Archives for posts with tag: happy holidays

Oh hey, right, “Cyber Monday” is today; one more day on the calendar on which retailers attempt to hook more consumers than they typically can, generally by way of lavish promises of great deals. Often the deals are not actually all that great, and there is commonly much shaking of heads, murmurs of “let the buyer beware”, and promises by many not to succumb or be deceived next year.

I did not participate in “Black Friday”. I don’t plan to participate in “Cyber Monday”. What I can afford, in life, is already within my reach. What is not affordable, remains not affordable even on “retail holidays”. I refuse to be mislead or bamboozled out of cash I’m not willing to spend right now. It’s entirely adequate to have a holiday of handmade gifts – or even no gifts at all – and not only is there no shame in that; it can be wholly beautiful, heartfelt, and cherished to enjoy holidays in which something beyond material goods are celebrated. So. Make of that what you will. For me, today is just a work day, and “Black Friday” was a lovely day off enjoyed in the company of people dear to me.

To be clear, I’m not criticizing people who save up hard-earned cash all year to do their holiday shopping on Black Friday to in order to get the most out of meager dollars. I get it. I hope they each, and all, find everything they were hoping to, at prices that put all of that within reach. I’m a big fan of good quality of life, and I recognize that Black Friday is a choice opportunity to get ahead a little, for a lot of people. We each make our choices, based on our wants and needs, our own values, and our own experience. 🙂

Thanksgiving now over, time to dress the house for the Giftmas season!

I spent the holiday weekend well, I think. Saturday was mostly lost to housework, and it needed to be done. Yesterday I spent preparing the house for the upcoming winter holiday – I love Giftmas, with all the twinkle and glow, the colors, the lights… It is a feast for my senses. First thing in the morning, holiday music and pine scented candles, a cup of coffee, a list of things to do… and by day’s end, the list was checked off, the holiday music silenced, and I sat quietly in the glow of the lights, considering where the next ornament will go on the tree. I didn’t get the tree finished. The dining table is covered in ornaments. lol More fun for me, evening by evening this week. It’s enough, and I am quite contented. 🙂

…so many more…

Time to begin again. 🙂

Thanksgiving is over, and the holiday season has begun. Black Friday is a memory.

Thanksgiving was simple, quiet, intimate and amazing – unscripted, and as it turned out, entirely unplanned. We’d made dinner reservations to go out. It seemed the better choice at the time we made our plans; I have a very small kitchen, and although more than a year has now passed since I moved into my own place, my kitchen efficiency is still somewhat limited by the loss of some favored gadgets and appliances that I have not yet replaced… like my Kitchen Aid mixer, which I miss greatly.

I’d had my mixer for decades; it was a wedding gift left from my first marriage. It had become redundant when I moved in to the big house “with everyone”, and the newer mixer on hand won out. Mine became someone else’s cherished favored kitchen appliance (I no longer remember who). It was a painful moment to move out with the hurt and anger of the break-up flavored by the poignant loss of an appliance I’d never have given up except – love. It’s strange to me that the intense feelings over the break up have diminished, but the irritation over allowing myself to be so short-sighted as to be persuaded to give up my mixer, when there was ample room to store it more or less forever, somehow persists, particularly as this kitchen, now, is so small that there is neither space to store it, nor space to use it. lol Silly primates, emotions lack substance. Better to let such lingering ire just go; it serves no purpose now save to remind me that I do want to replace that mixer – which, I am well aware of, without the emotional reinforcement.

My Traveling Partner and I planned to be spending the afternoon and evening together. At some early point in the day, we agreed neither of us was particularly enthusiastic about our dinner plans, although the restaurant is one we both enjoy. I canceled the reservations. Hell, frozen waffles and powdered hot cocoa shared with my traveling partner in a tent in the dead of winter, wrapped in love and enjoying each other’s good company would still be a Thanksgiving to cherish; it isn’t about the venue or the menu. I looked over the pantry, committed to using what I had on hand. The drenching rain that had fallen all night, and continued through the morning was ample discouragement from any grocery shopping, and most places were closed. Could I pull off an unplanned Thanksgiving dinner for two? Neither of us had any specific expectations beyond sharing the time together and enjoying each other. I would do  my best. My best would be enough.

