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I want to introduce you to one of my very good friends, Briana Borten.

Briana is one of those people who really shows up in life. She believes in speaking truth and embodying what she believes in (like…for real). Our conversations are deep and real and inspiring and joyful all at the same time.

In addition to being a mama to 2 girls, Briana is the owner of an award-winning spa, apothecary line and creator of The Rituals for Living Dreambook.

You’d think, with that type of description, that Briana is one of those superwomen you read about online or in magazines and cast off as superhuman – not like you or me who struggles with the daily demands of life and can’t possibly dream of living a life “in balance”.

…I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

Having gotten close with Briana, I can tell you that she struggles with the same things you and I do. She just has a really amazing perspective on it that I’d love to share with you.

Last week, I hopped on skype with Briana to talk about some things that are on my mind this time of year.

Here’s some of what we cover in our 30 min chat:

  • How to honor your natural state, particularly as we’re entering a season of dormancy
  • Viewing balance from the perspective of nature and asking ourselves what balance looks like to us, rather than what we think it should look like
  • The Chinese concept of jing and how to think of managing your energy in a more holistic way
  • The role of comparison in your life and how to call in fierce mama bear energy to protect yourself from it
  • How dabbling can bring up the urge to quit, and what to do when it gets uncomfortable
  • Her creative practices and approach to creativity as a busy mom and entrepreneur

So make yourself a cup of tea, grab a cozy blanket, and press play to listen to our conversation.

 

Brian and her sweet + brilliant husband, Peter, recently published their book, The Well Life: How to Use Structure, Sweetness, and Space to Create Balance, Happiness, and Peace (You can grab it here) and it’s so so good – especially during this time of year when we’re in a period of deep reflection.

Getting candid about the concept of balance

In this book, Briana and Peter show you how to gain perspective and take back control of your life, plain and simple. With a focus on balance, it’s a beautiful guide to living life fully, simply and successfully.

You’ll learn how to transform yourself and your life through healthy Structure, Sweetness and Space.

  • Structure will allow you to manage your life and achieve your goals without feeling overwhelmed
  • Sweetness will feed your body, mind and soul
  • Space will give you inspiration, peace and the ability to connect and grow

By balancing these elements, you will be able to let go of the stress and tension that gets in the way of being happy, authentic and fully present—living The Well Life.

Grab your copy of The Well Life right here.

Have any insights from our conversation? I’d love to read them. Leave them in the comments below!

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Click through to listen to my conversation with author Briana Borten about balance in the face of chaos.

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Choosing Joy In Uncertain Times

I’ve been moving super slow in the mornings these darker days.

Feeling the chill of the ground in my bones – the tempering energy in the trees, the soil, and even the bundled up souls walking their dogs, bleary eyed, in the early morning light past my bedroom window.

I stay in bed well past my alarm, often padding into the kitchen to heat up some water and come right back to bed with a steaming mug to snuggle back in with my pillow covered beloved and kitties snoring whisper soft on their backs with the paws hiding their eyes from the daylight slowing fading in behind the curtained windows.

Winter’s rest is calling us home.

A man oh man, have we got a world full of weary, tender hearts to tend to this winter.

The heaviness of this season is more cumbersome than usual. The visceral pain so many of us are feeling hangs over us like thick, grey clouds just begging to burst into a furor of thunder and sleet.

I attended a concert last week, where the whole room felt so unsure of how to feel and act. Such pain and anger wafted through the air, and more than anything, I could feel our collective desire for release, rest, and joy.

These are deeply uncertain times, sister.

When you are moving between frustration, sadness, motivation to act, and exhaustion, it can be hard to carve out a space for joy as well. Add in the fact that the holidays came very quickly this go around the sun and the idea of giving up and going numb is very tempting.

But I want to tell you something.

I need your joy.

We all need each other’s joy. It’s a permission slip to remember the beauty of this moment in time.

That we are approaching the solstice (the darkest night of the year) and that, for thousands of years, we have gathered together to remember the light – that dawn will come again and we will cycle through another year of rebirth, blossoming, harvest, and death.

We all must do our part to bring the joy back.

So I start with me. I slowly and silently slip my tea. I slip on my coziest sweater. I stare into the flames of the fire. I gather with loved ones. I laugh at the jokes. And I take it

moment

by

moment.

