Busy! Busy! Busy!
It is that time of year that we find ourselves either in chaos or bordering denial that the holidays are less than a week away. How did we get here? Most likely it is because we have scheduled and over scheduled ourselves with commitments and the ‘to do list’.
One of nicest things I did for myself this holiday season was to NOT make a ‘to do list’ and to reduce my purchasing to a reasonable level (rather than 6 gifts for each grandchild, I did a special 3 for each), and I shared with my family that I wanted this Christmas Season to be about family experiences rather than ‘how much can we could get done to get ready’.
As you can see from the picture, I am enjoying a cup of tea at a holiday high tea with my family. Last weekend, we all went out to dinner by the lake and on a Santa Cruise, complete with Santa reading the names of all the ‘nice kids on the list’ at the end. We have had fires after dinner and the reading of Christmas stories to the kids several nights. The Nutcracker was also a ‘want to see’, but the timing was off for our family…..next year for sure. Last but not least, I have spent quality time taking each set of the grandkids, older and younger, out for dinner with just me.
It feels different this year, but quite good. I am pleased with my choices and will definitely continue this tradition of experiencing rather than doing during the Holiday Season.
“Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind” from Valentine Davies, Miracle on 34th Street.
The ‘season of giving’ is here as we move toward the Christmas festivities. Of course, we all enjoy getting gifts, and not just at Christmas. However, CHARITY does not always need to come in the form of tangible gifts. I believe that one of the greatest gifts of CHARITY is that of our time. Time is precious and there are only so many moments in our lives! Life keeps us all pretty busy, so time becomes a precious commodity. Sometimes, it can be difficult to allot time for other’s really in need of assistance.
So, in keeping with the season of giving, I offer some suggestions about how we might give of our time…….making a sacrifice for those, who perhaps just a few minutes from us, can make a significant difference for them.
We could offer some of our time:
- To those in a nursing home who have no one to visit with them, or to read a special story of the season for their pleasure.
- To those we work with who might need childcare so they can finish their ‘Santa’ shopping.
- To those in hospice who could use a cheery greeting or a song of the season.
- To those in our family who may be in need of our time to cook them a great meal that includes some old family recipes they haven’t had in a long time.
- To those who are our partners/spouses who could benefit from our time, giving special attention that has gotten lost in the relationship due to busy schedules, like a date night or their special home cooked meal.
- To those of our friends or family members who have lost loved ones and would appreciate our time of a handwritten note expressing our care and concern for them.
- To those who have no transportation to doctor’s appointments, our gift of time to take them to the appointment and see that they return home.
- To any one who is in need of our time of a listening ear to show that we care and we understand.
“Time is non-refundable, use it with intention”. (I have heard this many times but it is always listed as anonymous) .
To whom in your life will you give the charity of time this season?
PREPARING AND WAITING:
Today marks the first week of Advent for Christians and the Jewish Holiday Hanukkah starts tomorrow. During Advent, we prepare and wait for the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day.
For all important events in our lives, or those that we think are important, we plan, we create, we strategize, and prepare so that everything is relatively perfect!
So, let us begin our time of preparation with thoughtfulness about how to make this period of waiting for Christmas meaningful, peaceful, and filled with JOY!
One way to think about preparing is to think about creating new traditions with our families or friends. My new tradition is reading a Christmas short story to my grandkids each day. I found a wonderful book on Amazon, 24 Christmas Stories to Welcome Jesus, various authors are the contributors. We are all enjoying this new tradition.
How will you prepare?
THANKSGIVING AND SEEING……
A couple of weeks ago the homily at our Mass was about ‘seeing’, really seeing others in our life. We often take those in our life for granted and fail to ‘really see’. It is so easy to overlook the myriad of things that our partner/spouse or family member does that do not even come up on our radar because we are so busy watching for the things they do not do, according to our expectations.
That is the operative word I think….expectations! It certainly is important to have realistic expectations of those in our lives, for that is how they can be accountable to themselves and to us. Vice -versa, if we have unrealistic expectations of the important people in our lives, we will constantly be disappointed and fail to ‘see’ their good, setting ourselves up for a less than JOYful life.
As we celebrate this special day of giving thanks for family, friends, and the many blessings bestowed upon us, let us take a moment to ‘see’ at a deeper level……to see the good in someone’s heart that perhaps we have overlooked; to see the value of those we may have neglected because we were too busy; to see the ways our friends support us, both in big and small matters, and to see ourselves and act accordingly in the true light of who we were made to be.
