“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a shortcut to meet it.” J.R.R. Tolkien
As an Empath, I’m used to getting the occasional flash of emotions that seem incompatible with my own personal life. Typically, I can quickly acknowledge them, recognize that they aren’t mine, and let them float away. It’s not so easy to do these days, because on January 20th, we ushered in a new political era. I did not see it coming and it is bringing back some memories that I honestly thought that I had dealt with.
You see, right around this time frame in 2003, I was getting the last of 8 chemo treatments for breast cancer. I vividly remember how brutal that particular round was, and how during the recovery process, I had my first out of body experience. Watching myself lying in my bed as I floated above next to the ceiling, I had a glimpse of just how much we don’t understand, and how much we fixate on tiny details. True, the details are where the magic happens, but as perspective shifts, so does the importance of those details.
I have been having flashbacks to very similar emotions that I had in 2002. I mean, I had many debates (It’s just a small lump, but hey, it goes away each month, so it can’t be bad), lots of tests (biopsies aren’t terribly dissimilar to the fears of "alternative facts", right?), and finally the day of reckoning (the test results produced many feelings of dread and tears, much like the election outcome).
I have watched as many in our country have lost their ever-loving minds over this election, including myself for a time. Here’s the way that I have reframed it. Just as I had to come to grips with the fact that my life would never again include a scar-free breast or the "survivor" title, our nation will never again get to live without a President Trump and the many choices he has made that, in his mind, are designed to protect us. The cancer cells in my body were present for a minimum of 3 years, according to my doctors. The pain and dissatisfaction that brought Trump to the White House have been there much longer, and yet we didn't notice until the proverbial "ice pick" outcome. Will this be the death of our nation? Nah. We are stronger than that. But it will change us.
And that is why I feel so many are losing it. Because change can be scary. Change means that we have to reevaluate what we stand for, why we prioritize some things over others, and ask if we are still willing to settle for a life that is being lived for others.
From the initial “Holy crap, that just felt like an ice pick stabbed my boob!” to “Ok, that was your last radiation treatment! Have fun with your new normal!”, it took about a year. Will we as a nation need that long to shake off the startling realization that we are now being asked to live in a “new normal”, knowing all too well that nothing will ever be normal again? Most of the people that I know who have had the wake-up call of a health crisis don’t take their second chance for granted. We as a nation received a huge (Yuge?) wake-up call. We ignored our nagging feelings that something was off. Now we have the result, and it’s time to figure out the treatment plan. For many, it's marching in various protests. For others, it's calling our employees, the people who we elected to represent us. And for still others, it's explaining why they agree with the directives being handed down. Just as I received a crash course in cell biology and oncology options, we are all receiving a new education in how our government operates.
Cancer treatment is typically greeted with war-like metaphors. I chose to love those cells in remission. I lovingly surrounded them with the medications designed to neutralize and retrain them. I imagined sending them marching out of my body, since they weren’t able to play nice. I blasted them with all of the best that modern medicine has to offer and fiercely loved the medical team that assisted me with the unholy trio of chemo, surgery, and radiation. And then I healed my body with a variety of holistic methods afterwards. Sometimes you need a feather duster, but other times you need a sledgehammer. Know your tools. Use them wisely.
We will survive these next 4 years. Use this time to connect with those around you, love on those that you don’t understand, and know that there will be those who will never play by the rules that you wish to enforce. Love them anyway. Because, hey, it’s not cancer. And even if it is, there are options. Now go out and create some beautiful memories. We only get one chance on this planet in this current body. Don’t waste it on hate.
