Archives for posts with tag: the holiday season

Sipping coffee and counting down the days to Giftmas. 🙂 I remind myself that the holiday season, and this life with my Traveling Partner, are by far more significant, more meaningful, and more valued than this physical pain I am in. My partner called me on it before I was half finished with my coffee. First thing on a Saturday morning, and I am so visibly obviously uncomfortable that I am uncomfortable to be around. Well, shit. I take my coffee with me on my way to my studio, consider my pain management choices on the way, and get to work on managing what I can manage, and letting go of what I can’t. My results may vary; I know to expect that, too.

…Good cup of coffee, though, and a pleasant Saturday morning on which to enjoy it. 🙂

I think about the upcoming holidays, and smile to myself. Winter Solstice, then Giftmas, then New Year’s Eve and day… then, it’s a whole new year unfolding ahead, and back to the grind. 🙂 No idea what the new year may hold. I didn’t expect this one, just now ending, held a pandemic – or a home purchase. Life is filled with surprises, unexpected turns, and assorted fortune (good and less so). Some eventualities will be very directly tied to my own choices and actions, others less obviously so. Sitting and waiting around for change is one possible choice… still a choice, and potentially less effective than grabbing life with both hands and making of it what we can. I suppose there is also some “personal style” involved in all that, as well. 🙂

…Mmm…Yeah. Great cup of coffee this morning, well-suited to reflecting on life. lol

I did scroll through the news earlier – fairly pointless on the average Saturday, unless there is some sort of major event some where in the world. All of the news seems to repeat yesterday’s talking points, retread and regurgitated, linked and quoted, by various other news services that perhaps now wish they’d thought of it first. Uninteresting. I’ve been making a practice of willfully rejecting headlines that seem crafted to stoke an emotional reaction prior to reading the article; it’s a clickbait practice, and I just don’t appreciate having my time wasted, or my emotions manipulated. I definitely read fewer news articles as a result. lol My time is better spent reflecting on my own life and choices. 🙂

I think over the day ahead. I’ve got one errand to run, a bit later, maybe I’ll also stop by the grocery store? I’ll tackle aquarium maintenance a little later, too. Tomorrow? Housekeeping. I know, it’s all very routine, simple, ordinary stuff. That’s what most lives are crafted of; ordinary moments, commonplace tasks, simple everyday acts and efforts. It took me too long to understand how very few individual lives are truly, spectacularly, exceptional or extraordinary in such a notable way that one would expect to read about it in the news. Most of us live very unexceptional lives – and that’s entirely okay. More important that we also live well, show kindness, consider others, care for the world and our community – and take care of ourselves and each other. Isn’t that enough? 🙂 Are any of us really so good at even that, that we ought be discontent and seeking more? I suspect I’m not alone in my awareness I could do more/better, often, even in these ordinary circumstances, within this ordinary life. It’s about the verbs. Our choices.

I sip my coffee, hearing the video my Traveling Partner is watching, in the background. The sound of it, the sound of his presence, brings me a sense of comfort… and joy…

And now I am hearing holiday carols in my head, too… LOL

What is “enough”? Do you have that? Have you defined it so that you can more easily make your way to that goal? Have you been so fortunate as to overshoot that mark, and find yourself living in some comfort? From where you are, right now, what can you do to help heal the world? What about your community? Are there simple things you can easily do, without undermining your own necessary resources, to lift someone else up? To ease suffering in the world? To give something back? ‘Tis the season… what will you do about that?

I finish my first coffee. I think about a second cup. I smile for a moment, feeling pretty okay generally. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

It’s a Monday morning after a lovely weekend. I spent time in the company of friends, and tidied up my wee place after the flurry of holiday decorating; I observe a stray ornament hook on the carpet, and some out-of-place glittery stuff that I missed. I still have laundry to do.

My coffee this morning is somehow both too strong and very bitter. I am unsure what I may have done differently to get this very different result. My reaction balances gently on that moment between accepting my coffee as it is, and making a new cup; I have not decided. I continue to sip my coffee thoughtfully, and it no longer seems significant that it is not a great cup of coffee. I have moved on.

There have  been other, better coffees...

