Me in the Middle of Christmas Once More

Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” —Dr. Seuss

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Image from Pixabay

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With each passing year I find myself withdrawing from all the ratcheting up to the holiday season.  I think it’s partly due to my surrendering to the December years of my life.  It’s also because I find some of the noise and chatter to be superficial.  The true meaning of Thanksgiving through Christmas seems to settle into my life no matter how many carols I listen to, no matter how many ‘Merry Christmases’ I say and no matter how many parties I attend.  Each year I see more and more people realizing this and choosing not to frantically hustle to get things accomplished within that one month.  So, when I read this wonderful essay on the Becoming Minimalist blog I decided to re-post it here.

Last year was My First Reflection on how my views have changed.  I think the politicizing of Christmas intruded into my yearning for what I’ve experienced down through the years.  There is no ‘War on Christmas’.  It happens in our hearts no matter what’s going on in governments.  When we get caught up in the political aspects of the Season we lose sight of the spiritual gifts we all receive no matter how we believe or woship.  The Gifts of Faith, Hope, Love, Peace and Joy are given to each of us no matter where we are in life.  It’s a time of good will toward all men and women.  It’s at times like these that I’ve experienced what the real meaning of Grace is.  It’s at times like these that I’ve learned that Christmas  can happen every day when we’re open to it.  ~ Me in the Middle of Feeling Christmas Spirit.

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Image from Pixabay

A Lighter, Simpler, More Beautiful Holiday 

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Allison Vesterfelt of AllisonVesterfelt.com

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“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” —Bob Hope

I believe it is possible to do less, buy less, cook less, work less and even decorate less and still have a full, happy, satisfying, beautiful holiday season. But in order to get there, and stay there, we’re going to have to focus on a few changes of mindset.

Or, at least I am.

The other day my husband and I were driving to an event together and, out of nowhere, he asked, “Hey, do you realize we’ve never bought each other Christmas presents?”

Honestly, when he asked that question, my heart leapt a little. I knew it was true, but it sounded so harsh to say it outright like that. In fact, I found myself feeling a little embarrassed, thinking of a million excuses for why this was the case…

“We’ve only been married for two Christmases…”

“We’ve been trying to get out of debt…”

“The first Christmas we were together, we were busy planning a wedding…”

But just as I started to let my thoughts get away from me, my husband spoke up again. “Honestly, it doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother you.”

The truth is it doesn’t really bother me. But I find myself thinking it does. I find myself worrying what people will think, or what they’ll say if they find out. I find myself thinking about what others are doing for the holidays that I’m not doing; and feeling pressure to make my holiday season look and feel a certain way.

But our decision to forgo Christmas presents (which was mostly out of necessity at the time we made it) has actually opened space for us to have a lighter, simpler, more beautiful Christmas. I’m not against celebrating, or against buying presents. In fact, my husband and I may buy each other presents one day.

But I do believe the common maxim “less is more” applies to the holidays more than it does to just about anything else. And I think each of us will discover a more satisfying holiday if we’ll focus on the following changes in mindset.

1. Don’t get too stuck on “the way you’ve done it before.”

If you grew up in a family or neighborhood (like I did) that went all out for Christmas, maybe scaling back for your own holiday celebration makes you feel a little bit like I felt when my husband reminded me we have never bought each other presents—like a failure. Or, like you’re doing it wrong.

I have good news. There is no wrong way to do it!

Try not to get too stuck on the way you’ve always done it before. Instead, focus on the values you want to cultivate in your family or community or home this year, and experiment with creative ways to promote those values. Also, if you’re entering a new season of life (newly independent, newly married, have young children, or have a newly empty nest), what better time to start fresh with a brand new “way?”

If you’ve always been extravagant in the past, you don’t have to “live up” to that version of yourself, or to anyone else. Take a deep breath. You’re not a failure.

