Regain the wonder: creating new traditions

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‘Tis the season once again. And this year, no doubt, many of our traditions will look different. As we navigate the pressures inherent with the holidays—amidst the added stressors of an ongoing pandemic—I’ve found it helpful for my own mental health to adopt a spirit of wonder and possibility that exists beyond the norm, or the “way it’s always been done.” For example, rather than rush through a harried month of December, my family created a new tradition: the Advent “tree.” This entails a small, makeshift tree onto which we clipped little notecards—dated from Day 1 to Day 24. Each morning, we read a chapter from the Gospel of Luke, and afterward we open the corresponding day’s card to view that day’s activity. Some activities include completing Christmas word puzzles, setting up our nativity scene, “attending” an online concert and baking loaves of bread to share with family and friends. A simple and sweet way to slow down, connect and reflect.

What’s your favorite tradition?

Gain vs. gap: realigning our focus

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I’m notorious for making things harder than they need to be. And often creating more work for myself in the process. Anyone else relate? <raising hand> Lately, however, I’m finding peace in that space between now and then. You know the space I’m talking about: the gap. Recently, I read an article written by a popular motivational guru who encourages readers to focus on the gain, rather than the gap. Loosely translated, I take this to mean we must look at what we’ve accomplished vs. what we have yet to realize. Consequently, rather than fight the process—of growth, of attracting abundance, of [fill in the blank]—I’m learning to go with the flow when necessary, and to identify when a means or a method no longer serves me before I wind up spinning my wheels in frustration. To quote my good friend KM: “assimilate; make connections.” And then trust yourself to know when to act.

What things do you usually make harder than they need to be?

Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Loneliness: more harmful to our health than smoking, drinking

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It’s a true dichotomy when you can stand in the middle of a crowded room and still feel alone. Or function as a vital player within a family dynamic, yet the connection lacks that certain je ne sais quoi that draws you into the fold. I’ve been there, done that—assumed the role of outsider, if you will. The other night, while I practiced Bikram yoga with my community of yogis, the teacher mentioned an article she read about the negative health implications of loneliness proving greater than smoking cigarettes and consuming alcohol. Consequently, maybe these feelings of loneliness serve as reminders that we’re innately created for fellowship. When I experience disconnect in my own little world, I seek solace from my tribe—of yoga warriors, my church family, and close friends. Perhaps if we begin to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” we can cure the world’s hurts one person at a time. And, hopefully, re-establish the connections right in front of us.

How do you combat loneliness?

Photo courtesy of surasakiStock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Learning from our mistakes

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Learning from our mistakes

 

We met 22 years earlier and, despite two dozen-plus years between us, we clicked. A big sister of sorts, she trained me in so I could fill her office shoes while she vacationed. But when she returned to the workplace more than a week later, she learned she had cancer. My temp assignment stretched into long term. We developed a friendship over homemade meals I delivered and commonalities we discovered. I stayed on for a year once she came back and we worked well together. After changing jobs, we shared coffee dates and strolls through her neighborhood, mourned our respective parents’ deaths and exchanged cards and phone calls. Yet I could’ve done more. Just this week I learned from her sister that she lost her fight to cancer two months ago. My heart is heavy and I am once again reminded how little it takes to maintain a connection. And, when we don’t, we miss out on what truly matters in life.

What lesson have you recently learned?

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Everything I never knew I always wanted

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[Image credit: Michelle Meiklejohn]

I find myself reflecting on how easy it is to take things in our lives for granted — the connection between friends and family, romance, financial security, good health — but like the old saying goes: it’s true we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone.  Which is a good reminder to nurture and appreciate those people and possessions that make our lives richer, before it’s too late.  The rest of the quote goes on to state that oftentimes we are unaware of what we’ve been missing until it arrives (author unknown).  When this happens, it may cause us to take a serious look at our lives, and perhaps we can see where we’ve settled along the way.  Maybe it was simply easier to put up with a dying friendship or a stale relationship rather than be open to change.  Or perhaps fear beat us to the punch.  Today I’m missing: my out-of-town family and friends, opportunities I’ve been close enough to touch but let slip through my fingers, and those I still only dream of.  But I’m also opening my eyes and heart to what I possess now and my hope for a better tomorrow.

Is there something or someone you’re missing today?