Holiday

What Could Be Scarier Than a Great White Shark??

epiphanybatman Happy ninth day of Twelvetide. I wish you health and prosperity this day, and a modicum of sanity as we go and be with various family and friends that we may have a genuine love it or leave it sort of ambivalence toward. Living with ambivalence is not for sissies.

Let’s assume for a bit that you don’t live in or anywhere near Flint, Michigan, and as far as you know it’s safer than it’s ever been (since that great white shark in the 70s) to dip your toe back in the water. I give you three simple words.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

If your heart beats a little quicker than usual at seeing those three words, or you feel your shirt getting damp and wonder to yourself, “Did it just get hot in here?” … I am here to tell you that you are never alone. Don’t get up and check your thermostat. Don’t worry you might have a heart attack if you even allow the thought of those three words to linger in your mind.

You are absolutely fine. After all, they’re just words, right? Still, if you’re like me, the past 365 days of your life flashed through your mind’s eye on New Year’s Eve. Also, if you are hopefully like me, you’ll find some peaks and valleys in the past year along with maybe one terrific thing you did for yourself or someone else (or both). There will be those times we wish we could take back something we might have done or said. But no, Virginia, there are no takesie-backsies, regardless of how much you wish there were. And it’s useless to go back and wish we stuck with our diets, exercised more, quit smoking, read better literature, or whatever else happens to pass through your mind. That time’s gone; say bye-bye and face today with unflinchingly optimistic hearts. I have a few guidelines, as we go through this next year:

Be yourself: I don’t think I can stress this one enough. Always, always be your best self in any situation you find yourself. For me, if I have a bad time at a party or gathering, the largest reason I can trace it back to is that in some way I wasn’t being genuine to myself. When we work too achingly hard at pretending to be other than who we really are, when we strive to always be prettier, smarter, more interesting…than everyone else at the party, it falls flat. After all, we wouldn’t be invited in the first place if we weren’t so beloved by being exactly who we were meant to be. So, whatever happens, take a breath, square your shoulders, and open the door. You are wanted.

Be kind: I didn’t think this up, but it’s a great question to keep asking ourselves this year. That is, “What is the kindest thing I can do/say?”

Be forgiving: Forgive quickly and often, beginning with ourselves. Try not to be too quick to judge, because–well, we know what that feels like. Try, though surely we won’t often always be successful, to give the benefit of the doubt, to those you cherish, as well as yourself.

Be goal-oriented: This is essentially quite different from resolutions. Goals are infinitely good to have, for without them, we despair and languish. If your only goal is to make it through the day unscathed, and when you collapse into bed that night, having counted all fingers and toes and found none missing, then that’s a good day’s work.

Most of all, don’t live back there. You can’t get there from anywhere in the rational world that isn’t met with opaque glasses, never seen quite clearly. And for all the goodness in the world, don’t spend too much time in the future. You might start finding yourself too old for this or that, that it’s inevitably too late. I’m of the opinion it’s never too late. Not for marriage, not for love, for education, etc. It’s not even too late to have children, regardless of age–one can always adopt, or be a stupendous aunt or uncle.

I sincerely hope you have had nothing but happiness this past Christmas, and that Santa Claus was good to you. You deserve it. Moving forward, let’s join hands and step into 2017, with our eyes on trying hard to be better in every way. Here’s to you, plus a cartoon to make you laugh: bear-snowman

 

Rejoining The Human Race

first day on earth castellucciAmazingly, it’s been almost five months since I last posted to this blog. And I pay for it! LOL  I’m not sure I still remember how to do it. Have I been through some struggles in that time? Of course, but you know what? So have you, so have we all! I’ve experienced some major triumphs, too. Do tell me yours.

Here’s another thing. I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’ve really missed you guys. I’ve missed the camaraderie, the comments, the back-and-forth, and just knowing someone out there is reading silly things I’ve written.

You probably don’t know this, but there is a radio station out of Detroit (near where I live) which plays all Christmas music starting November 1st. Right? A little whacked, but I love it since it’s my favorite holiday. In fact, I was thinking of going to buy lights to put up around the ceiling. And, for the life of me, I cannot understand why it’s so important to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to put up the tree, even if it’s fake. Seriously?

Well, I won’t keep blabbing on and on. I read in a blogging book that the shorter the post the better (we’re all so busy these days!).

This will be my new schedule for posting: SU-T-TH-S. From now until just about Christmas I’ll be writing about trying to get my Christmas gifts crocheted in time. Yikes!