Photo credit: Rosa Delgado

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We need your joy this holiday season. Check out this post! creativity, sisterhood, passion, purpose, overwhelm, creative, wisdom, busy, stress, crafty, sacred, ritual, ceremony

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How To Mother Yourself This Holiday Season

When I was growing up, my favorite movies to watch during the winter months were the ones that depicted large families coming together for the holidays to overcome conflicts, heal old wounds, and enjoy a picture perfect Christmas morning filled with joyful laughter and hugs while snow fell outside the window of their gorgeous home.

I’ve been drawn to these types of storylines for as long as I can remember. And chances are, you’ve been as well. There’s a reason why this narrative is a popular one.

For any number of reasons, family dynamics are often super challenging this time of year.

And because we live in a culture that promotes a certain picture of what holidays with family are supposed to look like (just take a look at commercials, magazine spreads and yes…even holiday movies), we feel such pressure to paint a veneer over the very real emotions and discomfort that can come up for us when we are around family this time of year.

We plaster on the fake smiles, obsess over minor details like holiday decorations or dinner menus, drink wayyyy too much wine at dinner and assume unhealthy familial roles (like parenting our parents, oy!).

Instead of striving for real, authentic and meaningful connection during this sacred time of year, we dance around it for the sake of looking like the holidays scenes being painted all around us.

And listen, I’m not faulting you for doing any of those things in order to get through a tense holiday situation. It’s hard. I want to acknowledge that and put it right into the open.

But, because it’s hard and will likely continue to be, I want to propose that you handle this year in a different way.

Be your own mother this holiday season.

What I mean by that is take a nurturing and loving look at what you need to make the holiday season actually feel joyful and cozy and calm. To be totally real with your needs and in charge of getting them met and daring to shift the habits you take on with your family when you get together for the holidays.

This could look like….

  • Taking breaks throughout your visit to be alone to walk, meditate, breathe, send voice texts to your besties, etc.
  • Proposing doing gifts a different way this year with your family that doesn’t create a lot of expectation or obligation. Assign secret santas, agree to donate to an organization like Heifer International, or commit to experience gifts instead of giving more stuff.
  • Encouraging each other to make gifts for the holidays, infusing all your love and good intentions into beautiful gifts you’ve made with your own hands and enjoyed every minute of creating and wrapping for them. {When you join us for A Handmade Holiday and get the Gift Making Kit, we take care of all the supplies and how-tos so you can get to meaningful gift making in one afternoon!}
  • Complement mandatory family time by gathering your community of friends and neighbors. Have a winter solstice dinner party, a sister circle with the girls, or a gift making and cookie baking party to warm your heart and turn up the hygge in your winter season.
  • Or perhaps it’s opting completely out of family time this holiday season because you know, in your heart of hearts, that won’t serve anyone and is actually the most loving gift you could all give each other

What does the little girl inside of you need to feel safe and loved and joyful this holiday season?

And for all the mamas out there, I invite you to think about what kind of Santa (or Hanukkah Mama or Solstice Gift Giving Fairy) you want to be.

Do you want to be the one that goes for quantity over quality and spends a bunch of money on plastic crap that will only end up in the back of the closet or the donation bin by April? Do you want to emphasize that buying a lot of meaningless stuff is the way to celebrate this sacred time of year? That we have some sort of perceived obligation to give the plastic stuff that promotes the degradation of our planet just for the sake of doing the holidays “right” as a parent?

My guess is, because you are reading this and we are cut from the same cloth, you don’t want to be that…for your children, for your community, for yourself.

I’m not a mom yet, but I’ve started thinking about this a lot because I see it with a lot of my mom friends just how much pressure they feel and the very serious time and energy it takes to make the perfect (there’s that word again!) holiday memories for your children.

How do you want to set the tone for your future self, for your children, your grandchildren, and the future generations of the planet?

It starts with us. It starts with now.

So tell me in the comments below, how are you planning to be your own mother this holiday season? What activities or practices or shifts in patterns are you making this year to actually enjoy this holiday season?

A handmade Holiday

There’s still time to join us in A Handmade Holiday. I have a limited amount of Gift Making Kits left and can mail it straight to your door just in time to have yourself a joyful and fun gift making afternoon. Go here to snag your Gift Making Kit and join our incredible community of gift makers who are committing to doing the holidays differently this year.

