How to make your resolutions work

As I am writing this, the year is almost over.

To me, it wasn't really hard to say goodbye to 2017, it was a difficult year in many aspects, but also a year that taught me so much about myself! Who I am, what is really important to me, what I needed to change. And I found out on a very personal level that change isn't easy (wanted or unwanted). And it's even harder when you don't have the energy to experiment new things. 

What I also found is that real change can only come from within, supported by our deepest motivation. It all starts with a wish, a desire, a longing... but for what? I learned that having clarity on what I want, and more importantly, what I truly needed, was pivotal to turn things around.

So, I'll start 2018 with much more clarity on the things I would like to accomplish, and what I want to bring into my life. That empowered mindset makes me much more confident that I will reach my goals.

I stated some powerful resolutions that are aligned with my heart, body, and Soul.

What are resolutions? Wishes and dreams, goals and plans. In short, resolutions are about changes we want to make.

Having navigated many changes in all areas of my own life, as well as supporting my patients in their journey after a diagnosis or illness when I was still in the medical field, and working as a project manager on implementing complex operational changes, I have seen up close what worked and what didn't work when it comes to change.

I would like to share some thoughts about resolutions with you, to explain why they usually fail and how to approach things differently.

When you ask people about their resolutions, you usually get 3 types of response. 

  1. Well, I should quit [X] so that's what I'm gonna try. Between the brackets are things like [smoking, drinking, shopping, spending, eating chocolate, overeating, ...]. 
  2. Well, I should start [Y] so I'm going to do that. Between the brackets are things like [moving, running, eating healthy, being there for my family, a project, ...].
  3. Resolutions? I don't have any because they don't work anyway.

The core feelings behind those responses are:

  1. guilt
  2. guilt
  3. cynicism, defeat

Not very positive. 

This is exactly why resolutions like this usually don't work. They are stated while we are in a restrictive or judgemental emotional state. We believe we are doing something wrong and we try to fix ourselves. 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with ambition, setting goals and trying to be the better version of ourselves. But, it's important to know what that version is and whether it suits us.

Usually, the wish for change comes from a sense of urgency. Things go wrong, we don't like the results we are getting. And that leads to stress. Our systems are built to eliminate stress immediately. And the way we are wired, it leads to behavior that temporarily decreases stress -> eating, drinking, smoking, shopping, checking our phones, ... 

Oops. 

The things causing us stress, are the same things we go to as a temporary stress release. And we know it. That's where the guilt creeps in, the 'shoulds', the inner critical voice. We punish ourselves with restrictive measures (causing stress) and we call it a resolution - "I am going to be a better version of myself without this behavior. I should ... "

We humans have stress on a daily basis and we have needs on a daily basis. We want to feel safe, supported and loved. However, during our lifetimes we taught ourselves to get positive feelings through external things. Self-soothing is a lie... We don't self-soothe, we externally-look-for-soothing. We fall into the trap of feeling good for a short while though unwanted and destructive behavior, causing stress and in the long run, not giving us what we are longing for.

It's a vicious cycle. Or a downward spiral. See how this will never work?

How would it be when we were able to shift our perspective and look within to find what we need? To give the love, care, and support to ourselves? To break the cycle in a different, lasting way? To spiral up an up towards the things you truly want?

When you create change by adding restorative practices, you will decrease stress and enhance relaxation. This creates so much more space to invite new things into your life! 

To create lasting changes, you need space and clarity on your deepest motivation and your true needs.

To help you state powerful intentions that are aligned with your heart, body, and Soul, and the energies of the January Moon, I created an 8-day FREE online program, WinterLight Wellness Week.

You can find more information about WinterLight HERE.

The 12 Sacred Nights of Yule (midwinter)

On the 21st December, I will be celebrating my 39th Sun Return, also known as my birthday! I'm honoured to be born on this day, the Winter Solstice, or Midwinter. Although my birthday was often shaded by the busyness of Christmas, I was fascinated by the date *21-12* and the fact that the night was so long and the day so short. It felt like a special day to me for different reasons... 

