it seems my entire life i've been obsessed with things danish. my favorite day trip when i was a child was a visit to solvang, a wee danish village smack dab in the middle of california. as a young adult, i fell in love with danish mid-century modern furniture. copenhagen is on my bucket list. i live and love my life with a characteristically strong yet sensitive danish man.
as our winters continue to get longer and grayer and colder here in virginia, i'm intrigued by the concept of hygge, the danes' notion of staying cozy, warm and happy during winter months. i am currently devouring the year of living danishly, by helen russell about a woman from london who moves to denmark. a new friend describes hygge to her as, "having a cosy time." she further explains that it is about home and warmth and food and drink and friendship. and apparently those of us in extraverted-focused cultures like western europe and the americas have challenges with hunkering down, getting cozy and embracing the still silent winter.
as i continue to research hygge, i assess that i've done a pretty decent job of having it intuitively. but this winter i want to be more intentional about having and doing it. here are some ideas that have been swirling around my head:
it is interesting that when i first started thinking about hygge, i associated it as going outdoors more in the winter, about exploring and embracing the natural beauty of virginia during her coldest days. this can include:
- walks in the snow
- snuggling up by the backyard campfire
- foraging for shed deer antlers (we have a herd of six deer who regularly graze through gypsy hill. occasionally we spy the elder buck. this year he was seen sporting five-point antlers. i'm hoping he sheds them in our forest.)
- finding an outdoor christmas or winter market to explore
- a weekend trip to hot springs (because hot natural mineral tubs in the snow!)
the short days of winter often take their toll on me emotionally. i require regular sunshine to function well.
- this summer ken installed a giant skylight in the kitchen. it has already made a huge difference in the quality of light in our home. our house is surrounded by tall forest trees, when they shed their leaves in autumn, natural sunlight pours through the windows. now it is going to be superilluminated.
- we replace our lightbulbs in winter with brighter lights and more wattage. (also, i am still missing incandescent bulbs...cannot get on board with l.e.d. or even halogens...)
- thinking about glow as a substitute for light...massive amounts of candles, hanging lanterns and twinkle lights are a must.
cultivating inner warmth
there is no better way than yoga, friends. it physically warms the body and a regular practice produces an inner glow that cannot be replicated.
- this winter i'll be doing yoga teacher training with my friend and teacher cyndi lee.
- extra warmth and friendship guaranteed by the beautiful sangha at yoga goodness studio
- my weird schedule this summer and fall has required me to get committed to a regular home (and hotel) practice...this will serve me well on those days when we are snowed in.
tea (and other liquid warmth)
- of course i have to have my coffee in the morning, but i love having hot tea the rest of the day
- we have the best local organic tea at good karma tea company (you can order online if you don't live here). the company is run by two amazing women and i got to design their logo.
- i like to experiment with making my own blends as well
- i've also become accustomed to sipping a mug of hot water several times per day
- and my go-tos chai and tazo passion
winter days when not a lot is going on provide large chunks of time to be in the studio. this winter:
- complete the commissioned ganesh (he's almost done!)
- paint BIG; four huge blank canvasses are waiting
- the interior walls of the house feel like they need something new as well...
- finishing up a painted mandala on the front brick porch
- sharing it with others via collaborative paintings and workshops
poetry and books
so many books in the "to read" stack and so many more stories i'm craving, including:
- the muralist, by barbara shapiro
- the japanese lover, by isabel allende
- hunger makes me a modern girl, by carrie brownstein
- and we are forever adding vintage poetry books to our growing wall of lovely words
color and warmth
color is always important to me, but even more necessary when it is hazy white-gray outside.
- i love making and eating soups from scratch, my favorites are chicken+white bean and superspicy carrot.
- i've been making my own bone broth as a base for all of them, bodies need extra fat and minerals during the winter months
- thinking about an organic citrus delivery service (the citrus available here is kind of blah)
- ditto avocados, they are required eating for this california girl and i am not down with the mealy watery ones of winter in the mid-atlantic
- but also focused on eating seasonally and researching what nutrients bodies need during the winter and that are grown locally...squash and kale, anyone?
you guys, bed is kind of my favorite place. i am not at all averse to an 8pm bedtime. most nights i sleep very soundly because:
- good sheets are a non-negotiable
- i like the air to be cool and the bed to be warm
- a big humidifier hums all through the night, for great sleep, great skin and great white noise.
- we make a good effort to limit other electronics/screens in the bedroom
(but sometimes i drink hot cocoa with marshmallows and binge-watch sex and the city.)
more hygge to come!
join me in turning our bad attitudes about winter into soft anticipation of a season of coziness and wonder.