There have been other, better coffees…

Holiday preparation and shopping is generally completed. I have been enjoying the decorating, the shopping, the recipe selection and meal planning, and leisurely evenings spent drawing pen & ink holiday cards. There is no drama and no rush. Sometimes there is holiday music in the background. This morning, there is only the chiming of raindrops on the chimney pipe and bathroom vent covers and the percussion of fingers on keys.

I smile, my thoughts juxtaposing recollections of how easily my traveling partner and I share time and space together, with eager daydreams of the upcoming holiday weekend. There’s no real way to ‘do it wrong’ with us; if he comes to stay over through the entire weekend it will be wonderful, and no less wonderful if he comes and goes in whatever fashion is most comfortable for him. We’ve built something special together, and it endures whatever our momentary needs for space, time, companionship, solitude, affection or distance may be. Here, too, there are verbs involved: openness, deep listening, vulnerability, authenticity, respect, consideration, (see me sneaking the big 5 in here?), compassion, and love – love the verb, the one where each of us makes a point of treating the other well, and with our love in our actions and words. It’s quite… lovely. 🙂

Small details, moments of wonder, and taking care to treat myself well all add up to a great experience.

Small details, moments of wonder, and taking care to treat myself and others well all add up to a great experience.

My consciousness skips along, like a stone tossed just so across a pond, and I find myself thinking about fitness, diet, health, weight… here, too, I have goals, a journey, and a distance still ahead of me. I’m healthier than I had been for many years, but I am not sufficiently healthy to take such things for granted, and ideally I could stand to drop a few pounds for the benefit of overall health, and longevity – and I really would like to be around awhile longer. The holidays are not generally favored as the ideal time to start on such things – but I see it a bit differently; the holidays are part of the life I live, and as such, don’t really get excluded from being part of my experience – even my experience of managing my weight and fitness. For me, right now, it’s a pretty easy puzzle and consuming fewer calories is the puzzle piece that completes the picture, realistically [for me, at this time]. There are, again, verbs involved – and moment to moment choices. That’s where it gets more complicated, and here, too, mindfulness matters. So, step by step, choice by choice, verb by verb, I approach this ‘home stretch’ toward my goal with an eye on incremental progress over time. It’s not about “losing weight fast”, and probably for the best; the weight I lose slowly and sustainably through changes in lifestyle and habits over time tends to stay off.

I’m not unhappy with the woman in the mirror over gaining some weight back that I worked so hard to lose. There’s no follow-up on that, no excuses, no pleading or justification. I’m not upset with myself – I’m human. I’ll simply begin again. 🙂 I am very fortunate that my romantic and social relationships are of the sort that are very supportive and encouraging, and I don’t have to listen to a chorus of criticism, veiled insults, or hurtful remarks about my weight, or really any other part of my life. I live gently, and associate with people who tend to be positive and encouraging sorts of people. It probably goes without saying, but this is also a choice.

My shoulder injury impedes my ability to exercise, but I keep at it; I do my physical therapy exercises and yoga, even on days when I hurt too much to do more. My day-to-day pain is not the acute pain of injury as much as the chronic pain of… chronic pain. I do what I can to take good care of my injured shoulder, knowing that the effort is worth it. (When I finally really started caring for my ankle well, and doing what it needed most to be done, it began to heal and now I rarely have to walk with a cane, but it took years of care to get here.) The most common source of re-injury of my injured shoulder is brushing my hair; I have trouble remembering, first thing in the morning, that my right shoulder is injured – I grab my hair brush right-handed, and reach up – and ouch. Hurt again. I am considering mousing left-handed for a while, too…everything I do to ease how often I hurt that shoulder will improve how quickly it may heal.

Healthy choices are often healthy for more than one reason; the joy of carrots harvested from my garden is about more than the nutrition.

Healthy choices are often healthy for more than one reason; the joy of carrots harvested from my garden is about more than the nutrition.

My thoughts skip along further, and I find myself contemplating the conversion of life-force into dollars by way of paid effort – reimbursed verbs – and making a connection to calories. I find myself wondering how many minutes of employment equals 100 calories, and what value there may be in being more aware of that. No particular reason, it’s just where my consciousness landed for a moment, before taking flight once again. This morning, I am as a butterfly.

