Follow along with the fun here or join me over on Instagram at Empathic as I count us through DecembeR TO CHRISTMAS DAY

So far we’ve had:

#1 Anticipate = Day 1 in Empathic’s Self Love Advent Calendar

Do you like plums? What would that open one taste like – sour? sweet? sticky? yucky? or perhaps you don’t like plums so you wouldn’t try it; or maybe, like one of my friends who has been disappointed too many times, you may have given up trying plums because the possible disappointment is toooooo much to bear, and outweighs the chance for good.

We anticipate a lot in life. It can get in the way, or if you open yourself up to mystery and risk, anticipation can add a delightful frisson and tingle to your life. 
So I ask you this: what are you anticipating right at this moment? 
Is it exciting or anxiety provoking? Or both?

Could you choose to anticipate this event or object in a new way: as an exciting challenge?
For me, I anticipate a lot of pondering, puzzling with social media settings, and middle-of-the-night “ahas!” putting together this SelfLoveAdvent for you, dear empathic fellow ponderer.
And also, plums, I am going to eat some of these plums.

A plate of beautiful ripe plums with the #1 Anticipate

#2 Laughter

If you are in Canberra you may well have also been in the audience for The Chaser’s Review of 2021 on Tuesday at CanberraTheatre…so wonderful to see the theatre packed and to hear everyone’s laughter and snorts of amusement. Take that Covid.
So my challenge to you is to get some laughing happening today! 
Watch your favourite show (rerun of #Seinfeld, the wonderful #Rosehaven, or my teens’ fave #Riverdale)…or listen to a podcast, or ask your kids their best joke…I am certain you will feel a whole lot lighter of heart and more full of cheer! 
Research shows that laughing – even fake laughing and smiling – releases happy chemicals in our brain and reduces feelings of stress and tiredness.
ps: what is brown and sticky?
A stick (groan)

#3 Breathe

Grainy iphone pic of waterfalls at National Library Canberra

#4 Waterplay

Here in Canberra it is finally warming up and the perfect time to splash and play and soak in water. As mammals waterplay is a calming soothing social behaviour we have utilised to relax for millennia.
How will you get your waterplay today? 
Beach, pool, lake, river, bath or shower…take time to tell the water soothe away the troubles of the last year.

#5 Prepare

It is easy to be disappointed when things don’t work out: sometimes wishing isn’t enough!
That is when it is time to go back a step and prepare first. Whether that is through using a recipe, rehearsing what you are going to say, or simply taking three deep breaths before going on with your day.

Preparation reduces frustration and increases satisfaction and is a form of Self Love in action.

Grainy iphone photo of books and Wonder Woman statue

#6 Make time to Read 

Ahhhh…the joy of a new book, the smell of ink and paper, new ideas and new ways of living and being 💗 …and the joys of old books: of re-reading and meeting again old friends/characters when you dive once again into a familiar story.
Reading is a gentle way of exploring new ways of being and living and making new choices 💗

#7 Look for Patterns

Do you find yourself caught in the same situations time and time again? Is there the same rhythm to your relationships, an inevitability you feel powerless to change?
Take a note today of the patterns – good and bad in your life.
Want to change things up? Psychotherapy can help.

Grainy iphone pic of walking in Watson Canberra bushwalk

#8 Time in nature

Take a walk, hug a tree, remove your shoes and wriggle your toes. Nothing heals the mind and body like being in nature.

Close up of a garden bed in Canberra full of pink flowers

#9 Cultivate

What are you growing right now? Are you cultivating a sense of care and kindness toward yourself?

Cultivation is not just for gardens, though for me gardening and caring for the environment is one way I look after myself. These succulents and perennials are in my garden where 18 months ago there was nothing but concrete and sand. Build your vision, cultivate your dreams and get your hands dirty as you grow a beautiful life!

Close up of burmese cat’s face with the word “curiosity”

#10: Curiosity

Be curious in your everyday life, and watch this simple act transform your relationships and interactions. Being curious engages our frontal lobe and sends our interest and compassion toward the other. I truly believe curiosity is the key to empathy.

Two burmese cats sit on a window sill looking in different directions

#11: Look both ways

In Buddhist philosophy there is a teaching about the middle way…seeking a balance between the extremes of self indulgence and self denial, of avoiding growth or seeking mortification. 

The first step in finding this balance is to look both ways: what are my choices? How can I find a middle path? Simply by sitting back and noticing you have choices you have distanced yourself from the drama of either position.

#12: Be invincible

The secret to contentment and good mental health is tolerance and acceptance of differing mental states. Firstly acknowledging that they are mental, and secondly trusting that they too will pass.

Look into the deep, the dark, the fear, and find love and calm.

Close up still from video of cherries in a picking orchard in Wombat near Young

#13: Explore

Ready for an adventure? It’s a good day to explore. When you step out of the ordinary and look more closely, walk a different way, wander off the usual path…treasures await.

Days 14 to 25 coming up soon…