2. Focus on experiences over possessions.

One of the reasons my husband and I have never bought Christmas presents for each other is that we are always traveling for the holidays. We live far from all of our extended family, and in order to spend time with family (without breaking the bank) we have had to choose between plane tickets and Christmas presents.

We’ve agreed together that, when it comes buying habits, we will always (not just at Christmas) value experiences over possessions. Possessions are nice, but they rust, rot, get stolen and burn in fires. Experiences can’t be taken from us. They have eternal value.

Consider how you cultivate experiences this year, rather than just buying gifts which will likely end up in the Goodwill pile in a few months or years.

3. Do the best you can with what you have.

This is advice a mentor of mine once gave me about a totally different subject, but I think it applies here, as well. When I was getting ready to go on a date, she would advise me not to go buy brand new clothes, or to feel like I needed to lose 10 pounds before the date, but simply to, “Do the best you can with what you have.”

In other words: be the best version of yourself.

I would give really similar advice when it comes to Christmas. Do the best you can with what you have. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy presents, or that having a Christmas tree is a waste. It simply means don’t go into debt over presents or trees. It means decide what you’re going to spend on Christmas—and it doesn’t have to be extravagant—and then do the best you can with what you have.

4. Turn off the TV (or find other ways to avoid being swayed by advertisements).

You’d be surprised how influenced you are by advertisements. Suddenly you begin thinking that everyone has a better Christmas planned than you do. Everyone’s Christmas tree belongs in a department store, and everyone’s husband is buying them diamond earrings, and everyone else is buying their kids new computers.

That’s simply not true, no matter how convincing the ads make it look.

The other thing that’s not true is that families who have these things are automatically happier (like they are in the commercials) than your family, or other families who go without. Presents are nice. But they can’t make you happy.

If you want a truly happy holiday season, you’ll have to find ways to cultivate happiness from the inside.

What tips do you have for creating a lighter, more beautiful life?

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Allison Vesterfelt blogs at AllisonVesterfelt.com where she inspires and encourages others to live with less. Her book, Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage is helpful and compelling. I highly recommend it to you. She is also worth following on Twitterbecoming minimalist@gmail.com

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My Grown-Up Christmas List

Me in the Middle Dreaming of Kauai

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I’ve been invited to go to Kauai!

My bucket list isn’t too long.  I’m content with the simple things in life.  Kauai …… Hawaii!  Surely of bucket list quality!  Traveling has been an adventure for me and I’ve always  wanted to ‘seize the day’ when opportunity knocks.   This is one of those times when opportunity is knocking at my door and it’s an opportunity I’d be reluctant to refuse.

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When I was a child we weren’t taught to make a bucket list.  We just let life happen and went with the flow.  Our parents chose what they felt was best for us.  We were together and that made for happiness in ‘seizing the day’.   My life has been full in many ways, especially in the meaningful things.  As a young woman, wife and mother, my joy (and sorrows) have been my ‘seize the day’ moments as I fulfilled the loving roles the best I could. God is with us through it all ~ the good and the bad.  I worked my bucket list into those years in my own way.

Now I’m given those moments to find joy in the gifts that I find along the way.  Those moments when the universe smiles down on us and you know it is good.  Friends that I meet come into my life and fill me up where I need to be filled, and teach me lessons that help me to grow.  Opportunities fall in place when I’m open to receive them and when I trust my God-given intuition that the timing is right.

So, this opportunity has gracefully fallen into my life.  I thought my bucket list had just about been  checked off and I am always content with the simple things in life.  A relationship is growing and he’s invited me to Kauai.

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Seize the Day

*Images from Pixabay*

Me in the Middle of Being Grateful (#FlashBack)

        
It’s FlashBack Friday~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on November 7th, 2015.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title below to be taken to the original post. 

