September 18, 2012

7 Ways to Surrender to a rainy day of nesting

Francis the cat in deep thought...she sits on our notebook.

My nest on this cool rainy morning features a pile of books and a myriad of linens woven together...soft light fades in from the windows lighting up apricot walls and tones of warm wood that grace the room...a purple yoga blanket, magenta socks (that my boyfriend's mom so graciously knit for me last winter) and a cup of honeyed earl gray tea keep me warm. A pen, a laptop, a notebook and a black and white owl-cat named Francis keep me company.

I am not sure I could ask for anything more. 

I have always seen rain as the earth's way of cleansing, reviving, and filling up the energy of living things. It's falling water feeds earthen matter, cool the air, clear emotions, and calm our energies. When I was about 22 years old, I observed that prior to a big storm, I often experienced a jolt of anxiety about 30-60 minutes before rainfall. I had the fortunate opportunity to take note this when working in a colorful vegetarian restaurant in Louisville that had a gaping window front. I could watch the weather like a movie screen, sensing the plots before they happened. It made me wonder if our bodies somehow know it is okay to humbly let our emotions brim over. When rain comes, does our body innately well up with our not-so comfortable feelings as a way to allow the rain to help wash them away? 

There is also something about a rainy day that says "You know you aren't to get much done today....relax...Surrender to the warm ball of coziness you would like to curl into. Let the cold pitter-pattering of the rain inspire you to sit with your favorite cup of tea and newest read...". 

Sounds glorious, right? Well... It is. Sadly, It must be our reptilian brains speaking that has yet to catch up with the 21st century. It's not always so simple to make space for a rainy-day "time out" in everyday life  unless we are graced with a slippery Sunday to further fuel the "ultimate day of rest" (for many). 

This made me wonder about ways we can walk through a rainy-day in sync with nature, yet, still tend to our necessary tasks of our work day. 

My first job at 13 was in landscape gardening, and again in my 20's I rediscovered the beauty of working with the earth and plants through green houses, arboretums, conservancy's, etc. I worked on a woodlands restoration crew 2 years prior to working for myself in the holistic health field. With the rain came the time to put up our chain saws, sharpen our tools, research plants, organize the work truck, seeds, etc. 

Though, I loved working in the woods all the time, there was something very special on those days when we knew we could simply surrender to the force of nature that is rain. 

My work week has sifted down to Tuesday-Saturdays. Unlike most people, my Sunday's are on Monday. Though I often miss my Saturdays, there is something very special about my rainy day Mondays. Everyone is at work and the solitude in my neighborhood echoes in the cool silence; a moist breeze and the intermittent hum of tires tunneling through rain on pavement. 

So, here are a few ideas I came up with...some take a little planning ahead, and some can be done on a whim. I look forward to making the most of my rain-days no matter what day of the week it is. 

1. Wake up or Go To Bed Earlier Than Usual. If you know it is going to rain the following day, take time to go to bed early so you can wake up a few hours earlier to drink some tea by candlelight as you listen to the rain.

2. Cultivate time to write down your thoughts and emotions to help release them with the rain. You can do this in the early morning hour or after work...maybe even on your lunch could be as little as 5 minutes.

3. Create an "Enjoy this rainy day supplies area" in a work drawer so you can enjoy it during work time.  You can include some scrap paper and a pen, warming teas (such as spiced Chai--basic recipe below), or maybe a little book of poems that you'd like to read. 

4. Make a rainy day mix-tape! Or mix Mp-3...sorry I am from the generation where "mix tape" just whirls up a series of potential for mood setting. Nick Drake, The Rachel's, The Clogs, and Arvo Part are a few composers and musicians that come to mind this morning. 

5. If you can't beat the elements, join EM'...Don your rain coat and colorful rain boots and take a walk in it! If you loved playing in the rain puddles as a child, it's likely things haven't changed too much. The streets are likely to glitter a bit from the moisture and the air  is quiet enough for an insightful walking meditation. 

6. Redefine mini-series-marathon if you are at home with your laptop. I know, not so holistic, right? But, it's fun, and seriously folks, there are some super awesome historical sci-fi drama television series out there. Consider it traveling in time...that sounds pretty new age, right? 

7. Use Warming and Earthy Essential Oils in a diffuser or pot of warm water. Today, personally, I would pair warming oils, such as cardamom, and clove with balancing/green/relaxing oils such as Clary sage or basil (or lavender!).  If you prefer a lift, add a citrus twist such as bergamot or lemongrass. Lemongrass is very sweet. If you are looking for more of a "cabin in moist woods" feel, try a blend of Cedarwood, Petitgrain, and Bergamot. 

Petitgrain can be sensed as "heavy" some days, but I find it to be very earthy, grounding and rejuvenating. Eucalyptus may also be a lovely compliment to an arrangement of the above oils. It is energy disbursing, refreshing and invigorating...maybe a great way to break away from the rain when it's time for sunshine. 

I think right now, since I am about to head to the office,  I would make a blend of eucalyptus, petitgrain and basil. I would have to smell it first...but for right now it sounds good to my imaginary palette; green, earthy, dispersing and energizing. If I could stay home I might go with a smokier green tone such as lavender or maybe even Clary sage (one of my all time favorites). 

Well, I hope this is helpful, if not for today, a rainy day in the future :) As promised, here is a basic outline on how to make Chai: Visit memories, Chai, and a Kentucky kitchen Goddess

Making Chai
You can make Chai at home by simmering up a few spices in about 4 cups of water: a few cloves, a few pods of cardamom, a cinnamon stick, and about a teaspoon of fennel...simmer on low with lid on pan for  about10 minutes. Add black tea to the pot to steep for about 2 minutes.When that's all done add milk and honey or stevia to taste. If you want to be very traditional about the milk-adding, let the milk come froth up to the top of the pan where it almost brims over! Then quickly remove from heat and then add the sweetener. It may take a few times making it before you decide what your favorite ratio of the different spices. Some people even add ginger or pepper to their chai recipes. The above spices are just the ones my mom taught me as a child, we used white sugar in our tea then, but I prefer to use other sweeteners now for health reasons. If I am feeling nostalgic I use turbinado sugar...but I save that for special occasions.

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