I hope you had a Thanksgiving holiday filled with wonderful
food, supportive people, and stress-free travels! However, I’m firmly grounded
in the world where bad things take the day off, just so we can live in a moment
of perceived perfection. People still die, they still get in car wrecks, still
have weird little accidents like shooting a big toe off while in a duck blind. I’ve
also heard from many clients about how nervous they were about visiting family
members with vastly different political views, or how guilty they felt about “escaping”
from an ailing parent, or for the “inevitable” holiday blowup around some
long-held childhood grudge/addiction issue/relationship insecurity. Maybe it
didn’t happen, maybe it did, but hey, Christmas is just around the corner, so
now we can just wait a few more weeks! I’m sure it’ll kick in then! (tongue
firmly in cheek here)
I’m not gonna lie. I was one of those people
who felt disappointed in the outcome of the election. Soon after the results
were announced, I began to notice something extraordinary. Inside all of the
cacophony of outrage and cheering, a quiet movement began. One that, at its
core, was compassion personified. No, I’m not talking about the safety pin
or the clarion call for empathy on both sides (http://qz.com/826733/us-election-2016-lack-of-empathy-is-causing-a-toxic-political-environment/).
I’m talking about the wake-up call that we all got as a nation during the
campaign. It’s mirrored in family units and business relationships as well.
Here’s my golden nugget:
We do not
live in a vacuum. We all have a part to play, and ALL voices are necessary.
I was speaking to David Barnes, a dear friend who has
created an innovative healing modality with his business partner, Sue-Anne
MacGregor, using the power of movies. At his recommendation, my husband and I
watched “A Late Quartet”, a wonderful 2012 film about the power of teamwork. I
found it on Amazon Prime. He articulates this beautifully using this movie’s theme
on 5 key elements of teamwork. I highly recommend watching this in a mixed
group with ample time afterwards for discussion. Its cerebral message and
gorgeous music will instantly transport you above any energetic sludge left
over from the holidays. Make no mistake. We are all on the American team. Our
Family of Origin team. Our Tribe of Like-Minded Friends team. And many, many other teams that require cooperation with disparate points of view. You can find his
changework session notes here: https://peaceofmindovertures.com/heart-aligned-leadership-five-empowering-ways-to-improve-teamwork/
Hindsight is always 20/20. We may have just sent
our lovely world on a disastrous path towards doom and destruction. Or we may
have done the exact opposite and given our collective selves an enormous gift
that will draw us together more cohesively than ever before. I am reminded of an old Buddhist proverb:
“An old farmer had
worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the
news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said
"Maybe," the farmer
replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild
horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed.
"Maybe," replied the
old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses,
was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy
on his misfortune. "Maybe," answered the farmer. The day after,
military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing
that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated
the farmer on how well things had turned out. "Maybe," said the
It’s perfectly acceptable to feel anger, elation, outrage,
joy, disgust, and relief over this governmental transition process. The most
important thing is to use this as rocket fuel. Allow it to propel you into
action. Funnel it into volunteering for causes that you support, into creative
activities, or into your work life. Take off the suit of despair that someone
else may have given you. Shrug off the feelings of superiority because “you
knew it”. None of that serves you, and simply keeps you locked into an old
pattern of isolation and mental stagnation.
Get to know people with opposing ideas. You just might find
out that you have more in common than you thought. By doing this, we will all
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Recently I found myself on a plane. Not exactly unusual, but
the fact that there were only 6 of us passengers was. It was a ferry flight, one of the planes that
had been moved to warmer climes in order to avoid the snowbound mess in the
East Coast the previous weekend.
I ended up sitting next to a businessman in First Class
discussing my thoughts on how several of his friends were encouraging him to “Freshen
Up” his 7 year marriage. Apparently, things had gotten stale in his opinion. The
demands of raising two small children, a heavy travel schedule, and too many extended
family obligations had him actually considering having an affair to bring some
life back in his zipless existence.
As an Empath, this tends to be a normal occurrence. Folks
just LOVE to share their most personal, intimate details with me. This, however, was a new topic. When I think
of freshening up, I think of washing my hands, brushing my hair, or touching up
my makeup. Never once would I have placed an affair in that category.
Intimate connections, whether physical or emotional, bind us
all together. They are the glue of society, and the reason why we have poetry
and the music industry. The best connections are those made with an open heart
and an open mind. We’ve all had the experience of hitching our wagon to someone
that didn’t have respect or integrity for our feelings. It sucked.