See you Tuesday. Until then, take care of yourself, and take care of each other.

 

We’ll Take A Cup Of Nyquil Yet

auld-lang-syne-1 I give up. I was actually trying to write a post every day this month for the Holidailies December challenge. You don’t have to have a theme, but I did, and my theme was – wait for it – holidays. 😉

Then, the day before yesterday, I got sick. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not just a cold. Sometimes I think it’s bronchitis (I’ve had that before) and sometimes I think it’s something worse. And my doctor is on vacation until next Wednesday. Fortunately, this morning his office phoned in an antibiotic for me, so we’ll see if that works.

But I feel like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck and then some.

I can’t finish.

I. Quit.

So sorry for the ones who were following me through the challenge. I just can’t do it.

Happy Boxing Day!

BOXING_DAY Boxing Day traditionally falls on the first weekday after Christmas day. It’s a British holiday, but some others celebrate it I am sure. The custom is linked to an older English tradition. Since the servants would have to wait on their employers on Christmas Day, they were given the next day to go and visit with their own families and celebrate together. The employer would give the servant a box to take home that had gifts in it, or bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.

Today is also the beginning of Kwanzaa, created in 1966 as the first holiday specifically for African-Americans. So Joyous Kwanzaa as well!

Try to see the world around you with the eyes of a child. In the words of Aldous Huxley: “For every man, the world is as fresh as it was the first day, and as full of untold novelties for him who has the eyes to see them.”

Love and good cheer.

Peace out.

 

The Wisdom To Know The Difference

detach I went to a meeting this morning. I was so grateful there was an Al-Anon meeting on Christmas Eve morning that I could attend. The topic around the meeting was taking care of ourselves, but I heard a smattering of frustration and fear on the topic of holidays in general, my own included. I talked about how I was trying to remember the Three C’s: I didn’t cause it, can’t control it, and can’t cure it . . . and the Three M’s to avoid for myself: manipulation, martyrdom, and mothering.

It all comes down to the wisdom of knowing the difference between things I can change and things I can’t. It should be such a simple thing. All I can change is myself or things about myself. Period. Can’t change circumstances or other people.

Circumstances will be different for me this Christmas Eve with my family. I can’t control the outcome. I can’t control whether or not people have a good time, or are upset about something. I can control my own responses and reactions. That’s about it. There’s not a lot I can do otherwise.

When I think of the word detachment it helps. If I’m too enmeshed with someone or something, I can’t possibly back off enough to even BREATHE, let alone know the difference.

Have a great day today. Whatever you do, take care of yourself. Even if you just need to go to a quiet corner and meditate, do that.

Peace out.

Eight Easy Exit Egresses!

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So, you’re at a party and you’re read to go home. Trust me, I’ve been in this spot many times. Just as my own take on things, here are several ways you can take care of yourself and not call too much attention at the same time:

1. Park a little ways away from the madding crowd: When you arrive at the party, try to park away from the cluster of cars. In other words, don’t box yourself in so that it becomes a hassle (so-and-so needs to move his car, which is behind whats-his-name’s car, which is behind your car . . . ). Even if you have to park a block away, it’s worth the extra effort.

2. “I have to go let the dog out.” Pets are a fantastic excuse for having to leave a party that’s still going strong. If you have a dog, bring it out and make it earn its keep. 😉

3“We need to check on the kids.” You’ve left the kids to fend for themselves, and they’re just at that age where they are competent enough to be alone, but you need to make sure they haven’t trashed the place or started their own party. Wonderful.

4.  Take a break. If you just can’t leave yet, take a break. If you smoke (which I am in no way advocating, but I am addicted) use that as on excuse and take a smoke break. Leave the room for a few minutes to clear your head. If you are at all like me, sometimes the voices can get overwhelming at a party, to the point where I’m seeing the person’s lips move but I can’t make out what they’re saying. That’s when I know for sure, I need to get out of here for a bit.

5.  Go to the bathroom. Everybody uses the restroom during a party, don’t they? If you don’t make it a practice. When in there, do a 30-second stress reducer. Make a fist. Find the place on your palm where your 3rd finger touched. With your thumb on that spot on your palm, and another finger meeting it on the back of your hand, massage that exact spot for 30 seconds. It’s a guaranteed stress-reliever!