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Struggle with family dynamics during the holidays? Read this post on how to get through it with ease.

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How to Host a Sacred Women’s Gathering to Make Your Holiday Gifts

As you probably know by now, I’m passionate about rewriting the rules on holiday gift giving and spreading the word about the magic of making gifts for your loved ones instead of overspending on a gift that doesn’t have much meaning.

I also want you to know how important it is that the time you spend making your gifts feels really special and sacred.

That’s because the love and good intentions you want your loved ones to feel when they receive their gift starts with the delight you feel in putting the gift together.

This making time is just as much a gift to you as it is to your loved ones, and it just takes a little curating to set the scene.

How to Host a Sacred Women’s Gathering to Make Your Holiday Gifts

What do I mean by that?

Craft the tone of your making time to feel truly pleasurable and sacred. Light some candles, simmer some hot apple cider, and invite over some girlfriends to your sacred gift making gathering.

As you’re sipping your warm beverage in the flickering candlelight and giggling with your best girls over inside jokes, you’ll feel your whole body relax. And that makes a big difference compared to rushing through a project while also listening to the news, texting with your spouse, and drying your hair for evening plans. Your gifts will feel as good as you do when you are making them.

How to Host a Sacred Women’s Gathering to Make Your Holiday Gifts

I’ve provided a little guide below to help you.

  1. When you invite your girlfriends (via group text, email, or handwritten invite!), let them know that this isn’t going to be a Martha Stewart workshop in perfect crafting. No, you are inviting them to gather together (just as your great great grandmothers once did) to connect, joyfully work with your hands, and knock out holiday gifts all in one evening. They’ll say yes so fast, you won’t know what happened.
  2. To avoid hostess burnout (cuz we’ve all been there), make it a potluck. Brew some tea (or chai or mulled wine!), light some candles, and put on some fuzzy socks. Feeling cozy and comfortable is super key to a sacred gathering.
  3. Play beautiful music. I’ve got this playlist I recently created for the women in The Dabblist Collective on repeat.
  4. Lay out your ingredients and supplies so they are easy to see and locate. I find that a lot of stress around doing a crafty project tends to be relieved when you can see everything you have to work with. It lets your brain know that it’s safe to start playing and exploring its more creative crevices. {If you don’t want to forage through stores for supplies, simply order the Gift Making Kit. It’s got enough supplies to make 28 gifts!}
  5. Before the women have arrived, burn sage to clear the energy of the room. You can use a feather or your hand to fan the smoke to every corner of the room and set the intention for a beautiful night of joyful making and sisterhood.
  6. Begin with eyes closed, a deep breath, and have each woman state aloud her intentions for that day and the gifts she’s making and the impact they will have on their intended recipients.
  7. Let the making magic unfold. Trust your creative instincts and dive in. Watch how delightful giggles and inspiration bubbles up out of the group. You’ll be sharing ideas, recipes, and bow tying techniques in no time.

How to Host a Sacred Women’s Gathering to Make Your Holiday Gifts

I remember the first making party I ever hosted. I was so nervous and trying to have everything *just so* for everyone’s creativity to flow. What I’ve learned over the years is to set the scene, take a deep breath, and allow for the creative magic to happen. It’s truly amazing how much magic happens when women come together and work with their hands.

Now it’s your turn.

We’re a week out from Thanksgiving and still feeling some spaciousness of time and energy before the holiday panic fully sets in. How will you take on this holiday season in a way that feels sacred and special?

How to Host a Sacred Women’s Gathering to Make Your Holiday Gifts

My recommendation is to gather with girlfriends and make with your hands. That is what A Handmade Holiday is all about.

With the Gift Making Kit, you get supplies to make 28 gifts including:

  • Pumpkin Pie Brown Sugar Scrub
  • Soothing Lavender Bathtub Tea
  • Candy Cane Flavored Natural Lip Balm
  • Wild Birdseed Pinecone Ornaments

Plus you get access to the online program, where I have over 20 additional tutorials that I teach you, step-by-step, how to do all through video and printable recipe cards {plus tons more bonuses like playlists, printable labels, wrapping guides!}.