Let’s use SuperGlue as an example. If you aren’t being
conscious and careful when applying this substance, you can end up adhered to
things that you didn’t plan on. Sex is like that, too, except you are also now
stuck to all of their partners’ energies as well. I explained to my traveling
companion that the way that his friends were “freshening up” was in fact
gumming up the partnership with their children’s mothers, a relationship entered
into with a vow to be faithful and true.
Naturally, he was still at choice to go that route, but I encouraged him
to first try to have an honest conversation with his wife. Let her know that he
desires to rekindle the spirit of their marriage with some alone time, away
from the children and generational family members. Maybe even consider some
individual and couples counseling to get a common vocabulary to help with their
communication. I also asked him if he
would be OK if SHE decided to use the same method of “freshening up”… the hard pause
said it all.
How are you avoiding the hard questions in your
relationships? If you are in one that isn’t working as well as you would like,
are you turning to substances or over-focusing on a job to numb yourself to
what’s not working? Turning to another as a distraction because you don’t know
how to communicate with your partner anymore? Or is it a subtler issue like growing
up around a parental pattern of infidelity? If you aren’t in one, then is there
a story that all relationships are doomed to fail, that men all cheat, that all
women are only in it for the money? All answers begin within. That’s where the
questions are, too. It’s dark in there, but I guarantee you, once you turn on
the light, it's not nearly as scary as you thought.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who was excitedly showing me his new tattoo, an amazing piece with specific details of personal meaning and spiritual significance to him. He practically glowed with pride when he shared how much it meant to him, and then almost instantly shifted into shame mode once money was mentioned.“I know I shouldn’t have spent so much on this. I’m just no good with money. I hate it!”This shocked me and saddened me. We had just finished discussing friendship and the challenge of finding a really good, trustworthy friend. The way he was describing some of the previous relationships with people was very similar to how he was talking about money. It made me stop and think about my own friendship with finances…Growing up, I learned that Money is the root of all Evil, and that Money doesn’t grow on trees, which is OK, because that meant that you were closer to God. It took me a long time to let go of those patterns. I’d like to say that they are completely gone, but at some point, a new level of those childhood programs may show up again. It’s that healing spiral that tells me I’m still growing and evolving!And maybe that’s why this conversation kept me up last night. I began to wonder; am I truly friends with Money? I am now! While we had a rocky beginning, we now have a deep understanding of how we wish to be treated and, for the most part, are great buddies. Here are a few tips that I used to clarify our “Relationship Agreement”:Do I know Money? In Networking, the saying is that in order to do business with someone, you need to Know, Like, and Trust them before you’ll be willing to part with your money. Do I really know money? I grew up knowing that it seemed to prefer other people’s homes, even though my mom made the best homemade bread around, and we were really fun people who played card games and had great conversations. But we never really talked about Money. It was almost a taboo subject, that elephant in the room, that “neighbor girl who went on vacation for 9 months”… How awful that would be if YOU were Money? I love to discuss investing, the power of compound interest, exchange rates, and how adding just a few friends on a regular basis to a savings plan can really make me happy! I’m not obsessed with it, but it’s cool to know how this tool works.Do I like Money?The power that it has to create a life of ease or a life of hardship is awe-inspiring. Just like a human travel partner, we can either argue about the little details of a plan or come to a harmonious agreement over a specific destination. Money can be a great friend or that awful roommate that snores and coughs and uses up all the toilet paper without replacing the roll. Who do you want in your life? You really do get to choose.Do I trust Money? In the past, there was no way that I trusted Money. Banks, where most of it seemed to live, made my dad lose much of our family farm. Credit cards, who initially seemed so friendly and inviting, became draconian overlords at the end of the month. Cash in my hand became a pecking bird, bloodying me until I got rid of it on frivolous trinkets and soulless foods. This past relationship with Money came rushing back to me when my