I chose this post because by looking back on what I was grateful for last year I was able to see where I needed to maybe make an attitude adjustment here and there.  I rememberd what joy I was getting from sketching and watercolor back then.  I’ve slipped a little on my intention to do it often and now need to renew my commitment to something that brought me so much satisfaction.  All in all, this list still stands in my attitude of gratitude.  :) 

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November Grid

(c) May Lou Q

Writing 101 ~ Make a List of Gratitudes

Last November I was in the middle of taking an On-line Art Journaling Course with Joanne Sharpe ~ Draw Your Awesome Year 2014.  For November we used the theme ~ Something I’m Grateful For Each Day Of November and we illustrated each day as gifts.  It was such a rewarding exercise!

 

So, when WordPress Writing 101 gave the assignment to make a list, I decided to do something similar except make a list of a dozen gratitudes for 2015.  It’s been a great year all the way through!

A Dozen Gratitudes for 2015

  1. I love waking up in the morning and seeing the light of the new day streaming through my window.  Life is a gift!
  2. This year has given me wonderful friendships with lots of new experiences.  I’m so grateful for them.
  3. The Joy I’ve found in creating watercolor sketches and focusing in on the details of our beautiful world.
  4. Renewed strength and health so that I’m able to walk five miles along a wonderful scenic trail.
  5. I’m at a point in my life where letting go feels really good … letting go of people and expectations.
  6. Finding my inner self and no longer being a self critic .  So much gratitude for this.
  7. A knowledge that whatever comes my way, good and bad, I can meet it with strength and courage.
  8. A year without any health problems.  In fact, I’ve improved along the way.  How about that!
  9. The courage to ask for support and guidance while making a commitment to myself!  I matter!
  10. Grateful for the healing power of writing.  A path to the clarity of finding my own voice.
  11. My comfortable, cozy apartment that’s become an expression of me and what I love. ❤
  12. A sense of community ~ of connectedness ~ with people, near and far, who are there for me.
“There is an unchanging spark from the Creator in each of us, our highest self, a piece of God. And we are all connected.”
– Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Being Strong

A deeply moving Reblog. I could see and embrace my own journey as I read JoAnna’s  post ~ Being Strong.  It’s wonderful to see a woman (or man) look back and recognize that they truly chose to be strong.❤

(Click on my ‘Related’ posts at the bottom for more reading🙂 )

Anything is Possible!

Tree roots walking

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” Bob Marley

I discovered this quote at Behind the White Coat: https://doctorly.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/%e2%80%8bwho-knew-a-broken-blue-sky/ 

I like that Bob Marley quote. But I believe we always have a choice. There are many times when I’ve felt like I had to be strong, like for my kids after the divorce. I could have fallen apart, but I didn’t, at least not in front of the kids. I didn’t give up because I had a responsibility to my children. And I didn’t want to hurt my parents.

Deep down, I knew there was the possibility that things could better though I did not know how.

I could have been stronger and not gotten involved in that rebound from hell, but in my grief, I made some poor choices. There were may points of choice along the way. Ultimately, thankfully, I made…

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Me In The Middle of Blogging 101 ~ Being A Good Neighbor

A Reblog from last year for Veteran’s Day. Thank you for all who serve and have served.

Me In The Middle

My Uncle Jack ~ RIP My Uncle Jack ~ RIP

My Uncle Henry ~ RIP My Uncle Henry ~ RIP

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“Those who serve in our military risk the greatest hazard, and often lay upon the altar of liberty the greatest sacrifice, in defense of our decisions as a self-governing citizenry. No expression of gratitude for their valor, then, is adequate, but the constant vigilance and effort of each citizen to ensure that our decisions, as a people, are informed, reasonable, and just.”

~ Thomas Jefferson ~

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The assignment for Blogging 101 ~ Being A Good Neighbor ~ was to visit four of the blogs that I’m following and leave a comment about one of their posts.  Today, Veteran’s Day 2015, had some very meaningful expressions on respect and honor for those who have served in the military.  I chose four of these blogs that I visited and wanted to share them with you:

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