It was a simple meal. Chicken breasts baked in foil, seasoned with sage, onions, and chives from my container garden. Steamed baby Nero di Toscana kale, and savory baked heirloom carrots, from my autumn vegetable garden. Canned corn and box stuffing; durable staples always on hand from my pantry. I even had a solitary can of cranberry sauce left from… whenever. It was a lovely meal. We had a great evening. Around the time that our friends next door returned home from dinners with family, we were also settling in to relax and we all gathered together over music and friendly conversation. It was appropriately festive and joyful. It never needed to be elaborate.

I slept in Friday morning, and woke to my Traveling Partner awake ahead of me, working on his set list for a gig later in the day. We had coffee together. A bite of lunch a little later. When the time came he packed up his gear and I played roadie helping load it into the car. Then he was gone and quiet filled my solitary space, along with happy daydreams of love, and good intentions about housekeeping that never quite came to fruition. 🙂

I did my traditional Black Friday thing, which is to say, I stayed home and did not participate in the retail frenzy that exploits so many workers on a day of the year when they might like to be at home with their loved ones. (Go ahead and take a moment to reflect on how few potential four-day weekends exist for most “entry level”, retail, restaurant, or service industry employees, and then reflect on how much you have valued and needed that precious limited down time in your own life…I’ll wait.Do you suppose you really needed that discount on a crock pot more?) I’m okay with paying a reasonable price for goods and services, and I’m more than okay with doing my part to refraining from adding to the literal Black Friday body count that seems unique to American greed.  It is my tradition to spend Thanksgiving weekend setting up the holiday tree, lights, baking holiday treats… it is a long weekend, suitable for all those things. I didn’t do any of that yesterday, I just relaxed in the happy glow of being well-loved, reading, meditating, daydreaming about the future, and just generally enjoying myself quietly and in a state of great contentment. It was lovely. It was enough.

Misty mornings seem to offer the potential to remake the world, differently.

Misty mornings seem to offer the potential to remake the world, differently.

This morning I woke from a night of peculiarly interrupted sleep, and feeling rested, in spite of that. I gazed out over the misty meadow, considering where to the put holiday tree, sipping my coffee, watching the Canada geese stepping through the meadow, feasting on whatever it is they pull up from the mud along their way. My squirrel visitor returned, too, and enjoyed breakfast while I had my coffee. The Northern Flicker who comes by regularly joined us, taking a few moments to enjoy the seed bell and the suet feeder before departing. A flock of red-wing blackbirds took his place. There is nothing spectacular about this gentle morning, nothing to exclaim about, nothing I am inclined to change. I am content. As it turns out, contentment is quite every bit of “enough”, and far more easily reached than “happily ever after”.  I smile, and sip my coffee; it has grown cold in the morning chill of the room. I pause my writing to consider lighting a fire… later, perhaps. A lovely long walk on a misty morning, first, sounds like just the ideal thing to precede a hot shower, a mug of cocoa, and a crackling fire in the fireplace. 🙂

As with most things, even "enough" is a matter of perspective.

As with most things, even “enough” is a matter of perspective…

...What is "within reach" depends, too, on our perceptions, and our tools...

…what is “within reach” depends, too, on our perceptions, and our tools…

...We are each having our own experience.

…We are each having our own experience.

I’m still sitting around in comfy clothes, sipping my now-cold coffee, smiling out over the meadow whenever I glance out at the world. This feels good. I feel safe. Content. Loved. I have enough to get by on – and not that “oh fuck what now, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, we’ll all get through this, just breathe” level of “enough” that requires real commitment to staying present in this moment. (We all have those moments, eventually, it’s part of the human experience.) This morning it is the “oh hey, nothing to fear, nothing to want for, it’s all good my friends, can I pour you a coffee?” level of enough, and those times can feel so delicate, so precious and rare… I think because it has taken me so long to understand that they must be enjoyed with the same deep commitment to savoring them, lingering in that headspace, and revisiting the recollection again and again, as one might do for some grave challenge or anxiety-provoking moment, otherwise they seems to slip away. So, this morning, I’m here, enjoying now, enjoying me, and even enjoying my cold coffee in this chilly room, before I do something different – just to be sure I don’t forget how awesome this moment here also is. 🙂 Today, this is enough.

Merry Everything, everyone, and Happy All-of-whatever-the-fuck-this-is-right-here! May your day be merry and bright; it’s not holiday-dependent. Enjoy this moment, too. 😉

 

Dear Santa,

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked, and surely the days of sending you long lists of retail delights is behind me… mostly. It’s not that I ‘have it all’ or wouldn’t benefit from a quality of life improvement here or there, it’s just that – generally speaking – I have what I need, and it’s enough. Still…you have quite a job ahead of you, and all you ever ask of me is that I do my best all year – and give you a list of what I want for Giftmas.