friend said “I hate Money!” with such vengeance. I still cry when I think of the days when I cursed cash of all forms. I had given it the power to exclude and define me.I allowed Money to determine my self-worth. If I didn’t have Money, I was a worthless human being. The benefit of being 50 is that I know my value as a human being. Money is my sidekick, not my definer. Just like any good partnership, there needs to be an agreement about what the mutual goals are. That leads to trust. And when you have trust, you can rely on each other to guide you out of situations that may not be in your best interest.You can have some amazingly fun times together, too! When the other person says that they need some alone time, that means that they need to recharge. They aren’t leaving you forever. Money isn’t leaving you for someone else…it just needs you to trust…and breathe.Do I respect Money? Sometimes Money can be like an impulsive teenager, practically jumping out of your wallet to buy the latest fashions, that new tech gadget, or some other seemingly amazing thing. So what do you do when the latest BSO (Bright Shiny Object) begins to scream for your attention? Unless you are on vacation with little ability to return later, wait a day to think about it. If in your evaluation process, you determine that it was worth giving up certain other items or activities, then go back and get it. Otherwise, it was just a fleeting instance of BSO flu. When in the moment during a vacation, future-pace the purchase. Imagine packing it up, carrying it around, introducing it to your room and your friends… Did it still make sense? I still end up with some crazy things that totally made sense at the time, but the stories that they told were priceless!In many ways, Money is like that faithful dog waiting for you at the end of a long day. It’s happy to see you, even if you’ve kicked it around and ignored it. Love it, feed it, play with it, and exercise it. It will love you and protect you, and even if it looks like it has run away, it’ll find its way back to you. Just be responsible by cleaning up any mess it might make, keep the gate closed so it doesn’t run away, and always use a leash when taking it for a stroll so it doesn’t scare the neighbors and wildlife.How would you describe your relationship with Money? I encourage you to share this with your friends. Talk about this important, delightful tool of Energy Exchange. If you still feel stuck with limiting beliefs, give me a call. I can help you find the energetic blocks so you, too, can have a loving and fulfilling relationship with Money! 214-679-3498
Often, having what you want is a function of letting go of what you have. If you know what I mean. The Universe
Odd, huh, the stuff people cling to?
This was the little saying that was waiting for me to find in my inbox. I've had a bit of trouble staying ahead of the electronic curve lately, so have been making more of an effort to hit "delete" without bothering to actually read the mesage. Notes From The Universe provides me with a daily email that I end up keeping around for much longer than I probably should. Coming from a Feng Shui consultant who usually is extolling the virtues of decluttering, that says a lot. Then again, I must admit that I'm a bit of a hoarding monster when it comes to email. Try as I might, I have yet to be able to get my inbox figures below 5 figures. When I begin to clean it out, I find myself going on a trip down memory lane, and that mad dash to the trash can halts.
Reading old posts of support from the time when I was dealing with cancer reminds me of my strength. Email from previous jobs serves as a warning to never give up on who I truly am. And each small post from my husband is a digital love letter, even if it is sublimely ordinary. Those, I keep. My sentimental nature prefers to have an archive of these activities.
But those Target ads? Gone! Groupon notices? Wheeee!! Watch them disappear! Heifer International requests? After I donate a pig...then poof! :)
Maybe it's still a small part of me that is afraid to lose myself if I delete too many of these posts, these musings on the past. After all, I wasn't always as aware of my fabulosity as I am now. They serve as a reminder of the danger of selling yourself short. And if anyone has ever met me, they would know that there is nothing short about me!
Piles and clutter serve a purpose. They act as anchors and dams to flow. Sometimes, though, when you feel like life is rushing river, you need that to bring a bit of stability back, that precious time to ponder the next step. Energy is constantly in motion, and it's good to take a moment to breathe into the next choice. That's why I love feng shui and energy work...never a dull moment!
For years, I pretended. I pretended that I knew what I was doing. That I had it all together. That I wasn't afraid every day that I would be found out to be the fraud that I was inside my head.