Having lived with the Wheel of the Year for the last 10 years I realised more and more what this day is really about. It is truly the darkest day of the year and it is comparable to the New Moon Phase, when the moon is not visible. During the Yuletide (December 20th - December 31st) we are invited to retract, contemplate and explore our inner worlds. 

Nowadays, the period after Midwinter is a time of celebration and gathering, but historically they were a sacred time of silence, reverence, closure and looking forward to the new year. For the people in ancient times, it was the most difficult time of the year, cold, dark, without knowing whether the light would return. Their faith was challenged and to hold the vision of the light of the Sun, candles and fires were lit (a.k.a. Christmas lights!). 

Some of you may be familiar with the 12 Nights of Christmas. Originally, these 12 Sacred Nights were not associated with Christmas but with midwinter, or Yule (that's where Yuletide comes from). 

These 12 Sacred Nights are known for the insights, dreams and visions about the coming year, when we are aware and open to the messages. A lot of these messages come to us through our dreams, where the unconscious mind is thriving. 

Last year, I wrote down the dreams I had on each of these 12 consecutive nights. Each of the 12 nights corresponds to a month of the coming year. I read them back recently, and it’s almost eerie to see that my unconscious mind was already knowing what was going to happen, sometimes in great detail, sometimes through a general theme. It was a year of many changes that I couldn’t have predicted with my conscious rational mind, like quitting my job, finding my purpose, creating a new business, completing a yoga teacher training program, meeting new friends from all over the globe.... 

Looking back, it was in my Yuletide dreams already... 

As a birthday gift to you, I created a workbook, to share with you this powerful tool for accessing your inner knowledge during the 12 Sacred Nights of Yule

You can download the workbook by subscribing here.

I hope it will give you direction and clarity for the new year to come, and that it will help you find more space for yourself, peace and quiet during the frantic days around Christmas.

Blessed Yule! 

Willemijn

Full Moon in Gemini - 3rd December 2017

The Full Moon in Gemini will be this Sunday, December 3rd, 2017.

We have arrived at the time of year where gatherings and celebrations are on the weekly calendar. Holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and in The Netherlands (where I live) we celebrate Sinterklaas, traditionally a children's feast. It is comparable to Christmas Day and Santa Claus, but it is celebrated a little earlier, December 5th, which is the birthday of the bishop of Mira (Saint Nicolas, now called Sinterklaas). To celebrate his birthday, Sinterklaas treats everyone with lots of presents. It's so lovely to see how excited the children are when they are told to put their shoe at the front door or next to the fireplace, filled with a carrot for Sinterklaas' horse and a clementine or a drawing for the Saint. And, finally, on the 5th of December, we celebrate 'pakjesavond', meaning 'gifts evening' and a big jute bag filled with presents is secretly left at the door....

It's a wonderful tradition of sharing, giving, company, warmth, love, and humour (the adults write funny, teasing poems for each other). However, it's also a celebration that asks for a change, for cultural and sustainability reasons. The change that we need in society at large, on many levels, to take away differences between people, created in the past and still making wounds and scars. To change the earth-destroying way of living of consumerism. 

It's a difficult to navigate situation and many of the conversations around it turn into polarising heated discussions, creating more division instead of less

For myself, I try to hold in mind that a lot of people are reactive, coming from fear or pain or suffering. It is important to share feelings, but it is also important to remember that healing can only come from compassion, understanding, and unity. And the truth is, there are many scars that should be recognized. Like the #metoo and #blacklivesmatter and climate change and much more.

This Full Moon in Gemini reminds us that we should think again and invites us to innovate. Old ways and traditions have to be constantly revised and adapted, like an evolutionary process. That is what makes us humans stand out, that we are able to change and adapt. It's not easy and can lead to fear and resistance, but in the end, we can't stop evolution.

Over the last few weeks, many dark and hidden secrets were revealed and uncovered by Scorpio. This Full Moon, the truth will be revealed in other ways.