The word count doesn’t relevant; today has all the potential to be a lovely day. There are verbs involved. The choices matter. 🙂

“The Holiday Season” is almost upon us*. Well, my idea of ‘The Holiday Season” is almost upon me – I don’t know many people who celebrate quite as I do, quite so enthusiastically. It’s a thing with me. For me, the winter holidays begin with Thanksgiving and continue through to the new year, ending on New Year’s Day, with my personal “One Hour” celebration (a personal tradition that has endured decades through tough times and good times), spent reflecting on the year before, progress made, obstacles, new and old goals, and committing my intentions for the year to come. It’s a whole lot of holiday celebrating, connecting, sharing, and enjoying – and it’s my idea of how such a thing can be experienced.

Even the creatures of forest, meadow, and marsh are getting ready for winter.

Even the creatures of forest, meadow, and marsh are getting ready for winter.

I rarely experience ‘holiday blues’ and I am eager for the holidays this year, utterly unreservedly eager. It’s not about money, I’m stretched pretty thin these days, and I don’t expect to afford a lavish holiday. That’s irrelevant – it really is about the baking of cookies, and the sharing, and the letters, cards, and calls to far away friends and dear ones. It is about having cocoa or cider with friends, more than about presents – although I do love to see the colorful wrapping paper under the tree; I suspect it is the colorful paper more than the contents of the packages that delights me so. It is the meals and memories enjoyed and shared, not the dollar value of the money spent. Yes, I say “Merry Christmas” – and I also say “Happy Holidays”, and most importantly – “welcome to my home” and “I’m so glad to see you”. I am as likely to celebrate Chanukah with Jewish friends or loved ones, or Diwali when it falls ‘within the holiday season’ as to celebrate a holy observance in any other faith; it is the celebration that makes the occasion both special and holy, although my personal experience of Christmas began as the usual mostly secular sort. I would cram the season with observances of all the holidays I can value, honor, and welcome into my own experience – all of them that I know of, I make the attempt. These darker winter months, the metaphorical end of things, are a good time to welcome light and laughter into my home and my heart – and I do it every year, because life reminds me, every year, that there is an end to all things – by bringing winter to my experience.

This is my way of celebrating… so many things… all jumbled together, day over day, week after week. I take time to contemplate life, love, the nature of success, and how fortunate I am. It’s definitely a strong foundation to begin with gratitude and a holiday of giving thanks – and yes, that’s how I celebrate it, I am not hesitant to acknowledge the troubling origin of the holiday, and for me part of that Thanksgiving Holiday is a certain ‘spirit of hospitality’ and accord that sources with the tradition of indigenous Americans welcoming foreigners from across the ocean, helping them settle and survive – and sharing a harvest meal before winter sets in, in earnest. Many years ago, a stranger stranded with a flat tire (that was a thing back then, and not uncommon) stopped at my door to use the phone on Thanksgiving. I invited him in to use the phone. When I over heard him telling his family he would not be home in time for the holiday meal, I made room at my own table, and when he finished his call, invited him to join us. My partner-at-the-time helped the man change his tire while I finished getting dinner to the table. It was a joyous occasion. It seemed the right and proper thing to do, for a stranded traveler on a holiday. Why would I not? (If a list of reasons pops into your head, examine them with care – how many are about fear?)

This year, I’ve been content to look forward to a solitary Thanksgiving holiday. I have been surprised to find that I haven’t been at all blue about it; the menu will suit me perfectly, being entirely only things I enjoy myself. No compromises for tradition or taste. It turns out my traveling partner may be joining me for the holiday meal – which takes me from content and eager, to excited in the time it takes to understand the words. I’ve been smiling ever since. The remainder of the weekend, aside from the bit interrupted by work commitments for a couple of hours on Saturday, will be spent putting up my holiday tree, decorating the apartment, baking fruitcake, and picking out a wreath for the front door.

