Archives for posts with tag: Giftmas

I’m sipping my Monday-morning-before-work coffee, and contemplating the days preceding this moment. Festive. Lovely. Warmed-through with loving intentions. Merry. So very merry. πŸ™‚ I will admit to lower-than-average expectations – I mean, seriously, there’s a pandemic going on, and American politics are a disappointing ethical shambles presently, and I could every bit as easily have found myself focused on all that mess, instead of the delightful holiday interlude I shared with my Traveling Partner. I chose to focus on the holidays at hand, though, and the outcome was precious and will be cherished for the lifetime ahead. πŸ™‚

…So merry…

Gifts were opened. Coffees and sweets and jokes were shared. Holiday tunes played in the background. I took winter walks along muddy lanes (rain here, no snow). Texts and emails were sent to family and friends (cards were mailed, probably too late to arrive in advance of the holiday). Cookies were baked. Recipes were tried. We reminisced over old times, good times, other times. It was a sweet and romantic connected holiday for two, in The Time of Pandemic. We didn’t go out. We didn’t have friends over. The car has the same gas in the tank it did more than a week ago. lol Sweet strange little holiday that managed to make my “top ten” lifetime fantastic holidays. πŸ™‚

I feel fortunate. I sip my coffee smiling this morning. Half days in the office this week… I’m not expected until later on. Ample time to write… and to read. Maybe to paint? Do some housekeeping. πŸ™‚ One life being lived.

My Traveling Partner woke minutes after I did, this morning. We both seem to be sleeping very well lately. We’re both less grumpy in the mornings as a result. It’s nice. I make room in my thoughts for a moment of compassion and understanding that it can be difficult not to be grumpy when one wakes in pain, and starts the day fairly certain that it’s not going to change. I consider my physical wellness this morning; I am in less pain because I am more well-rested? Maybe. It’s important to be mindful and note any changes in that sort of thing. Allowing implicit memory to smooth out changes that could indicate improvements (and it will) can make it difficult to enjoy and live a reality of less pain… I mean… I’m not going to be able to enjoy what I am not aware of, right? πŸ™‚

Solstice…Giftmas…then, New Year’s… 2020 is almost over. It is an ending layered with more than typical meaning and significance for many people. What will we do with the opportunity ahead to make 2021 more meaningful and significant for ourselves, our families, our community, and for the world? What will I do with that opportunity?

…Then again (and also true), it’s just another change of day-month-year on an arbitrary calendar. It could be any day. It could be any moment – we can each choose to begin again when we will. That’s pretty powerful stuff. πŸ˜€ (Does tend to leave us without excuses, though, for why we have not embraced an important change we know we need to make for ourselves.) S’okay. We’ve got a few more days to consider the new year ahead. πŸ™‚

It’s time to begin again. How will we change the world?

Living in the Pacific Northwest, at least currently, results in a lot of gray, rainy, autumn and winter days. I love the rain. My arthritis doesn’t respond to it as pleasantly. I’m in pain. It’s just physical pain. I think over past winter holiday seasons, and try to recall the last one that was not characterized, in some way, by the amount of pain I’m in. It’s been a long time. I give up on that, take a breath, exhale, and let it go. I think about Giftmas, instead.

The tree glows merrily. The mantlepiece, too. The gifts under the tree are a dazzling display of festive wrappings. I am eager to open them, and to enjoy the holiday with my Traveling Partner, here at home, us two, together. A simple holiday at home seems more than sufficient; I’m delighted with the planning, and the decor, and the company. I think about far away friends and family, and wonder about their plans, and wish them well from afar.

…I am reminded to do the holiday cards, like… tonight. lol It’s almost too late…

I sit with the last dregs of my morning coffee, and a gray rather dismal view through a rain spattered window. There is plenty of work in front of me. I took this break to write hoping to return to work feeling refreshed. πŸ™‚

What is “enough”? I’m sure a lot of folks out and about without a mask on, possibly without practicing social distancing, maybe even without giving a care to people who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19 than they themselves feel, are struggling to feel a sense of sufficiency faced with limitations on their movement, their social activities, and all the details of life in the time of pandemic. I don’t really understand the feeling of invulnerability. I definitely don’t get making it a political matter. I breathe through that, too. I let it go, with a reminder to myself to wash hands often (and with care), and mask up before going out, and maintain social distance. Sure, it’s taken getting used to for me, too. I gotta admit though; I do like how much cleaner stores seem to be. I like how much less often people seem to go out into the world when they are obviously unwell, and how few coworkers attempt to work when they are sick, compared to last year. These seem to be improvements worth hanging on to… I hope we do.

In the meantime, Giftmas draws ever nearer… and I’m excited. πŸ˜€

The evening light trickles into the studio through small gaps in the semi-sheer fabric blinds, along the sides, and through small holes for the strings. I’m sipping water, thinking about making dinner, and considering the election – and Giftmas. The winter holiday season is so close at hand. So is the election. (Although, to be fair, I live in Oregon, and I voted last week. Done.)

