Merry & Bright

December 24th: Merry & Bright

I am not a religious person by any means, but I must confess, I do love the story of Christmas. The idea of Jesus being born, sent here to right things by a God who loves us all so much. What a beautiful thing to believe. Although I will probably never be one who buys the story myself, I am not opposed to rejoicing for those who do. I do believe God loves us this much, I’ll give you that.

I love the older traditions as well- Winter Solstice celebrations and Yule; a candle lit on the longest night of the year, rejoicing in the return of the sun, recognizing the wheel of the year as it turns. The fabled Wild Hunt, feasting and celebrating with ale and meat and all sorts of merriment.

I love the idea of Santa Claus, too! A twinkly eyed giant in his plush red garb lined with fur, flying through the night sky on a golden sleigh weighed down with toys, laughing with joy as he urges his magical reindeer on through the night! What’s not to love about that?

I love Christmas trees sparkling with light, glimpsed through windows as you drive home in the evening. I love tinsel and snowmen, angels and elves. I love presents wrapped beneath the tree and Christmas carols in the background as cookies bake in the oven. I love snuggling up on the couch to watch movies I’ve seen a hundred times, and seeing my daughter check the calendar each day to make sure the big day is getting closer.

I love all of these things. And this year, for the first time in a long time, I have found myself in a spot where I am able to recognize that I love these things and enjoy all of it. I know how lucky I am, trust me. I have had my fair share of years that were stressful and overwhelming, years when I was dead broke, or heartbroken, sick, messed up, selfish, or any other thing you can think of. I know how hard it can be. Which is why I am so excited that this is not a year like that.

Camryn is nine this year. She still wholeheartedly believes in all the magic of Christmas; she feels it in her bones. I don’t know…this could be the last year for that. So, I am going to enjoy every moment of it, and be grateful that I am present and aware of what a gift that is. As a matter of fact, that might very well be the best thing I get this year, and if it were the only thing, it would be more than enough.

I don’t care too much for presents anymore. I have so much, and if I need something, I can generally take care of it myself. What I want cannot be wrapped up in paper and sat beneath the tree. I want my kids here with me, just hanging out. I want to see the excitement in Cam’s eyes as she wakes to find the cookies gone and sees the stockings full and presents that weren’t there the night before. I want to share her joy and be filled with the contentment that only being with the ones I love most can give to me.

My wish for you this Christmas is that you find your way to the magic of this time of year. Whatever beliefs you hold dear, may they be enough to fill your heart. I hope that you can share your joy with someone who needs it, and if you have none, may someone share theirs with you. And if this year is particularly hard for you, I want you to hang on and remember- there will be years that will be much, much better for you down the road. I can almost guarantee it.

What If's

December 2nd: What if’s

I have been beset with the “what-if’s” the past few days. I’ve been having such a lovely time with my life lately- enjoying friends and family, reveling in my clean little house, feeling quite content with my lot in life.

Suddenly, the idea of tossing everything I know up into the air and moving as far across the country as I could possibly go without leaving it altogether…seems terrifying! What if I’m making a giant mistake?! What if I’m horribly lonely? What if, what if, what if…?

Luckily, I remembered some very important things. And I asked these new “what-if’s” of myself: What if you stopped looking at everything as if it were the last thing you would ever do, and remembered that your life is made up of many parts, this being one of them? What if you remembered that you can, despite what the old saying tells us, come home again? What if you have the time of your life? What if, a year from this day, you are sitting at your desk, looking out of a snowy window, thinking “This is the most wonderful thing I have ever done?”. What if you just see how it goes?

Because I do, indeed, still want to go. I’ve checked in with myself, over and over again, and yes…the answer is still a resounding yes.

I’m scared to death. I’d be a fool not to be. This is a really big thing I’m planning on doing. But when I think back on all of the really big things I’ve ever done, they were also the greatest things I’ve ever done.

Look- we get one shot at this life, at least, as the person we are this go round. I have no idea who I’ll be next time, or if I’ll come back at all, or if I’ll be the sort of person that wants to do crazy things like pack up shop and move…everywhere. So, sure, fear is natural. But you cannot let it stop you from living the biggest, best, most joy-filled life you are capable of. So, I’m turning those “what-if’s” around, crossing my fingers, and forging ahead. ‘Cause what if this is the exact right thing? How will you know unless you try?

Wonder

November 3rd: Wonder

This morning, as I sat down to meditate, my head kept filling itself with visions of the life that awaits me just down the road. Moonlight on snow, a sky full of stars, the distinct, salty scent of the Atlantic Ocean. I would chase the thoughts away, return to my breath, and just as quickly, more pictures would dance through my head- crackling fires in a cozy living room, June Saturday’s that are greener than the greenest thing you’ve ever seen, ferry boats and navy seas, lighthouses and briny air.

In my chest, my heart stirred and swelled with excitement, anticipation, and…wonder. I know that my breath was supposed to be my anchor, that I was not really supposed to be delighting quite so much in those daydreams- not then, anyway, not during meditation…but so what? Maybe today, that was exactly the meditation that I needed.

How often, as adults, do we get swept away with wonder? Less and less, it seems, at least for me. Our lives and our routines are not constructed in such a way to leave much room for moments where we simply marvel at the deliciousness of life. And even if we did have a few moments to spare, minutes we didn’t feel obligated to use up folding laundry or pulling up the garbage cans from the curb, more than likely we’d spend them with our eyes glued to our phone screen.

Quite frankly, I think that’s just sad. I think we all ought to work a little bit harder to bring that sense of wonder into our lives. I mean seriously, what in the hell is the point, even, of a life that is spent simply trying to survive? And if not trying to survive, then we are trying to get to the next level, then the next, then…then what? Then we’re old, and we die rich if we’re lucky?

Pardon my language, but FUCK that. When I think about this move looming in the future for me, I’m not thinking about work or establishing a routine or leveling up or checking my Instagram. I’m thinking of the joy of discovering new places, the memories I might get to make, the adventure I will have. I am thinking about rainstorms and laughter, new friends I might make and stories to tell. I am thinking about all of the things that, for me, make a life worth living. And that…that fills me with wonder.

Today, think about the last time you were filled with wonder. Was it a particularly perfect sunset? A breathtaking full moon? Maybe it was staring at the face of your sleeping child or turning a corner to find a view that just stopped you dead in your tracks. Maybe it was just a shaft of sunlight dancing across the floor. Think about how it made you feel, and how you really ought to have moments like that every single day, at least once. Then ask yourself how. How can you invite that sense of anticipation, awe, and joy to show up? What can you do? The answer will be different for each of us, but for sure it is in there somewhere. When it comes to you, listen.