When the day finally came for me to tell my family about some errors in judgement that one of my children had made, I thought that all of my carefully placed cards would come tumbling down around my head. And guess what? They did.
It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
Parenting is the most difficult job on this planet. No breaks, no vacations, and the kids keep changing the rules on you. Then there are societal pressures, family traditions, and unrealized childhood expectations of "I'm going to be a better parent than MY folks!" to contend with. So when a child consistently makes major errors in thinking, my knee-jerk reaction was "What have I done WRONG?" More than just a little introspection, counseling, and energetic clearing finally helped me to see that I didn't, that each of us comes into this world with a contract to learn certain lessons. I was able to accept that life for my children wasn't going to always look like the Hallmark card version I had envisioned, and that I could still love them through their mistakes.
I will be forever grateful to my kids, because without their struggles to contend with, I may never have pushed myself to find ISEE Global, the organization that taught me the energy tools that are my life path. I would never have the depth of compassion for troubled youth and their families. And I certainly would never have seen the inner workings of the legal system. It's fascinating stuff! Letting go of the shame of the belief that "if only I had parented better" was gut-wrenching, and I'll let you know when I get to the bottom of the "Why didn't I do XX sooner?" pool.
Finding out that I've had many past lives with family members and clearing up the unsettled karma from them has felt like a full-time job this past year. Images of a high priest wearing a jaguar-skin cloak performing a sacrifice on a young virgin especially selected to assuage the God eating the sun was a particularly powerful vision that led to a huge release of emotion. Yeah, maybe I was calling on images from Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto", but it felt so immediate while in trance. Of course, our subconscious mind strives to find images stored in our brain to help us make sense of the complex world of our right brain, so I'm never surprised when I'm shown a scene with familiar overtones. Grateful, in fact. Gives me some context.
The vacated bedroom has now become my haven, my sanctuary for guests when I'm not using it as a meditation space. Feng shui allowed me to take the former chaos that reined there and transform it into a place of tranquility adn beauty. The intuitive coaching techniques that I use with my clients transformed my heart and energy into deeper understanding and openness to what is. And that has made all the difference.
Blessings to you and yours, especially if there has been emotional upheaval and anger. May the peace and unconditional love that is your birthright be restored to you and your family. Namaste...
There’s just something about putting on a cloak. It’s as if you stepped into a time machine, transporting yourself back in time when Robin Hood was real, and knights sat around a big round table discussing how they were going to save the kingdom. Add a tunic or a dress from a similar period, and next thing you know, you’re no longer concerned with rush hour traffic, annoying co-workers, or even the price of gas. Donning medieval garb gives you permission to use your imagination to create a society filled with Barons, titles, swords, and armored battles. One simple piece of clothing can give you permission to become someone else, to simply play a role that is unlike your day-to-day reality.
Our suburban family of four had the chance to experience this first-hand when we attended my brother-in-law’s wedding earlier this month. He and his bride met at a Society for Creative Anachronism function in Washington State, so it was fitting that they chose this venue as the setting for their nuptials. However, their request that all guests come attired in period-appropriate clothing made me pause. I mean, there’s retro, and then there’s Retro. People joke about “going Medieval on someone”, but the reality is that this encompasses a very large period of time. The guidelines given were to choose something between the 12th & 16th Century, which wasn’t a lot of help. Hence the cloak. They are easy to sew, and cover up “mundanes” (their word for modern clothing) very effectively.
While at the campground, though, I realized that SCA was far more important to the members than just playing dress-up, fighting with sharp objects, and creating elaborate tent structures. Everyone there got to choose their new name, an identity unlike their routine lives. Where else could a manager at a fast-food restaurant get to have an opportunity to become Queen in her own right by defeating all comers in a heavy armor competition? Or a vet tech be the captain of a mercenary group of sailors and a fencing champion? It was great fun listening to the stories that had been created around their characters, and sometimes heartbreaking to hear about the real lives that waited on the other side of the gathering.