I think it’s safe to say that most of the time this year, I’ve definitely done my best – or what I thought was my best in the moment. So, that being said, I’m making a point of fulfilling my end of the bargain, Santa. Here’s my list:

  1. Please give me a moment – just whatever you can spare – to take a breath and rethink what I’m about to say to some other human being, long enough to avoid being thoughtlessly callous, or missing their point. I’d like to improve on how well I listen this year.
  2. Please also give me any spare reminders you may have laying about that we are each so very human, so that I also take a moment to pause before I react to what someone else’s experience is, and avoid taking it personally. I’d like to be more easily able to show compassion, without the detour through over-reacting in the moment.
  3. Santa, I know you’re going to work your sleigh off on Giftmas Eve, and spend the next 280 days or so recovering – can you spare some of your self-care best practices, because I gotta say – you’ve been working that magic once a year for decades, and I get tired just thinking about it! Please fill my stocking with self-regard, consideration for my needs over time, and a jolly approach to taking care of me – I promise to share.
  4. While I’m thinking about it, how about more Love, Santa – I want all of the love, the loving, and the sweet romance that can be crammed into my calendar all through the holidays and beyond. I’ll be so good –  next year, too!!
  5. Santa, please help me remember, all year long, how good this feels right now? I’d appreciate it very much, especially some time down the road when I feel insecure and doubtful, wounded, kicked-around, or bleak; this ‘now’ right here is quite wonderful, and I’d like to hold on to the comfortable certainty that there will be other such lovely times in the future.
  6. One last thing, Santa? The chocolates and sweaters and twinkly lights are wonderful, and I smile and smile for so many days – please tell me how I can hang onto this sense of wonder and delight until Giftmas comes around again next year? You can bet I’d share that, too!
Merriment, love, and fun -  what's on your list?

Merriment, love, and fun – what’s on your list?

I’m still loving Giftmas after all these years, Santa, and hoping I am on the ‘nice’ list…

Your Friend,

E.H.

What a peculiar day. It’s nearly at an end. I began it well enough, waking from a very restful night, having slept in. I woke in very little pain. All very promising as beginnings go. Somehow, something just… wasn’t. It was strange. I sat a long while. Not exactly meditating. Not exactly daydreaming. No music. No coffee. I even ended up chatting with my traveling partner for some time before I ever had coffee.

I did have coffee, eventually. I shook off my ennui enough for that. The rain continues to fall. I enjoy the sound of it. I took my coffee on the couch, and just sat for some longish time, then a distracting email message reminded me of a practical task that needed to be handled. Once that was done, I found myself feeling grateful to my traveling partner for his help on all sorts of practical things I tend to muddle up because of my injury…which got me thinking about gratitude generally, and people who were ‘there for me’ long ago, at various points when I earnestly needed help… I thought, too, about who I am now, how I feel about those things now, and whether or not I also felt I had ‘said thank you’, shown my appreciation, or taken an opportunity to return the gesture at some other point. Am I the woman I most want to be?

I found myself enjoying some time on writing notes for holiday cards and letters to far away old friends, and thinking about how very precious our connections to each other really are. Time well spent.

I spent the afternoon wrapping up other practical details of life, after the nasty weather deterred me from driving in holiday traffic. Marveling at how people can be such dicks to each other, in the abstract is one thing – wasting part of the weekend being pummeled by it just didn’t seem the right choice today. I realized at that point that I might not be where I thought I was within myself. I got things done and headed home, thinking about the recent South Park episode (s19e10 PC Principal Final Justice) and wondering if the scenes of imminent family gun violence might have messed with my head more than I realized at the time. I later made an observation to my traveling partner that it might become a favorite episode, having done something amazing I had never been able to do for myself; it trivialized the threat of violence at the hands of a loved one in a comedic [for me] way – it rendered some of my chaos and damage harmless – a cartoon. That’s powerful. But… in that initial moment, the panic just at the edges of my consciousness was very real, and although it didn’t take me over, it is part of my experience.

Welcome in my own experience.

Welcome home.

At this point, I’m past all that. I took care of me with great tenderness and compassion. I’ve gone through some things, over the years. They’re behind me now. I did a load of laundry, had some dinner, and made a fire in the fireplace – the first since I moved in. It’s a lovely quiet evening, no music, no video, just the sound of the crackling fire, and the rain. It’s enough, and I am okay right now.

