Tips for a grounded & artful year
January Mantra: Nurture Yourself
(Scroll to the bottom for a Mantras Poster download link.)
Last year I collected a set of mantras to inspire my year. It seemed a good companion to my art calendars, so I shared them on my blog. I did find, that when I remembered to use a monthly theme, it helped me focus and let extraneous things fall away, at least some of the time. For 2023, I mapped out a new list for this new year, coordinating with the seasons and some upcoming projects. It can be quite handy, especially when things are busy, to have a list of options for mindfulness, health, and getting outside.
So here are twelve prompts and tips for our shiny new year that can be used to help you pause and connect with nature each month.
January: Nurture yourself
After quite a few festivities from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, I’m ready to focus more on health and hydration than libations. I don’t do resolutions though, which is another reason I started creating mantras. To kickstart 2023, how about making a small commitment to take care of yourself: add a daily 10 minute neighborhood walk or an indoor yoga session near a window. Drink plenty of water, eat lots of plants. Make a date to see or call a friend you missed over the holidays. Take a nap when you can. These are good any time of year, but January is a great time to reset.
February: Remember to Look Up at the Stars and the Moon
It’s still dark early, so if it’s clear remember to peek outside and say hi to the night sky. Stargazing is another way to connect with the natural world. I’m no purist, so a little tech can be a fun add here. My daughter loves identifying the stars with my smart phone; and finding ways to engage children in your mantras can be a boost for the whole family. Use an app (such as the free SkyView Lite) to identify stars and constellations in the sky above you.
March: Progress is More Important than Perfection
At the precipice of spring, I like a good reminder to keep moving, keep working on the projects and themes I started just a couple months ago. So, how about a little self-encouragement to keep going. Did we get everything right? Probably not, but let's celebrate the progress made!
April: Let Nature's Colors Inspire You
Take a moment each day to observe spring’s rebirth, to see the changing colors, smell the new life emerging. This is a great time to pull out a lovely notebook, dust it off, and record your observations, sketch new spring growth, or press a blossom into the pages.
May: Plant Seeds & Watch Them Grow
Now you could take this literally, or figuratively, or both! But a literal way to connect with nature is to find an empty patch of soil in a garden bed or pot, dig in the soil, and plant a seed. Connect to the lifecycle of another living entity. Look forward to the blooms or vegetables that may come forth in coming months!
June: Count the Flowers
Make the time to notice the bounty of the season. Pick a spot, find the blooms, count them. Should you get lost in thought, that’s ok or perhaps to be encouraged! While you’re at it, bring a little nature indoors - create a bouquet from whatever's growing in your yard, grab a farmers market arrangement, or add a floral art piece to bring nature with you when you're back inside.
July: Let Nature Restore You
For me, an artist with a daughter in elementary school, summer is the time we have a more flexible schedule. It’s time for a field trip! Hit the park or beach for a picnic, head further afield with a tent. Wherever you go, remember to breathe, be in the moment, smile.
August: Take a Walk in the Woods
Ok, I do this year-round, but summer is an awesome time to get to the woods. When it’s hot outside, the shade is most welcome. Remember to pause and look up through the canopy, dappled sunlight has the best glowing greens!
September: Celebrate the Harvest
I love nature, but I’m also an urban gal. Having reminders about where my food comes from definitely helps me appreciate the work involved in getting nutritious and delicious food from farm (or yard) to my table. From picking your final tomatoes to hopping a tractor at a local pumpkin patch, make time to enjoy the ritual of growing and the transitions into Fall.
October: Learn Something New
Ok, in the NW it’s starting to get a bit chilly by October, which is great weather for observing fall color, or for a class to bring a new hobby or technique into the coming winter months. If adding something new seems more overwhelming than affirming, it could be as easy as learning a new route to walk to work, or a new word for the Scrabble board. Research shows learning is good for long term brain health, so give it a go in whatever way works for you.
November: Find beauty in Simple Things
The holidays can be a bustle of events, planning, shopping, decorations. Remember to celebrate loved ones and to take time for yourself too. A few ways to reduce the pressures while maximizing joy: use fabric scraps or bags as recycled/reusable wrappings, let friends or family know if you’re ok with receiving experiences or gently used items as gifts, put products or art from local makers on your wish list, decorate with garlands of pruned pine branches.
December: Reflect and Be Kind to Yourself
I like to wrap up the annual trip around the sun with a review of happenings, accomplishments, areas to develop, and a few goals for the next year. It’s healthy to celebrate your successes and identify paths for growth.
These are just a small set of all the options! Mix up the months to suit your own goals, or add other mantras. No matter what, best wishes to you for a great year!
Want to download a printable poster of these mantras? Click HERE to go to the downloads page.