Tis’ the Season
December 1st prompts both angst and excitement for the upcoming holidays. The gong rings out, “are you ready?” My response to that call – “no I am not.” No matter how evolved I become (haha) I am forever disappointed in what I won’t get done. I can already picture the future. No one else will know this, except all of you. So, how to struggle without agitation during this beautiful season? And if we must rush, how do we do it slowly?
I have reduced my expectations, yet as time draws near, I start to doubt myself and fret about what I have chosen not to do. Choosing is in play here. Unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others are like adding a sack of rocks to our bent shoulders. Best set that burden down, over and over again.
The practicality of Living well with illness reminds us that nothing needs to be fixed. I/we can co-exist with some of these old tapes and still continue along the new path that we are making for ourselves. A more realistic path, perhaps. A path of our own. Not the path of Amazon and big business, nor even the path of our ancestors.
My current favourite book, Four Thousand Weeks, by Oliver Burkeman has ten good suggestions, and here is one I am curious to try:
Decide in advance what to fail at
“You’ll inevitably underachieve at something, simply because your time and energy are finite. But strategic underachievement – nominating in advance areas of your life in which you won’t expect excellence- helps you focus your time and energy more effectively. For example, you might decide in advance that it’s ok to have a cluttered kitchen while you finish (writing) your novel, or to do the bare minimum on a particular work project, so you can spend more time with your children.
To live this way is to replace the high pressure quest for work-life balance with something more reasonable: a deliberate kind of imbalance.”
What matters most to you in this season? Do you have traditions you love? What new ones do you want to include? What can you set aside?
We all need to make tough choices throughout the year, as to what we can actually do. To say yes to the most important things we will need to say no to many other attractive offers. Bear in mind that this will be different for all of us because we have unique circumstances, obligations, energy capacity, and personal well-being. Age does matter, 75 is not 55. Just as 55 is not 35. I am convinced that we can lead full, active, joyful, and useful lives for decades if we are willing to adapt to our changing circumstances.
Several years ago my stepfather was discouraged that he could no longer do what he used to do. My mother looked him in the eye and said she didn’t want to do all that she used to do anymore. And in fact that she had too much to do now. He paused, reached for the phone, and put their home on the market and they moved to a condo in the city. They both got to enjoy more years of active living and travelling. I want to be that person who will adapt: I no longer ski but I can snowshoe. ( this year I will give it a try) I don’t skate but I cycle and walk.
December can be a beautiful last month of the year with light, love, music, good food, and wonderful people. Let’s reduce the pressure and pick a few important things to focus our attention and effort on. Maybe we can let go of cooking the entire dinner and bring in the others to help. Laughter and chopping in the kitchen are part and parcel of a fun Christmas for me. However, there were times we ordered a fully cooked dinner because it was the reasonable choice for that year. There are no hard and fast rules. We can adapt and enjoy.
I hope you enjoy the preparation for your holiday traditions as much as the day itself. And we can, as long as we build in time for fresh air, naps, and doing a little less. Card and letter writing, if done in the spirit of love, can be meaningful, not a duty. We may not get them all done but let’s not beat ourselves up nor wear ourselves out, during this festive season. May you enjoy this special month.
Warmest wishes and gratitude, Trudy
Note 1:) Rumi’s message for today.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” ―
Note 2:) Janice Fall’s beautiful poetry site. She is brilliant in finding amazing poems and her commentary is equally beautiful.
Note 3 🙂 A Year with My Camera For budding novices and more experienced photographers this is a free online course with UK photographer Emma Davies. If you have an SLR camera tucked away and aren’t using it much anymore, you may want to take it out and have fun this winter. Our digital devices do not do well in the cold. Emma is an excellent teacher with clear, simple and fun examples. She does have products for sale but you are not pestered. One instructional email a week. Best I have seen.
I know that most of us, including me, use our phones for photos, and they are amazing. There are tons of courses for this too, but so far I haven’t seen anything like Emma’s and certainly not for free. There is an iPhone for Dummies by Mark Hemmings, whom I know and respect and can act as an excellent resource for beginners to make the most of these cameras. His version was published last year and includes the iPhone 11. It is the only one I personally know.