2021 was a bit of a mixed year for me, physically, mentally and emotionally. I don’t mind admitting it took a toll, one I’ll be paying for a long time. No matter. 2021 is over now, I’ve worked through some of the many issues that beset me and I’m coming to terms with the ones I can’t do anything about. Change what I can, accept what I can’t. Life is all about the small things in the end, so enjoy the little pleasures. How stoical of me.
I spent a fair amount of time during November and December trying to think what I wanted my word for 2022 to be. I was after a word that encapsulated what I felt I needed, mentally and physically. After a couple of minor health scares and a realisation that I needed to take control of my psychological and physical health, I was after a word to help me focus on them. To help me narrow down from broad strokes to a more personal, self-reflective aproach. I need to honour the Me I am, not to put other people and their opinions first. I need to work for what creates stability for me (and, through the ripple effect, for my close family) and not to be swayed by public panics, stresses or global situations about which I can do very little.
I wanted also to create space, internally and externally, that was safe, cosy, secure and a good place to find hygge, friendship, happiness/contentment and freedom to create. Add to that the desire to honour my spiritual beliefs in a Creator God/dess and to live in community with others whatever their spiritual beliefs, and I really began to feel a word wide enough to capture all of that and personal enough to mean something specifically to me wasn’t possible.
Of course, there is always a word that captures what you need, you just haven’t met or recognised it yet. It was mid-November and I started collecting the books for Advent and beyond in real life and on my Kindle. I wrapped the books I was treating myself to (you can read about these in this post) and sorted through others that I have bought, stockpiled and never quite got around to reading yet. It included Jane Alexander’s Spirit of the Home: How to Make your Home a Sanctuary. I gave it a brief look through, and felt immediately that Sanctuary, the creation of a safe and holy space in physical and mental form, was what I was after. It’s good to find a word that catches one’s mood, so I set the book aside for later. I have been reading the book since January started, taking notes and setting my mind in motion on what I need to do to create and enjoy a sanctuary for myself, in my mind, my body and my wider world.
I’m not even going to try and put down in one post all the facets of creating and curating Sanctuary that I’ve recognised, just to say that today, January 6th and the traditional end of Christmas in the home, is a very apt day to start my creation of Sanctuary. I’ve taken down the tree, boxed up and put away the decorations I didn’t feel I could leave out on display, and polished my living room to within an inch of its life. Over the next week I will subtly change the decor to winter, not Christmas, and grant myself the space and time I need to hibernate. The weather here in Liverpool has finally turned wintery, with cold wind, rain that falls in big, lazy drops and the threat of snow or sleet over the weekend. What better time to turn to wintry pleasures: reading, crocheting blankets, candle-flame watching, bird feeding and the sundry other little rewards of winter at home.
Sanctuary: The condition of being protected or comforted. A place of refuge or asylum
Have you chosen a word for the year? What did you choose? And why? I feel like sanctuary is such a wide open word, I may find other subtitular words through the year useful as well. Sanctuary as homemaking, perhaps, or retreat. Sacraments of life, love, respect, safety. I’ll see. For now, I’m reading my book, cleaning my rooms and focusing on creating a nest, a physical centre of sanctuary to enjoy during the winter.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. The New Year may not be the best time for resolutions, but a reset of rituals and a resuming of routines is not a bad idea after a month of Christmas. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.
Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the Christmas season. I have plans to follow it up shortly with a Self-Care Winter, but I really need to grab my sanctuary plans and run with them to create a writing nest.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.
The regular photo I use between text and my book promotions is a photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash. I love the implied cosiness of the photograph: the two hot chocolate cups, the biscuits and squares of chocolate imply a good bit of chatting going on here. Plus I like the colours: red tartan and real wood. What’s not to like? And the post header is by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash. I like the winter light through the window, the warmth of the fire, the simplest pleasures of book, flower and a mug of something warm. I like the unspoken story: whose house is it? Have they been out for the day and returned home to their sanctuary? Who gave them the single tulip, or did they find it on their walk home?