Happy Helmikuu! Nurture Yourself and Create Your Own Fortune Cookie Wisdom.

The shortest month of the year, February can nevertheless be long on finding hope and joy. In the United States, it is the month of hearts, and on National Wear Red Day, women wear that color to help save lives in support of the fight against heart disease. The United States and other countries celebrate Valentine's Day, a day for romantic love. In Finland the day is referred to as Ystävänpäivä--or Friends Day, when well-wishes and sentiments of love and devotion celebrate friendship.

The Finnish word for February, Helmikuu, is said to mean "Month of the Pearl" because as ice droplets begin to melt and then refreeze, small pearls of ice form on tree branches. During this tranquil month of simple beauty, the pearls of wisdom you discover about yourself can indeed bring life-sustaining hope and joy to your heart.

Those white slips of paper inside fortune cookies are said to contain pearls of wisdom. Whether or not their words truly bestow worthwhile insight is debatable. But something that can't be argued is that a sure foundation for happiness comes from fostering good emotional health. Having a stressed, fatigued mind depletes our ability to make sound decisions. Rather than reacting with frayed emotional responses, a calm and rested mind allows us to meet challenges and resolve problems efficiently. The health of our mind and spirit are every bit as crucial as the heath of our physical body.

Nurture of self is vital!

This week, cut several slips of paper (enough to get you through the last day of the month) into the size of those found in fortune cookies. Sticky notes cut in thirds work great. On each slip, write a way to nurture yourself. Listen to your heart and--from simple to sublime, from new experiences to old comforts--give yourself permission to seek and explore things that stir happiness within you. Fold the papers in half and put them in a small jar and keep your "fortunes" in a special place. Each day, or even every few days, take out a slip and follow what you've written. Here are a few ideas to get your started:

* Visit an indoor garden or arboretum, or bring home fresh flowers for yourself.


* Start planning that vacation you've been dreaming of. Use an inexpensive spiral notebook as an organizer. Write down a list of possibilities and dream destinations for the coming year. Clip photos from magazines and put them into the organizer. Send for or gather travel brochures.

* Watch a movie that makes you laugh, or one that inspires you and gives you joy.

* Check out a favorite book from the library that you enjoyed when you were a child; reread and cherish it. (You can also make a list of books you want to read during the coming year. Add to it as you discover more. February 7 is Charles Dickens Day. If you don't have one of his classics, find one at the library or at a thrift shop). 

* Learn something more about a topic that interests you; take a class or view a podcast.

* Sincerely compliment yourself--high five yourself in the mirror!

* Get a pair of fuzzy socks to snuggle your feet into.

* Have an unrushed breakfast by yourself with some of your favorite breakfast foods.

* Treat yourself to the kind of chocolate you really love.

* Start a joy journal and paste your favorite joys into it: photos of your family or pets, a flower or leaf you find on a walk, a favorite recipe...you don't have to even write a single word, just make a collection of the things that bring you joy. 

* Attend the symphony; learn more about your favorite composer.

* Make a few Valentines--or friend gifts--to give to those you love and care about. You can use paper, make cookies, or sew a small heart. Kindness is the gift that keeps on giving, it will touch the hearts of others and bring joy to your own life as well.

How are you going to nurture yourself this month?



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