Finding Mindfulness at Christmas with Melanie Barnes
It is PomPom’s great pleasure to introduce you to author and photographer, Melanie Barnes. Melanie championed one of PomPom’s 12 days of plastic free Christmas, exploring the idea of what Christmas traditions mean for her family.
Every family needs to create their own traditions, along with those inherited. These are refreshing ideas, as we endlessly hear from Christmas whipped parents who are exhausted at this time of year; cooking, shopping and buying. However, as Melanie suggests, Christmas can also be a time just to stop. A time turn inwards and embrace the simple pleasures that winter, the family and the season can bring.
Melanie writes in 91 Magazine, “One of the most important things we can do is make sure that we celebrate the simple joys that the season brings; things like sitting in front of a fire, wrapping a gift, lighting candles, decorating the tree. All these activities are moments to be cherished. They are things that are unique to winter and by relishing in them we are soaking up as much joy as possible. If we speed through December and all its festivities we miss out on so many wonderful things. Not only are these simple joys really important for us but they are especially important to share with our children and the younger generation."
Melanie continues for PomPom, "I love to embrace winter crafts and throughout my daughter's childhood we have gradually started our own festive family traditions, which we all look forward to each year. By establishing our own seasonal rituals we automatically create little moments in time where we can ignore all the frivolous Christmas trappings and are able to tune into what’s really important to us and our family.
It might seem counter intuitive to add Christmas crafting to your list at this busy time of year but actually the act of absorbing yourself in creativity and the making process is a brilliant way to ground us in the present moment and find some calm. The motion of your hands merrily crafting something helps your mind slow down and find some stillness.
Each year, I make an advent calendar and my daughter enjoys the daily ritual that marks the passing of advent. These family traditions allow us to demonstrate what’s really important about Christmas; And that there is a lot of joy to be found in the small, quiet moments, and the simple pleasures that this season has to offer, not just in the grand moments, or material possessions.
How to start being more mindful? Here are 5 ways of how to slow down at Christmas:
- Start your own family traditions or seasonal rituals. Whether it’s making a homemade advent calendar each year or donating to charity, think of things you can do together as a family that help you appreciate what is in front of you.
- Take a walk in nature: Walking instantly provides you with some mental space and calm. By paying attention to seasonal details by using all your senses you become grounded in the present moment.
- Celebrate simple joys: If we can cherish the little acts of joy that the season has to offer, we can experience more contentment and gratitude.
- Try Christmas crafting: Whether it’s making cranberry and popcorn garlands, baking orange slices, or making gingerbread biscuits, there are lots of simple crafts to try.
- Bring the outside in: Bringing nature into our home in the form of greenery, wreaths, pinecones etc, is a wonderful way to help us enjoy all of winters wonderful offerings.
Introducing Melanie Barnes
Melanie’s blog, Geoffrey and Grace is a pleasure to read, the images are beautiful and the words are calming and refreshing. The truth is, we may have a slight crush. It is rare to be consistently interested and reflective when reading a blog, particularly when the author is neither friend or family. It is neither preachy or know it all, but rather joyful, inspiring and practical.
The blog focuses on slow living, the opportunities we all have in daily life, regardless of how and where we live, to pause and deliberately take a moment (or a day or indeed a lifetime!) to be more aware. It gently presents a chance to be more mindful and in doing so, the chance to embrace the joys that it brings.
Sold? We are twice. Both my husband and father are receiving Seeking Slow, Melanie’s new book published this year. Ooops, it is now we learn whether they finish reading our blog … !
All images courtesy of Melanie Barnes, Author Living Slow and blog, Geoffrey and Grace