“…..with every Christmas card I write…..”

On our way home this evening, the song “White Christmas” came on the radio.  Aub and Cooter were in the car with me, as I was humming along without really thinking about the song.  The song continued, and the lyrics played:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
with every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry…..”

and then I heard Cooter hollering at the top of his lungs from the very back seat–

“WHAT?” Palm to forehead.  “What?  I’m supposed to write Christmas cards too?”

*sigh*

Poor little guy.

Poor all of us.

How many folks have asked you, “Are you ready for Christmas?”  “Do you have it all done?”  “Have you planned your menu for the day?”

How many times have you asked those questions in an effort to make conversation?

*guilty*

All the pressure.  All the expectations.  We create list after list.  Shopping lists.  Gifts we’re giving lists.  Parties and dinners we are invited to.  Parties and dinners we want to throw.  A baking list.  A grocery list.  A list of errands.  And yes, Cooter, even a Christmas card list.

One of my sweet friends was all but apologizing to me today that her Christmas card wasn’t going out until after Christmas.  There was just too much to do and not enough time.

Bless.  Her.  Sweet.  Soul.

I remember the year I didn’t send out cards until Valentine’s.  It worked.  It was kind of fun.  And I’m guessing our card didn’t get lost in a stack with everyone else’s Valentine’s Day cards.  Just a thought.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves–scratch that.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to create the perfect Christmas full of all the perfect little moments in a clean, tidy home with lots of festive decorations and ornamentation and all of the joy and fun and laughter and contented sighs.

Yeah.

I’m betting I’m not the only one.

We have one week left, y’all.  To take it back.  To take a moment to rest and cuddle and read a Christmas story together piled up on the couch or chair or bed underneath the colorful afghans that bring me such joy with the people that make my soul glad.  Savoring the moment without worrying over the perpetual clutter or unwrapped gifts and all the other things we carry on our shoulders.  To simply be in the precious moment of NOW.

We have one week left to change our question from “Are you ready?” to “How are you?” or “Where are you finding peace and Light today?”  or “Where AM I going to find peace and Light today?”

We have one week left to change it. Even if we only take five minutes a day to step away from all the expectations and Hallmark commercials (doggone them for making me cry and wanting to create all the moments myself) and hustle and bustle and lists and pressure, and we just sit down and breathe.  And laugh.  Or listen.  Or sit next to the people we love or the people we’ve just met and BE.  That’s the goal.  If we can even take five minutes a day to welcome into our hearts the presence of Peace, we’ve come a long way from all of the things weighing on us, all of the lists we carry around, and we’re one step closer to that quiet night of reflection and Love beneath a bright star listening to the quiet, steady breaths of the little one newly come to us.

Go ahead.  Add THAT to your list.  You deserve it.  And *takes a deep breath* so do I.

Love to all.

Christmas_To_Do_List_(4206456664)

By Jon Curnow from London, United Kingdom (Christmas To Do List) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

the one about success

This morning I had a conversation with a good friend about  measuring the success of a program we are both a part of.  And what that looks like.  All day my head has reverted back to that one word, echoing in my mind, success.  Thinking of what it is, what it looks like, how we define it.  I sat down tonight and looked up the official definition.  

success

: the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame

: the correct or desired result of an attempt

: someone or something that is successful : a person or thing that succeeds

My definition is a little different.

Success

As elusive to define as it is to attain

Some say it looks like three piece suits

and smells like money

or expensive cologne

Some say it is a leather briefcase and

all three of your names on a business card

I once knew and loved someone who said

success was retiring a millionaire

at age 35

That definition killed him

as the struggle to make it happen

and the sense of failure as 35 came and went

were too much to bear

My friend finds success in each day, hour, minute

that she doesn’t lapse

take a drink

She writes poems and soon she will see them in print

She says, Success! with a capital “s” and an exclamation point

just like that

My friend who can’t not take a drink

at least today

and probably tomorrow

thinks success is each day he awakes and isn’t dead

or worse

Any other idea of success would be unattainable

and set him up for failure

So he thinks.

I watch the girl for whom success is good grades and helping others

and I hear her wish for other things,

a significant other, the love of those around her

and my heart aches for her

One goal met only leads to wishing for the next one.

I know.

I’ve been there.

After years of defining success as happiness

or stability–financial, emotional, yes yes and yes

I finally sit down and nod my head

as I write,

Success

elusive

fluid

changing

Success is not letting the past grab my legs

and pull me back

like quicksand, not only holding me back

but dragging me down

Success is moving forward, even if millimeter

by millimeter

even if the past mocks and laughs and points at the direction I’m taking

Moving.  Onward.

