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

advent-514849_960_720

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.

This  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 worship.  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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madonna-with-child-1051897__340

Image from Pixabay

A Lighter, Simpler, More Beautiful Holiday 

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

simple-holiday

“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?

***

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 of Lessons Learned ~ Letter F

My Life Is My Masterpiece ~ Lessons Learned

My theme ~ Lessons Learned.  I’ll be posting a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet that fits my theme.   This blog/website has become one way to share about myself to my children, my grandchildren and my extended family who are scattered all over the country and the world.  Hopefully, anyone who reads this will be in some way blessed by my throwing my words out onto the World Wide Web and into the Universe.  

 My About Page gives me the focus so that, as I age, I don’t forget what I worked so hard to learn.  It’s going to be fun and challenging!   I hope you’ll stick with me as I strive to meet my goal!!

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DSCN3244

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~ This Too Shall Pass ~

When things are bad, remember:
It won’t always be this way.
Take One Day at a Time.

When things are good, remember:
It won’t always be this way.
Enjoy every great moment.

© thehiyL.com

When I speak of Faith in this post, I’m thinking more of a that inner conviction that life is good and, no matter what we face, we’ve got what it takes to make it through.  Each person’s individual belief in how to come to this inner conviction is unique to them.  I respect whatever religion or way of life that helps a person move along their path to  find this place of Faith, Hope and Love.  We’re all so much alike when it comes to these strivings.

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It Starts With A Dream

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Good Times and Bad Times

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“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
St. Francis of Assisi

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Kindness #9

(c) mlq

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* Note:  My letter sketches were made from ideas I found on Google Images. *

***  This Alphabet Series is a recycle of the posts I created while participating in the A to Z Challenge in 2016 ***

Me in the Middle of Christmas Once More (ReBlog)

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

advent-514849_960_720

Image from Pixabay

********************

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 worship.  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.

*********************

madonna-with-child-1051897__340

Image from Pixabay

A Lighter, Simpler, More Beautiful Holiday 

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

simple-holiday

“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?

***

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

 

Haiku – Difficulty

It’s in the looking back that we’ve come to know how true this is….. And in the present moment that we’ve come to have faith and hope in the future. ❤

Find Your Middle Ground

mindfulness
~
May the truth you seek
Rise out of difficulty
Find your Middle Ground
~

Every experience we have in life is an opportunity to witness. To step back, observe and attend to.

Beneath the discomfort and suffering is something precious that wants to be known.

In times of difficulty, pause and be with whatever comes up. Give it space so you can feel it fully.

As you come to this place full of hard and hurtful edges, let yourself soften.

Open your heart to it, and let compassion melt the negative thinking and resistance.

Find your Middle Ground and the truth and love within.

Namaste

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Me in the Middle of Hope

I live just outside of the City of Charlottesville in Albemarle County.

As I watched last weekend begin to unfold on last Friday night with the intimidating appearance of  torches and hate-filled messages on the Lawn of the University of Virginia I knew things were going to progress in ugliness.  I also knew that Charlottesville Va, a friendly and welcoming place for all people of good will, was destined to be a pivotal part of history.  Before I got off the internet and spent the weekend with family I read this post by one of the WordPress Bloggers I follow.  It was obvious to me that this ‘millenial’s’ post was going to go viral ………………… and it did!  10,000 plus shares on Facebook!

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My Fellow White Americans

August 12, 2017

These are images from Charlottesville, Virginia last night.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 10.59.03 AM

These are white people in their twenties and thirties. Like me.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 10.59.22 AM.png

These are people who are in my generation, the millennial generation, the one frequently lambasted for “participation trophies” and “needing safe spaces.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 10.59.36 AM

These are people that look like my coworkers, my colleagues, my brothers, my cousins. People I know and love, who also have white skin and wear polo shirts.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 10.59.59 AM.png

These are people who, like I was, were raised on a diet of Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, which teaches tolerance and understanding of others. They’ve probably seen the Indiana Jones films, where punching Nazis is considered a virtuous act. These are my actual demographic peers in the United States of America, which means that these are people who sat through the unit on the second world war in their history class and looked at images of concentration camps and gas chambers and burning books and Anne Frank’s attic and still thought, well, hang on, maybe those Nazis had some interesting ideas.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 11.09.49 AM.png

These are people who chanted “Jew will not replace us.”

These are people who yelled “The heat here is nothing compared to what you’re going to get in the ovens.”

These are people who didn’t even bother to wear hoods. 

What does it say that in 2017, I’m struck by the fact that the Ku Klux Klan members at least shielded their faces so that no one could identify them? That the same type of societal pressure apparently no longer exists today? That these people feel comfortable espousing the rhetoric of racist, genocidal maniacs in a public space that was widely photographed and broadcast?

My anger is bigger than my ability to write,  but I’m going to try to say this as succinctly as I can.

White nationalism is morally indefensible. This is not a point that is up for discussion.

If you are willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt, you are complicit in the rhetoric of racists and bigots. Playing “devil’s advocate” is unacceptable.

To Continue Click on the Link:  My Fellow White Americans

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On Wednesday night, the people of Charlottesville came together to Take Back the Lawn:

 

Which side are you on? If you’re on the wrong side of history then please get out of the way. I have faith in the goodness of the next generations.

Cville Take Back The Law Aug 8
Images from C’ville Weekly ~ EzeAmos