Is January the longest month or what?!
Not only that but if you are anything like me you are just plain out of ‘new ideas’ having used them all up before or during Christmas.
We went to town this year learning as much as we could about having a sustainable holiday. To be honest? It was quite exhausting. Don’t get me wrong - throw into the mix the excitement of doing something new, learning how to be more eco-friendly and just the teeny weeny bit of smugness and well; what’s not to love?
It’s the aftermath though, isn’t it? January should just be renamed ‘The Aftermath’ so we all know what we are in for and can live quietly in acceptance of it. The piggy bank ain’t giving anything out, the toys are all played with, if anyone mentions a board game I‘ll probably lose it…
Though no diet was introduced we did all get new vegan cookbooks (my fave is https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vegan-One-Pound-Meals-budget-friendly/dp/1472263723) and one highlight has been that we are eating like royalty.
The main thing about the plant-based/vegan way we have been living that has really struck me is the lack of guilt! My cognitive dissonance powers have been so strong in the past. I'm surprised how peaceful I feel about it now that we are eating differently. (I’m not all the way there yet but I am working on it and enjoying opening my mind, and mouth, to it all.)
Anyway, let us get to it, shall we?
Although January does drag on it is a great time to set intentions for the rest of the year. “Start as you mean to go on and all that”
If you have read our blog post How to Live Consciously Throughout the Year then you will know that it is as simple as making some easy adjustments to your everyday routines and habits.
Fall in Love With Going Slow.
Take some time to really think about the seasons.
Winter is a darker, colder time.
I used to worry about this until I paused to really think about it. As a child I did not fear winter, I looked forward to the puddles, the hope of snow, the cosy times in front of the fire, days spent having a brisk walk with the family - in the anticipation of getting home, getting warm and playing board games together or watching cowboy movies with Dad.
We won’t all have the same memories of winter (I also remember ice on the inside of the window and the physical pain of getting out of a warm bed or chilblains on my little toes!!) but we only need to look outside to see that nature itself is drawing in. The days are shorter, the seeds hide underground, full of potential, animals hibernate in cosy nests - we can learn from this and understand that winter is a time for rest.
Life still churns on but in the downtimes, the quiet times give yourself permission to daydream, to nap, to read. Spend time doing warm activities like baking those goodies or making those soups and stews that you have pinned or marked down in a recipe book. Cuddle up on a sofa under a warm blanket or in a pillow fort and read-aloud storybooks from your childhood or watch nostalgic movies. Give yourself permission to slow down and regenerate like the very earth itself is doing. It is incredible what the human body and mind can do if given a season in the year to do this. You will find yourself bursting with new ideas, hopes and dreams when spring comes around!
Wrap Up and Get Out
It turns out that everything our mums or grandmas (anyone older than us and had lived longer really!) were right about getting outside every day. It really is so very good for us on many levels. It keeps us active and stretching out muscles that have maybe been tensing in the colder seasons. It blows away the cobwebs in our minds - there is so much research about the benefits of nature for our inner selves. (Check out this article for wonderful testimonies of this https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/how-nature-benefits-mental-health/)
Consider going on a nature walk and seeing what you can see, hear and find. Or perhaps really challenge yourself into being able to identify trees by their bark and branches alone. (I am not very good at this and after purchasing some bargain, unnamed, fruit trees at the weekend I hope to be pleasantly surprised that my guesses at them being a cherry and a pear tree will be correct!)
Not only all of that but it means we can come in again after being outside! Your home, room or bed can once again envelope you in its warm embrace - a real example of absence makes the heart grow fonder!
Getting Down and Dirty
Ok, let’s face it January is as good a time as any to start dancing more. The curtains are closed sooner in the day - you can literally be dancing in the dark - and pumping your favourite tunes is undoubtedly a mood booster! BUT this wasn’t actually what I was going to write about …. I was going to write about cleaning. I just thought you’d lose interest it I wrote “Cleaning” as a title. Don’t worry though, keep those tunes on as we take a look at making a new sustainable choice in the kitchen.
It is time to ditch the kitchen paper/kitchen towel and replace it with “UnPaper’ alternatives. How we have done it is to cut up all the dish towels that the kids trashed at Christmas by wiping up goodness knows what from the floor/around their faces/muddy boots (tell me it is not just my kids?!) by cleaning them, then cutting them into rectangles and placing them in a nice basket on the kitchen counter. Once used they get thrown into a container next to the compost bin and are added to the weekly super hot wash.
I can’t say that the family are delighted with this new arrangement but after a few disgruntled groans, they are now going along with it. I like to think that our choices as adults will filter down to the kids - so even if they do use paper towels in the future they are aware that there is an easy alternative just within their reach.
If you do not want to make these yourself since your dish towels are perfectly-ok-as -they-are-thank-you-very-much or you require something a little fancier try these out
Be Patient with Your Impatience
If you are anything like me then you have already checked your surrounds for any sign of spring. It is a new year and brings with it the new possibilities of new things to nurture and grow. What else is a new years resolution if not this very thing? Resolutions are like the seeds of hope we plant for the new year. The thing is, they might not always grow into something that we hoped for. Maybe its already later in the month and you are feeling a bit deflated… fear not! Be patient with yourself and know that there are other ways to achieve your goals. For starters: go out and buy or borrow some herb seeds, get some compost and a nice pot.
Fresh herbs for the kitchen windowsill is where it is AT for people that want a little something extra in their foods and in their lives. No waiting for spring for us - we are planting those seeds and watching them grow today!
Follow these easy steps from the amazing Eden Project to find out how to make little seed pots out of newspaper. https://www.edenproject.com/learn/for-everyone/make-your-own-newspaper-seed-pots
Follow the instructions on your seed packets for plant care. Once you have a healthy plant remember that you can dry some of the leaves and stems and store them in airtight for next winters soups and stews.
That about sums up this month’s ideas and inspirations for living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. I hope you found a few ways to make January more bearable. Just know, you’ve got this, stay warm, spring is coming. Soonish.
Be sure to follow the blog to read more of the Loam & Lore monthly posts on How to Live Consciously for lots of new ideas, month by month.