Renewal Rituals for the long and winding winter (yes… an article written by a scouser)
I don’t know about you, but recently I have been relentlessly trying to convince myself that spring has sprung. Perhaps as a way to try and find a sense of renewal in a January which seems to be lifelessly trudging on from the year before. I have found myself resurrecting springtime playlists, eating only egg-shaped chocolates, sticking my body to rectangles of sunlight on the walls of my room as the sun sneaks through the window. You name it and, in the name of spring, I’ve done it!
Yet, try as I might, I cannot escape the fact that we are truly in the deep depths of winter, confined to our homes this year both by weather and, I regret to remind, law. Yes, we have our daily permitted walk (wahoo!) and thank the heavens for that! But sooner or later, the cold kicks in and back indoors we must go.
I sound cynical and on many days I have been. But after too long spent in an angsty, overanalytical grump, I have come to the conclusion that we cannot deny where we are at the moment and unless we surrender ourselves to it, it’s going to be a
(am I right?)
So, let’s get back to basics. Winter is a time for hibernation and letting go of external pressures and expectations. It is a time to retreat inside and indulge in homely comforts; to renew ourselves in preparation for the year to come. Let’s not let the necessity of this indoor retreat make us lose sight of the beautiful things it has to offer.
In the acceptance that spring has far from sprung, with the help of a few wonderful women, I have put together a compilation of practices to aid with wintertime renewal.
See these little rituals as an invitation to play, to do something lovely for yourself and to pay attention to the treasures that surround you. Try them out once or incorporate them into your daily routine. But whatever you do, for god’s sake enjoy yourself! And try to rediscover a sense of lightness in the lockdown.
Begin your day with a boogie
Whether it be under your sheets before you get out of bed, in the shower or as you’re making your breakfast, dance in the morning time! It is so easy to wake up carrying stress or stale worries from the day before. Dancing helps to lighten the load and begin the day with a sense of silliness. Last year, I woke up with a revelation… The first words I said to myself when I opened my eyes were ‘I AM A SILLY LITTLE ELF’. I’m not sure where these words came from, but as they entered my mind, I did a jolly jig under the covers and laughed myself into the new day. Since that day, when I feel sad, a friend of mine reminds me, ‘Beth, don’t forget you are a silly little elf’. When she tells me, I do the jig and always find a smile. Give it a go- find your jolly boogying persona and take them dancing each morning.
Try writing your Morning Pages
The Morning Pages are a practice offered by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course centred around creative unblocking. They are defined simply as ‘three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness’ which people undertaking the course are required to write every morning. Though a suspiciously simple task, I have been writing the Morning Pages for a month now and am completely hooked. Cameron explains that there is so much noise in our minds that we often forget to, or don’t know how to, release. Whether this noise be our own internal narratives, or those we have internalised from others, it muddies our days and creates a blockage between us and the present moment. Writing the pages allows you to release all of this stagnant stuff that fills your mind in the morning, subconsciously or otherwise. In committing to the Morning Pages, you allow yourself you start slowly and with clarity, creating the space for daily renewal. Try them out and I think you might just be convinced… (Julia Cameron has been writing them every day for a decade!)
Spend time with the dawn
This particular practice is a suggestion given to me by a very dear friend. Spending time with this friend is like being in the presence of magic. She pays so much attention to the world around her; to shifts in light, to the playfulness of creatures and the movement of the waves in the sea. She reminds me that finding a sense of renewal comes with consciously observing the abundant ways in which life is constantly rebirthing itself into being. When I asked her for suggestions of ways in which she renews herself, she responded “spend time with the dawn to witness the light return to the sky”. Each morning holds the possibility to be turned on to the cycles of time, and, in witnessing them, to find a sense of rejuvenation in the assuredness that the sun will animate a new day. Pay attention to the rise of the sun and allow it to energise you to lean into the potential of each day.
Dress up for your daily walk
It’s a funny time we’re living in that going for a daily brisk walk is the extent of our interaction with the outside world. But don’t let that dishearten. No siree. Instead, why not get yourself feeling FUNKY AND FABULOUS and turn that brisk walk into a sloooow and sexy strut? Dig up your red lipstick and slip into your favourite party outfit for a wander in the park (or wherever you fancy going… This is your walk! THIS IS YOUR MOMENT! Treat yourself!) Even if your outfit is buried under layers of jumpers and double sock combos, you will know it is there and you will feel gorgeous. I actually tried this one out yesterday and had many a smile of solidarity with the other red lipstick-ed ladies that lined the streets.
Smile at people when you are out walking and pay attention to other people’s smiles. Be energised by smiles! It is so easy to get locked up inside our own heads at the moment. But connecting with another person, even momentarily, can help shake this up and remind us that there is a whole world of love out there for us to immerse in. Carry these smiles into your alone time. Find something to smile at wherever you are, whatever headspace you are in. I have started to imagine little seeds of potential planted deep in my body, which are given water and light each time I smile. “Smile for the little seeds” has become a daily reminder of mine. Though it feels strange at first, little smiles to yourself throughout the day can instantly soften you and give life to the little seeds of you which are hungry for your love. FAMISHED, IN FACT! FEED THEM QUICK!
Do something nice for yourself every day (you deserve it!)
This list of rituals could go on and on and on. If there’s one thing I’ve done during the pandemic (on my good days), it’s been figuring out many ways to love myself. But rather than telling you more things I think you should do I’ve decided to end on something gloriously vague. DO SOMETHING NICE FOR YOURSELF FOR GOODNESS SAKE, YOU DESERVE IT! Do anything that makes you feel good and make damn sure you feel good in the doing of it. This isn’t a time for second guessing whether the things you love doing are too indulgent, or weird or pointless or sticky. In fact, do the most indulgent, weird, pointless, sticky thing you can think of and enjoy every second of it! Make doing something nice for yourself a daily necessity and stop making excuses not to do it. Who knows, by the time you have loved yourself silly, it might just be spring…