Less Is More

On December 24th, the inside and outside of our home is currently indistinguishable from August of this year.  If you look anywhere in our neighborhood (or on the planet) right now little twinkling lights, bows, wreaths and inflatable characters abound.  Every year I completely indulge in the feeling of warmth and genuinely revel in every traditional preparation for the Season.  I count down the seconds of November until the socially acceptable date of December 1st allows for my heartening immersion into Joy.  A fresh tree, ambient lighting, décor, décor, décor… I love the ritual and the comfort of the preparation.  And of course the celebration that follows with friends and family.  My memories are rooted in connection with my parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents and my parents friends we hadn’t gotten around to seeing in so long, now popping by and sitting for a while (a drink) and really being present.  We use the excuse of the holidays to make community a priority, as if this time of year is non-negotiable with excuses, we must connect.  So if we love the process and the experience that this preparation provides us, why am I not doing it this year? Because as the Grinch says “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.”  This year has been one of incredible growth and activity and a lot of accomplishments.  In the philosophy that we study and the lifestyle that we practice, a huge weight is given to balance and self-care and boundaries.  As December approached my husband, knowing my love of tradition and the pleasure I take in the ritual decorating and tree lighting, asked about scheduling all these activities in and I said, “I’m not doing it this year.  We have been busy and this is a holiday and I want to do less this year and really enjoy the season and the nuances that come with it without the effort and the lists and the rush of it all.”  Not one to be as moved by hanging ornaments, he received my message and the conversation ended.  As Christmas grew closer and closer he likely was dreading a last minute change of heart and scramble to make it all happen in, ironically, more of a hectic experience than the one I was initially intending to avoid and asked again about the tree Et. al.  Again I said, “I don’t want to do it.”  It’s ok to not do it all, in general.  Finding Peace in a Season where it quite literally is the message should be not only ok but celebrated.  It is so important to ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing and if it really contributes to your beliefs and purpose.  As we pass friends and clients who ask the standard “are you all ready for Christmas?” I have the inkling to explain and say that we aren’t doing all the ‘getting ready’ this year and also share why, but I am resigning to just say ‘yes’.  Because we are ready.  So many people are frantically scrambling to do more, buy more, almost compulsively over committing and will now attach their holiday memories with chaos and stress.  I don’t want that. I still love the process and the nuances of the preparation and the feeling every detail gives me but I’m also ok with taking a break from that for one year and knowing that Christmas will still be equally as special and memorable.  So I will have hot cider, listen and sing to as much Christmas music as possible, diffuse fresh Fir essential oils, and visit as many of my loved ones as possible this Holiday and I am so excited. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays! I hope every moment is warm and bright. Namaste, Steph    https://www.instagram.com/stefdowney/  

On December 24th, the inside and outside of our home is currently indistinguishable from August of this year.  If you look anywhere in our neighborhood (or on the planet) right now little twinkling lights, bows, wreaths and inflatable characters abound.  Every year I completely indulge in the feeling of warmth and genuinely revel in every traditional preparation for the Season.  I count down the seconds of November until the socially acceptable date of December 1st allows for my heartening immersion into Joy.  A fresh tree, ambient lighting, décor, décor, décor… I love the ritual and the comfort of the preparation.  And of course the celebration that follows with friends and family.  My memories are rooted in connection with my parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents and my parents friends we hadn’t gotten around to seeing in so long, now popping by and sitting for a while (a drink) and really being present.  We use the excuse of the holidays to make community a priority, as if this time of year is non-negotiable with excuses, we must connect.  So if we love the process and the experience that this preparation provides us, why am I not doing it this year?

Because as the Grinch says “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.”  This year has been one of incredible growth and activity and a lot of accomplishments.  In the philosophy that we study and the lifestyle that we practice, a huge weight is given to balance and self-care and boundaries.  As December approached my husband, knowing my love of tradition and the pleasure I take in the ritual decorating and tree lighting, asked about scheduling all these activities in and I said, “I’m not doing it this year.  We have been busy and this is a holiday and I want to do less this year and really enjoy the season and the nuances that come with it without the effort and the lists and the rush of it all.”  Not one to be as moved by hanging ornaments, he received my message and the conversation ended.  As Christmas grew closer and closer he likely was dreading a last minute change of heart and scramble to make it all happen in, ironically, more of a hectic experience than the one I was initially intending to avoid and asked again about the tree Et. al.  Again I said, “I don’t want to do it.”  It’s ok to not do it all, in general.  Finding Peace in a Season where it quite literally is the message should be not only ok but celebrated.  It is so important to ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing and if it really contributes to your beliefs and purpose.  As we pass friends and clients who ask the standard “are you all ready for Christmas?” I have the inkling to explain and say that we aren’t doing all the ‘getting ready’ this year and also share why, but I am resigning to just say ‘yes’.  Because we are ready.  So many people are frantically scrambling to do more, buy more, almost compulsively over committing and will now attach their holiday memories with chaos and stress.  I don’t want that. I still love the process and the nuances of the preparation and the feeling every detail gives me but I’m also ok with taking a break from that for one year and knowing that Christmas will still be equally as special and memorable.  So I will have hot cider, listen and sing to as much Christmas music as possible, diffuse fresh Fir essential oils, and visit as many of my loved ones as possible this Holiday and I am so excited. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays! I hope every moment is warm and bright.

Namaste,

Steph   

https://www.instagram.com/stefdowney/  

All The Little Things

Important Note: This little guy was injured during the initial hatch and was rehabilitated by professionals prior to release.  If you are ever around a turtle hatching do not touch the turtles. If you observe one that is injured contact the wildlife authorities in your respective jurisdiction.

Important Note: This little guy was injured during the initial hatch and was rehabilitated by professionals prior to release.  If you are ever around a turtle hatching do not touch the turtles. If you observe one that is injured contact the wildlife authorities in your respective jurisdiction.

We released this little fighter into the ocean this week.  He reminded us that all of our actions can be meaningful and helpful.  Being mindful and compassionate in our actions will always bring us to the right side of Karma.

My grandmother told me a very impactful story when I was young.  A man walked down to the beach one day after a huge storm had been through to see thousands of starfish washed ashore.  With the hot sun coming out the starfish would not make it.  A young boy was there picking up starfish and taking them one by one down to the ocean.  The man arriving to the beach looked around at all of the starfish washed ashore and said to the boy busily putting them back, “There are thousands of starfish on this shore, I’m afraid to say you wont be able to make a difference.” The boy stopped and turned to him “I might not help them all but to this one starfish I made a difference.”

Little actions, positive or negative, have an effect in the world.  Let’s make today a day of monumental little movements!

 

Namaste,

Steph

 

https://www.instagram.com/stefdowney/

http://gooddeedsmovement.com/

 

Finding Stillness

copal.jpg

I often feel like I am so busy. Most of the time that’s a legitimate experience but sometimes it’s just a lack of stillness. It is so important to take time for stillness. To just sit and breathe. Maybe that’s in a warm bath, or with a big blanket looking out at the rain, or on your yoga mat, but give yourself the gift of 20 minutes (or more!) of stillness today. On the days that I am teaching it’s a non-negotiable in my schedule just like an appointment and it is a game-changer in how I think, focus and am able to show up for those around me. Call it meditation, call it relaxation, prayer or just a time out, but make it a priority everyday to build the capacity to be present in those high-speed moments. 

Namaste,
Steph

https://www.instagram.com/stefdowney/