There’s this grin on my face just now, as I sip my coffee and realize that the winter holidays are something I’ve ‘gotten right’ for many years; I made them my own as soon as I turned 18, keeping what I valued and changing things that didn’t suit me, and have continued to build and enjoy my own traditions and deeper meaning to each feast, each ritual, each calendar date celebrated. At one time, it was the one time of year I took care of me, luxury self-care to the limit of the skills and knowledge I had at the time… once a year. This year, I am doing it with my eyes open, and that makes it all sparkle even more. 🙂

What will you be celebrating with your traditions this year? Something old? Something new? Something for others? Something for you? With enough twinkly lights the darkness can’t win. What a very good time of year to be enough. 🙂

*Almost upon us. I spared you the pictures of Christmas’s past – it’s a bit premature for all that. 😉

I’m sipping my first Americano from the new espresso machine. The machine-that-had-been died. This new machine is the clear master of the coffee universe, and it has the features to prove it…but it takes the might of the pantheon of greek gods to lock in the porto filter – and the simultaneous requirement to be as delicate as a surgeon. 🙂 New skills in development, clearly, and some concerns about whether I will ever ever sleep through someone else making a shot of espresso ever again. I sure didn’t this morning. I woke at whatever brutally early hour my partner was testing the new machine – eagerly, and with great skill, I don’t doubt, but banging out the puck into the knock out box (I’m sure it has some proper name…) is as loud as someone hammering nails into the wall to hang paintings. Pretty loud at 4:30 am. The new machine is a birthday gift to my traveling partner – and a combined household effort to make it happen promptly. It’s a delight to have this tasty coffee first thing, and over time I’m sure I’ll get used to the different sounds of this machine, and able to sleep through much of it.

Here’s the best part of my morning coffee…it’s enough. Honestly? It’s enough when it is a french press of pre-ground drip coffee. It’s enough when I’m out of coffee and resort to black tea. It’s enough because that’s truly all I ‘need’… and…if I’m honest with myself, I’m addicted to the amount of caffeine I get each day in this form, and it’s both a preference and maintenance of that addiction. So. ‘Need’ is an appropriate word here, and I’ve got no baggage with this relatively harmless habit. The important word is ‘enough’. The experience of my morning coffee has varied over the years – and nearly always been ‘enough’. It’s a powerful lesson in sufficiency; take away someone’s addiction, and see what they find is an acceptable stop-gap measure, or a worthy substitute. That’s when I see directly into the face of sufficiency. My choices aren’t always about enough. My brain is very skilled at making ‘more’ seem reasonable, and from reasonable things easily escalate to ‘achievable’ and from ‘achievable’ the distance to ‘must have’ is short enough to traverse with great ease – and little mindfulness. I gotta work on that.

A different coffee, on a different day, in another place; memories of love are sometimes captured in pictures of coffee.

A different coffee, on a different day, in another place; memories of love are sometimes captured in pictures of coffee.

This morning I woke with a headache and a stuffy head. I’m not sick, just getting used to the change in household climate that accompanies the change in weather. My room feels too hot. I haven’t found the correct balance of bed-clothes, yet…which suddenly finds me feeling rather embarrassed to give it even a thought; how many people are struggling to sleep through the cold nights of winter because they just don’t have enough? My heart aches in a strange way I don’t recall feeling often in years past. I’m moved to participate in the holiday charity drives in the office out of some soft yearning to ease the suffering of the world, more than to avoid the embarrassment I used to feel because I didn’t consider the human experience broadly enough to be truly moved (and while aware of that, I didn’t know quite what to do about it at that time).

I am thinking, now, of all the things that drive humanity’s winter holidays…feasting and gifting, hospitality and generosity, the warmth and glow of inclusive celebration. It’s easy to get lost in the media spin, the marketing, and the advertising pushing consumers to consume – and to buy – and there’s so much more to it than dollars, at least there is for me.

Following my path where it leads.

Following my path where it leads.

Today is a good day to think ahead to the holidays. Today is a good day to plan and prepare for what is ahead, and to roll with the changes when life delivers on a different promise altogether. Today is a good day to hand craft something to enjoy, or to give – or both. Today is a good day to take care of me, and to appreciate others. What a rich palette life paints with; today is a good day to enjoy the colors. Today is a good day to celebrate with the world.