Blessed Imbolc: Merry Candlemas: Happy Groundhog Day!

I’m glad to be in February. For one of the shortest months, it seems to always have an extraordinary amount crammed into it. It doesn’t help that both my parents and two of my own children managed to fit their birthdays into the month!

But it’s the month when I look around and think hopeful thoughts. We’ve been through the worst of the winter (and yes, I know I am totally writing as a North West Englander, where bad winters are rare enough to be welcomed for a week at least, and also that Mother Nature is just as likely to throw a Polar Vortex my way in March as in January) and the green shoots of recovery are beginning to peep through.

Now is the time when I start to look ahead, to plan what I want to do and need to do in the year ahead to be happier, better, to achieve success on my own scale. It’s a psychologically better time to set intentions and alter lifestyle than the moody blue days of January. So it has proven this year as well. I’m looking forward and beginning to plan. 2023 is my Year of Poetry, I think, and some of my plans very much reflect that influence. In no particular order, here are my 2023 Intentions:

To Research More about the Wells and Springs in my Area.

Springs and wells to me are such symbols of life and hope and renewal, that I am now consciously seeking them out. Visiting the Chalice Well and White Spring in Glastonbury last year was such a beautiful experience, and finding these places where water flows miraculously from rock makes me feel that buzz of renewal again. I know there must be wells and springs in the local area, so finding them and visiting them this next year will be a good use of time, I think.

To Immerse Myself in Poetry… the Harder, the Better.

I studied English Literature at University, and poetry was always part of the course, like it or not. I love narrative poems, ones that tell stories, but I also love the metaphysical poets. It’s years since I read them, though, and part of my intentions this year is to make sure I read… really read…. the poems of my youth and see, with the advantage of age, what they mean to me now. Donne, Marvell, Herrick…. I’ll give them all a go. Donne is my favourite, though.

I’ve got a week-long break with my three adult children booked in April in Laugharne, where Dylan Thomas lived for the last four years of his life and where he is buried. Surely a massive cue to get a copy of a biography of Dylan Thomas, his own fictionalised account of the Artist as a Young Dog and his collected poems. I’ll take the opportunity beforehand and while I’m there to read through the poems, and to read up on what was an absolutely crazy short life.

I’ve also got A Poem for Every Day of the Year on my bedside cabinet, and I’ll read that as I lie down to rest.

To Find the Rhythm and Rhyme in Life and Follow an adapted Wheel of the Year.

I’m seeking consciously to celebrate the year as my Celtic ancestors did… with a very firm eye on the weather, and closely linked to the changing seasons. Imbolc, Candlemas, St Brigid’s Day… whatever you call it, this day has been celebrated as a new beginning by many people throughout history. I am therefore confidently declaring that today is one of the official harbingers of Spring, whatever the weather, and that I am looking out for more signs.

I’ll be celebrating with candles, with a light supper of cheese and bread, probably with vegetable soup. And as the year turns and the seasons change, I’ll use the festivals of my church family and of the Old Celtic faith to mark my progress. It’s so easy in the modern world to lose sight of the wonder of nature. I’ll be marking Easter/Ostara, May Day/Beltane, Midsummer/Litha, Harvest Start/Lughnasa, Harvest Festival/Mabon, Halloween/Samhain and Christmas/Yule with an eye to both the Christian festival and the Pagan message: rebirth, death, hibernation, the power of the Sun, the season of thanksgiving. There’s a reason the Old Ways and old paths are still there, and finding their echo in man-made laws and lessons is something I’ve been doing for a while. I’m finding The Celtic Way podcast a useful source of inspiration and information regarding this.

Walking Old Paths in Real Life.

Modern life is so fast to destroy or overwrite old ways, physically and emotionally. I don’t think we benefit when technology is the Main Focus of our life, so I’ll be more mindful in my approach. I love writing my blog (I hope you can tell) but I’ll be spending less time on social media, using it more mindfully, and using it intentionally to create a more positive world.

And the majority of my path will be offline. I will be walking more, spending time in my local woods or fields and finding links to the animals, birds and flora that live there. I’ll be planning and spending time and effort in creating circles, of friends, women, crafters, and creating them virtually or physically as places of support. As parts of the World continue to divide humans from their past, their incarnate bodies, I’ll keep pulling back from the edge. We are an animal who lives in balance, and we need to find that balance and maintain it as much as possible.

We are also called to be Creators/Creatrixes, so I’m going to be creating in one form or another throughout the year. I have plans to complete my next book, art I want to create and plenty of crafts to practise. I want to get roughly proficient at spinning, to use my pyrography skills more and to crochet a red wrap (I have the pattern and the wool, it’s only the time and enthusiams to start that is lacking!). And my blog is my main creative outlet. I’m not letting that go.

To Release my Negative Emotions and Bathe in the Positive Love of Life.

Life is dark and light, that’s true, and a world where only the positive was featured would be bland, bright and leave no space to look within… but a negative, grey, disaster-minded world is also not good. It’s about that balance, isn’t it? Whether life is good or bad, I’m proposing to lose the negative emotions associated with either and to accept my fate, lot, path. When the path is hardest is when the best lessons are learned. To find a way to stop saying ‘Why me? Why now?’ and think ‘Why not?’, to take the challenges life has and work with them to gain… whatever lesson I have to learn from them, be it fortitude, wisdom, patience, peace. Not to fight the fear, but to feel it and use it. To use the Force in my life.

Wow. That’s a crazy list. I think I’d have done better just aiming for 30 minutes of exercise a week and to lose some weight. I have no idea where I’ll be this time next year: but I hope I’ll be older, wiser, more content and peaceful. Time will tell.

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. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. 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.

And my Christmas books are still all available now to buy ready for next season: 

Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas is the basic, all round Christmas hygge book, with advice and ideas on how to make hygge (the cosiest way to be mindful and live in the moment) a large part of all your celebrations.

Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas is about taking time to look after yourself at the busiest season of all and is only available in ebook, with its own advent calendar of selfcare ideas.

 Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was my answer to Christmas in Lockdowns in 2020 but might (sadly) prove useful for a few more years to come. It has advice on celebrating small scale, and keeping a Christmas flexible. I’m itching to write a new Christmas book, on simplicity, frugality, minimalism and making the meaning of your Christmas more significant, but time, time, time…

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 photo between post and promotions is a photo by Pascal Debrunner on Unsplash. I love the snowdrops, such a harbinger of Spring, while the colours behind make me think sunrise and the start of the day. And the Header is by Simon Berger on Unsplash. I love the snowdrops against the glare of the sun behind them. Beautiful. I know the snowdrops are coming, and they’re one of the things I’ll be looking out for in the weeks to come.

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