Over the past 6 years of trying to live more sustainably I’ve discovered just how little I need to be happy – materially, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, Unfortunately knowing this hasn’t made finding it any easier. Listening to nature is hard to do in power-tool obsessed neighbourhoods, human connection is difficult to cultivate when everyone is too busy to pause for breath and a sense of purpose is easily lost in the noise of ‘buy, buy, buy’
Choosing to live differently to how societal norms means I’ve had to consciously cultivate a life that serves me better. In a world that labels us ‘consumers’ we have to actively work to untangle ourselves from limitations of this ‘buy a solution’ mindset, but it’s not always clear how best to do that.
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Which is why I fell in love with a brilliant idea developed by a friend and her compadres. They put together a list of ‘comfort-zone stretching’ activities to be done from the Winter Solstice to the Epiphany.
I’m too busy over the festive period to partake but I do love starting a new project every January. So this month I’m taking time out to reconnect with what brings me joy in life, using Kalpana’s, Robyn’s and Xanthe’s list as inspiration! I’m calling it The 2022 Renew and I’m starting it on January 10th (next Monday), and every day thereafter until Feb 13th.
I pick those dates because I generally find January and February very depressing and having something positive to focus on will help me get over the greyness that is an Irish winter.
The idea is simple. Everyday you carry out one life-enhancing task. One task to remind you that you’re spinning on a rock in space along with billions of others. You won’t need to buy anything special to carry out the tasks, except maybe seeds and a card or postcard, but you could forage the first and repurpose something as the second.
I’ve listed out the tasks that I’ll be doing and the days I intend to do them on, but some are weather (and mood) dependent, so if you’re joining me feel free to mix them up a little or substitute your own tasks.
They don’t require a lot of time, between 10-30 minutes at most, but don’t let that fool you into rushing them. It’s important to be fully present when doing them. Slow down before you start, pay attention to all of your senses and thoughts during them, and if you have time, reflect on them before getting on with the rest of your day.
- Jan 10: Set an intention or goal for the year and write it down somewhere. Think broadly, like being more joyful, more carefree, or more focused.
- Jan 11: Like a cat, find yourself a sun spot and appreciate the sunshine. Enjoy in silence, or read, or listen to music or daydream.
- Jan 12: Taste something new.
- Jan 13: Read a poem out loud.
- Jan 14: Take a walk, find a large tree and look up into its canopy.
- Jan 15: Burn something – candles, campfire, barbecue, incense.
- Jan 16: Spend some time reading a book you already own. Let go of any obligation to finish it. Just read for the pure pleasure and stop whenever that pleasure ceases.
- Jan 17: Wear something you haven’t worn in a long time; a garment, an accessory or some jewellery. Reminisce about where you bought it, who you were with and why you purchased it, or who gifted it to, when and where.
- Jan 18: Stretch something – your mind, your body, your comfort zone
- Jan 19: Dance with abandon to your favourite song – alone or with people
- Jan 20: Finish something – a project, a drawing, a piece of writing, a pie.
- Jan 21: Compliment someone – in person if you can.
- Jan 22: Go the whole day (or however long you can) without checking social media and use some of the time to do something real like – sew, knit, bake, write a letter or phone a friend.
- Jan 23: Create something in nature or from nature like footsteps in the snow, a stack of stones or a twig star
- Jan 24: Create an empty space somewhere, it could be part of a shelf or an entire storage unit. Admire the emptiness for a while before carefully choosing items to fill it back up.
- Jan 25th: Listen to bird song.
- Jan 26th: Learn a new fact or word, and share it with someone.
- Jan 27: Fill your home with fragrance – a bunch of herbs, baked bread or ginger cookies, or a pot of freshly brewed coffee.
- Jan 28: Listen to your favourite relaxing song with your eyes closed
- Jan 29: Cook an old favourite – sweet or savoury. Dig out a cookbook you haven’t used in a while, or call a relative and ask how to make a childhood favourite.
- Jan 30: Interact with an animal – play a game with your pet, greet a neighbours dog or cat, feed a robin from your hand
- Jan 31: Visit Window Swap and look out of a window somewhere else in the world
- Feb 1: Suspend eating norms and eat whatever you like, whenever. Cake for breakfast! Breakfast for tea!
- Feb 2: Write an encouraging postcard or note to your future self and put it somewhere where you won’t find it for a while: top of a shelf, in your deep stash, wherever.
- Feb 3: Reminisce – take the time to look at an old photo or old video, or something you wrote a long time ago.
- Feb 4: Find something you’ve lost, or reconnect with a friend you’ve lost touch with.
- Feb 5: Do something nice for someone else.
- Feb 6: Watch the clouds pass overhead
- Feb 7: Take 10 minutes to eat something small slowly. Examine it closely, smell it and then give yourself time to savour it.
- Feb 8: Write an actual letter or card to someone and put it in the post.
- Feb 9: Daydream day – describe your most perfect day.
- Feb 10: Donate something – blood, clothes, money or a coffee for a homeless person
- Feb 11: Take a walk near a body of water – sea, lake, river, pond, puddle! Watch ripples on it’s surface
- Feb 12: Plant something – pea shoots from marrowfat peas, micro greens from broccoli or lettuce seeds, or sweetpeas to plant out in the spring.
- Feb 13: Today is Randomly Special Day. You can have or use something (a particuar food, makeup, crockery, a pen, etc) you put away for a special occasion.
If you’ve any other suggestions for activities to do over I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
Take care, talk soon.