Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hygge/ Cozy/ Intentionally Convalescing "Christmas" Or Holiday Season

*The above blue picture was the backyard this year in Canada- We enjoyed a winter wonderland for about three weeks of heavily covered trees. It was stunning!*
Many people are stressed out, sick, sugar overloaded, and busy over holiday seasons. I used to be one of those people. While our holiday season has a few extra activities, it is also intentionally spread out. We step back and revamp our holidays from year to year based what we currently need, and what worked or did not the year before. Perhaps this seems untraditional, but we keep a few key aspects alive for us and within that we have a "flexible tradition." The two key concepts we like to focus on are Hygge and Convalescing.
Convalescing is a term often used after an illness. It is about recovering the health of the body, mind and soul with intentional nourishment and rest. To find out more click on the two links with the highlighted paragraphs below:

"How to convalesce: You need • A supportive GP, consultant and appropriate medication. • Loving family and friends. • An understanding and encouraging employer and colleagues. • To be led by your body’s needs — sleep when tired, eat when hungry. • Gentle exercise when able, gradually building up or down as necessary. • To learn to say no — doing less than you think you can, not more. • To trust your intuition about how you are and what you need. • To accept that resting isn’t just “doing nothing”. It is replenishing energy and health — and it’s vital. • To eat well and enjoy food. Don’t worry about weight loss or gain for a while. • To plan to cut back even when you’ve regained full health. • To have a holiday in the sun.(see more in link above.)   
"NOURISH- Give your body the best quality nourishment in order to facilitate the healing and repair it does at night. This means a diet of wholefoods, preferably organic, and of simple fare. No stimulants such as coffee, sugar, nicotine or alcohol. Avoid dairy and fast foods. Prepare lots of nourishing broths and soups, made from root vegetables that bury deep into the earth, sharing their energy of grounding and connectedness with you. Quality plant-based proteins to help repair, and fresh juicy fruits." (click on link above)

Hygge is a Danish concept but there are many other versions of it in other cultures. Unfortunately north america has lost the art of this type of connection in general. My husband and I don't even celebrate certain north american holidays anymore. Instead we find ways to cherish the life we have and mark different seasons with beauty and inspiration.  "From the end of October through the New Year and onto Valentine's Day, it's easy to forget that the holidays we celebrate  are simply cultural constructs that we can choose to engage in — or not. The concepts and ideas we celebrate — like our spiritual beliefs and daily habits — are a choice, though sometimes it feels like we "have" to celebrate them, even if we don't feel like it. Culture is ours to do with as we choose, and that means that we can add, subtract, or edit celebrations or holidays as we see fit — because you and me and everyone reading this makes up our culture, and it is defined by us, for us, after all. If you want to add a new and different perspective to your life, there are plenty of other ways to recognize joy and beauty outside American traditions..." ( ) 
The previous link shows seven other concepts from varied cultures similar to Hygge. I found a few additional ideas in the article to add to our full life- I highly recommend learning and googling the seven concepts mentioned. 
Still wondering what Hygge is? "Usually it is translated as "cosy" but hygge means much more than that. Hygge refers to a sense of friendly, warm companionship of a kind fostered when Danes gather together in groups of two or more, although you can actually hygge yourself if there is no one else around. The participants don't even have to be friends (indeed, you might only just have met), but if the conversation flows — avoiding potentially divisive topics like politics and the best method to pickle herring — the bonhomie blossoms, toasts are raised before an open fire (or at the very least, some candles), you are probably coming close."