Gemini (Latin for Twins) is the sign of communication and connection and shows us polarity and similarity too. During the coming Full Moon weekend, you may find yourself engaging with others much more, and you may find yourself in conversations that provide you with insightful information

Pay attention to words. Written, spoken words. An article, newsletter, television show, conversation, telephone call, text, email... You will be given information to gain clarity on your path. Look closely for messages that are meant for you.  

Gemini gives us mental stimulation and enables us to intellectually or rationally come up with solutions for the problems we are facing. However, there can be a disconnect between the heart and the mind in Gemini, and this challenges us to be more compassionate and empathetic towards others in problem-solving. 

This Full Moon will give you mental clarity, but don't forget to check in on your heart space as well. 

7 natural remedies to have in your home

Last week I was down with the flu (or some heavy cold with fever and coughs and muscle pains) AND I burned my hand with hot oil AND I went to the dentist who left me with a bruised palate

Oh yes, it was a great week.... to use all the natural home remedies I love. :D

***Please make sure to read my disclaimer before reading the rest of the article, always ask for medical advice with your own healthcare professional, GP or pharmacist and always use medication and supplements (pharmaceutical or natural remedies like naturopathic or herbal medicine) as prescribed on the package insert.***

The 'common cold' (rhinitis) 

Echinacea 

Echinacea comes in drops or capsules or tea. I hate capsules so I always use drops and tea. When the R is in the month (September until April) I drink at least one cup of tea with Echinacea in it. It enhances your immune system and helps to fight off bugs before they get to you. When a virus enters our home, I start my drops too. Sometimes it helps me to prevent catching the bug myself, and if not, it sure helps because of the immune system boost. 

Chamomile 

I use this as a tea. Chamomile soothes the throat and has antiseptic qualities. You can use it just to drink and clear the throat, you can add some honey to it to enhance the antibacterial properties and to make swallowing easier. You can also gargle with it. 

Saltwater

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and gargle with it (not so nice) or use it as nose spray or drops to dilute mucus in the nose. This really helps to keep the airway free and it prevents the sinuses from getting inflamed. It's important to keep the entry to the sinuses open, you don't want a sinusitis on top of your cold. It takes way longer to recover from that.

 

The flu (influenza)

Fluids

Drink a lot when you have a fever. It helps to clear out the toxins that are produced by fighting the influenza virus. It also helps regulate your temperature, due to fever the body loses much more fluids. Preferably drink water, herbal tea and broth, not just water. Broth will help to compensate for the loss of salts through transpiration when there is a fever.

Homemade chicken soup

I don't know why but this is one of the best remedies. Ask someone to bring you homemade chicken soup. Processed foods somehow don't have the same effect. 

Note: If your fevers don't break, or when there are other symptoms present like shortness of breath, extreme coughing, pain in the upper torso, muscle weakness, drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhoea, and so on, always consult your doctor. Be aware that influenza can lead to pneumonia when severe, even in healthy young individuals.

 

Bruises

Arnica

For bruises, muscle aches from working out or straining the muscles too much, Arnica is a helpful natural remedy. You can find it as drops, or salve to apply locally. The salve works perfectly on bruises and bumps, also with your children. For severe muscle pain or tore muscles, I use the drops to ingest for a systemic approach. I also used them after childbirth, to heal the damaged tissues faster (it was recommended by my midwife). And I recently learned that it can also be helpful in emotional 'bruises' and growth pain, for example when you are in a difficult painful life event or transformational process. 

 

Burns

Aloë vera

The best home remedy for burns from a heat source like hot water, oil, fire or hot objects or sunburned skin is Aloë vera. It is a plant you probably have in your home already. It's a very easy, difficult to kill plant ;-) that you can put everywhere in your home. When there is a burn, always cool first, with lukewarm water. Cold water can lead to hypothermic shock and constricted blood vessels, which is not helping to remove the heat out of the tissues. After thorough cooling (15 minutes), apply some fresh Aloë vera gel. To get the gel, cut off a leave of the plant, and slice it in half lengthwise. You can use the inside of the leave as a bandage or just put on the gel/liquid from the inside to the burns. It takes out the heat and the pain. You can repeat this if needed.

