Is there anybody who does not complain about the commercialized and stressful version of Christmas? But rushing around for Christmas presents and in order to get our end of the year things done AND enjoying this peaceful and quiet time of the year at the same time IS possible, even necessary for satisfying Holidays. Why don´t you do it different this year just for yourself...? Read on to find out how ....
Thursday, December 24, 2009
First of all, not only Christians seem to celebrate this holiday. Otherwise the stores would not be so packed before Christmas and there would not be so many Christmas movies and Christmas songs. Besides, it is not accurately Jesus´ Birthday - he was a Leo, which is some time in late July until late August. Some of the popular customs have pre-christian or secular themes and origins.
So what is this holiday all about? Happening around the winter solstice - the longest night of the year, it has been a time of significance for as long as mankind can remember. In the longest and darkest night, hope and faith are needed the most. That´s what carries us over to better times.
This year I am spending the Christmas Holidays with family on the country side in Austria. Outside everything is covered with some 10 inches of snow, temperatures are 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) and more. Human live cannot survive very long outside. These conditions make the meaning of hope and trust much more clear. Hope and trust that nature will awaken again that the days and living conditions will become more friendly. Also, being surrounded by sound muffling snow, everything slows down. The attention turns naturally inward. This is a good time for reflection. Social connections and support are more important than ever. In order to cherish these relationships, gift giving is a natural impulse. Coming from the heart it is a divine action. Spending some quiet time and truly devoting yourself to being of service to the other person and wanting to come up with something that brings true joy to the person who receives the gift, is a powerful experience and a break from daily life, where To Do Lists are clear and calculated.
Christmas is also at the end of the year. We all have many things that we are trying to finish before the new year arrives. This is contradictory to the notion of slowing down and going inward. I believe that both movements complement each other rather than exclude each other. In order to be able to go inward it is necessary to have our affairs in order. At the same time it gets more clear what to finish and get in order once we spend some time to look inside ourselves and remember what it was we set out to do when this current year was still fresh and new. I recommend alternating times of rush to get things done and looking inward to get the focus and priorities clear.
Christmas has so many notions that it encompasses. I wish you, dear reader, the most peaceful and joyful Holidays and a satisfying and clear order in your life. There is a time for everything, you get to arrange those things in your own life. Enjoy!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Sitting together with friends we were talking about - miracles. The friend revealed he was one of view people who have ever been cured (and not just symptom free) from Hepatitis. I was astounded. He was invited to interviews, the medical world was interested what he had been up to in order to make this happen. His humble words were that he had chosen the right things by chance. I heard in between lines that he had committed himself to leaving his comfort zone and following his intuition. Most of all, he believed in miracles.
We agreed that doing something beyond your own limits truly chances your life. I was thinking about my own choice to do something way beyond my wildest dreams: about exactly 10 years ago I decided to go on a pilgrimage all the way through Northern Spain. If people asked me why I would want to walk 500 miles by myself through a country of which I barely spoke the language of. I had no answer. I only felt called and I sensed that something meaningful was waiting for me on the other side. When I followed the calling I was still a psychologist in Vienna. I was holding multiple jobs down and volunteer positions, which made my work weeks some 80 hours long, my heart was still broken from an ended relationship. I was drained from the stories of my oncological patients and from the thousands of callers on the Helpline phone. Things looked grim. Things were not as I had imagined them to be when I started to study psychology in order to help people. For some reason I had enough left in me to follow that hunch and to get myself ready for the hike. It took me 1,5 years to carve out 6 weeks in order to be away from work. I also had to prove to myself that I had a chance at this physically and trained for and ran a half marathon a year before I embarked on my journey to Spain. I remember thinking that this was one of the last REAL adventures that there are. I was scared, but I was going.
I did it! One step at a time. Someone once calculated that it takes one million steps to make that journey. With every step I became more what I wanted to be in this life.
After this trip I have never been the same. Not only did I meet my now husband on the very first day, I moved from Vienna, Austria to San Diego, California (we still live part time in Austria), I became a Life Coach (which is so much more what I had always wanted to do), but there is something about going beyond the known, beyond your own limits. I was in awe to see what I was capable of, I also have a deep sense of a truth to the saying that life rewards the ones who dare. I left so much behind on that journey, many fear, worries, limitations, judgements even, certainly many tears and old wounds.
I can only encourage each and every one of you to find something, anything that is a true challenge to you and give yourself the gift to tackle it. You are of so much more capable than you would think you are. And it feels SOOOO good to do it. Enjoy the journey, I am there, cheering you on!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Have you ever had days where things seem to go wrong, things break, communications don´t turn out clear and good, maybe even friends fall terminally ill? It all seems so overwhelming. Going about regular business can start to seem surrealistic. What does it matter to have a cookie dough spatulas in 7 different colors available at the store? The contrast between the superficial and the important things gets too much, the sense in everything is not visible. I sometimes find myself in that situation speeding up, trying to get things done, more things done, get them done better and faster...... STOP!! If I don´t stop myself at this point, life will do it for me. The longer I keep going, the bigger the signs get that I can simply take a break. It is okay to just give in and not be productive for a moment, to seize the moment and just stare into the air and let whatever races around inside in terms of thoughts and feeling just race around in circles until it starts to settle by itself.
Time simply stands still sometimes, all we can do is wait along with time itself and let happen whatever wants to happen. Tears? Fine. Walk on the beach? Great. Write in a journal? Do it. Whatever wants to come forth, is perfect in this moment. It will most likely be something out of the ordinary routine. Just let it be. The soul heals itself. Just give it room and time to do it.
All there is to do is wait. Wait for things get back into perspective, back in order. Wait for the meaning of it all to reappear. It is part of being human. Not an easy or particularly desired, but very endearing. Almost always there is a deeper connection with it all that comes forth, a strengthened sense of purpose, of calling that reveals itself.
It is worth inviting the silence in in order to take a break from everyday life and just let time stand still....
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Thanksgiving is the start of a special time of the year. It is also the Grande Finale of the calendar year. The cycle of nature also comes to a close. It all peaks in Christmas, Hannukah or Return of the Light festivals at the End of December. What a great vibe in the air. Did you know that giving brings the biggest rewards for yourself?
I love this time very much. For a little over a 12th out of the year, media finally seems to bring the right message: share, give, be generous, enjoy, rejoice, be grateful, give thanks. Sure, it is done in a media way, which is commercials, coaxing us to buy and splurge and spend.... Yet, the bottom line is joyous. For once we get a break in focusing in on sensationalized media reporting. We get to see sparkles, lights, colors, cheers. The general tone everywhere is festive and upbeat. People think about others, about sharing and bringing a smile on somebody else´s face. It might even be a stranger that gets unexpected help and generous donations.
A miraculous thing happens to me: I watch others and wonder what their heart´s desire might be, I give and.... I am magically rewarded. My own worries cease to exist, I sense a deep connection with people in general, there is companionship and mutual help, it makes any loneliness go away. When I share my resources with someone in need, I feel more blessed and abundant than before.
I find sharing and giving a great exercise in order to get out of a scarcity mindset. That mindset can plague any person not just literally poor people. Many millionaires a haunted by it. I say haunted, for it is a true burden, very life negating. The cure is not to save up more - that feeds the scarcity mindset even more. The cure is to let go, to give, to share and to receive the healing experience that it is okay that there is enough. Immediately there is a big sigh of relief: Save. No more worries, no more feeling confined and financially threatened.
That is one of the reasons why I love this season of sharing: I find giving to be a necessary self-care exercise that rewards myself the most.