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Ellen Roggemann

- goals that let us breathe - 

Do you ever experience January joy whiplash? I do. December is filled with song and cheer and parties and gifts. And January can be filled with resentment and shame and "now I must" and lots and lots of carrot sticks. It seems our quota for joy has been reached and now it is time to get serious by pledging to spend 30 minutes every day doing this and to never ever again eat that.

We set these resolutions and these goals to get us to some future we envision for ourselves. The thing is, when I was at my most "productive," I was also the most stuck. My day was a to do list and checking off the boxes was my measure of success. People admired me, for sure. I was thin, I ran every day, I won awards and scholarships and grant funding, I got perfect grades in more classes than I was supposed to be taking. But I was also so busy checking off those boxes and fulfilling the quotas I had set for myself, that I had no time to look up and see if I was headed in a direction I liked or if the to dos still made any sense.

Life was something to get through, to master; the thought of joy did not even occur to me. 

Most tragically, the fog of rules obscured the opportunities available to me. If Liv Tyler (my ultimate idol) had stopped me on the street to hand me one million dollars, my response probably would have been, "I only have 5 minutes to get to my next appointment and we didn't schedule this so give me a call and we'll find a time next week."  

We end up striving so desperately for the future that we miss all the opportunities available exactly where we are. The opportunities that could lead us to that very future. 

About two years ago I decided that what makes me feel good matters and to do more of those things even if my rational mind couldn't figure out why. And I have to say, life is so much fuller, more interesting, more generative this way. Because it just so happens that the things that feel good before, during, and after I enjoy them are typically also good for me. And that when I feel good I am actually able to achieve my goals with more ease. 

So here is a little recipe to bring the coziness and merriment of the holidays into the new year. Because indulgent is not a 4 letter word. 

Mulled Merriment (a.k.a non-alcoholic mulled not wine)

Mulled wine is one of those things that is amazing even when it isn't crazy delicious (but don't worry this one is). Warmth plus booze plus the smell of boiling cinnamon bring coziness and merriment to a drizzly day. Most non-alcoholic mulled what-have-you uses solely apple cider as the replacement for wine, but I find the result too sweet to be satisfying. This recipe uses a blend of 100% pomegranate juice (for it's tannins and rich color) and apple cider (for it's sweetness) to make a drink that has fooled some.


1 32 oz. bottle of 100% unsweetened cranberry juice

1 32 oz. bottle of fresh apple cider - hopefully found in the refrigerated section

1 cup of mulling spices or, better yet, make your own.


Put everything in a pot and bring it to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes or so. Strain into mugs. Enjoy, preferably under a wool blanket.

Pour leftovers into a bottle to store in the fridge. Drink by itself or add to your morning warm water + lemon.