Any day that a soul can look herself in the heart

and not turn away

that day is a success

When one can continue to dream, to wish, to strive

after taking hit after hit–

loss, grief, sadness, hurt, infidelity, betrayal, pain, brokenness–

and can still imagine, create, love, sing

all those colors and sounds and smells and things felt

not forgotten but stored and treasured

Those moments in life whisper, “success,” in a hushed awestruck voice

The volume is not important really

Nor is the exclamation point

Success does not have to be dollar signs or fancy cars

or any of those THINGS

Success is more about what can’t be seen

than what readily meets the eye

When the heart is at peace

success is measured in satisfaction,

in the sense of belonging in the place

one is

in that moment

Success is a reflection

of the heart

Dear January, You Need an Image Makeover

It’s been a long week.  Full of emotional ups and downs.  The kind of roller coaster that leaves you spinning and queasy after.  (Here I am acting like I know what it’s like to ride roller coasters.  Right.)  Still, yes, that kind of week.  Laughter and joy, sorrow and tears, worry and fun, peaks and valleys.

Last weekend we were able to get our tree home, put up, and decorated.  It took a couple of days all in all, but I was feeling, as my Mama and Great Aunt would say, mighty sanctimonious about it.  We did it.  No, I don’t have it in me to put all of our Christmas things out, but yes, feeling pretty good.  Despite everything, I felt like I could handle all that this season might throw at me.  I had my feet back under me again at least.

And then this blasted (excuse my language) thing came this week.

What?  I mean, just.....What?!?

What? I mean, just…..What?!?

It’s obviously the January issue of this magazine The Fella signed me up for (free for three months) through a special offer.  Which I appreciate.

But seriously?

They don’t know me like that.

They can’t just focus on one thing for us to work on?  To try?  They gotta get all in my chili?  I feel like they’re throwing things at me from all directions. I mean, did they leave ANYTHING untouched?  Finances…..body……eating…..parenting…..my things…..my clothes…..and my skin….really?! Everything except my house and my heart and mind.  But wait, check out the table of contents inside.

Wait for it.....yeah, now they've covered it all.

Wait for it…..yeah, now they’ve covered it all.

Oh honestly.  I’m not even handling December very well.  Just like that, my confidence and satisfaction with how I’m doing this holiday season were kicked to the curb.  January is trying to butt in and kill the joy.  And who writes this stuff anyway?  Notice that we shouldn’t worry about being the “perfect parents” anymore.  Now we should stress because we want to be perfect.  And apparently that’s an inappropriate goal for us to have.

*insert major eye roll here*

Y’all.  What are we doing?  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Expect ourselves and others to recreate and change ourselves/themselves just because a calendar year has changed?  No wonder January and I have never gotten along very well.  It’s dark, it’s cold, and people are all about asking you what your “New Year’s Resolutions” are.

Just no.

Maybe it’s not all January’s fault.  Admittedly it is following a couple of months of partying with a capital P.  Joy with a capital J.  The season of rush and busyness and quiet meditation and candlelight and twinkling lights and festivities and remembering.  Who would want to walk through the door after that guy?

Not me.

Still I wish January could come up with another motto, another thing to affiliate with–you know, maybe get an image makeover.  I mean, wouldn’t you rather get a beautiful, colorful magazine (did you notice the neutrals with just a touch of color on the cover of this one? *sigh*) with a message scrawled across it in eye-catching font that says:

CONGRATULATIONS……YOU DID IT.

that is all

And then it could be filled with stories about great experiences people had during the holidays or ways to be kind to yourself, as in celebrating who you are in this very season, at this very moment.  January, don’t be all about the change.  Why not be about giving ourselves a big ol’ hug after all the stress and overwhelming beauty of being with people we love and making every effort we can to bake, to cook, to buy, to make, to read, to share, to love and to orchestrate the best possible magically muchly delightful Christmas for those we love?  Yeah.  Why not that, January?

I bet then you’d be proud to walk through the door after Party season.  Because I think quiet reflection and celebrating who and where we all are beats out managed chaos, magical madness, and teetering sanity every single day.

That’s a magazine I’d buy and hang onto for a long, long time.

Whaddaya say, January?  Will you at least consider it?

Love to all.

Thank you all for your prayers for sweet K.  She continues to fight and is in critical condition.  Please keep her and her family and the Wesleyan community in your thoughts and hearts and prayers.  All are appreciated.  ❤