My perspective on some elements of the winter holidays may have changed just a bit with the move into our own home… I find myself pleasantly disposed towards lawn ornaments, and outdoor lights. lol It’s been… literally never, that I could realistically consider anything fanciful or elaborate for outdoor holiday lights or decor. One downside of apartment living was that the lawn and exterior details simply aren’t part of the rental, in my limited experience. So… none of that, then. Or… if at all, quite likely very little.

I found myself stalled in a big box hardware store the other day, gazing wide-eyed at… lawn ornaments. Yep. Giftmas has already arrived in retail purgatory, and it is lit. LOL

…Or…I could wait for actual deer to stray onto the front lawn. It’s a thing they do. πŸ™‚

The point though, to my musings this afternoon, as the sun drops low, isn’t about the actual lawn ornaments, or their cost, or whether it is too soon for holiday dΓ©cor to dominate my thoughts… or even the upcoming election, which is already wholly irrelevant to me for now, having already voted; it’s about the change of perspective. The altered point of view. The fact of it – and also how little it really took to find myself experiencing a change in thinking.

In this particular instance, I did not seek or manufacture my change of thinking. My point of view has been altered quite literally because my point of view is altered; I moved. What I see outside my windows each day is different. The door I see as I walk up to the front door is a different door, opening onto a different way of experiencing my life. New context. New environment. New challenges. Change is. It hasn’t all been effortless joy, fun times, or relaxed – or relaxing. The light switches are not where I expect them to be. (Some of the challenges are frankly quite silly, and very individual.) There has been a lot of work. A lot of upheaval – which is difficult even when I welcome it. I’ve grown, and sometimes in ways I did not expect, and wasn’t looking for (and did not know I would be a better version of myself thereby).

Lawn ornaments.

…Weird way to take note of growth and change…

…You know, I very nearly don’t have a container garden now, too… Had I mentioned that? Yeah… the deck is lovely as it is, without the clutter of a lot of pots, and the spiders and dirt and work that go with them… I had to get super real with myself; I’m only up for a certain amount of work, generally, and I have often fallen way behind on caring for my container garden. With the move I had some decisions to make. I do love that forest view. …And… I’ve also got a nice bit of front yard that is pleading with me to put in the effort there, creating a lovely cottage garden suited to my taste. I probably don’t have the sustained strength and purposefulness to garden both in the front and on the deck. I decided to leave the lovely view of the forest beyond the deck uninterrupted by potted roses… the roses, at long last, can put down roots, too. That gives me so much joy… and a reason to think about lawn ornaments with the future in mind.

…I still don’t know where the roses will each go… it needs more thought.

I finish off my water, and the sun sinks a bit lower. It’s time to begin again.

I’m sipping my second coffee on a proper day off. I highly recommend taking the occasional actual day off from work (and yes, even from non-work routines). Real down time. Don’t check that email. Don’t answer those calls. Don’t participate in “just one meeting”. Be available for you, once in a while.

…There are very few things that feel reliably more luxurious, satisfying, and nurturing than having my own undivided attention for a few hours, a day, or a weekend… Just saying. Totally worth doing, even during a pandemic. Even if social distancing. Even staying right here at home. I like the woman in the mirror, rather a lot these days, and I enjoy her company greatly. (If you don’t feel well-disposed toward that human being you face in your mirror each day, well… it’s a great place to begin again, on better terms!)

It is a lovely autumn morning, well-suited to all sorts of things I might like to do with my time.

Autumn is already more than just hints of color, or occasional leaves found on the deck.

It is a chilly morning. Yesterday, there was even ice on the windshield of my car, well past sunrise. I enjoyed my morning coffee with my Traveling Partner. I took time to soak in the hot tub, watching the morning sunshine warm the dewy rooftops, steamy vapor rising into the air. I listened to the birds in the neighbor’s pear tree arguing over the not-yet-ripe pears, hoping they’d leave a few unmarred by pecking, but not particularly concerned about it. My mind wandered briefly to chores and housekeeping, and weekend meals, and I made some “mental notes” (promptly forgotten) about things I could add to my list. No pressure.

Today is definitely about “no pressure”, and that feels good.

The holiday season crossed my mind. Gifts to think about. Meals to consider. Guests to invite. No guests; there’s a pandemic going on. No, seriously – and it is serious – we’re okay here at home, and fortunate to enjoy each other in close quarters over a long period of time. (I sometimes suspect our military experience gives us an advantage; we “work as a unit”, even when we are aggravated with each other.) I know there are people who are frustrated with the constraints placed upon them by pandemic life. I get it. I just think it’s worth making the effort to be generally safe, generally respectful of the wellness of others, and generally fully compliant with the requirement to practice social distancing, to wear a mask, to avoid crowds. Yes, even close family crowds at important family events; those people will go home (and so will you), having shared whatever they’ve been exposed to, and to share what they were exposed to at the event. It’s not an acceptable risk, from my perspective. We see it play out in the news every week; a big gathering, a spike in new cases of COVID-19. It honestly just seems like an easy choice to me… so, since March, my partner and I stay home, except for a handful of difficult to avoid errands. It complicated house hunting. It complicated the closing. It complicated the move.