I am sipping my coffee slowly this morning. It’s very good. The morning is in all obvious ways a very relaxed morning, steam rising from my coffee mug, holiday music on the stereo. There is a subtle undercurrent of tension that I feel lurking just out of view of the obvious. I let my awareness expand to include that feeling, without diving into it.

I am aware of small details that seem to be provoking my subtle feeling of tension: the awareness of not hearing from a friend with whom I’ve been sharing an almost daily exchange lately, some concern for my traveling partner’s well-being and how he is treated in another relationship, and some background stress lingering in my awareness due to the adjustment to my long-term schedule that I’ve sort of avoided dealing with since it would not affect me until – tomorrow. Small things can become big things if I don’t treat myself well, so I take them one by one; I find that the assumptions and implicit expectations I hold onto unaware are the most likely thing causing me stress.

I consider my correspondence, and my dear friend I haven’t heard from ‘in a few days’ – how long has it actually been? Not very. A day or two. We also have an explicit understanding that our email exchange is not a reliable everyday thing. So… yeah. Nothing to be stressed over. I move on.

My traveling partner’s well-being is something that matters to me greatly, and I actively invest in my own growth in order to be the woman I most want to be – and the best possible lover and partner that I am able to be with my love. I am very sensitive to both explicit and implicit communications of stress from my partner, although he is very careful not to load me down with drama from his other relationship. There are no secrets between us, and the challenges I left behind when I moved out still live there with him – it’s more complicated than the simplified narrative that tends to drive background stress. That’s an entirely different relationship than the one he and I have with each other, and my partner is a grown man with free will, and an emotional investment in that human being over there. I take a moment to be aware of his skill as a partner, and how much I value his investment in us. It has taken time to learn to love well, and it’s not exactly something we teach in schools.  I pause to quietly celebrate the powerful love I share with my traveling partner, and to wish him well in his difficult circumstances, with his difficult Other. I wrap my thoughts of my traveling partner in my love and find myself smiling. Just smiling – because there’s nothing at all wrong with the relationship he and I share, and love is wonderful to enjoy – and to support. There’s nothing here to cause me stress this morning.

That one last small detail, left for last because it is likely causing me the most stress, honestly – my schedule. It’s such a small change, and the price to be paid to get the best possible fit for schedules for my entire team. In order to meet the most needs (for the team and for the business) I need to go into the office earlier on Fridays than the other days of the week. That’s a potential challenge for me; variable start times are often a very poor fit for my TBI. Avoiding thinking about that is an ineffective success strategy because it undercuts planning that could result in improved outcomes. So, I take a few minutes to breathe deeply, to contemplate what I most need out of my mornings, and my days, and what works best for me. I make a decision to adjust my waking alarm 15-minutes earlier, long-term, every week day. It’s a 15-min add to my morning the other 4 days, and pretty close to my most common natural wake up time. More to the point, it is enough additional time to prevent my one ‘short morning’ each week (Friday) from feeling rushed; I’ll have enough time to wake, to shower and dress, and head to the office without hurrying through things like taking medication, and making coffee – although I’ll be drinking that coffee on the walk to work, instead of chilling over words, or music.

The stress I had noticed in the background of my experience dissipates; I addressed ‘the real issue’ – and it wasn’t the most obvious thing, or the significant portion of my thoughts. It was such a small thing. Small things matter, too, and what I am inclined to ‘face’ in moments of stress is often not the thing really bothering me. We’re just a bit more complicated than that, aren’t we? 😉

Be love.

Be love.

It’s a lovely gentle morning, free of stress at this point. I listen to Giftmas carols in the background – ancient classics from my childhood and modern re-imaginings on a mixed playlist with other very non-traditional modern holiday music of a less ‘serious’ sort. I like nearly all of it; it sets a mood. I find myself still smiling, thinking of my darling and I, we’ll be sharing Giftmas some weeks from now – I am on the edge of my seat, eager with anticipated delight; I think I nailed Giftmas this year with a balance of fun, easy, and welcoming.

Every sunrise is a chance to begin again.

Every sunrise is a chance to begin again.

Today is a good day to take a second look at small stressors, and take a step back for better perspective. Today is a good day to be mindful that common enough situations may still be more complicated that we see them initially. Today is a good day to love well and to love mindfully; we are each worthy of love. Today is a good day to change the world.