This got me to thinking: what are the stories that we tell ourselves? Sure, it’s easy to slip into a new persona when you don a costume, but isn’t that what we do when we go to work everyday? The suit and tie is beginning to make a comeback in the workplace, because the casual attitude was blurring the lines between professional and personal. Casual Friday was invented to help coworkers lighten up at work, but sometimes the blinders of business attire are better at keeping people focused on living up to their role as employee.
When I was going through my cancer treatments, I made sure to have a full face of makeup, colorful scarves, and a cheerful attitude when I left my house. Yes, it helped me to feel better, but more importantly, I noticed that others around me felt more comfortable. It lessened the concerned looks and questioning glances, and reduced the comments of “are you sure you’re feeling OK?” Of course, there were days when no amount of shellac could cover the fact that I felt awful. Even now, I rarely go out without some form of facial embellishment, even if it’s just lipstick.
Perspective is important when dealing with the roles that we play. I was never a “cancer victim”, merely a person undergoing cancer treatment. I’m a mother, too, but that is merely one side to the multi-faceted woman that is continually evolving. It’s important to remember that you are NOT your job, your role as a parent, your hobby, or your political affiliation. When you stretch your image of yourself to include all aspects of yourself, you can fully expand into your potential as a human being.
If your image includes daring visions of broadswords and swashbuckling adventures, get a cloak and find your tribe. Metaphorically, we’re already doing it every time we get together with friends who enjoy similar interests, so if that’s what butters your bread, go for it. Some people may think of you as frivolous, while others will merely be envious. You get just one chance at this life. Which role do you want to play?
The news lately appears to be written by Chicken Little. "The Sky is Falling! The Dow is Falling! Our Profits are Falling!" It's enough to make you swear off poultry. However, few things can prepare you for the day when your children ask about the headline: "Worst financial crisis since the Great Depression!"
"We don't have any stocks, do we, Mom?" asked my eighth-grade son with trepidation. I soft-pedaled the danger to his college fund to stop the panic in his face. I wasn't lying about it, just drawing on my own experience with financial turmoil. My parents, who were farmers, had to file bankruptcy during my first year in college, and I learned that there are many ways to get an education if you want it badly enough. I briefly explained that it's all cyclical, and that it's wise to never let current events cloud the knowledge that the only constant is change.
Ever since Alexander Hamilton advocated that we actively pursue national debt, our country has built itself around "buy now, pay later." Credit cards were invented to allow citizens the same privilege. After all, when the car breaks down for good, most people don't have the extra $30,000 in the bank to pay cash for a new one. Small businesses need to have access to capital if they are to grow, and so on.
Still, I'm amazed at the lack of working knowledge people have about money management and investing. Since money is at the heart of so many things, why are we so afraid of it? Studies consistently show that the happiest people in the world are those who have the least, yet Americans tend to be fixated on what we don't have, rather than what we do have. Self-esteem has become inexorably linked with how much something costs. The reality is that no matter how hard you try, you can't buy your way to a contented soul.
My favorite saying these days is: "This too shall pass." I even had a friend create a bracelet for me to remind me to maintain perspective. Many people fall back on this phrase when bad things happen in their lives, knowing that ultimately better days are ahead. But I've been concentrating on it when in the midst of that perfect, glorious day that I wish would never end. It always does, so I do my utmost to enjoy every single magnificent second. Bobby McFerrin had a very catchy tune many years ago called, "Don't Worry, Be Happy." It's a rather Pollyanna-ish song that many disregard as a slacker mantra, but I look at it as a reminder to find joy in everyday events.
We made it out of the crisis in the 1930s, and we'll make it out of this one, too. Long-term leadership strategies made the difference then, and lots of personal sacrifice was required as well. Yes, we will all have to pay more taxes, make do with less and suffer indignities such as not getting the latest fashions and walking to school. Some will still find ways to succeed, while others will succumb to the doom-and-gloom mentality that pervades the news.
