February is the month dedicated to love. Big love. Love that makes us dream up romantic gestures for our one and only or thoughtful gifts for our favourite pal-entine. But we don't need to get swept up in the bouquets of red roses (check out my friend Kiera's crystal bouquets!) and boxes of chocolates - we can use this month for a truer purpose; a deep, thoughtful and mindful purpose, like spreading those warm feelings more consistently and to a wider audience. Or at least more people we care about. We can use this month to live slower, spread our love further and become happier, healthier versions of ourselves.
Our pals over at Tiny Feast are advocates for stationary and mindful gifting and they are the experts on using these things to live slower. For part five of our Winter Survival Guide, Tiny Feast shares their tips on how to use pen + paper to perfect the art of slow living:
TINY FEAST'S 5 TIPS
TO LIVE SLOWER THROUGH PEN + PAPER
Writing - whether it be a thank you note, journal entry, a valentine, to-do list or short story - provides an opportunity for mindfulness, stillness and quietude. I've often found the written word to be beneficial for my general well being in a variety of different ways, most notably that it's a pastime that doesn't require a screen. Most people, myself included, turn to our phones or computers for a myriad of reasons throughout the day. It's practically automatic to participate in several conversations, tasks and applications at one time. In an effort to slow down, begin by silencing your phone; place it in the next room if need be. Grab a pen, and a card or a sheet of paper. Although staring at a blank sheet of paper can be disorienting at first, embrace the simplicity, the lack of distraction, and let go of expectation. Begin with one of these suggestions if you need a bit of help getting inspired.
1. WRITE A LOVE LETTER. TO YOURSELF.
Whether you are in a relationship with a significant other or not, whether you think Valentine's Day is a cringe-worthy tradition or if it's your most-loved holiday, take advantage of this love-centric month and carve out some time to ruminate on the things you love about yourself. Appreciating one's own strengths and idiosyncrasies is the root of being able to appreciate and love others, after all. Start with you.
Once you're done, toss the list or save it for a day that you're feeling a little less shiny and new.
2. WRITE OUT A CARD FOR SOMEONE WHOSE SERVICE YOU APPRECIATE.
Your postman, bus driver, the barista you see a few times a week, the grocery store clerk or the janitor at your work or school. Have you ever worked at a job in the service industry? If not, you might not be aware that it can be emotionally and mentally draining to interact with people for your entire working day, even for the most extroverted of folks. A funny card with a quote or just a simple, "Thanks for doing what you do, I appreciate it" is powerful in how it not only expresses gratitude, but also validates the hard work being done by the individual.
3. BEGIN A RITUAL AROUND THOUGHTFULNESS BY WRITING A DAILY NOTE TO SOMEONE.
It could be your partner, your kid, your parents, or a friend who lives across town or on the other side of the globe. The purpose here is to develop a habit that promotes thoughtfulness. Set the note next to a cup of coffee each morning, or save them for a week to send off in the mail. This practice can be a deeply bonding ritual that both the sender and recipient can benefit from immensely.
4. GIVE YOUR BRAIN A BREAK.
We all have decisions to make everyday, some are massive and some are small. Between work, relationships, finances, hobbies and other commitments, the choices and options can become overwhelming and begin to create stress. Simplifiy and aleviate some of that stress by pulling thoughts out of your head and putting them down on paper. It could be as simple as a good ol' pro and con list, unloading random thoughts and ideas in a written stream of consciousness, or a more ordered list of priorities. Any of these methods often help to figure out where your life needs organizaton, purging or simplfying. Things often become clearer once they are on the page in black and white.
5. BEGIN A GRATITUDE JOURNAL.
Create a ritual around gratitude and mindfulness by recording three things at the end of each day that you are grateful for. It could be as simple as "my job, my bus pass, my dog." As you continue this practice, the meditation will naturally shift from the more obvious advantages at the forefront of your daily life to the deeper, less-often noticed gifts that are no doubt there. Done repeatedly and regularly, this practice enables a shift in thinking toward lightness and intention, which our world needs, especially during these last long winter months.
Written by Andrea McLaren for Tiny Feast.
Andrea McLaren is a mother, maker and writer. Inspired by the everyday, she channels her creativity into textile art, photography, cooking and the written word.
Tiny Feast is a stationary and gift store located in the historic Exchange District neighbourhood of Winnipeg. The shop aims to stock products that enhance the everyday by encouraging communication, creativity and mindful living. 'Tiny Feast' is a metaphor coined to describe a variety of things that feel celebratory, lavish, almost extravagant - yet are intrinsically simple and useful, and therefore justifiably and reasonable enjoyed daily. The beauty of a hand-written note; the satisfaction of a good pencil; the pleasure of a thoughtful gift, given or received.