Have a Full Witch Weekend: November 20-22

We’re experiencing unseasonably warm weather in the Ol’ North State, with highs yesterday in the 70s and today in the 60s. There’s nothing unusual about this but it does make dressing complicated. I remember Thanksgivings past playing touch football in shorts and tshirts, or shivering in wool sweaters and coats. It’s always a toss-up. So, while I won’t put this in my official list below, as that would be redundant, I do want to suggest that you spend lots of time outdoors while this warm spell lasts. Soak up that Vitamin D before it’s too late! It’s a good weekend for raking leaves, hiking, running around with the dogs, throwing a Frisbee, or anything that gets you outside and sweating. Or sitting and reading. Whatever. Just go outside!

Here are a few other things you can do to have a solid weekend:

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Follow the Stars

Dive into astrology this weekend (or dip in a toe) and make a decision based on the stars! The current cosmology is as good a reason as any to set a deadline or start date for a new project, make a date for a solitary ritual or gathering of friends, begin a journey or end a trial. I do this sometimes when I just need a nudge towards creating a deadline or getting a start, or if I need to hold off on making a decision. Sometimes not doing anything is the best decision. My point is, if you need to do or not do something but are having trouble, use the stars as a guide. Many cultures use astrology to determine auspicious dates and schedule around them. Give it a try! I’m not saying you have to make huge life decisions this way, but one little thing. Trust me. It’s fun.

Here are some of my favorite astrology sites:

Chani Nicholas

The Astrotwins

The New Paradigm Astrology Cooperative

 

Support Local Farmers

Is there a Farmers Market in your town? If not, you should probably move. If so, grace it with your presence! The Farmers Market is a great place to connect with the people who tend the earth and provide you and yours with sustenance, energy, beauty and flavor. I usually bring $20-40 in cash and spend it all. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of veggies on my list so I get to buy some flowers, tea, jam, coffee, or plants. I like to walk around and check out the options before I settle on any particular vendor.

The Farmers Market is also a great place to get clean meat. If you’re a meat-eater, you should strongly consider getting as much meat as possible from local, organic farmers who give their animals lots of space and healthy feed. If the beef you eat has eaten corn or soy, you are eating corn or soy. You want to consume meat from animals who have been treated well, in the most natural environment possible. Or, don’t eat meat!

Whatever you do, take some time to talk to the farmers and those who are tending the stalls. Learn about what they do and thank them.

 

Sleep In

I know I will.

Doing anything special this weekend? Anything Thanksgiving-y? 

 

 

 

Becoming a Morning Person: The Hard Choice

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Oh, is that what sunrise is?

I think it’s time to revisit my quest to become a Morning Person. It seems that my problem lies not in establishing a routine, having the right alarm clock, or lack of desire. My issue, which is applies to so many more things that this particular trial, is in making a choice.

I had a really good stretch of waking up at 7:30 and doing some ayurvedic cleansing practices, cooking breakfast, doing yoga and mantra, showering etc etc. It felt really nice to have this extra time to myself and I felt prepared for my day, relaxed and easy rather than already behind schedule, frantic and stressed. Those feelings were nice. I like them. I’d like to have that again.

Then, my Dad died. It has been much harder to get out of bed. This is not because I feel depressed or am overcome by sobbing (although the sobbing and anxiety has definitely popped up and I have taken a few mental health days here and there). I haven’t really analyzed what is driving me to hit the snooze alarm until now.

I spent this past weekend in Advanced Yoga Teacher Training studying the Bhagavad Gita. This is a text about karma, which means action. We discussed (and will continue to discuss, intensively) sadhana, or practice. Sadhana consists of the wonderful things we do in our daily yoga practice, including asana (the physical movement), mantra, self-study, meditation, and more. In order to develop a steady sadhana, one has to do it every day. This is…hard.

It’s hard to do something every day! It’s easy to get excited about a practice, especially one like asana that makes you feel fantastic. It’s tempting to dive into a practice whole-heartedly and with commitment. It is much, much harder to sustain a practice. It gets old. It gets stale, Excuses are made, alternative acts performed. We skip days. The practice falls away.

This is what I see happening time and again with my morning routine (and my sadhana, but that’s a different story). It’s not that I have grand plans for what to do with the extra time each morning. I don’t know if it would help to have a plan. What is hard for me is making the hard decision every day.

I love lazing in bed. I think my bed is divine. It’s soft, cozy, comfortable, and safe. I feel safe and nurtured and warm when I’m in bed. When I leave bed, I feel the rush of time, the pressure of commitments, the weight of emotions. I need nurturing, safety, support and comfort in my life. It is difficult to make the choice to climb out of the sweet womb of my bed into the chilly, harsh world–even on days when I wake up feeling great. Even when I am excited to go wherever it is I have to be. Even when it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

So, how do I make that choice? What will help me?

Here’s what I’m thinking.

