We have arrived in November, a true in-between time. The colorful leaves have fallen, the garden has been put to rest, and we are awaiting the first snowfall to make the landscape beautiful once again. We’ve gotten through an election, and we are still living through the stressful times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s the start of the holiday season and one that will look quite different this year. It is a dark and sometimes dreary month, but November teaches us about finding simplicity, gratitude, and joy in ourselves, our loved ones, and our homes. It’s time to stay home, to stay healthy, and to find new ways of bringing inspiration and light into our lives.
Besides making a point to get outside each day, here’s a round-up of what is bringing us Joy these days.
1. Diffusing essential oils.
We all know the feeling when we smell or taste something pleasing—it’s instant enjoyment and grounds you into the present moment. This is the reason why herbalists love aromatic plants; they offer an instant reset button to your mood and spirit. I have been alternating between a deeply calming blend of clary sage, lavender, and chamomile for a relaxing aroma, and a cleansing blend with tea tree, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and lemon for this time of year.
If you don’t have a diffuser, a pot of water with essential oils simmering on the woodstove or stovetop will also work great. It’s a simple self-care practice that offers a lot of benefits for this dark and inward time of year.
2. Joy Tonic for these dark days
These roller-coaster days of 2020 have been rough in some way for all of us. Joy Tonic has been here for us. A mood-brightening formula of nervine herbs like motherwort, rose, mugwort, and lemon balm, traditionally used to promote a joyful spirit and positive mental attitude. It is also helpful for occasional worry & tension and for going with the flow! Something we are finding that we could use a little more of these days.*
The stresses of the world seem to go straight to my stomach these days, and these bitters have been my go-to. Chamomile and ginger shine here with their long-standing use of gentle yet effective digestive support. I like to take them in the morning while my tea is brewing, as the soothing taste sets my day off on a good note. ¼ tsp up to 6 times per day.*
This has been my go-to tea this year- a blend of soothing, gentle, and aromatic trio of herbs—chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm—to help calm frazzled nerves and ease tension.* I’ve been sipping it in the morning and evenings, sometimes adding a little honey and oat milk to make it a creamy and soothing beverage. It’s made the perfect ritual of self-love.
5. Bringing nature inside
I like to try and have some sort of bouquet on my kitchen table or countertops throughout the season, especially as we have spent so much time at home this year. When the skies are gray and spring feels far away, I take the simple initiative of buying myself flowers or collecting what I can from nature. As we progress into the seasons, the showy colors of summer change, and we welcome in evergreens, bittersweet, eucalyptus, and even grasses. There is beauty to be found in every season.
Sprouts are so enlightening because they are life potential, ignited. When we soak a seed, we end its dormancy and awaken the life inside it needed to grow a plant. Packed with nutrients, we then get to eat this incredible potential for life! When the ground starts to freeze, the sprouting jars come out as it’s such a nice way to get live fresh food. If you aren’t familiar with Sprouting and where to get the materials you need, High Mowing Seed Company is a great source and has a helpful video.
7. Mulled Wine
I spent the holidays last year in London, one of the most illuminated cities in the world at Christmas time, and little did I know what this year would bring. One of the traditions I took away from this trip was Mulled Wine. On every street corner, holiday market, or warm cozy pub, you can find a simmering crock pot of warm wine and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and bitter orange. I love everything about; the smell, the taste, the warmth, the comfort it represents. It’s also especially nice when spending time outside, perhaps with a friend, as we continue to figure out ways to stay connected to people amidst this all.
For a recipe that includes herbs in a traditional mulled wine, check it out here.
This book is a celebration of plants and their healing powers. An exploration of the plant world through the eyes of herbalist Erin Lovell Verinder, her expert advice weaves ancient traditional knowledge with a modern approach to plant medicine. It’s a gorgeous book to have on hand for quick reference, inspiring photos or makes a great gift for people in our life who are interested in learning more about herbs.
The simple tradition of lighting candles around the house has a significant impact as we welcome in these long nights. There’s something sacred about candlelight and the warmth it provides in the morning and evening hours. And as always, burning beeswax candles is a better option than paraffin filled synthetic candles.
Sharon Salzberg, a renowned teacher of meditation and Buddhist practices, has been offering virtual retreats this year, which have helped ground many on the hard days of 2020. She teaches how to stay present to the world while learning kindness toward yourself. How can we keep walking forward, and even find renewal along the way, in this year of things blown apart? How can we hold to our sense of what is whole and true and undamaged, even in the face of loss? These are some of the questions that she addresses in this wonderful and grounding podcast episode. We would suggest a warm cup of tea, a hot bath, or a foot soak while listening to this episode.
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