year of self-discovery and reinvention. I’ve gained a lot of wisdom about the importance of incorporating more joy and mindfulness into my day-to-day. A slow and mindful presence devoted to even the most simple, beautiful dance of a falling leaf.
As we enter what would normally be the hubbub of holiday preparations, I’ll be taking a slower approach. I’ll be sitting by my fire savoring each moment of this precious life, adding to my eucharisteo list and taking a lesson from the Scandinavians. Need a little help slowing down for the season. Try this Tranquil Meditation guided by Kate!
Life is short. I don’t want to look back in the future and wonder what I did with my years, letting life escape out of my hands – too burnt out and overwhelmed from the daily grind or other meaningless busyness. Instead I want to focus my time and attention on savoring each and every moment – taking the “dare” to live life to its fullest. That certainly doesn’t mean plans to climb each mountain and turn into an adventure junkie. To me, that means thoroughly enjoying this precious and beautiful life, spending it with those who matter most, doing what I love, and making an impact upon the lives of others that I was meant to serve in this life. I’ll be expressing gratitude for the snowflakes falling from the sky, eager for the chance to make memories with my family, and truly savoring each moment. As Ann Voskamp so beautifully notes it’s “the joy of small that makes life large”.
So as the holidays continue to creep around the corner and 2021 transitions into 2022, I’ll be here, slowing down to watch the last remaining leaves dance through the air, catch snowflakes on my tongue with my son, belly laugh with my husband in the glow of candlelight. Slow. Mindful. Fully present.
Kate is a 2010 graduate of Drexel University with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is also a certified Women’s Health Coach Certification by The Integrative Women’s Health Institute, on track to become board certified through the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC). Kate is passionate about educating and inspiring women about health and wellness. She is excited to come on-board as Care Navigator/Health Coach to guide and support women in creating the life they love!