Tag Archives: holiday stress

the calculus of resilience

graffiti of green balloons, a person grabbed on to one, next to the words "schnapp dir auch einen!"

(grab one, too!)

In my dream I had signed up for a tennis tournament, even though I 1) didn’t have any clothes to wear for such a thing, and 2) didn’t actually know how to play. I put off and put off letting them know that I couldn’t participate, and wasn’t at all sure that I wouldn’t take my turn, let my ass get kicked, and then just be done with it. In my dreams, as in my real life, I often like to wait and see what’s going to happen.

I am moving through a small depression here, one that has allowed me to rally for workshops and love, but still sinks down into my bones when I’m alone, that brings with it the messages of persistent failure and sadness. I had such big plans for the months of November and December, such bright visions for the first part of 2013, and now everything has changed. I’m overwhelmed by the work emails and phone calls that are waiting for me — it’s almost time just to wipe the decks clean and start over — and I’m missing the friends and community I’ve been mostly out of touch with since the back spasm at the beginning of November. Physically, I am worlds better than I was even a week ago, and I can see light at the end of this tunnel — but that means it’s time to get back in the saddle, and that still hurts.

This morning, however, my little orange apartment actually feels like Christmas. There are bunches of wrapped packages of cookies, homemade xmas cards, wrapping materials (both new and saved/scavenged), a small rosemary bush snipped into the shape of a fir tree (draped with small Tibetan prayer flags), and a few cards from friends and family. Continue reading

Feel the joy in this present

graffiti - woman and moon through tree branchesGood morning! Here I am with you again — it’s been several days!  I’ve been notebook writing quite a bit this week, and also sleeping a bit more than usual, so I haven’t had time for both the notebook pages and blog both.

Monday was the Solstice — the light is returning! Was there a way that you took note of the holiday?

(Have you seen this video of the lunar eclipse that coincided with the solstice? Look at that red — pretty amazing!)

Winter solstice, lunar eclipse, and mercury retrograde — quite a lot going on astrologically. What it’s meant for me is a need to slow down; a deep need. As soon as the pressure starts to build (get it done! worry! stress! panic!), something in me deflates — that’s how it feels. Deflates. And I have to go in a corner and read a book until I can breathe again, until the panic button has stopped flashing.

There are times when panic/stress will motivate me to accomplish tasks. But at other times, panic just isn’t a useful motivator. Especially not at the holidays — there was just so much stress around Christmas when I was a teenager and young adult, I don’t have room for any more. It’s like I’m still filtering that old stuff out. So packages go out late and cards don’t get ordered or sent and I know that everything’s going to be ok. Slow steady steps — I talk to friends, I write a little bit, go for a walk. The panic drains out and I can function again.

There’s so much pressure at this time of year to be happy, to be joyous, to return the Merry Christmas-es, even if you don’t celebrate, even if you’re not Christian, even if it’s not an especially Merry time. And for those who are easily Merry-ied in December, there can be some anxiety, knowing that others aren’t having a great time, knowing that this time of year can be triggering or sad.

In her most recent newsletter, SARK wrote about giving ourselves permission to feel whatever we’re feeling at the holidays; it’s ok to be joyful, ok to be lost and sad, ok, too, to move from one to the other to something else in rapid succession!  She includes some lovely self care strategies, including adjusting and lowering expectations, educating others about how to care for you, really thinking about what you need to feel good and ok during the holidays (and then providing those things for yourself!). Sometimes it’s radical self-care not to do any holiday-ing at all!

I know I get caught up in wanting everything to be perfect — perfect tree, perfect cookies, perfect presents, perfect perfect perfect. My muscles tense up, just writing all that out. We know there isn’t any perfect, of course. But my inside kid (yes, I said it) is still waiting for xmas & santa to make everything all right. My inside teenager remembers that whatever wasn’t perfect was just going to trigger a fight and a long, long, long abusive talk.

So for me and those kids, at my house over the next week, we’ll have some good-enough to replace the perfect, some movies-at-home and cookies and cocoa, some popovers on xmas morning and time with friends, some time by the ocean, some wishes for 2011 written out and read aloud and offered to the sea. We’ll have some warm baths and body-tending time, lots of candles. Maybe some dancing time. Maybe a trip to visit the snow. Good coffee and lots of veggies. Some gifts and some experiences-as-gifts (disappearing gifts!). Lots of writing. Lots of deep breathing and maybe some tears (let the past and the now wash through). Letting myself feel the nostalgia and missing, and letting myself feel, too, the joy in this present, in this now.

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What about some prompts? If I’d been in a workshop on Monday, we would have done some writing about light: either with a candle flame as a prompt (light a candle and take a moment just to be quiet with the flame; notice what voices or images or memories arise as you watch), or maybe beginning our write with the phrase, “In a dark room, the light…”

You might also want to write out your own most self-cared-for holiday vision: what would this time look like if you centered your own well-being?

Let yourself choose whichever of these is most compelling to your writer’s self right now, give yourself 10 or 15 minutes, and write.

Be easy with yourself this season. Go slow, if you can. We’re all doing big work. Thank you for your gentleness with others, and the way you allow others to be gentle with you. Thank you for your words.