On a personal note, 2015 was really shitty for me. I felt like my life was falling apart, I made really poor decisions, I spent time with some Very Bad Men.
It wasn't all bad, of course. My female friendships flourished and deepened this past year. (Funny how that happens in times of Very Bad Men.) I worked hard and landed a new job I love. I moved to a beautiful new city and found a lovely apartment. I only had to take out one restraining order this year. Oh, and I met the love of my life: my sweet, tiny, sassy baby Truvy.
I started this past year at my parents' house in Florida, fresh out of a painful breakup. Last January, I was dedicated to healing myself, to strengthening my heart, to easing my weary mind over the next year. It didn't really happen, though. Every time it felt like things were about to go my way, things just got worse.
There's a freedom, though, in losing everything, and I feel like only in the past few months have I been able to truly begin finding myself again. The past month in New England has been a time of great introspection for me and, finally, the healing I was looking for has begun.
I don't know if your year was anything like mine (and, baby child, I sure hope it wasn't), but I'm of a mind that it's never a bad idea to take some time to really refocus your energies and find some stillness within yourself.
As silly as it may seem, I've always been a big fan of New Year's. I'm not much for the parties nowadays, but I love the idea of starting over and beginning fresh. The start of 2016 feels filled to the brim with potential, in every way. I've got a big empty apartment I can't wait to fill with beautiful things, I've got a new life I love, and I just got bangs again. Everything's coming up Rachie!
In that spirit, I plan on spending my New Years Eve alone. My sister's in town and will likely force me out on the town (it's par for the course when you invite your gay sister to stay with you in the literal Lesbian Capital of America where you now reside), so I might actually end up following this plan on the night of New Year's Day — but it's the same idea, right?
If you'd also like to dedicate your New Year's Eve, or any upcoming night, to a night of calm, meditation, stillness, and a hot bath, I've got some ideas. Take it from me, your favorite weird aunt. I'm a pro at the Stay Home game.
Get Your House Ready
In advance of this pleasant evening you have planned, you'll want to tidy up your space. Messes and clutter encourage stress and you don't want to start your year on a stressful note. Pick up all your clothes, clean all the dishes, make your bed, and wipe everything down with some magic soap. The older I get, the more I truly enjoy the process of cleaning my home. It can be a very mindful activity.
Make sure your space is comfortable. Clear all your sofas and chairs. Light a scented candle or two.
Right now, I am totally obsessed with Tocca's Meribel Limited Edition Candle. Rich, warm notes of vanilla and fig are perfect for winter and the candle burns beautifully, filling your entire home without overwhelming the senses.
Pour Yourself a Perfect Bath
My appreciation of a good soak has not gone unmentioned here on xoVain. Now that it's winter and I live in an official cold place, I spend even more time in the bath than I ever thought possible. What can I say? I live to impress.
The best time to take a bath is anytime, but New Year's Eve is an especially good time.
For a monumentally relaxing bath, prepare everything you'll need in advance. That means ready your beverage of choice, a book or two, and all the bath products you require. I usually like to Netflix while I soak, but in the spirit of mindfulness, this holiday I'm turning solely to books for solace. Find a book you love, whether it's something you've read or not. I'm rereading Rilke's Book of Hours because at this point in my life, I need to constantly and forever read lines like, "Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. / Just Keep going. No feeling is final."
As far as bath products, for an especially zen evening though, I like to keep it pretty simple. A little bit of Dr. Teal's to ease any muscle pain will do the trick. Dr. Bronner's has been my go-to for, well, my whole life. Their hemp and rose castille soap will leave you feeling like relaxed royalty.
A little bit of Olivine Love + Peace Sparkling Butter Bath will fill you with comfort. Crafted with Himalayan pink sea salt, cocoa and shea butters, epsom minerals, and a blend of ylang ylang, rose, lavender, and orris root oils, a dash of this salt gives you skin that feels soft and nourished. Olivine's website suggest you soak while reciting a mantra of, "I am love, I am peace, I am cared for," which is frankly just really wonderful.
Sage Your Home and Yourself
I know it's very Weird Aunt of me, but I'm a firm believer in sage cleansing. Even if it's all in my head, I think anything that brings you peace of mind and does no harm is a good and fine thing to do.
You can pick up a bundle of sage at any health food store or the local shop that sells crystals and where you could also definitely buy weed if you ask right. Or, order this gorgeous handmade smudge wand from Olivine. This is one of the most beautiful things I've ever gotten my hands on. Hand wrapped with real sage and roses, this bundle is almost too lovely to burn. Almost!
One of the elements of a sage cleanse is the "zero hour." This is the actual moment in which you determine, nothing from here on out is as it was before. These moments, in a new home, usually occur when moving in but a new year is a perfect time for such a ritual.
To smudge your home, you'll need your sage and a small bowl as well a match or lighter. Open all your doors and windows, both for energy and because there will be a bit of smoke. Light the stick and then blow it out, like you would with incense. Move through your apartment, dispersing the small waves of smoke throughout the space. As you go, be sure to set your intentions. (Yes, I know how woo-woo this sounds but just let me live.)
Your intentions are personal to you and can be as vague or detailed as you prefer. My intention for the new year is to live a purposeful life, and so with each room, I plan to set an intention of focus, of self-respect, and of stillness. Rid your home of any negative energy, whether it may be coming from others or from within you. Now's the time to be done with all of that.
To give yourself a "sage shower," set the sage stick into the bowl and let the smoke wash over your face, as if it were steam. It won't be thick enough to induce coughing or anything. Set an intention for yourself, and allow your mind some quiet for a moment. It's a really peaceful thing to do and I will never care how silly it seems.
Ring in the New Year with Some Meditation
Now that you've had a literally perfect evening, it's time to wind down with some mind work. My 2015 was a literal hellscape of stress, heartbreak, and insufficient-funds notices, and I wouldn't have made it through had I not introduced meditation practices into my life. I've written before of my love for Headspace, the guided meditation app, and I'm still a devotee.
For any of us with too-busy minds (and honestly, all of us are too busy), meditation is the key to better sleep, more focused work, and generally more fulfilling life. Meditation can genuinely give you everything juice cleanses promise, minus the hunger pangs. There are many guided meditation videos available for free on YouTube. I'm also a big fan of these meditations, available for free from UCLA. They even have options in Spanish.
Or just Google image search my boyfriend, Oscar Isaac, for thirty minutes for an equally calming experience.
Whether your 2015 was shitty or splendid, kicking off 2016 with a warm heart and clear mind is a good idea for anyone. I've got a really good feeling about everything on the horizon, and I mean that for all of us. Going out and partying is super-fun (trust me, I know — I love parties.), but a night alone could do you a world of good. You deserve it.
- What are you doing New Year's Eve? (Don't say Oscar Isaac.)
- Got any intentions for 2k16? Let's get sentimental all up in this comment section.
- Also, here's one moment to sincerely say, you xoVain readers and writers are a bright spot in a dark world and I am grateful to have been a part of this space the past few years. Peace and blessings upon all y'all.