 

So grab your girlfriends, grab your Gift Making Kits, and schedule in your date for a Sacred Gift Making Day. You’ll be so happy you did.

Photo Credit: Rosa Delgado

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Click through to read 7 tips to hosting your own women's gathering to make your holiday gifts this year.

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Embrace the cozy togetherness of a Hygge this Autumn & Winter

So many of us struggle with the transition to the darker, colder days of autumn and winter.

It’s certainly true for me because, after 4 years of living through Februaries in Boston, I turned my booty around and moved myself right back to California where winter looked more like a minor few 30 degree nights instead of -13 several weeks in a row.

But lately I’ve been wondering if I had just embraced the slow, dark, stillness of winter a bit more…then maybe I would have been able to see all the gifts that winter brings.

In the natural cycle of one year on this beautiful planet, winter is just as vital a season as all the rest. It’s the darkness before the dawn. The quiet stillness before new life comes forth once again. It’s a time when we power down, hibernate (just like the bears), and get cozy before the re-birth of new life come spring.*

*I’ll try to skip my rant about January resolutions here, but let me just say that trying to kick yourself into gear and take on crazy new goals during the depth of winter when nature is literally still asleep all around us is total crazypants. Can we please wait until the frost thaws and the buds break?

The Scandinavian people (who experience seriously long, cold, and dark winters) have mastered the art of enjoying the colder moments of the year…with a term called hygge.

Pronounced ‘hoo-ga’, the term hygge doesn’t have a literal english translation but Denmark’s official tourism website defines it as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” I’ve also seen it described as cozy togetherness.

Hygge is the art of crafting intimacy in any given moment.

What I love about the hygge lifestyle is that it feels like a natural, almost effortless way to embrace the winter season the way we truly want it to feel.

Instead of furiously paddling against the current like the majority of society during this time (hellooooo holiday season anxiety and new year’s madness), let’s drop into the slow appreciation of the small joys of life and tap into a source of happiness that comes from warmth, stillness, and togetherness.

How can you cultivate a hygge mindset this autumn and winter?

Remember hygge is all about bringing more cozy and connection back into your life, so my guess is you probably already have a few hygge-like favorite winter activities of your own. Here are a few of mine:

Embrace the warmth and light of fire.

I like to light a lot (and I mean a lot) of candles around my house just as the sun is setting and the darkness of night sets in. Tim and I also love to get a fire roaring in the fireplace to warm up the house. We place our sheepskin in front of it and watch our 2 kitty cats slowly make their way over to fall blissfully asleep in the warmth.

Wear warm cozy, clothes that you love.

I make sure to bust out my blanket scarves, favorite thick knit sweaters, long socks, and best loungewear. Embracing hygge means being as comfortable and warm as possible.

Share beautiful, nourishing meals with loved ones.

I like to cook seasonal produce (think root vegetables and soups!) and gather around the table with the people of our community for candlelit belly laughs and the sharing of our stories. It helps ground us into our connection to each other and the world around us.

Linger.

Take…your…time – on walks, at meals, during conversations. Embracing the long slowness of the present moment and let time linger.

Unbusy Yourself.

Stop rushing from thing to thing to thing. Say no. Stay in. Be super intentional with your calendar and focus on rest and relaxation.

Get outside and move your body.

Appreciate what nature has to share with you – the snow on the branches, the chirping birds, the quiet wind rustling around you. Also getting your blood moving is so so good for you immunity and happiness during this dark time when the sads can come up a lot more often.

Bring the outside in

Gather the gifts of nature during your time outside and bring them into your home to create little altars around the house to honor the season. It could be foraged greens on your mantle, pinecones in your entryway, or feathers on your desk.

Work with your hands

That’s right, I want you to get to some cozy dabbling. This could be by cooking some new recipes, knitting a scarf, writing physical letters on handmade holiday cards, or making your own holiday gifts for the beloved people in your life (which we are doing in A Handmade Holiday, open for enrollment now! Check out all the details here and snag your very own Gift Making Kit before they run out).

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I want to hear from you!

Are you familiar with and have embraced hygge? How do you do that? Share with me in the comments below.

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Click through to learn more about how to embrace the Scandanavian concept of HYGGE this winter.

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