With Hanukkah wrapping up and the Christmas/New Year’s holiday picking up steam, its time for some straight talk about how to do the season well. It’s common this time of year to wonder, how can I do this in a way that feels right? There are so many decisions to make – how do I make them so they feel good and make sense? What do I do if I want to bow out of the holiday madness without ticking off those I love? How can I be present in the holidays even in the face of loss?
While there is no one right answer for everyone, there is always a wise answer for you at any given moment. I know for myself personally this season is the most difficult I have ever had to navigate before. All those typical holiday stresses – What do I buy for so-and-so? How can I get my 42 dozen cookies baked before Monday? Why is there always one damn light out on any given strand of lights and it only shows itself once it is already on the tree/roof/bushes? – seem like a cakewalk compared to experiencing this first holiday season with the loss of my Mom. With that said, this season brings light to the darkness physically (holiday lights, the beautiful menorah, etc.) and spiritually (the meaning behind so many traditions regardless of religion or dogma), and so it can be for all of us, even for just a moment, if we are willing to be present with ourselves and our experiences.
It is my hope that these 3 keys will support you in making wise decisions this season and allow you to feel the love and gratitude that is available to you no matter the circumstance.
Give Yourself Permission
In a season filled with so many expectations both real and perceived, give yourself permission to have your own experience and make your own choices. No lives will be lost if you decline an invitation, scale back on spending, don’t buy the perfect gift (even if your kids tell you they will die!), indulge in something decadent for yourself, or simply choose to create this holiday in a way that feels right to you. Many of us have lived perfectly well-adjusted lives both with and without the Cabbage Patch Dolls (the gigantic knock-down-drag-them-out shopping wars one holiday season in the 80’s). So, take the pressure of expectations off and allow yourself to be guided by what feels right to you and serves the highest good.
The pace of our daily lives is normally on hyper-speed. When the holidays hit warp speed gets taken up a notch further. We try to add an inordinate amount of things to do on top of an already onerous list. Recipe for exhaustion, frazzled nerves, and wayward decision making. Many important decisions get made this time of year both personally and professionally. For many business (entrepreneurial and corporate alike) it is year-end wrap up and next-year planning time. It becomes a radical blend of the strategic and the tactical. Personally it is a time to reflect on the past year and set powerful intentions for 2011. It can be a time of unconscious spending and overindulging that results in financial and physical hangovers come January. It doesn’t have to be this way. I invite you to create some space in your mind and your day so you can make conscious choices. Run every choice through the following test:
- Is this something I truly want to do, be, have, or give?
- Is this choice aligned with what I say I really want or is it just filling time/distracting me?
- Will I feel as good about this choice in one day, one week, one month, and one year from now as I do in this moment?
Literally stopping and tuning in will change your entire experience.
Take Time to BE
We’ve already established you are busy. This is why it is even more important for you to simply take time to BE. By this I mean allow yourself to simply be with what you are feeling. If this holiday brings up more grief, pain, regret, sadness, or some other less than joyful feeling for you, allow yourself to feel it and let it be ok. There is nothing wrong with you – those smiling, always happy, everything perfect faces you see in holiday television ads are not real. When you find moments of joy, love, and gratitude in this season allow yourself to truly feel that as well. It can be hard to let in the good stuff, even harder if you are experiencing tough times. Know that it is ok for you to have a full range and expression of feelings and that they all deserve your presence and respect for they are part of your experience. Be kind to yourself and practice good self-care so you can be present, for yourself and those you love. That means get your body moving (exercise), get outside, sleep well, eat well (moderation, not all or nothing), program down-time into your days, and tend to your spirit.
The holidays are just another one of life’s experiences and an opportunity to practice being fully alive in and creating your experience. Many blessings to you and those you love!