6. Text your partner. If you’re with a spouse or significant other, text him/her that you’re ready to go.

7. Plan ahead. Know ahead of time that you have somewhere else to be (another party, you social butterfly?) and let the host know you won’t be able to stay long.

8. Decide on a signal. This one only works if you’re with someone else. Similar to texting, but something you both agree ahead of time that will be your signal to go. A nod of the head, touching the earlobe, bending down to tie your shoes, putting your hand in your pocket, saying a special word (mistletoe or dreidel, anyone?) . . . any of these can be your go-to signs.

Well, I hope this has helped. With Christmas and Kwanzaa approaching, and Hanukkah just past, we still have some parties and places to go.

Peace out.

Getting Through The Holiday Blues

holidayattitudeEver feel like this cartoon? That if you had to turn on the radio and hear one more freaking Christmas carol you would hurl the bleepety-bleep thing across the room? You’re not alone.

Getting together with family members we haven’t seen in a while and expecting perfection can bring us down, especially afterward when the holiday meal wasn’t at all what we had hoped for.

Too much advertising can be depressing, and put added pressure on us to buy more, decorate bigger. We can get through this by donating to a charity, focusing on our traditions, zeroing in on our beliefs, or spending time with people we love.

The shorter days and lack of sunlight for some folk really does affect their moods. “About ten-percent (now up to 20%, at least – note added by me) of adults living where snow follows fallen leaves, experience a rather serious depression professionally labeled as seasonal affective disorder. Those who experience this seasonal depression tend to have a mixed sense of anxiety and depression and agitation.” (Dr. Bill Knass, “Beating the Holiday Blues and Depression,” 2006) Just getting outside for ten minutes can make a big difference, or use light box therapy. Always, always, seek professional help.

Also, if you happen to celebrate Christmas and are feeling down, type in Blue Christmas Service in your area to attend one of these.

Whew, long-winded today!

Hope your day is lovely.

Peace out.

 

 

Feelings Aren’t Facts: Make it a Mantra!

reality checkMaybe in your past you grew up in a chaotic or even abusive alcoholic family. Or maybe your family was dysfunctional in another way. No matter what, you learned to rely on your feelings as a barometer for what to do. If you felt scared, you ran and hid. If confronted by unwarranted anger, you might have also run and hid, or you might have fought back. We are all different. Some of us were little scrappers, which got us into further trouble. 😉 Some of us cried when we were sad, some simply withdrew. Some of us were shy, some larger than life.

Everything was black or white. There was no room for negotiation. It was either a big scary monster or it wasn’t. Simple as that. If we made choices based on our feelings, as if they were facts, then the only choice was to flee.

Now, as adults, though it is by no means easy, we can see that we have varied choices. In Al-Anon meetings, I am learning that I (yes me) am a compelling, multi-faceted individual. I can have two feelings at once, for instance, and this is perfectly valid. And guess what? I can and do survive them. Singing in a Christmas concert recently, I felt beyond nervous and excited at the same time. My feelings told me I couldn’t possibly do it! Sing in a Christmas concert! No way! But I now know that feelings aren’t facts, so I did it anyway. And the concert was a smashing success. 😉 We can love someone and be angry at them. We can even love and hate someone at the same time. Yes! It’s possible. But that doesn’t mean it’s a fact that we hate them. It’s a feeling. And we move through it.

Lots of feelings will come up this holiday season. You’ll meet old friends and maybe make new ones. You’ll see family you perhaps haven’t seen in a year. But chin up. It’s just a feeling. It’ll pass.

Peace out.

Decorate!

_images_charliebrownxmastree This year, we are putting up our tree for the first time since my father’s death 12 years ago. He died at 2:34 am on December 14, 2000. The year he died, he was too weak to make it down to the family room to see the Christmas tree, and passed on about a week later. We tried some years to put it up, had a few false starts, but this is the first year it’s really being done.

It’s slow going. Little bits here and there since Thanksgiving Day. But that’s okay. So long as it gets done by this weekend, I’ll be happy with myself. 🙂 The lights are on, there are a few bulbs, and candy canes… My nephew helped me get some boxes of treasured ornaments down from the garage and I’ll work on those this afternoon. There are lights twinkling from the ceiling and the mantle. It’s lovely.

Whatever your station in life, wherever you are, whether you live alone, or with a passel of children, do something to mark the season for yourself  this year. It doesn’t have to be a gigantic tree. It doesn’t even have to be in your own house. But something about decorating warms the heart. Do it!

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