Still pinching myself

The Christmas holiday that came to an end just a few days ago was unlike any previous. We packed bags and travelled a good 24 hours to beautiful and exotic Costa Rica, the greenest place I have ever seen. Rainforest green, cloud forest green, mountain green, pineapple, mango, banana, coffee, sugar cane and rice plantation green.

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We spent just short of three weeks exploring a world so, so different to our own. We toured the country moving from low lands to high lands, from volcano to beach, jungle to city, sea to river and sea again. Swam in rough and salty surfing waves and quiet, clear bays, pools heated by hot springs, pools shaped like turtles and in lakes and rivers with goose bump creating waterfalls with milky white spray. We went to the most stunning beach where thousands upon thousands of turtles come to lay their eggs each year. We did not swim in its shark infested, rip tide pulling Atlantic water. Others did!

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Ants and centipedes spotted along the way were studied in depth as were other creatures no matter how big or small. They were all pretty amazing. Slow moving sloths, ugly crocs, fluffy opossums and coatis, cross looking (but surprisingly) vegetarian iguanas, bright green frogs, scarlet macaws, tiny hummingbirds, beautiful toucans and butterflies, tree climbing porcupines, sleepy bats and noisy monkeys. Loads of monkeys. And the list just goes on and on. We count ourselves very fortunate to have had the most amazing and passionate guide with funny stories to tell and knowledge that exceeded our wildest imagination. Leo, is his name and I think I will tell you more about him another day. Passionate people, you know. Always inspiring. Always worth sharing.

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Then there was the food of course. It was so good. Often quite simple, which I prefer, rich in flavour, healthy and made with abundant sun ripened, freshly picked or just caught, local ingredients. We picked coffee, ground cocoa beans, pressed and sucked sugar cane and baked tortillas on a wood burning stove following sweet Mama Rosa’s gestures and skilful movements. How spoilt we were and how I will miss is all.

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The greenest country I have ever seen, the food, the wildlife, the adventures, the exploring, the people, Leo. How grateful I am for this Christmas holiday. It will no doubt last a lifetime.

#24 Let it be good enough

So you may not be as ready for Christmas as you hoped, you may not have baked as many mince pies as you planned, not been as creative in your gift wrapping as you wished, the house may not be as tidy, the wine not as sophisticated, the tree not as straight, the kids not behaving as angellic as you would have preferred.

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But never mind all of that. Tell yourself “it is good enough”. Enjoy your Christmas and just let it all be GOOD ENOUGH.

Wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas and also want to say a big welcome to new readers. I hope you have enjoyed the advent calendar.

# 23 Choose gratefulness

I wonder how Christmas would be different this year if we were to view it only through a filter of gratefulness. A filter where we would need to tune our minds fully in to what we have to be grateful for in our lives this Christmas, on this particular day, this particular moment.

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How would it be different if from the break of dawn until the stars come out at night we simply brush away any negative thoughts like invisible specks of dust on padded shoulders? Brush them away by choosing our filter. We all have so much to be grateful for. If only we look. This Christmas, on this particular day, at this particular moment.

#22 Be captivated

If you think about it, it is pretty incomprehensible. Images are evoked of solitary souls with piles of notebooks, old fashioned typewriters and pencils chewed scratching their heads while gulping down mugs of cold coffee and living only of stale crackers for months or even years on end. It is the process of writing books I find incomprehensible and the sheer amount of books and stories that are written and available for us to disappear into.

inspiredReading snippets, stroking covers, flicking pages, hour after hour evaporate into thin air in libraries and bookshops. Selecting a pile for little ones as well as big ones especially for the x-mas holidays while imagining head scratching storytellers with typewriters and stale crackers – a most enjoyable way to lose a few hours.

And then, of course, you have got the option of reading the books as well.

# 14 Fuelling the body

Culminating in a feast that usually lasts into the new year, it seems each day of December brings with it increased volumes of temptations. As the days go by it takes less and less effort to consume the entire daily recommended calories by mid-morning. A little chocolate here and a mince pie or two there should do the trick.

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Having committed to write about nourishment and nourishing activities this December, I feel slightly obliged to bring up the issue of food and exercise. I am fully aware, however, that you are all fully aware of how it works. You know the nourishing differences between an apple and a piece of chocolate and the difference between movement and being motionless.

So all I am going to suggest is that you make conscious choices. And that whatever your choices are, enjoy yourself.

#1 Make something

and so it was that pretty much every single step of staircase was occupied with items in transit; countless odd socks, a bottle of sun cream, onesies and pin cushions, Papa Smurf & co, wooden swords, magazines and books! The laundry basket somehow appeared full to the brim, and ahead awaited lengthy preparation of a hearty meal to compensate for the past week’s dinner shortcuts and lurking in various corners was a sense that December certainly came around much faster than expected and kept whispering “you are running a bit behind, aren’t you?”.

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But, you see, one little person had decided she wanted to make a stocking for her brother, so we simply HAD to get crafty. Besides, making or producing something is so satisfying for me and the past two weeks has been spent in conversations, workshops and coaching sessions encouraging others do more of what nourishes them, to notice how it builds momentum, how it ignites a desire to create more and how it increases your energy and ability to swiftly and in a “what’s the big deal?” way repatriate Papa Smurf and friends and odd socks. It was time. As in time to walk the talk!

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So not only did we make a stocking, we made a bag and a star and very much enjoyed our improvised 10 minute from start to finish pasta dish, which even included broccoli!!! This evening the staircase can again {fairly safely} be navigated, the laundry basket is {kind of} empty and there is {sort of} a plan in place to catch up with December. Most excitingly though, there is a decision to come up with one nourishing activity/suggestion on the blog for each of the next 24 days. Walking the talk Christmas countdown style. I am hoping you will come along, find a bit of inspiration and simply and in any random fashion do more of what really nourishes you.

a little tool devoted to December

It is so easy to start feeling overwhelmed by tasks in the next month or so. Like last year, however, I am determined to keep my eye on the bigger picture and focus on what is truly important, meaningful and adds value. The rest…. – well, we will just have to wait and see.

The “control centre”, the tool that can help maintain focus, is very simple. The simple tools are always the best, right? Take a piece of paper and draw lines to divide it into 4 spaces. In the top left space you write “Important”, in the right “Not important”. Going down, write “Urgent” in the top space, “Not Urgent” in the bottom. (Here’s a pdf you can download/print if you wish.)

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Then take all the to-do items playing Ping-Pong between your temples, the ones scribbled in notebooks, on post-it-notes, the back of your hand and other random surfaces and plot them in the appropriate spaces.

Remember to add what’s really important. Like the activities that mean a lot to you and your family. Afternoons spent baking gingerbread reindeers or ambling through mossy forests smelling of pine and clear air, choosing this year’s special Christmas tree. Or meeting up with friends for that first glass of warm enchanted wine, attending a candlelit carol service sitting on benches that always, no matter your body mass index, makes you feel like you have a very bony bottom. All of those go on your sheet as well.

What I hope you will find, is that even though it may not feel like it at times, the stars will still shine at night, the roof stay on top of your house, your friends and family still love you even if you take shortcuts or simply delete or delay the stuff of your list that is either not important or not urgent or both. Update your list as you see fit, but always do the things first that matters the most and for the rest….. well, we will just have to wait and see.