1. Just do it

Oh, gods, that sounds terrible.

We talked this weekend about developing will. I’d never really thought of will as something to be developed. I thought, you either have it or you don’t. My willpower is weak, I thought. I’m just not born with the sort of willpower that creates successful, Type A, morning people.

This is not actually true. What I happen to be weaker in is will development, which I may have just made up. Now I’m thinking that I lack the willpower to develop will. That’s just a rabbit hole of thoughts that I am not trying to climb down right now.

Anyway, how do you develop will? By doing the thing you need to do. By doing it every day. By making the hard choice even though it is hard. By making the hard choice because it is hard. The things that are the best for us aren’t always the easiest. I’ve been told these things become easier with the doing. You get used to making the choice and to the wonderful consequences of making that choice. That’s what they say, anyway (“they” being my teachers and maybe also Lord Krishna).

2. find alternative ways to satisfy needs

I was just typing “making a plan doesn’t work for me,” but I think that’s a little lie. Making a plan may very well work wonders for me if I can just make the hard choice. I don’t, however, think that the plan will help me make the choice. I can review my lovely plans for morning time in my head for many minutes while I lie under my comforter and still choose to snooze for 10 minutes (6 times in a row, which really is not very healthy). But…it could also be that I’ve been going about this the wrong way.

Making a plan has been about finding things that I think would be great to do in the morning, like go for a run, do sadhana, and journal. These are, of course, totally great things, but are there better things?

Let’s look at my list of needs: comfort, support, safety, and nurturing. I also need order and relaxation (as opposed to being rushed, scattered and stressed). Some of those needs are satisfied by lounging as long as possible in the morning, but that behavior also helps to create the feelings of rushing and stress and scattered brain which I do not like at all. Are there alternative practices I can do in the morning that make me feel the way I want to (warm, comforted, rested, and safe)? Am I willing to find out if there are, and to create a lovely morning routine that would fulfill my needs? Could I use these practices as further incentive to make the hard choice, knowing that I can continue to feel lovely outside of my down-filled heaven?

I think so. I hope so. I’m going to try.

Do you have habits that required consistent practice in making a hard choice? Is there one in particular that you feel gave you strength to make more hard choices? 

 

Have a Full Witch Weekend: Sweater Weather

I realized that all of the weekend posts I am going to make from now on could be summed up as “Put on a sweater. Do something cozy.” I’ll try and be more specific, but honestly if that’s all you do this weekend (and every weekend until Spring), you’ll probably be pretty happy.

Here are a few things to try this weekend that don’t require, but should include, sweaters:

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Read a book

The whole thing.

When is the last time you curled up with a blanket and a cup of hot something, ideally wearing your favorite sweater, and spent an entire day with a book? If your answer is yesterday or last week or even last month then congratulations. We are probably soul mates. What kind of sweater were you wearing? I hope it was cashmere, for optimal snuggling with our books. You should do it again this weekend. I’m available.

If your answer is not so recent, then take the opportunity afforded by this foggy early November weather and grab a book and get to it. Find a comfy chair at home or in your favorite coffee shop, the one that looks like your weird grandpa’s living room, the one that has mismatched comfy chairs and stacks of eccentric magazines and knick knacks and is attached to a record store (I’m talking about you, Soma), and curl up in it. The coziness is almost as important as the book–maybe more important, if you’re going to commit to a whole day of getting in touch with your literary side. Do you have a cable knit blanket? Maybe you should get one. Consider it an investment in your happiness.

What book should you read? That one that’s been sitting on your shelf, looking at you imploringly, for a year. That book that you’ve been meaning to start but you know that once you do, you will fall into a rabbit hole of words from which you won’t emerge for hours. That is the one. Don’t have a book on hand? Try the library. Try any of the 99 books that author Anthony Burgess insists you absolutely must read. Ask your friends. Ask Goodreads.

Devote yourself to the magic of words. Get swept away. Don’t come up for air until you’re done and your life has been forever altered by the power of a good book.

 

Perform a Random Act of Kindness

Make your roommate a cup of tea before she asks. Leave a love note in your sweetheart’s (sweater) pocket. Ask your coworker how he’s doing. Send a postcard to a friend who lives in another state. Call your mom and tell her you love her. Buy someone lunch. Make a donation.

Be sweet, because you can.

 

Spend time with an animal

Animals are basically sentient sweaters, right? If you have one, give him some extra love this weekend. Get those belly rubs you both adore. Bake some fancy dog/cat treats. Gaze at your fish, sing to your birds. Spend an extra hour in bed with your little love. If you don’t have one, find one! Visit a friend and play with her new kitten. Volunteer at a shelter or animal-centric nonprofit. Connect with your (domesticated) animal nature this weekend.

It’s good for both of you.

 

Bundle up, snuggle up, and have a beautiful, foggy November weekend!

What’s your favorite thing about sweater weather?