Holidays and ordinary days

mountains and Christmas treesWhy do we change our daily routine around the holidays? If we’ve established what works best for us on our ordinary days, then doesn’t altering it for special days make us worse off? How about when we alter it for days upon days in preparation for the holiday?

Often the habits that support our own wellness are the first to go, evident by the emptier yoga classes and the crowded malls this time of year.   It’s a funny phenomenon, really, that we take what many of us consider the most sacred time of year and plunge into self-neglect, often with bells on. And in the name of Jesus Christ.

For better or worse, it doesn’t take much ‘extra’ to make me feel out of sorts. I know I’ve had too much holiday hoopla when I start doing things like searching for my phone while I am holding it in my hand. Or creating a shopping list and then promptly losing it. My mind does not do the two- places- at- once thing well, and frankly I don’t even want to.

I don’t want to give up writing for weeks leading up to a holiday. Or even for a few days. Ditto for yoga or jogging or cooking healthy meals or any of the other things that make me happy on ordinary days.

Around the time of my high school prom our History teacher asked the girls why we were making hair appointments for the big event. I assume the way you wear your hair every day is the way you think it looks best, so why change it for prom? he asked.  I thought he had a good point which I guess is why I still remember his statement so many years later. There was something just a little relevant to life here, not just to proms and hairdos.

I enjoy the holidays so much more when I don’t allow them to take over my life, and in particular, my life style. Holidays are fun, but I like ordinary days. My dopamine levels are doing just great on ordinary days, thank you. I’m not really looking for a shot of wow.  I’d rather push my limits in a completely different area of life.

What if everyone leaned into the holidays only as far as they found enjoyable and no more? It’s not always an easy task, identifying your ideal level of holiday stimulation and drawing the line there. It has a lot to do with temperament and personal preference, and maybe a dozen other things. I think it’s worth figuring out for ourselves though, when to shake things up- and when the ordinary hairdo is just right.

Midlife and Miracles

I’ve decided to begin my New Year’s resolutions early this year. The idea of a fresh year and new possibilities thrills me each and every January. What I really love about this time are the miracles we get to create. What better month to prepare for miracles than December?

Miracles are the epitome of Christmas. Sure there is the festivity, the giving and unwrapping; family time and holiday music and the possibility of glistening snow. The joy! But the spirit of Christmas, at least for me, is also about the magic I feel when I put love and clarity and moving forward, being better, at the top of my agenda. It is an internal thing.

I love mid-life for the opportunities that come with the wisdom of hindsight and experience. I like the deeper appreciation of time that is cultivated when you realize it is not endless. I love this stage of life for the self-knowledge; when you finally really know yourself- strengths, weaknesses, desires and aversions, you are better able to create an increasingly authentic life.

It becomes so obvious that choices are being made continuously, in every moment, and that self-effacy is a damn good path to personal freedom. I mean, when we look at where we are today, though there were some things out of our control, don’t we mostly recognize a series of choices that brought us here?

Once we’re at midlife, there is no excuse for our choices to be shots in the dark. The consequence to each and every one, big and small, is a lot clearer in the light of experience.

So I’m creating my list of resolutions, or goals, or call- them-what- you- will, early. I want to have built up some momentum by the time Christmas is here, so that the great spirit of the holiday, of life itself, can find an open vessel in me. I want to breathe in the magic, so I’m meeting it halfway. If all goes well, I will be able to greet the first day of January with the confidence that my resolutions are already sticking, that my goals will be met.

I may appear to be doing less this year- less shopping, less baking, maybe even less decorating. But I know what I want, this month and in the year ahead, and it won’t come wrapped or delivered to my doorstop. It’ll be a gift, a miracle, that I invite because I know what I need to do and what I need to not do, and alas I know the difference, without question.

I know which goals or dreams are outdated and which ones are meant for now. With midlife, the ego has shrunk enough to learn from mistakes while the heart has swelled enough to forgive them. If we are good this year, whatever that means for us, we really will get what we want. I believe that. It probably won’t be easy. In fact, it may be very difficult, depending on what it is.

So Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Heck, Happy almost New Year. Soon we will have 365 new days of new moments, each one full of potential. Here’s to midlife and to miracles. They are one and the same.