In the following situations, ALWAYS seek IMMEDIATE medical care:

  • burns larger than 2 cm/1 inches in diameter
  • burns on the hands or the face (in children)
  • when the burn changed the color of the skin to completely black or white (possible 3rd-degree burns)
  •  presence of other symptoms
  • when the burn is caused by electric shock

You can also use Aloë vera with other skin conditions, like rashes or scratches, to help them heal and to soften the skin. 

Please share your personal favorites in the comments! Which natural remedies do you use often?

New Moon in Scorpio - 18th November 2017

I am a bit behind on my blog because I was down with the flu for a week! However, this Moon Report was sent out to newsletter subscribers on November 17th and reached them in time.

Don't wanna miss out on updates? You can subscribe to the Moon Reports and Elemental Life Lines here.

On November 18th we will encounter the New Moon again. The Sun and the Moon will both be lined up in Scorpio. The Moon is not visible ('Dark Moon'), the nights are longer, the November weather is gloomy (at least, here it is) and the sign of Scorpio is also calling us into the Shadows... This New Moon is a time of turning within again, but this time, we need to go even deeper. 

Oh no... I hear you say... no more. Please bear with me, while I explain why this is necessary (there are going to be true gems!).

We all have a few things about ourselves that we really don't like. Traits, thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and so on. Some of this is conscious, but most of it is not. It's pushed into the darkness, shoved under the covers when we were a child. 

It is important to discover these Shadow parts about yourself. Why? Partly, because when you are not aware, you act from them in an uncontrolled way. This side of you has been pushed away so deep that it only surfaces with tremendous force, like a volcano. And usually we don't have control over our volcano eruptions... and these forceful, destructive reactions cause us and others pain and problems. It seems to come out of nowhere, catching us by surprise, and it is often called 'getting triggered' (we see it all over the internet). Sometimes, we already know that we are triggered by certain things, but we still don't see them coming (because our subconscious is very likely to keep the warning signs out of sight, it's a yay or nay system), and when it happens, and we lash out, it's very difficult to take responsibility for it. Looking for external causes for our pain is easier than to look within. Often, we are ashamed of our reactions and they are pushed away into the unconscious again, leaving the energetic scars and broken connections behind.

Why is this happening? 

It's the ego trying to protect you. There have been times in your life, most likely when you were a child, where something very painful happened. This can be anything, big or small, but usually, it has something to do with not being loved or seen or validated. And the negative feelings arising from that are so painful, that the ego decided to make it unconscious, to protect you. Which in itself seems like a noble thing to do. This works for quite some time and is important, but when you are an adult, you don't want to be ruled by your protective ego anymore, because it keeps you in shackles. The ego keeps you safe, small, invisible, to protect you. And when you have to make big decisions, around your life's purpose, your relationships, your work, your ego creates fear to prevent you from making these decisions. It wants you to survive and not leave your job to go for a better career, not break up but stay in an unbalanced relationship, not take a chance on life.... And you keep walking in circles, continue to feel unworthy, small, unlovable... The pain of what once happened to you will resurface, eventually. And then, it's not pretty. It's the volcano thing. 

Recently, I was made aware of something I never thought of, but I think is very important to share. 

"There are dark shadows and there are light shadows."

We all have our DARK shadows (things we see as negative and to be ashamed of, or feel guilty about), but we also have LIGHT shadows. The LIGHT shadows are the things that make us unique, valuable, lovable, great human beings, like creativity, intelligence, beauty, love, abundance, and so on. The things all human beings are born with when we come into our body. Why would these have to be pushed away into the shadows?? Because there have been times, where we instinctively knew, that when we expressed our true Self, we were not safe and that it would be better, safer, that we kept it hidden. That's the tragedy of the Shadow.

The beauty is, that when we dare to dive deep, when we are willing to face whatever DARK shadows we have, we will also find our way back to the LIGHT shadows, and we can bring them to the surface again. And make choices from our Soul.

And that is exactly what this New Moon in Scorpio is asking of you. The breakdown of the protective shell of the ego and the transformation from Self to Soul will be absolutely worth it. 

When you uncover your Shadows, you'll find the Light within.