(Click on more.) The links and highlights below are also full of beautiful descriptions and ideas:

My friend Hillary first introduced me to this concept. She wrote; "There are few pleasures in life that compare to snuggling with loved ones by the fireside, fingers wrapped around a mug of rich Masala chai, toes tucked into something soft and warm. This is hygge, but hygge itself is virtually impossible to define. It includes a sense of togetherness, of sacred, of finding beauty, of creating home, of connection—or, to me, a nourishing of the soul during a season of immense cold and dark. Before knowing hygge was a “thing” I found great solace in creating it my own way—softening the lights, layering my home with soft blankets, thoughtfully placing candles, sliding a squash into the oven to roast and surround us with mouthwatering, sweet warmth. Or through journaling, writing love letters or snuggling with coffee and conversation with a dear friend. It's such a warm, full-bodied embrace of what is; being the one to slip comfort in uncomfortable.;It is living beauty which fills the senses and sustains the heart. It is a deep sigh saying, “It is well with my soul.” (Click above link for more.) 
 "Hygge means different things to different people, but for me it is all about slow living, togetherness, simplicity, and the feeling of belonging and feeling safe. It can be things that you can do together, food you can cook, and places that are hyggeligeto visit." (Click on link above for more.) 
"Embrace who you are. This is hard to do when you are constantly running back and forth and even at home, constantly tidying up or running after the kids and never really pausing. Embrace that you are only human and deserve to take time out each day just to have some tea, do yoga, read a chapter or two of a book, whatever works. This is very Hygge, and very Danish, to pause and sit inside of yourself for a moment, to let your soul catch up to your body as I’ve heard some say." (Click on link above for more.) 
Hygge is as Danish as pork roast and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. There's nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are the happiest people in the world?" (Click on link above for more.)
Our home is named Anam Cara because our home is our Soul Friend. Anam Cara is also a favourite book of ours written by Irish Philosopher and poet John O Donohue (CLICK). We have intentionally created a home similar to the Danish concept of Hygge. Our home is not perfect but it is infused with our inspiration and cozy considerations.

"CHOOSE CONTENTMENT OVER PERFECTION - I’m fairly sure that not all Danish homes look like those we see on Pinterest or in magazines, but it’s well known that the Danes are very aware of design & put alot of care and attention into their spaces. It’s not all about being too perfectly arranged or having the latest thing: it’s about being mindful of what you have & what you choose, editing, and being intentional in your decor to create your own style, whatever your budget. Take care of what you have, be content in it’s imperfection, and foster a sense of pride in your home – your home is a reflection of you, and a home that feels cared for, open-hearted & unselfconscious feels cosy and welcoming to others, as well as being a happy place for you to be." (see more in link above.)
 For other simple decor ideas on how to do this click below:

What does convalescing and Hygge mean for our family specifically this year?

First off, we are trying to keep our home tidy enough to enjoy but not perfect enough to stress out. We are prepared to share a few spread out times with friends over the next few weeks but we make sure to have a few down days in between to give them a version of ourselves that involves peace. Life happens. Illness could be a part of our holidays or even tragedy or sadness or moments that we MUST do, but even in that, we try to keep Hygge a mentality...not just an aspect of living. We CAN take a moment at the hospital waiting for bloodwork to smile at each other, meditate or breathe with intention.

 Our Holiday season does involve a few traditions. On Christmas morning we still exchange gifts, Santa still fills the stockings, and we have my immediate side of my family over to share in on gift opening. Our christmas Eve this year is solely focusing on Hygge at home with just our family of five. We are not going out and we are not having anyone in. We are preparing nutritious, easy meals ahead of time to consume on that day. Christmas Eve will be arranged around naps by the fireplace ambiance, reading under blankets, playing games together in our library, a holiday movie with wholesome snacks (perhaps dark chocolate and organic popcorn?) music and candlelit bubble baths for each member of the family at varied times. Our focus is basic togetherness with intentional cozy atmosphere. We will have a normal bedtime so that we can be the best version of ourselves for our gatherings. As a sensitive family staying up late for "special times" does not necessarily make a special time for us. Changes in routine for something "special" can end in tears, fears and nightmares. The same goes for "treats." The best treats we can have involve honey, natural products and perhaps a few indulgences like grape juice, wine, dark chocolate covered fruit, and maybe a few gluten free chips. It's not because we are complete health nuts or think it is bad to indulge, but this rule is because we get sick otherwise. We want our children to respect their bodies on holidays just like they do every other day of the year. We want them to also indulge in beautiful treats or have an occasional coffee or "treat" but the treat has to be something their body specifically can handle.

