Not too long ago I heard a wonderful sermon at a Catholic church about being a good steward of one's time. Since tomorrow is my 43rd birthday, it seems a good occasion to meditate upon what this means. The tab on the Yogi tea bag I just opened reads, "Wherever you go, go with all of your heart." Does this include going down to the basement to face a mountain of laundry? Yes, because all of life is connected. I personally fritter time away every day for the reason that I don't know where to begin. "Do the next right thing" is a popular saying in Al-Anon Family Groups. But what is the next right thing? I started taking ornaments off our Christmas tree awhile ago but did not finish the task. This seems to be my standard operating mode lately. The time has come, my friends, to once again focus on paring down and pulling focus.
Here are a few suggestions I am planning to follow for the new year. Get your body moving again! I am on a long break from teaching my belly dance classes, but last evening I began working on a new choreography to teach in February. This gives a structure to my exercise. It doesn't work to vow vaguaries such as "I will get in shape" or "I will lose weight" or "I will eat healthier." You must be specific! I am determined to walk our dog for at least 15 minutes each day. In winter it is imperative to get out of the house every single day, breathe fresh air, get your vitamin D from sunlight, and do something active. Cabin fever does not settle in so easily if you regularly step outside the cabin.
What kind of food do you want to eat? For me, the time has come to make a hearty soup every week. Eating in season means root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, yams, onions, and turnips. Immunity boosting foods such as mushrooms, garlic, thyme, parsley, oranges, pomegranates, and grapefruit are especially satisfying. Being a vegetarian, I have to make a conscious effort to incorporate protein, such as peanut butter on whole grain bread, yogurt, beans, a few eggs a week, and whole grain rice. I have given my husband the task of making seitan weekly, which is a wheat gluten and soy sauce based meat substitute. Tempeh sandwiches, from soy beans, are another of his specialties. With more protein, I notice less cravings for sweets. Ginger tea is beneficial for the respiratory and digestive systems and is an invigorating substitute for coffee or black tea, although in moderation these are fine.
Sleep! Take advantage of the early darkness and go to bed when you are tired. Take time to wind down. Praying the Rosary while I lie in bed calms my monkey mind, and often I can barely stay awake to finish it! Turn your troubles over to Father God and Mother Mary. People, however you do it, just pray. Pray every day. Light naturally scented candles or incense and listen to music you enjoy. Center yourself by reestablishing daily routines once the holidays have passed, and once focused, go about your daily round in a spirit of reverence. Alternate doing something you don't want to do with something pleasurable. Try something new!
Go through your closet and dresser drawers. Whatever doesn't fit, doesn't look good on you, doesn't suit your personality or lifestyle, and doesn't make you smile goes to charity. Don't save it to sell on Ebay. If you want to keep it for sentimental reasons, lovingly store it away. Make room for clothing that fits the person you want to be, the person God created you to be. Recently I watched the Audrey Hepburn movie, "Breakfast at Tiffany's." I was always inspired by Audrey's simple, chic style as a single woman and had the advantage of a thinner body and vintage clothing stores in the city in which I lived. But as a homeschooling mother I need comfortable, functional clothes. I was surprised when I watched the movie again that Audrey's style could still work!
The little black dress, which Audrey made so popular, is not actually so little. A sleeveless black dress in a fabric that stretches a bit, in a length at least to the knees, is a perfect mainstay for the chic mother's wardrobe. Ballet flats and feminine shoes with a short heel are so Audrey. Casual clothing that is fitted rather than baggy is flattering, and sticking with mostly neutral colors is mandatory for easy dressing. This is the French way to dress. French women have less clothing than Americans, but their wardrobe foundations are in classic styles and are high quality. They change it up with accessories--jewelry, scarves, hats, shoes, belts--adding a flash of color and individuality. They keep it simple. So where can you find Audrey style? In a brilliant stroke of memory I flashed back to the Ann Taylor Loft store I used to shop at. I went to Ebay, and hurray, lots of Audrey Hepburn type pieces.
So settle back on a cold winter's night and watch "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "Roman Holiday," and "Funny Face" and remember how whimsical and creative you once were, how you spent your time dreaming and following your passion, how you delighted in just being you. Visualize, maybe even in the form of an artist's sketch book of magazine images you use to create collages, exactly how you want your hair, makeup, wardrobe, and home to look. Then visualize how you want your life to be. Do you want to get married? Travel? Write a book? Start a business? Meditate? Live in a well-ordered home that is a sanctuary? See it in your mind and feel it in your heart first, then take a step each day toward the goal. That is doing the next right thing. Take the time to take care of yourself, and love the person you see in the mirror every day. Then spread the love.