I’ve been anticipating it all winter, and after weeks and weeks of clear skies and uselessly cold days, it finally happened. We awoke to the clean, refreshing stillness that only a heavy snowfall can bring. We ventured out, hiking aimlessly through the woods together in tranquil silence, taking it all in. I saw my home in a new light, a new energy. The contrast of the red rocks peeking through the fresh powder reinforced a universal truth: mountains are better with snow.
I’ve been drawn to Manitou lately. Drawn to it’s earthy, solemn, calming vibrations. Manitou Springs is a beautiful little town right outside of Colorado Springs. It’s a ten minute drive from home, but we usually avoid it due to the overwhelming crowds. However, I’ve been recently feeling more and more connected with this magical place. With the tourist season dying down, I can finally feel the energy I’ve heard so much about. Soaking in the healing powers of the spring water, taking part in ceremonial crystal cleansing, discovering the expressive dance and yoga community, and exploring the mountains and trails long ago discovered by the Ute tribe. Luke, the imaginative archeologist that he is, helped me connect with this part of history on the Ute Pass, looking down from the top of the ridge to greet the new year. The spiritual connection I’ve felt since the crowds have dissipated make me wonder if the historical and sacred significance has been somewhat desecrated by tourism, the endless streams of traffic and commercialism, overpowering the subtle flow of the spring, the whispering voices of the past. There’s a spiritual piece to this quirky little town that seems to be disappearing, lost in the shuffle. There appears to be a specific attraction to the healing properties of the spring water, but how can we ask the earth to heal us and offer nothing in return? Respect for the natural earth is fading all around us. It’s time to reconnect with our planet, to appreciate and protect her, and to reverse this cycle that we’ve created.
I want to dedicate this post to my partner, Luke. Thank you for your endless inspiration.
The temperatures are steadily dropping out here in Colorado, and I’m loving every second of it. Snow, candles, and snuggling are on the top of my list this time of year. Last weekend, Norah, Molly and I welcomed winter early with a scenic snowy hike, followed by a mug of hot rosemary cider.
Yesterday was the solstice. The longest night of the year, the beginning of winter. Since I had a full day of clients, I’d been wondering how I was going to celebrate. As fate would have it, I happened to stumble upon a local yoga class honoring the winter solstice in Manitou Springs last night. Of course, I had to check it out. The sequence emphasized alignment, as well the balance between light and darkness as we begin to move toward the sun. The class ended with live music, expressive dancing and a crystal/water ceremony. It was an unusual, freeing, beautiful way to honor the solstice.
How did you celebrate?
How do you start and end your day? It’s so easy to snooze a few more minutes, or go to bed staring at a screen. As a counselor, it’s important for me to be present and focused with my clients, and my night and morning routines have a huge impact on my mindset for the day ahead. Let’s try to be more purposeful in the mornings and evenings by starting and ending the day with mindfulness and self-care. Here’s what’s on the schedule:
Make Your Bed
Brush and Floss
Drink Warm Lemon Water
Morning Yoga Sequence
Meditation & Intention Setting
Making the bed is the perfect way to start the day off with intention and purpose. It’s also important to stretch and nourish the mind, body, and soul in the morning to feel refreshed and rejuvenated all day long. I love starting my day with a short yoga sequence, walk, or bike ride. Warm lemon water and a good breakfast, such as chia seed pudding, oatmeal, or avocado toast can help maintain focus and energy throughout the morning.
Shower & Salt Scrub
Drink Chamomile Tea
Lavender Oil in Diffuser
With colder weather on its way, my skin is in constant need of my tea tree lavender scrub. I’ll be using it everyyy night this winter. Journaling and reflecting on the day, warm chamomile tea, and the soothing smell of lavender can help keep the mind calm and quiet at night. As for the body, there are lots of easy, gentle yoga sequences that can be done right before (and in) bed. And rather than trying to relax with the glaring light from a phone, TV, or laptop, how about opting to fall asleep with a good book! The perfect way to end the day. Ahhhhh.
The light within me honors the light within you.
Sometimes self-care means taking the time to celebrate. To let go of the day-to-day monotony, to listen to the inner child, and to welcome mystery and spontaneity into life. Samhain, All Hallows’ Eve, reminds us to celebrate, to direct our attention to the darkening days and colder nights, and to welcome the wintery weather with a fresh perspective. This night invites us to look out into the dark sky with wonder rather than fear.
It’s no secret that Halloween is my favorite time of year, and I’ve been celebrating all month with vampiric literature, costume designs, and (finally) carving the pumpkins from our garden.
Here’s a recipe from one of my favorite Halloween traditions:
How are you celebrating?
Autumn. Mother Nature’s beautiful, magical, colorful transformation. I’m getting my first true glimpse of fall in Colorado, and it is breathtaking.
Friday was the autumn equinox, a time for balance, transition, abundance, and appreciation. While planning a celebratory weekend filled with camping, fire dances, and Mabon festivities, the universe laughed as the sky opened up Friday afternoon, and the rain poured down. In an attempt to flexibly transition with the season, I packed up my camping mugs and moved the party inside. Cozily stuck indoors, I thought, what would be perfect for looking out at the rain? Autumn inspired lattes. Keeping with the blog’s coffeeless tradition, these easy lattes are the perfect cozy compliment to the cool weather and changing leaves.