Accountability, both personal and national, needs to become the mantra, since we all worked the system to get to this point. Regardless of which candidate wins the upcoming election, we will eventually do what Americans have done for generations: Pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and improve the outdated notions that aren't working. And maybe this time, we'll remember the lessons learned.
Christmas has come and gone, and I can finally relax. Presents were purchased, boxes were bundled and missives were mailed. By last weekend, my to-do list had been whittled down to the last few stubborn holdouts, and the kids were counting the hours until the fat man made his visit. (Doh! Forgot to bake cookies ... adding it to the list ...)
So, why did I wear myself out again this year? Who was I trying to impress? Capturing the spirit of the holidays is difficult at best. It's next to impossible when you compare your real life to those perfect vignettes in the TV commercials and print ads. Juxtapose that with the news we're bombarded with, add a heaping helping of unrealistic expectations and enforced family togetherness, and suddenly you have a recipe designed to suck the joy out of life.
The biggest Joy Suckers this season have come at my own invitation. All of those commitments I made in the lazy days of summer came home to roost simultaneously. You'd think that I'd remember that from last year or the years before that. But you'd be giving me more credit than I deserve.
Regardless, this year seemed especially taxing. Not only did I fret about the time wasted on extra trips to the store, but now I worry about all of the extra fossil fuel I used because I forgot the butter and how that's going to impact global warming. Rising gas prices have made me consider buying bicycle panniers for such small trips.
Picking up a newspaper can be a real downer. The too-frequent stories about injured soldiers in Iraq make me miss my dad. He was a World War II vet who passed away just last year at the age of 82. He always counseled the returning war heroes to not keep things bottled up, like he did for 60 years. I've even had to banish the nightly news on TV, and I no longer wake up to NPR.
I found that I was pouring all of my joy through a sieve of bad news. Who wants to wake up filled with dread for the state of the world? I'll find out about it soon enough, and I just don't have the energy to explain the negativity and sensationalism to my children all of the time.
Breaking the news to our 13-year-old son that his favorite football player was going to jail for dog fighting was hard. But then we had to have a chat with our 10-year-old daughter about the baby growing in 16-year-old Jamie Lynne Spears' belly. Life lessons, to be sure, but definitely big-time suckage of joy.
Just when the chaos rises to a crescendo, though, something unexpected happens. A cashier cracks a joke. A gentleman holds the door open for me at the gym. My husband cooks dinner. Our children laugh and giggle while stuffing holiday cards into envelopes.
I breathe again.
Yes, there's a lot to do around this time of the year. Some of it can't wait, like the grocery shopping, the cleaning, the laundry, the wrapping of the presents ... or can they? Will my children fondly tell their children about how organized I was? Do I want them to remember what the house looked like, or how it felt to be home for the holidays?
I took some time last weekend to share with them one of my favorite holiday traditions: I made homemade cinnamon rolls. It just didn't feel like Christmas to me without the aroma of baking bread, so I got over my fear of messing up in the kitchen and just did it. They turned out great! So good, in fact, that it inspired me to give up my fear in other areas of life.
I'm no longer afraid of damaging the Earth. Instead, I do my part by combining trips, buying organic/recycled/not at all when possible and washing out my plastic bags.
I'm not afraid of a terrorist attack. Instead, I revel in the beautiful now that we are blessed with, and send love to those who preach hate.
I'm no longer afraid of something terrible happening to my children. Instead, I do my best to create situations for them to practice exercising their judgment in a safe environment.
I focus on the blessings in our lives, and actively seek ways to minimize the negative. I think of life as if it were one of those "Where's Waldo" books, where you find what you seek, even if you have to turn the book upside down. Even the darkest times have some bright spots, if you know what you're looking for.
Taking just five minutes to relax, breathe and focus on the abundance in life may feel like a luxury in this time-starved season, but everyone should try. You might have to do it while kneading bread dough or waiting for that mythical customer service representative to come on the line, but it's there for you. We're enough, all of us. Once you remember that, your joy will be waiting.