Far From Perfection

Christmas Tree

So Jim tells me the emergency room (where he works) has been swamped the last couple of days with all kinds of non urgent cases. I wonder if it’s the stress of the holidays and maybe the dis-EASE born of pressure, overspending, and overeating that most of us are not even aware of. Plus it’s a full moon. Always a factor for consideration.

Used to be I could never get Christmas quite perfect enough. There would always be some small thing I was unhappy about- my own presents, not enough money for everything- you name it and there in would lay my dis-ease. Over the years, I’ve had to get over myself and my quest for perfection in everything. It’s just too much work.

When I was in the big throes of menopause a few years ago, I honestly wanted to check into the Hyatt during the days of Christmas. My responsibilities (or my perception of them) so overwhelmed me I didn’t know how I was going to get through it all. I didn’t want to take medication; I wanted to figure out how to manage without a meltdown. I did it and I have my family to thank for it.

I divided up food obligations and asked for help. We ate out a couple of times or ordered pizza when I wasn’t up to cooking. We rolled up in old blankets on the couch instead of matching sheets and comforters. I got through those hot flashes by easing myself into a humbler, less complicated existence.

Also important is my conclusion that God loves me no matter my flaws. My failed dessert, my dusty house, my occasional impatient words to my husband or kids- thank goodness I am forgiven all of it. I am not unique in the sense of my suffering and the sooner I get over that, the better off I am.

My holidays are not entirely stress free now but they are much better. Years ago I saw a close friend of mine react so calmly in the face of a hostess calamity. She had been through the death of her husband only a few years before. We were outside in her yard and a huge table filled with potluck dishes decided then and there that it wasn’t equipped to handle such a load. Down that table came, crashing to the ground and with it, all those donations of salad and dessert. I watched as my friend calmly finished what she was doing (at the other end of the yard) and allowed her friends to grab and handle the mess. What an example she set for me.

People who have been through the wringer emotionally, financially and otherwise, can sometimes achieve a level of acceptance and serenity about life that serves as an example to the rest of us. Allowing myself the opportunity to work through the great pain and dis-ease of wanting perfection but falling far from it, is the best gift I can give myself.

How are you handling the pressure this holiday season? What have you let yourself off the hook for?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Make A Joyful Noise

DSC_0195

Beside them the birds of heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12

The holiday season is upon us and though it seems the nature world is quiet, it is really not. Birds are still singing and deer are crunching along on the snow covered spots in my backyard.

I’m not a big fan of winter but this year it doesn’t seem to be bothering me. After the past few years of hot flashes, the coldness is a welcome relief and my sleep has been deep and comforting. This is something to be thankful for.

I bought a big bag of birdseed and when it snowed last week, I fed the birds from my backyard feeder. They put on a show for me and I am comforted by their presence. I think their colors are a beautiful backdrop to white snow.

DSC_0666Something interesting happened on Monday. I am reading a book that I will be reviewing, and it mentioned sending an “intention” out (more on this when I write the actual review!). So I did. I don’t even remember what the intention was, but it had something to do with my wedding planning business.

That night, I had a dream about a bride and a wedding. I did not recognize the bride but she was lovely. In the dream I was a part of her wedding. The next day (I kid you not) I received an email from a young woman, asking me to assist her with her wedding.

I have no idea if it was the intention or the timing or maybe a little bit of both. Perhaps it is just faith. I am approaching this business, my event planning business, from an entirely new position. Years ago, I was fairly aggressive when I was self employed. Things were good; I was successful and happy. This time, I am determined not to be a bothersome pest. I believe that if someone needs me, God will put me in their path.

JOYLast Christmas, you may remember that I received a word at a gathering of friends. That word was JOY. I have to tell you, it has been a joyous year despite many challenges, including my mother’s illness and my departure from full time employment. I kept JOY in mind all the year through and I am grateful for the many blessings I have received.

I hope you are living joyfully! How have you been?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Unwrapping Joy

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” ― Marianne Williamson

JOYI meet with a faith based group of close friends a couple of times a month. During the holidays, we share in a special event where we get together, have yummy snacks and unwrap a small gift.

