Safe & Warm, Merry & Bright

This morning, watching the sun come up, feeling like perfection in my new clothes from Christmas, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m sipping hot peppermint tea from an adorable mug, both Christmas gifts from yesterday. My dog is beside me, worn out from playing with all the other family dogs last night. Mitchell is well-rested and off to a day of work, and I’ll be starting to work soon too.

We are safe and warm, merry and bright.

There’s a small pile of gifts on the table, waiting for their new homes. A few snacks and a bag of cookies we’ve been happily munching on. A tree that won’t be coming down anytime soon to my right. New books waiting to be read on the coffee table. Everything is just enough out of place to still feel like a lovely, lazy holiday. A few branches of some sort of evergreen on the table still make the whole apartment smell like Christmas, still. Cinnamon rolls leftover from yesterday’s breakfast will make up this afternoon’s snack, and some of the best prime rib and potatoes left from last night will be the perfect dinner. There’s nothing left for me to wrap, prepare, make, arrange. It’s all done. It’s all peaceful.

I now have a home that is safe and warm, merry and bright.

Slow living has given me many gifts, but perhaps the best one is being able to sit here and enjoy this, soaking it up like the long-awaited sunshine that waited just long enough to come back this week, guaranteeing anything but a white Christmas. It was perfect for a morning walk, though, which suited me and Ink just fine. This year has been full of less excess, more value; less gossip, more truth; fewer fears, more gratitude.

Slowing down forced me to take a hard look at all that wasn’t safe and warm, merry and bright.

All those little ugly, scary things, crying out to be removed. Stuff you’re keeping from guilt, that makes you feel awful any time you look at it. People who are hurtful, manipulative, and outright cruel, yet try to convince you that they are completely innocent and deserving of a pedestal in your life. Habits that are holding you back from the way you really want to live. So-called health choices that keep you stuck in cycles instead of making progress with the help of professionals, a few books, and the support of those who want your best.

This was a year of ruthless editing, slowly but surely removing all I could find that was not safe and warm, merry and bright.

Now, as I curl up here, with tea, a book, a dog, and a blog, I am so glad for all that this editing process has cleared up, and all the beautiful margin it has allowed for what I love most.

If you are considering slow living, know this: it is not easy. It is not always simple. It will give you time and space that not only allows you to rest, but that forces you to acknowledge the feelings and thoughts your busyness has let you ignore until now. It will be joyful some days, and painful others. It will be fascinating to master the art of vertical folding, only to get stuck on how the hell to apply that to fitted sheets and undergarments. It will be exciting to drop off boxes at the thrift store, convinced you’re done, then frustrating to realize you missed so much as you go through it all a second time. It will force you to more closely evaluate your friendships, who you can have fun with without shopping, who you can invite over instead of going out with, who accepts your lifestyle choices as you begin to prioritize more. It will not be easy to start editing life, slowing down, and fixing all the cracks you could gloss over before. It will, however, be worth it.

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