Wishing you Blessings and the gift of seeing.
Even at 8:00 in the morning, chocolate can pull me into its web! I LOVE CHOCOLATE!
At the end of my life, I am sure I won’t be saying “Oh, I should have eaten more chocolate”. There will be other regrets I am sure because it is part of life….opportunities missed, a little time wasted here and there, perhaps a friendship that has receded, activities or events that you were afraid to engage in, or perhaps lost moments with dear family members. Even though at the time, we may think we have good reason not to partake of a particular activity.
Perhaps, the goal is to start now, wherever you are in your life journey to ferret out what you really don’t want to miss and include those things that you ‘think’ you could or would never do. It isn’t about how all encompassing the item is, rather, it is about your heart to heart with yourself about wanting to be a part of it and why. What pulls you toward it? How will you feel once you have checked it off the conscious brain? Maybe, just maybe, you will want to engage in the activity again. Better yet, maybe it will open a new path on your journey. What have you got to lose? I say: nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“We do not get unlimited chances to have the things we want. Nothing is worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed our life” quote from Marina Boteva: Marina’s Books.
Why should we forgive? Forgiveness is more about you than the other person. It is a conscious decision one makes to ‘let go of hurt’ and move on, but not necessarily forget (this depends on the severity of the action taken against you). Some studies have found that those who forgive “had less anger, less stress, less rumination and lowered reactivity in comparison to those who held onto their anger and pain” . Harris, A. H., Luskin, F.M., Benisovich, S.V., Standard, S., & Thoresen, C. (2001). Effects of Group Forgiveness Intervention on Perceived Stress, State and Trait, Anger, Symptoms of Stress, Self-Reported Health and Forgiveness. Journal of Clinical Psychology 62 (6), 715-733.
Forgiveness does not always involve an outward action toward the one who hurt you; sometimes the other person in the event is no longer here or is not accessible. Rather, forgiveness might include a heartfelt conversation with yourself about your feelings of resentment/anger, a reflection on the specific experience, a willingness to mentally forgive the person and then sticking with that forgiveness and not slipping back into the hurt. This is not easy to do, especially for the big things that really wound us to the core. True forgiveness may take several attempts for the steps to be effective. Patience is a virtue in this instance for sure.
I think Dr. Allen Hunt, a nationally known author and speaker, says it quite well. “Forgiveness produces healing and a path forward. The key to forgiveness opens the door to a new future”, from his book Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody.
Who do you need to forgive? Can you take a step forward today in the process so that you can begin the healing process?
The picture of this full moon doesn’t really convey the absolute beauty of the night, but the idea is there. I just had to stop, get out of the car and capture the image. My day had been a little off kilter, but seeing the beauty and magic of this moon capped my day with a tender feeling that all was well.
Isn’t it funny how something so simple can do that for us? I wonder in any given day how many instances of beauty we miss? It is a lot like GRACE that I wrote about earlier…..we have to open our hearts and our minds to beauty and GRACE.
So, how do we get an ‘open heart and mind’ to see and feel these moments? I think it begins with a POSITIVE approach to life rather than being negative. This means we have to ‘ditch’ the old mantras of self-bashing and the recreating of unhealthy past scenarios. These two negatives will block one from being able to see, feel and fully experience the wonders of beauty and GRACE. For sure, other’s words and behaviors can be hurtful and sometimes we love to hang on to them. (How dare he/she talk to me like that!) However, this only serves to wound us and distort our thinking in negative ways. Cognitive behaviorist’s suggest that we engage in consciously using positive mantras/remembrances each time the negatives we are holding pop up.
For me, another important approach to an open heart and mind is being grateful for what I have and accepting myself for who I am in this chapter. After all, I am still a work in progress! Being able to accept yourself for where you are and how you got there gives you ownership and blaming others will not be a part of who you are. Gratitude for what I have been given and not pining away for what my friend has, or I think he/she has, leaves one’s heart and mind space to see, feel and experience those moments of beauty and GRACE. I spend a few moments every morning verbalizing what I am grateful for and asking for the GRACE to remain grateful.
This is one of my favorite quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”
At the end of your day, think about any moments of beauty you experienced and how it felt in your heart.