On Christmas Day we do not have a Christmas Dinner (see my thanksgiving post HERE) but instead make something we enjoy for a light meal in the evening with just our family of five again. If it is nice we take a winter walk and savour the snowy beauty. In the morning christmas day my extended family brings a breakfast item or they eat before, we open some gifts and they depart around lunch. On Boxing day this year, we partake in another day of relaxing and prepping for some of my husband's siblings and parents. We have decided on taco salad because it's easy enough to prepare, tasty to enjoy with a large group yet not too stressful or expensive. We hope to share our hearth with them. Ideally we are preparing for conversations that do not involve politics, religion or anything explosive but instead concentrate on the beauty we share, small events in our lives, and approaching topics that induce warmth and cheer...simply enjoying the presence of the children and their innocence and joy. On New Years we have our children's godmother over to spend the night, we count down earlier than midnight, and we focus again on relaxation and beauty. This year we are dressing up at home to see if that adds a bit of festiveness even though it is just the six of us. 

Not only are Hygge and Convalescing necessary for people with sensory issues or chronic illness, but the concepts are also a joyous part of living. We no longer say yes to invites that may be draining or obligatory. Our yes is a sacred yes and our no is a love infused no. In order to love, we must first give love and respect to ourselves. We can not give when our vessels are empty. If we say yes, it is because we know we can sustain, give what we are, and believe there is enough healing and respect to begin to converse with love. We choose to connect with people who we at least have a slight foundation of respect as a spring board to festive feasting or connective conversations. If our relationships one on one are not solid or at the very least involve some previous respectful dialogue in the past year, it is not a good idea to involve those connections for the holiday season. Yes, forgiveness and cheer can abound more at holidays but that does not mean diving in to gatherings that require more in depth healing. We do not expect ourselves to juggle high emotion events for what should be saved for tougher one on one connections in the daily during the year- if at all in the ebb and flow of life. Forgiveness does not always beget presence. The presence that matters during any season should also be based on concepts built through out the year.

What aspects of Hygge do you incorporate into your life already? What appeals to you to integrate more of? If you are a sufferer of chronic illness or just healed your body from any sort of bug do you take the time to convalesce? How would this change, not only your holidays, but your every day existence?

May your holidays be merry and bright, and if not may you find ways to light candles and make your own light.
My favourite song that gives me this feeling of Hygge:
Winter's night by Sarah Mclachlan:


Philip CalledtoQuestion said...

Very beautiful. I cant wait. :) I love your mystical contemplation.

nyssa said...

I was raised this way. It's beautiful. It's the feelings I remember the most, of Christmas eve, particularly. Christmas Eve is Christmas in a German home so lots of candles lit, a beautiful table laid, music, conversation, beautiful crystal wine glasses ( even for the kids for juice) and everything was a feast for the eyes. I wish this concept of "Hygge" was more prevalent in day to day culture such as getting rid of box stores and bringing in shops etc which carry that feeling too. I felt like a fish out of water in most of my friend's homes when I was growing up because I couldn't feel the warmth or see the beauty. Something vital seemed to be missing. I love how you live the concept. ♥

Kmarie Audrey said...

Thanks love @calledtoquestion
Nyasia I adore your descriptions! I agree on the boxed stores ect. When you spoke about the fine table setting you reminded me of my in laws. My father in law is especially amazing at setting a table and it does make it feel more special. That is something I did not really grow up with that often and I also don't put in the effort at home for a well set table however we do use whatever dishes we have- especially our favourites daily;) beauty is meant to be in everyday life... Even if a few pieces get broken...I try to live it 😉I know you also live the concept too and I love seeing your pics and hearing your stories.