Intro text

I am a woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter, nurse, executive, learner, diabetic, leader, thinker, solver, and doer who is learning how to "be". You are welcome to join me.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas and Melancholy??

Did you ever notice those words share many of the same letters?  During the season when we are supposed to be joy-filled, why is it that I sometimes feel blue?  I love the planning, the anticipation, finding the perfect gift for someone on your list who won’t expect it, the feel of my house decorated and cozy, the glow of the lights on the tree etc.  It is like living in a little surreal bubble for a while (I would say snow globe, but I live in Texas!). But the actual event itself leaves me a little blue and disappointed no matter how hard I decide this year will be different.

My reasons are not hard.  My father died when I was 13 and holidays were never the same after that.  The traditions just a little different, the locations changed, and always something missing that would never be there again.   Don’t get me wrong, we celebrated, there was laughter, family get-togethers and lots of fun, but somewhere deep in a corner of my soul it hurt. 

I did a good job of avoiding the holidays for over a decade.  Being an unmarried nurse, it was easy to work those holiday shifts so my colleagues could be with their families.  So for all but two Christmases from age 21 – 35, I worked.  There is something sacred and special about sharing a holiday with docs, nurses, patients, police and firefighters.  It actually gave me peace.   One of the ER docs I worked with used to write “LOC” as a diagnosis on some of the patient’s charts.  No, it didn’t mean Loss of Consciousness, Laxative of Choice or any other medical abbreviation.  It meant Lonely on Christmas.  It was for those folks who were seeking a warm touch, a hot meal, a bit of human connection to ease whatever pain it was they suffered.  That pain was unlikely from an ailment (and they typically had many) but more often from a place in their soul that hurt a bit more on a holiday.  I could relate.  

When I left the hospital and started working for a healthcare IT shop I found myself with 2 weeks off nearly every holiday.  No diversion now!  I met my husband a year or so later and the holidays became filled with other people’s traditions, memories and stories.  So fun to hear it all and I was welcomed to be there, but I couldn’t truly experience any of the lore and “good ole days” they spoke of.  Somewhat like watching slides of someone else’s vacations perhaps? 
Fast forward a few years and we have a child; time to establish our own traditions.  The first of which was that Santa came to our house.  We weren’t going to haul kids anywhere on Christmas night.   I love that decision; it was a step towards creating a “new” holiday that was “ours”.  Those mornings we have shared have been the best part of the holidays for me.  We get to weave what our traditions will be; we have a bit of his, hers and ours; and watching the kids’ excitement is genuine joy for me.  Christmas eve, Christmas day, Christmas week – we cram the rest in with those friends and family who are near.   I listen to other’s stories, raise a glass with their traditions, attempt to relive some of mine, unwrap the gifts that abound; and try to put on my happy face.  Those times are always a hodge-podge of joy, pain, happiness, sadness, closeness, severe distance, worry, fear that my kids will not behave as expected and sometimes still, even disdain that I still don’t have “mine”.

But this year I have changed.  I am trying to find my own truth and calling.  Going through the motions of the season seems flat and that deep pain in my soul seems closer than ever.  But the pain is not for my childhood holidays or memories, but for authenticity.  Perhaps the commercialism and the abundance have worn thin?  Would all this “joy” of giving (things to people who need nothing) be better served with something more important?

The best part of this holiday season for me was in "presence" not "presents".  My younger brother and I decided our kids did not need to rip though another set of the endless gifts they receive.  We gave up lovely presents, wrapped in beautiful paper that would be cast aside within minutes of being opened, for an evening of bowling, laser tag and pool!  I am 100% confident that they have no idea who got them what in the past 5 years for Christmas, but I have that same confidence they will remember blasting their cousins, aunt and uncle, and mom in laser tag; they will remember learning how to play pool (even if my lovely, perfectionist daughter hated that she wasn’t a pro on her first shot!);  they will remember video motor cycle races with their cousins; they will remember learning some pool tips from my brother; and they will remember who had the highest bowling score!  They will remember that JOY!

And on that night my heart didn’t hurt, I didn’t feel melancholy, and I felt connected to those I was with.  It felt real. There were others in my family whose holiday’s were spent in the ER, on bed rest, getting medical procedures, with a spouse who was home for just a brief stint, on a beach, missing their spouse who was working a shift, suffering their burdens silently, having a Christmas dinner with most of their family absent and more I am sure I don’t know.   For all of these situations, no gift can make it better. 

So, fondly remember the days of yore, consider less commercialism, and perhaps find your joy in authentic moments with those you love.  I know that is my plan from now on.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Practicing what I preach

It is funny how life teaches you lessons if you only pay attention. Last week my daughter was raking me over the coals because I was "annoying her" and "making her mad".  To my defense, I wasn't doing much of anything, but apparently my singing, my jokes, my rules, my lack of response when she wants it and occasionally my sheer act of breathing are the source of her angst. We had the talk about how I can't make her feel anything (if I had that super power everyone I know would feel wonderful all the time!), that her feelings are her own.  She decides what she holds on to, what bothers her and what doesn't.  She can chose to wallow in her own victimized, self pity or she can just let things go, accept what is, change what she needs to or decide to act if necessary.  The power is all hers.  There was no light bulb moment that day, but hopefully over time those insights stick with her.  The point: people will always do things that you dislike, but don't take them personally - 99% of the time it wasn't aimed at you.  Only you suffer when you cling to them. 

As luck (or life) would have it, a few days later my husband raised my ire - just the normal stuff married couples deal with: kids, how to parent, how to discipline, communication, etc.  I found myself mad, brooding, blaming, wanting him to change so I would feel better.  Of course it was he who was guilty of this foul mood I was in- right!?  

You see where this is going, I am sure.  It didn't take long for my conversation with my daughter to tip toe into the picture and change my perspective.   I ended up apologizing to him.  Not because I felt I was wrong in my opinion, but because I held onto the anger and put distance between us.  That simple act closed that distance and eased the positions we were clinging to.  Good lesson for me and for all of us; we chose which of the millions of moments we experience each day will stick to us, which of them we decide we want to suffer for, which of them we assume are to hurt us, which of them we believe expose something we are trying to hide, and which of them sail past without a thought.  However, in the end they are just moments, things that happen, mostly other people just living their life. We are caught in the crossfire and not the targets.  We can choose to pause and take a moment before we get angry.  We really do have all the power, if we only chose to step back for a moment to see it.  It's a lesson I continue to learn.  

So Merry Christmas! In all this crazy, holiday madness - stop and appreciate a smile, a joke, a hug, a secret, a sharing, a toast and enjoy the simple act of forgiveness if you need to. It is the best gift you can give yourself.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Experiencing God

Hi, I am glad you are here reading this!  I don't want to repeat my profile - it's just over there to the right for you!  I'll share more as I go.  Why a blog?  I have been told that I have a knack for explaining things, on occasion I say little nuggets that "are quotable", and when I write I sometimes I get clarity or an answer to something I am seeking.  When that happens, I don't believe it is as much me with the words or the message but a bit of the divine we all have in us shining through.  I believe God is with us in our creative places and when we connect with others and nature.  We can remember things that God has done,  and we can wish for things to happen, but only in the experience, the moment, can our lights come together,  shine a bit brighter and provide us that peace and understanding we seek.  So I have this space, where I am open to sharing with you what lessons I am learning.  Hopefully it makes your light shine a bit brighter and inspires you enjoy whatever moment you are having.  Check out the video I also posted - Presence instead of presents. Love it.

I love this! Breathe, Be present.

It's not about giving presents—it's about giving presence.
(click link above to view video)