…Both of us remain well. Worth the complications.

We relaxed enough to allow my partner’s son (my step-son) to visit after we finished moving in. I regretted that more than a little bit, as much I enjoyed seeing him, particularly after he admitted to attending gatherings of friends, more recently than two weeks prior to traveling to see us… and… he did have to travel. He was here less than two weeks. Yes, it caused me stress to consider that with greater care – too late to change the planning. I am unlikely to make another exception as we head into flu season. I’d rather not even get the flu, or a head cold, and social distancing and mask wearing has definitely reduced my exposure to those risks! Win.

…But… Thanksgiving…!?! Giftmas??

Yeah. Thanksgiving. Giftmas, too. Fuck your Thanksgiving feast and holiday parties if they send half your family home to far away places with new exposure to COVID-19, and with increased potential of losing loved ones to it. I mean, seriously? Weddings too. Baby showers. Parties of all kinds. Music festivals. Worship. Celebrations. All of it. Fuck every minute of every “important life event” any one of us chooses to attend that results in the loss of someone else’s life. What right do we have, as individuals, to be callous with someone else’s risk of death?

So. Holidays will be simple this year, here at home. Cards. Letters. Calls. Merriment. A comfy holiday at home – intimate, joyful, and low-stress. Healthy, too, maybe…? (I am one of those folks who nearly always has a head cold, or is “just getting over” – or just catching – the flu, right around Thanksgiving or Giftmas – maybe not this year?)

I sip my coffee and smile. We’ve already figured out where the Giftmas tree will go… and there’s so much room for it… πŸ™‚ Right now, that’s enough. I look at the time. The lovely day stretches out ahead of me. It looks like a good one to take a walk on an untraveled trail… or simply to begin again. πŸ™‚

You know that experience where disappointment, frustration, and anger, collide, and the result is a bit of a tantrum, a lashing out, maybe saying “too much”, with too much ferocity? You know the one; the burning of bridges, the severing of connections? That moment when disappointment hits so hard it feels necessary to hit back (metaphorically, I mean)? Yeah… don’t do that. (Also, don’t do violence. Just… yeah, don’t. Not okay.)

I know, it sound super easy to say. Emotions get to the party ahead of our rational minds, generally. Once we’ve lashed out, said a thing, made a messy bit of drama that will need clean up later, it can seem to have been necessary, “reasonable” (it’s definitely not that) – even “paybacks” may sound satisfying. “Fuck them!”

Here’s the thing, though. We’re all human. Most of us perceive ourselves to be “the good guy” in our own narrative, at least. If asked, people seem generally willing to stake a claim to being in a state of “doing their best”, moment-to-moment. It’s very subjective. If, though, everyone around us is as well-intentioned as we believe ourselves to be, is lashing out when disappointed actually an appropriate reaction to that person or circumstance? (If you are not “well-intentioned”, that’s a very different concern, for another day.)

I recognize that life “isn’t fair”, and that most of the time there’s no “save” at the last minute, no “we brought you back as our wild card performer!” moment to salvage our experience if we’ve been disappointed. (Sometimes there is, though, so… maybe don’t talk yourself out of that potential with a lot of cranky bullshit.) I’m thinking about it this morning, not because it’s properly relevant to this moment, but it may be to some other, in the future, so… sipping coffee, thinking thoughts. Certainly, after the fact, it’s usually pretty clear that throwing a fucking fit over some small disappointment is less than ideal for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that the most obvious result is that we look like a reactive, emotionally immature, jackass (at least until we’ve finished whatever rationalization we’re prone to working so hard at, at that point we’re likely to be blinded by our own fiction). lol Not a great look.

Giftmas is coming. Gifts under trees… dinners out with friends or family… holiday events… it’s easy to forget to cherish these rare moments, to make them the best moments of our lives (and yes, even in spite of conflict, and stress). It’s super easy to lose our shit in a moment of holiday stress. We’re making memories every moment, though; what do we want to remember of our life? To be remembered for? The stress? The conflict? We become what we practice. Being a petty jerk about an imperfect gift creates a memory, becomes a practice. How much better to give generously, and receive graciously? To be kind? To show compassion? To laugh with a joyous heart? There are verbs involved, and choices, and yes – your actual will. It is actually possible to choose – and build – joy. I recommend it as a practice. πŸ˜€

Let go of the stress. Lead with gratitude. Be merry by choice when you can. Appreciate each moment; the joyous ones are as lovely as butterflies, the ones that are less joyous are extraordinary opportunities to grow, to learn, and to become that person you most want to be. Sure, walk away from drama, definitely do that, and also connect with others more deeply, more authentically. It is a powerful season for change. It’s a real shot at life-changing forward momentum. Your call. Your choice. Your practices.

Give yourself an amazing gift this year; better practices. πŸ™‚ It’s not always “easy”, and “practice” certainly implies effort, and likely an occasional actual failure. The journey is so worth all that. Are you the person you most want to be, standing where you are, right now? What will you do about that, today, right now?

It’s already time to begin again. I finish my coffee, and smile. No headache this morning; it’s a good beginning. πŸ˜€