Welcome to December’s musings, inspirations and ideas. I’m writing this with a Christmas Spotify list on, singing along (badly!) to old and new festive favourites.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” according to one song and at the end of a year full of change, we’re heading towards a period that for many of us is full of traditions. A time when we usually come together and celebrate, reminiscing about the year and raise a glass to missing loved ones.

2020 will be different, yet it is still a time of hope and joy.

Let’s step into this month’s shares…….. 

Hello December greeting

INSIGHT

Whilst Christmas and Hanukkah are probably the most well known of the December festivals today, but that hasn’t always been the case. 

The Hopi Indians of Arizona celebrate Soyal with purification rituals and group dancing. Scandinavians celebrate the Day of St Lucia which starts the festivities of Yule (Jōl in old Norse) welcoming in the Sun’s return alongside Odin, the God of wisdom, healing, death, war, victory, magic and frenzy by burning the Yule log, mulled drinks and celebration.

People of the Punjab and Haryana regions of India celebrate the Sun and Fire Gods. Families celebrate recent marriages and births with treats like popcorn, peanuts and gajak, a sweet made from dark sugars, sesame and assorted seeds, and throwing portions into a fire as a gift to the Gods.

In Japan, people take a yuzu fruit infused bath, believed to ward off winter ailments with its warming effects, followed by a supper of warming foods with the letter “n” to bring good luck, such as ninjin (carrot), udon (noodles) and ginnan (ginko nut). Personally, I like the sound of this – a long soak and a big bowl of noodles. 

Perhaps this year as we approach our festive season, one which will be different to any we’ve experienced before, it’s time to explore your rituals and traditions.

Adapting to change at any time can be challenging and we’ve seen plenty of “unprecedented” changes this year. For this year, we are unlikely to have all that we’d normally fit into our Decembers. So, how do you adapt and flex to changes at home, at work, with friends to make the most of the season?

First, it is 100% ok to be sad and disappointed about doing the right thing to keep COVID rates lowered and missing our usual traditions. 

To find our bravery and adapt to new traditions, whether taking ideas from other countries or cultures or pivoting our old ones, I want you to try these questions. You might use them as journalling prompt, a focus for mediations or during a reflective soak, walk or workout.

  1. How is will this festive season align with the life you want to lead?
  2. Is there someone I am trying to please or afraid to upset/disappoint as I embrace a new way forward?
  3. What am I feeling about making a change?
  4. Am I guided by love and my values in the new ideas I have?
  5. How will I meet my own needs by embracing change?
  6. Will I experience more joy through accepting and embodying a new style winter celebration?

COURAGE

Dog running between Christmas trees in forest

LIBERTY

Many of the women (and men) I’m working with feel they have little or no choice in the month ahead. Whilst I can appreciate and to some extent share their point of view, I also want to challenge it.

Yes, we will be limited due to COVID restrictions and we need to follow them carefully. I believe we have autonomy about how we choose to bring our best self to this month, how we feel and what we do (within the rules).

Our brains are wired for threat and change is potentially one of those. However, our brains are calmed when we feel a level of autonomy.

By actively stepping into choices we can make to try new festive winter celebrations, we can choose to see these positive opportunities to find more joys and bring others with us.

(The other Liberty I’m missing this month is the shop – it has the best Christmas windows and bauble selection!)

One of the things I’m very conscious of is leading others with that sense of curiosity, enthusiasm and ingenuity to bring joy into a different way of celebrating the successes of my team and my collaborators.

There will be no cocktail nights, big turkey dinners or having us all in one room to share our appreciation and gratitude. Yet, informal time together to mark the end of a strange year of ups and downs with acts of joy, gratitude and sharing feels like an essential to build a sense of belonging and commitment within our teams.

Acts of inclusion create intimacy, connection and sense of safety within a group. What ways can you bring together the traditions of your colleagues?

Think co-cooking of a favourite Christmas treat. Learning a childhood song of the season together. Crafting a decoration over zoom. Sharing a family egg nog or mulled apple juice recipe. Or wearing your best festive outfit and meeting up for a socially distanced walk.

What can you do to use traditions of old to build your team’s sense of being together and of mutual appreciation? Be courageous and bring joy.

CONNECTION

JOY

Within my own family and friends, I share an annual tradition – I bake or cook something lovely to share – in person or by post. 

And I want to share it with you. It is best made with love, with the easiest of set-ups and with plenty of festive tunes playing. Meet my Christmas Chutney and my Ginger Bundt cake recipes. They are a part of my family tradition and I hope they bring joy to yours – I’m confident you won’t regret making them.

Christmas wrapping paper and decorations

One more thing to mention is my December gift to you, an invite to my Haven Retreat, 5 daily free to join workshops and a longer masterclass. There will be more gifts during the retreat for your acts of participation, connection and joy.

I really hope you’re joining me and women like you to collectively lift each other up to find more joy, gain deeper clarity and create a sense of peace when festive storms show up on the horizon.

RSVP to my invite and save the dates – 1900 (UK time) Monday 7th to Friday 11th December.

Have a fabulous month and see you online for our Haven Retreat together!