Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Naturally Wonderful New Year

Taking stock of where you have been and where you are now will help you to move forward with all of your dreams and aspirations clearly laid out. The passage of a year comes with the four seasons, the growth of trees, the shedding of leaves, and the hibernation before the process begins again. The passage of a year comes with a natural rhythm and it is this rhythm that can help you to dive into the new year with your goals set.

First, look back on the first part of this past year. From January through March. For many,depending on where you live, your winter was colder. You saw snow and darkness. During that time, nature was quiet, getting ready for the spring, getting ready to sprout into beauty. What did you do during that time? Were you hibernating, storing up energy, gathering your strength to jump into your time to blossom in the spring months? Think back to where you were during those months, how you managed and what you loved about that time period this past year. Think about the people who were with you, the memories you had and how those influenced you for the next phase of the year. If you journal, write about it. If you are a poet, rhyme about it. If you enjoy music, sing a song about it. Find a way to express your reflections.

Second, look back at spring, joyful spring. From April through June, the birds began to sing louder as they built their nests beneath new leaves. The sun shone longer and the first flower of spring poked its head out to see the world. Such promise. Life survived the winter in one way or another and dared to live in the glory of spring even with the knowledge of another impending winter. That is the cycle of life after all. Hope carries all life through all seasons. Think about the activities you engaged in during the spring months. Did you have more energy then? Were you able to start new projects, take more initiative? Again, express these reflections in a way that fits you best.

Third, look back at summer, from July through September. For some, autumn began in August, and included the changing colors of the leaves, while for others summer bought heat, more heat, long lazy days of salty ocean air and lulling waves. Ice cream cones, ice pops, and iced cold lemonade are but a memory away on our tongues. Was your summer relaxing, too long, hot and humid and draining, or a time of respite? Express your reflections on those hazy days of summer.

Fourth, the months we are finishing up now, the autumn into winter months. The leaves have given some of us an amazingly spectacular show of brilliant colors. From red to gold, autumn shared how beautiful life can be right before death. The last flaming burst from a candle is always the strongest right before it goes out. Those same leaves dried up, turned brown, and fell to the grown, but with grace and acceptance, they flowed into the breeze. As your life flowed from the changing of the leaves to less time in the sun to colder weather, did you look forward to this time to reflect on the beauty of the cycle of life? Did you have the chance to see how the rhythm of the four seasons is really the rhythm of all life, of your life?

From what has been, to what is now, to what is to come, this is your life and your choice. You are able to decide how you will survive and thrive in each season of the year, and each season of your life. You are able to decide your dreams, especially if you look back to see where you have been, love who you are now, and then see clearly the road ahead toward where you want to be.

The snowflake doesn’t stop and fear the melting that will take place ahead, it only forms in its own unique way and then shares its beauty before it becomes another amazing life form in water for the land. The snowflake knows its destiny, where it has been, where it is now, and where it is to be. The snowflake accepts that its own uniqueness has a purpose in nature and simply goes with that flow. Do you? Take the time to find your aspirations this new year by looking at where you have been, where you are now, so you know where to be. Follow the rhythm of the seasons within yourself and each moment will be your purpose.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Natural Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

The spirit of the season is not all about material items and spending time in malls and lines. Rather, it is about sharing time and creating memories with those we love. Gifts given with this spirit in mind are easy and all natural.

If you are able to find a potted Christmas tree that can be replanted this can be a great source of family memories and tradition. Not only will this gift continue to grow in your yard for years to come, but decorating it will be filled with the joy of knowing that you are instilling values of respect for Mother Nature in your children.

The excess branches that need to be trimmed from your Christmas tree can be used to make wreaths as beautiful gifts for friends. Simply tie the branches together with twine, add some berries and a bow and your friends will delight in the simplicity of the pine aroma and the time you took to create it just for them.

For those friends or family members who love collecting items such as photos or other memorable trinkets, a cute storage box is a perfect gift. Find any shoe box or other small boxes you have and rather than throw them out create a gift box. Make this a shared family experience for all to decorate in a way they feel matches the recipient of this gift. The more homemade it is with painted handprints, ribbons and inspirational phrases, the more this gift will be treasured.

For those out there who did an exceptional job of drying their summer fruit, go ahead and dip pieces in chocolate, wrap a bunch up in recycled paper and tie with a bow. Not only will this tasty treat be appreciated for its flavors but also for the time you took to harvest the fruit, dry it and create a gift from it to share.

Look around, look outdoors at nature, and see what you have in your home that can be accentuated to create the perfect natural gift. Be inspired to set a different path this holiday season that includes shared family memories creating natural gifts rather than standing in lines at stores. Your gift recipients will remember those gifts for all time, and you will forever have those memories of time well shared with your family.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Magical Christmas Purple Ball

by Guest Author, the Green Granny

There was nothing more exciting than the sights and the sounds as well as the smells and busyness of the holidays as a young child . Waiting for all the festivities to begin was a true test of patience.

Preparation for the celebration of Christmas would begin right after Thanksgiving. The making of paper chains from red and green construction paper, candy canes that were rolled and folded and colored with a red crayon on white construction paper, popcorn strung on thread, coloring pages dotted with sugar crystals for a glittering effect, and everything from wreaths to Christmas trees glued with cotton balls and foil stars seem to add to the joy of the season.

My mother would create her own potpourri by placing tangerine rinds on top of the gas stove in the kitchen and the aroma would waft into every room. Holiday songs played on the kitchen radio while mom cooked and prepared all the yummy foods for all of the family to enjoy.

Dad would go out two weeks before the holiday to a nearby farm to pick out the nicest little tree. He would carry it in the cold weather through the cold hallway up to the first floor and set it up right in the parlor in front of the large picture window for all of us inside as well as outside to see.

As my father put the large red and green lights on as well as the bubble lights, my mother and I would decide on which branches were the best to hold the balls, icicles and paper chains while my brother would wait until we were done to literally throw on the tinsel.

One particular decoration that I dearly loved was and still is, the traditional purple ball. It is flocked with a design of Santa in his sleigh packed with toys while his reindeer pull the sleigh right around the purple ball. I am not quite so sure why I treasure this ornament the most of all the lovely things I have ever placed upon a Christmas tree. But it has taken its place of honor not only on my parents' tree during the forties until the early eighties, but on our family tree for my children to decorate throughout the nineties.

It is so special that it doesn't get tucked away with the other holiday decor but is wrapped very carefully and placed in a box and put away on top of the shelf in a closet where only I can find it year after year.

When it is time for it to make its appearance as the grand and only purple ball that has lasted this long without even a chip or scratch, it is with total silence and careful, steady hands that it is placed on the sturdiest tree branch for another season.

As the lights get plugged in and the holiday songs still play on the radio, I still take in the sights, sounds and smells of another holiday coming, and enjoy looking at the purple ball glistening on top of my Christmas tree. It surely keeps me remembering the many holidays of the past and the simplicity of it all then and how it still should be.