Inside of every gift is a WORD. Yes, a word. This word is always something meaningful. This year, when I opened my gift, my word was JOY.

Now, I have to tell you that the night before this get together, I was not feeling Joy. As a matter of fact, I was feeling a bit of anxiety over a family issue that I was not sure about. I did not sleep well that night and said a small prayer in the morning for guidance and strength.

When I opened my gift and saw Joy, I felt immense peace. This meant to me that no matter what the conditions around me, God wants me to feel Joy this holiday season. I also took it to mean that I should rejoice and be glad in what is present in my life, because truly, I am blessed.

churchAfter that event, I started to see the word Joy everywhere. It was mentioned several times in a book I read that night. The next day when I pulled into the parking lot at work, there was “Unwrapping Joy” written on the marquee at the nearby church! Also I stopped at a retail store for a few gifts and JOY was actually an ornament on the Christmas tree. Joy was everywhere.

Though there is always something that can cause us a heavy heart, it is important we remember to breathe, live, celebrate and be joyous.

May you be joyous in these days leading up to Christmas! What is bringing you Joy in your life today?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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The Most Memorable Christmas

Do you have a Christmas that stands out in your mind?

In all of my Christmases past, there is one that stands out the most. I want to tell you about it….

Michelene and John opening their presents!
Michelene and John opening their presents!

It was about 24 years ago or so. I don’t remember the exact year. Jim was in nursing school and I was working as a sales manager for a home party company.

December was never a big month for sales and Jim, due to his schooling, was not working. Christmas was looking pretty gloomy for our young family. Michelene was probably 5 years old, John was maybe 2.

One day, two weeks before Christmas, Jim came home from school with news. He had applied for a scholarship months before and lo and behold, he (we!) was considered the neediest of all the students.

I think the check was for around $800. It was perfect. I paid some bills, bought some presents, and we bought a Christmas tree. 

It was not a fancy Christmas but we were provided for. We had everything we needed.

Why does this Christmas stand out in my mind? Maybe because it was my own little miracle. Maybe because I had faith that everything would work out ok.

It is a lesson that even whenever things can seem their gloomiest, there is a flicker of light somewhere that is burning bright. We only need look for the light and it will be there.

In this holiest of times, I hope you remember to look for the light.

Is there a Christmas that stands out in your mind? Tell me about it!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Christmas….Keeping it simple

English: Plateful of Christmas Cookies
Keep it simple!

I am a self-professed over doer. Like anyone these days, I want to keep my job, get everything done at home, be prepared for what may happen next, decorate my house beautifully for Christmas, make everyone a batch of delicious cookies; the list goes on and on.

What I realize of course is that I set myself up for my own impossible goals. Then, thankfully, my sense of reason kicks in and I have my AH HA! moment. My consciousness reminds me ya can’t do it all!

Gone are the days (hopefully!) when my plate was never full enough for me. I was always thinking how much more can I possibly pack into my day? Even when I think I’m taking it easy I can challenge myself to look closer and question my own schedule. Can I snip a few things here or there? Squeeze in an extra nap? Cut back my Christmas list just a bit?

This year, I am paying a single mom to make cookies for me. Baking is not high up on the priority list for me and Jillian loves to bake. This isn’t costing me a fortune (I am rich in many ways but not when it comes to my pocketbook!) and I love this young girl I am giving this task to. We will both be winners on this one.

I am having a large crowd on Christmas Day for dinner. Last year, I insisted on using real dinnerware, silverware, etc. for 25 people. It was very nice of course but my plumbing almost backed up from all the dishes we washed. This year, it’s going to be beautiful paper plates, holiday paper napkins wrapped around good plastic silverware and easy food offerings (some pre-done!) that are easily warmed up.

The perfect Christmas does not have to be perfect. It can be a last minute guest, a batch of botched cookies that you laugh over, a chance to reconnect with an old friend. This year, I want my holiday to be more about relationships- I want to spend time with my family and friends that mean the most to me.

So for me this year, I’m open to whatever may come my way. Hopefully it will be a less intense, more deeply satisfying connection to the true meaning of Christmas.

Join me on my graceful journey.
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