My family visited over this past holiday. They’ve headed back home, and already I ache in missing them. But it is nice to return to routine and the quietness of the house, now only occupied by my partner and I (and our cat). The holidays have passed and time has returned to normal.
So, how do we recover from the winter holiday season?
The Rush of January
After the new year properly begins, I often feel as though gears underpinning the world have shifted. Resolutions and plans are made! And we can’t wait until we start slipping and falling into old patterns, each new year an opportunity to flail at change. Change, of course, does happen. In small increments, in subtle ways we fail to track, we change.
My plate is stacked high at the beginning of the year. “I’ll read this book, and work through this workbook, and I’ll also go for a walk every day, and I’ll cook completely new food, and I’ll do this and that and…” So it goes. The year is new! Now is the time to set our goals, right? We have to get it all out right now. We have to solidify all the changes we aim for right in January.
This isn’t true, but that doesn’t stop us (or maybe just me). But this January I’m approaching my plans and resolutions differently. I write down all I want to accomplish and I decide what I want to do first. What can wait? What do I want to do right out of the gate? What needs to be done?
I want to start working through the free classes offered by universities; a simple Google search turns up more of them than anyone could possibly get through. But that will wait for later in the year, after I’ve finished a paid course I’m hoping to take and some private practices I’m building. If I stack my plate too high I won’t finish anything.
Don’t rush. Remember to breathe. Center yourself, and consider what you want to get done in the next few months. You can pick up goals throughout the year. There will always be more opportunities.
Being a writer means writing, but it doesn’t always mean sharing. I do plan to share more of my writing and art in 2020. There are some tasks, some goals, some practices, that are better kept quiet, however.
There are numerous reasons for keeping silent. Many will recognize the phrase as part of the Witch’s Pyramid. Some articles have been published recently on the value of keeping your spell work – especially hexes or curses – quiet and unseen (here’s one that touches on the topic). Silence creates secrecy and power. Some rituals, whether religious or magical or both, should not be spoken of aloud. Some spirits should not be named. Some things must remain cloaked and uncovered.
When it comes to the energy of the new year, of the post-holidays, there is even more worth in quietude. The winter hols are often raucous and energetic. Even if one does not throw parties, visiting friends and family means less time for self-reflection and contemplation. Less time to sink into the dark that is this time of year. Let January be a time when you do reflect and sit with yourself. Sit with the darkness of both the world and your soul.
Work on some goals privately, without announcing them. Once you have accomplished your goals, or feel stable in your habits, sharing them with others will not diminish your focus and instead be a display of pride. And even then, some tasks will simply never see the light. Some parts of us remain in the dark not because they are shameful but because we do not need the spotlight on every sliver of us.
How does your house/home feel? What work needs to be done in the upcoming year: do rooms need cleaning, storage emptying, dresses and closets clearing? What can be donated or recycled? Spring cleaning will sneak up on us quicker than we think. At least, it always does in our house.
Making to-do lists, habit trackers, and cleaning charts will help if you struggle with keeping your household as clean as you want it. And it is important that you factor in as clean as you want it. One person’s clean is sometimes another person’s mess. Don’t berate yourself if you miss a day. Small tidying, just like the small changes to our souls, aids in the larger cleanups.
Perhaps the most useful advice I have seen regarding daily habits and chores is that we should not attack ourselves for failing to do them. We must simply pat off the dirt of old day and rise anew, doing what we can.
And The Devotional
Who will you worship this year? Who do you want to worship or learn about? What do you want your devotional life to look like in the upcoming month(s)?
Personally, I wrote down a list of devotions I want to do each week or month. That is on top of my morning and nighttime prayers. The devotions I’ve added aren’t really anything special, but they are meant to better align myself with the Gods. I have a solid idea of what I want my devotions to look like. Knowing what pleases the Gods, and what works in my life, means I can better plan out these devotions.
Figuring out what is missing from your religious and spiritual practice, and slowly adding it in, is valuable for the new year. Not everything has to be added in immediately either. As with all the above, we have to take small steps. Each step takes us further on the path we are going down, until we can turn back and look how far we’ve come.