The Winter Project: Week 1

Monday, December 02, 2013

winter project

Welcome to week 1 of The Winter Project!

Finding joy in the holidays: Connecting with the season

It is no coincidence that Pinterest and other social media outlets start to fill up with posts about pumpkin recipes in the fall and summer bucket lists in June. Tying our rituals and traditions to the seasons connects us to the world around us and brings new joy all through the year. Every season has its own routines, in the world and in our homes. I do my best to make my favorite seasonal things traditional and spend plenty of time in nature to observe the natural change and pace of things.

Don’t forget, happiness is cumulative! 

Try these ways to embrace the season and keep your joy bank topped up:


1. Food: Make something delicious but healthy, with warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cayenne. Think about using fresh seasonal ingredients like cranberries, squash, root vegetables, or mandarin oranges. Try:

*More recipes here, here, here, here, here.

nature glow running

2. Nature: Bundle up and spend some time outside. Explore with each of your senses noticing smells, sights, sounds, feelings, and the taste of a hot drink. Go big and go skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or snowshoeing or simply take a walk around your neighborhood. Some playful things to try:

  • Go for a nighttime walk (this is especially enchanting when the moon is full, though that won't be until the 17th this month). Look for Christmas lights in your neighborhood and listen to holiday music or a good audiobook on your iPod. Don’t forget to bundle up and bring a hot drink to enjoy along the way. 
  • Climb to the top of something that has a view. This would preferably be a local hiking trail and not a multi-story mall, but make do with what you’ve got! This is extra special if you are able to catch a sunrise or sunset from that vantage. The “magic hour” golden light has magical powers; bring somebody that you love. Snuggling is extra credit. xoxo 
  • Visit a place with water: a stream, river, or ocean. Listen and breath. Take a journal along as moving water tends to wake up thoughts and ideas!
  • If it is just too blustery outside, snowing sideways and whatnot, bring some fresh seasonal flowers or pretty branches into your space. Look for something simple but cheerful. Or, creative a “nature box” to hold treasures that you’ve found in your neighborhood to examine and enjoy when you come inside- ours is full of shells, colorful leaves, mosses, rocks, sticks, etc. 
ice nature sun catcher

3. Crafts or projects: Handmade holiday gifts are my favorite thing to give and receive and the decorations made by my kids are hands-down the most precious on our tree. This month we will be making gifts as well as ornaments for our Christmas tree. I am also using an advent calendar with daily holiday fun ideas that I wrote so we stay connected to the joy of the season. In addition to gifts and decorations, we also make sun catchers this time of year:

We gather “interesting things” on neighborhood walks and freeze them with a piece of twine or ribbon in a container of water to create a sun catcher (see our last one here.) This idea comes from the lovely book called The Rhythm of Family referenced below.

Challenge: How will you find joy in the season this week? Consider the ideas above and choose to do at least one thing (on my list or not) for the simple winter joy of it.

Recommended reading:
The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder through the Seasons by Amanda Blake Soule and Stephen Soule (affiliate link)

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach (affiliate link)

As we move through this project, I would love to hear about your survival skills, struggles, and success in the comments or by email (you can reach me at!

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to receive free Get Natured updates so you can be included in The Winter Project. The weather outside doesn’t have to be frightful! xoxo

Other ways to follow along:

*Important note: I am not a licensed mental health professional. This advice is not intended to take the place of therapy or medications. Please seek professional care if you are suffering from depression or anxiety symptoms.

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