Things have suddenly felt wintery here in the UK, yet amongst the still blazing colours of the trees. November is a month on edge of two seasons; Autumn holds on, but winter gathers force. November has some of our favourite celebrations, and it's a good month to take stock and quieten down before the furore of December too, so clear those decks and hunker down.
I find noting the changing of the seasons, especially into the colder months, such a grounding, helpful thing to do for my mental health. The switch in to winter mode can be a particularly triggering the for people sensitive to darkness or find the Winter months difficult. Spending time outside, or simply looking out of your window, just noticing whats happening in nature, can be an immeasurably helpful mindfulness practice, it’s absolutely free and can be done anywhere. My favourite ideas are below.
I'm really busy pre Christmas with workshops. They are mostly sold out but I have a few spaces left on my evening wreath making and Christmas styling workshop on Wednesday 5th December, tickets here. I am in the process of finalising my guide to styling and hosting a gathering which is out THIS WEEK! I am also working on a much fuller version of last years January book too. I'll be sure to take my own advice below!
Here are this months favourite things to make, do and celebrate.
1) Celebrate Bonfire night.
Remember, remember the 5th of November…. which is tomorrow! no doubt UK friends have already been hearing or attending fireworks displays We’ll be off to our nearest free event tomorrow. Dress in layers, bring flasks of warm drinks and don’t forget ear defenders for the kids.
2) Celebrate the Light
Many different religions celebrate a festival of light in November- from Michaelmas to Diwali. The festivals mark the gathered harvest, the building strength for the winter months and the victory of light over the darkness. Look up local celebrations or light all the candles at home in celebration. Frankie old Steiner schools host lantern walks through the forest, which are wonderful! (You could organise your own too). Watch out for your local lights turn on event too- often a bit crap but entertaining none the less!
3) Start Christmas making, if you celebrate it
Yes we mentioned the C word. We’ll be opting for simplicity again this year, forsaking presents for the adults or organising a secret santa- now is the time to suggest it, and making gifts where I can.
4) Take stock of your ‘inner harvest’
The harvest is complete now and we love the concept of looking at your ‘inner harvest’- all the things you’ve learned and accomplished since spring- both big and small. What are you proud of? Is there anything you need to let go or burn, anything else you need to focus on?
5) Rest and nourish
December can be a frantic month during which many of us eat lots of rich foods, and go to lots of parties. Use November to fill your body with nutritious food and get lots of rest so your body is strong for the busy month of December and the winter season ahead.
Think about how you or your family will give back to others over the winter period when demand for services such as homeless shelters, domestic violence helplines, and food banks etc reach their peaks. Volunteer, campaign, collect donations (always speak to the charity first to get what they actually need) give money, support a local food bank.
7) Prepare for Advent.
If you celebrate it, advent officially begins on Sunday 2nd December with the lighting of the first of 4 candles to mark the countdown to Christmas. Whether you mark advent like that, or if you want to organise an advent calendar, It's a good time to organise it. I always make an 'experience' based advent calendar where Frankie-Rose opens an envelope (which sometimes contains a chocolate) with an activity each day. It takes some planning but it really helps me to be organised in December! I put things like baking, drinking hot chocolate, watching a special Christmas film etc on there.
8) Make Christmas Pudding and mincemeat!
‘Stir Up Sunday’ is the Sunday before advent begins and is the traditional time to make your Christmas pud and mincemeat. Both benefit from weeks of maturing before Christmas. I love this tradition, everyone takes a turn to stir and add a wish.
9) Make Christmas easier for yourself.
Do something this month that makes the busy festive season easier for you and your family. Decline an invitation you don't feel thrilled about, simply say no to excessive travel, suggest not buying gifts for reducing the amount bought, say no to that request from school or work that's stressing you out. You don't have to say yes.
10) Rest and hibernate
This point will probably stay on this list throughout winter. Don't fight your bodies natural desire to hibernate. Embrace it. Take action in your home, however small, to make it a cosy retreat. Rest, eat hearty food, don’t allow yourself to get too busy- whatever that looks like for you.
This months Sunday supplement is a shorty as I'm focussing my writing energy elsewhere, but I will leave a link to my Autumn playlist as lots of people have been asking for it. Listen here!
November greetings to you. Be kind to yourself.