Sunday, December 4, 2011


Suffering is not a virtue. Joy is not a sin. ~Paulo Coelho

After an extremely packed weekend and on the eve of another work week, I revisit my tantrum from earlier this week and ask the question of my self again...

Self? What can we do differently here so that the holidays are manageable, and dare I say it, enjoyable?

I admit to still being a bit baffled. But it has certainly been on my mind.

You may recall my post about the movie, The Way, in which I wrote about how we can uncover our true self by paring away what is unessential. Asking the above question last week got me wondering -- could the same hold true for my current dilemma?

So the question becomes: If we pare away what is unessential, are we able to uncover -- and rediscover -- the true spirit of the holidays?

I've used the above quote before but I love it so much, and it seems to apply so strongly here, that I had to use it again.

It occurs to me that if I somehow allow myself the freedom of choice to take on only that -- or mostly that -- which brings me joy (because, let's face it, there are some things we really must do that we don't love) can I preserve the feelings of warmth and love that permeate the season?

As I ask that, more questions present themselves...

How and to what degree will I insist on caring for myself during the times when I am undeniably swamped?

When will I allow myself to say when? Do I know the difference between stretching my comfort zone constructively and stretching to the breaking point?

Will the world stop if I do? If even for a moment?

Because here's the thing...what good is it to rush around frantically trying to make things perfect, to get everything done with the intention of making things special for others, for making others happy if we can't find a way to make space for our own happiness in the process?

Continuing to say yes to things that don't feed us, to things that are unessential simply because someone expects it of us or we, for some reason, expect it of ourselves is not a virtue. Especially if it makes us miserable and overextended and unable to enjoy the holidays in the process. Saying no to those same things, taking care of ourselves, maintaining our buffer and some level of sanity is not a bad thing.

At what point do we allow our own joy and well-being to count?

I think part of me keeps hoping for a magic pill -- for the right answer. You know, something that has never occurred to me, that has never occurred to anyone in the history of mankind, something that will spring up from the wisdom-filled depths of the Universe. The clouds will part, a ray of sunshine will cast its spotlight on me, the angels will sing, I'll smack the heel of my hand to my forehead and exclaim,

Of course! Why didn't I think of that??!?

The real issue is that the answers are right here before me...before us. The real issue is we already know what we need to do yet somehow still allow ourselves to be swept away on the frenzied wind of perpetual holiday hubbub instead of deliberately stepping into our days and maintaining a degree of seniority over our lives.

We're not in control of what goes on around us, of what and who tugs at our sleeves like needy children -- let's be real...sometimes those tugging on us are needy children! What goes on around us goes on. We can relinquish any desire to control what is uncontrollable. Whew! Right?? What a load off!

What we are in control of is how we respond. Of how and where in our day to carve out a few minutes here and there to relax, to regroup. Of what we say yes -- and no -- to. It is up to us to allow ourselves to know what is essential and to choose it, letting the unessential fall away.

What is essential to me this holiday is slowing down: by meditating -- which has incredibly dropped to the bottom of my list of priorities these past couple of weeks -- and taking care of my needs as much as possible...eating well, eating often enough, getting plenty of water, some fresh air and exercise, planning ahead so I can get enough sleep.

...she says as she stays up past her bedtime writing her blog. Well, you creative types and all. : )

Every choice we make determines our priorities. If we choose what is essential on a soul level, we will remember the spirit of the season and uncover the peace and the joy that is all around us waiting for us to slow down long enough to tap into it. To witness it. To be it.

As I type, the house is quiet, the neighbor's red and white Christmas lights twinkle and shine, the blanket of white that covers the grass and is settled in the branches offer a bright outline against the dark sky. I breathe, I reconnect, and I remember why I'm here.

Love. Joy. Peace.

This is essential.

I want to value taking care of myself and choose it every day so that I can bring the best of me to every part of my life, especially to my gatherings with friends and family, honoring our connection with each other and appreciating the spirit of joy that we bring into one another's lives.

Isn't this what the holidays are all about?

It's actually no different than how I want to live my every day.

Perhaps this time of the year is just really good practice for all of us in holding our course in a time of chaos.//

12 Brews of Christmas!
The fourth brew of Christmas that my true love gave to me was...

Abita Christmas Ale!

I'll be honest...this one was not my favorite. It was smoky and coffee-ish to me, which seemed unusual for what looked like and had the light body of a red ale. In all fairness, I'm not a coffee drinker so I don't always appreciate that flavor, especially if it is the predominant one. Their website suggests certain foods to eat with it -- gingerbread, nuts, strong cheeses. Probably would have been well-suited and could have balanced some of the harsher, more bitter notes. If you like coffee and IPA-style brews (the bitterness reminded me of a strong IPA), or enjoy drinking beer with different foods, this one may be for you!

Personally, I like my beer straight up!

Sleep well, one and all. : )

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