Dwelling in possibility

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I dwell in possibility. ~ Emily Dickinson

As we draw closer to a new year, I spent extra time considering the message I desired to convey in this post. And I settled on a common thread I imagine weaves itself throughout humanity: expectation. In my own life, my family waits with expectation to celebrate the birth of Jesus (see “Regain the wonder…”). Others, throughout the world, prepare with expectation to engage in favorite traditions in the spirit of the holidays. Regardless of what this season might look like on your corner of the planet, I can almost guarantee each of us anticipates starting over. Yet, with many of the best-laid plans we envisioned for a new decade turned upside-down, it might prove difficult to wrap our minds around the hint of possibility. But herein lies the nugget—an idea to contemplate as we count down to 2021 and the clichéd clean slate. Without expectation, without hope: what remains?

How does your life reflect expectation for the new year?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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?

A better way: approaching seasons of ‘excess’

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On particularly rough days,
when you’re sure you can’t possibly endure anymore,
remind yourself that your track record
for getting through bad days so far
is 100%.

For many of us, this season rings in “excess.” Excess busyness and consumption. Excess worries, expenditures and expectations. Half the time, I’m torn between the “If you can’t beat ‘em…” and the “Enough is enough!” spectrum. But the more we give from a heart of excess (see “…Sharing the gift of ourselves”), the more we have to give. As we find ourselves wrapped up in this holiday’s hubbub, I challenge each of us to adopt an attitude of excess kindness. It costs little to share a meal with an elderly neighbor (bring an excess so she can enjoy seconds). Or deliver dinner to the homebound. It simply takes a generous heart. And perhaps our kindness will be an answer to someone else’s prayer on a particularly rough day. Remember: holidays aren’t required for excess kindness to make a difference.

Merry Christmas!

Word-of-the-month: halcyon (adj., n.)

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Word-of-the-month

[Image credit: Arvind Balaraman]

Memories from our childhood may bring to mind special traditions shared with family and friends during the holiday season — a halcyon time of year.  Today, however, many of us are unsettled and filled with stress.  Financial concerns, travel hassles, foul or unpredictable weather, health issues, missing loved ones who may as well live on the other side of the world or those who have passed on — all of these conditions are examples of what may turn a hopefully peaceful, reflective time into just the opposite.  Halcyon, an adjective (pronounced halsēən), means denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and serene.  This is oftentimes best illustrated around the holidays, but could also denote family vacations or favorite pastimes.  Synonyms of halcyon include quiet, calm, placid, tranquil, still, untroubled and heavenly.  Used as a noun, a halcyon is a kingfisher (especially of the genus Halcyon) with brightly colored plumage.

May your holidays be the kind you look back on as being halcyon, healthy and memorable.

Surviving the holidays

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[Image credit: digitalart]

Last December I celebrated my birthday over the course of 12 days (the 12 days of Chrissy).  Each day I did one thing to honor the day of my birth.  For example, one evening I soaked in a bubble bath while reading and sipping on a glass of Choco Noir.  Dinner and live music one night and a lunch date with my co-workers also contributed to the fun.  I thought of doing it again this year, but I’m considering trying something different.  Like volunteering my time.  And instead of spending a lot of money on Christmas gifts that we either end up returning or don’t really need to begin with, I think it would be rewarding to adopt a family who requires assistance.  Usually I enter this time of year — birthday and Christmas — with mixed feelings (the commercialism doesn’t help).  But this year I’m actually looking forward to the holidays.  Maybe it has to do with taking the focus off me.

What’s your secret to surviving the holidays?