Warm & Spicy Cacao Latte
- 2 cups Water
- 2 tbsp Ground Chicory Root
- 1/4 cup Cacao Nibs
- 1/4 cup Steamed Almond Milk
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Brew the chicory root grounds, cinnamon, and cayenne with water using a coffee maker, pour-over, or french press. Place cacao nibs in the bottom of a mug and add hot chicory “coffee”, stirring to melt cacao. Add steamed milk and top with cinnamon, cayenne, and nutmeg (optional).
Pumpkin Spice Root Latte
- 2 cups Hot Water
- 2 tbsp Root Tea Blend
- 1/4 cup Almond Milk
- 2 tbsp Pumpkin Puree
- 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
Steep root blend in hot water for 5 minutes. (I use a local blend made with dandelion and licorice root.) In a saucepan, gently heat almond milk, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, stirring constantly. Add steamed milk to tea and top with pumpkin pie spice.
Green Tea & Ginger Latte
- 2 cups Hot Water
- 2 tbsp Green Tea, Yerba Mate, or Matcha Blend
- 1/4 Steamed Almond Milk
- 1 tbsp Ground Ginger
Steep green tea in hot water for 5 minutes. Add steamed milk to tea and top with ground ginger.
Happy Autumn, my loves
My mind has a habit of drifting, wandering, and I find myself carried away. Either into a warm, nostalgic memory, or some vision of the idealized distant future. I love teaching and practicing mindfulness with my clients, but I have to ask myself, how often am I utilizing this technique for my own self-care? During a short visit to the Carolinas this past week, I had an insightful conversation with my grandmother. She asked me a simple question: “are you satisfied with your life?”. A question that I’ve been hesitant to ask myself lately. Living so far away from my birthplace, I was infatuated with this brief homecoming, basking in past memories, taking in the golden, feathery sunsets and lush greenery, gazing up at the massive old trees, comparing it all to the scenery of my new home. As if I were trying to decide which landscape I prefer, which one feels more authentic, which one reflects where I need to “end up”, or “settle down”. Which is why this question seemed so daunting. Am I satisfied? Expending energy hazy with nostalgia or hyper-focused on future plans, will I ever be? Life never turns out quite the way we plan or imagine (although sometimes, it’s even better), and obsessing over that can be self-destructive. In my graduate program, we often discussed a phenomenon called Destination Addiction. It’s the unattainable idea that whenever a certain goal is reached, happiness will automatically follow. We also discussed the theory that we remember events in a better light than when we actually experienced the event. These cognitions are what can keep us disillusioned and distant from the present moment, from current, ongoing happiness. Practicing mindfulness (being present and nonjudgmental in the moment), appreciating the little things that make us feel at home, and focusing on the amazing aspects of everyday life, these are a few basic essentials for self-care and feeling satisfied. Sunsets are beautiful anywhere, but we have to be present in order to appreciate them.
How do you stay present?
Rosemary. Such an amazing smell, and the heat-loving plant does so well in the summer, but the aroma usually takes my mind to colder seasons. Not anymore. I found a way to combine this savory herb with summer’s yummiest gift, peaches. I started making and canning jams last year, and they are always a favorite among my family and friends. Here is a recipe for rosemary peach jam, the best of both worlds:
- 2 cups Peaches, Diced
- 2 cups Stevia or Other Dry Sweetener
- 2 tbsp Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
- Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Combine the peaches and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Add a splash of the champagne while stirring frequently (I also add a little pectin if it’s not quite the consistency I want). Remove from heat when jam sets (scoop some up with a spoon and allow to cool slightly to test), carefully remove rosemary sprigs (optional) and pour into mason jars when almost cool.
Any healthy baked good recipes out there that you would serve with this jam?
Earlier this summer, my basil plants were looking super sad. I even thought they were done for good at one point. I tried altering my watering schedule, but to no avail. Then, one day, out of the blue, they were huge! I still have no idea what changed, but they are thriving now, and every time I clip them they basically grow back overnight. So what do I make with my new abundance of basil? Pesto, (what else?) and lots of it. This week I made my favorite pizza dough recipe, smothered it in this pesto, and added some fresh mozzarella and banana peppers from the garden. It’s so satisfying to create and cook with produce you’ve grown and nurtured yourself, and this pesto recipe is one of my favorites. Get it below:
- 2 cups Fresh Basil
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1/3 cup Pine Nuts
- 1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese (or vegan alternative)
- 1/3 cup Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and that’s it! Pesto.
Part three, coming up!
I made this recipe using fresh dill from my herb garden and pickling cucumbers from the farmer’s market in Old Colorado City, just outside of the Springs. (We have a few cucumber plants in the garden, but they haven’t produced quite yet). I plan to can a bunch of pickles when we harvest our cucumbers later this season, but for now I just popped the jars in the fridge knowing they’ll get eaten up in no time. The recipe is pretty simple:
- 1 lb Cucumbers, Sliced, Halved, or Quartered
- 1 cup White Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 cup Water
- 2 tbsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 2 tbsp Fresh Dill
- 1 tbsp Pickling Spices or Dill Seeds
-Bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
-Loosely pack sterilized mason jars with cucumbers.
-Drop in fresh dill and spices.
-Fill remaining jar space with warm vinegar mixture.
-Cover with lid and refrigerate for up to a month. (Refrigerate for a few hours before opening for best taste).
More to come from the fresh herb series, and look out for some canning chronicles and recipes coming to the blog this fall!