Childlike Holidays with Less Stress

The holiday seasons seem to come earlier each year…or maybe just faster. Whatever the case, I’m determined to experience what it offers with the least amount of stress I can. Here are a couple ideas I’ve found helpful to make the season calmer and more serene.

First, do you remember when you would anticipate the holidays with the excitement of the unknown? You knew there would be some kind of good that would present itself. Part of that excitement was the fact that you did not know exactly what would happen. Go there again. Give up knowing how things are ‘supposed to’ turn out. Allow yourself to suspend judgment and pre-determined outcomes of the day. Let yourself be surprised by life! Sit back in childlike wonder and fresh attention to all holiday gatherings. Marvel at the synchronicity of life.

Second, as you allow yourself to be okay with the not knowing, trust that only good will present itself. See the good everywhere. See it in the aunt or uncle that has been distant, ask them what’s been happening in their lives. See the good in the guests who come to your home or that special gathering and offer their help with dinner preparations, even though they don’t know where any dish or utensil is located. See the good in the cousin or nephew who wants to debate every play of the football game, especially if your team is losing. See the good in the after-meal mess and leftovers, even if you’re the only one cleaning up. See the good in all the people who have chosen to come together during this special time, even if this is the only time of year they do it. See the good.

Third, come with a heart filled with love. Release all habits of controlling every aspect of the day, every minute of chaos, and every second of the conversation. Let this be a year of observation, listening, service and devotion. If you don’t have the opportunity to discuss every bit of news you came to share, then contact that person again, later, and do it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see them again anyway, maybe one-on-one, or speak to them on the phone? Make a date to spend time catching up with them, sharing more deeply and earnestly than is possible at a large family gathering. You will both surprise and delight them with the added attention of your interest in their lives. It can truly be a way to bond and grow closer as a family or friend. Feel the love.

Finally, I highly recommend an ‘attitude of gratitude’ – for Thanksgiving, the holidays that follow, or anytime – whether you spend them alone, with one person, or many others. Stay in gratitude for the family you have now and the ancestors that gave you a life path to this moment. Stay in thanksgiving for the abundance that provided you the means by which you are able to read these words. Continue to show appreciation to all who have participated in providing whatever meal you’re able to enjoy on these special occasions, for the transportation that got you there, or the home in which you’re hosting it. Gratitude creates an atmosphere to attract more good into your life.

These are all simple things to do. Whether it’s sharing a meal, grabbing a cup of coffee, or exchanging a present – appreciate that life is offered to you without any strings attached. The fun part is, the more you practice these concepts and the more you give them away, you may not only surprise a few people, you will get back so much more than you give. And what a gift that will be!

Who Am I, Really?

I discovered a simple practice recently – a meditation of sorts – while preparing for sleep. After removing clothing and work jewelry, bathing and teeth-brushing, I paused in the darkness and quiet of the bedroom. My fingers touched my wedding rings and, for whatever reason, I removed them. I then took out the one earring stud I always wear. And lastly, even I find this hard to admit; lastly I put down my cell phone. In that moment, I sensed relief. I stood in the silence, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to feel a weightlessness move throughout my body, detached from any material possessions.

There in the darkness, I asked the question, “Who am I really?” My professional wardrobe, titles and the way I present myself describe how I live in the world, the work I do, the education I’ve attained. My rings define the relationship with my spouse and, in some respects, indicate the parenthood role I’ve filled for most of my life. The earring stud is symbolic of my rebel side, birthed in teenage years and ever-present…as is my tattoo but not so easily removed (or seen). And the cell phone, this ‘smart’ device, is my constant connection to the world, my cyber companion. It’s how I stay plugged in to everyone and everything I care about. The phone is with me everywhere, at all times, and it is the most difficult possession to put down.

The question remains, “Who am I really?” Without all the trappings and jewelry and titles and symbols, without all the electronics, usernames and passwords, how do I define myself? How would I introduce myself to God? My name, bestowed on me by my parents, is simply a human label, helpful in this realm of living. So I immediately released any attachment to my name, which allowed me to let go of my entire past. In my mind’s eye, as my name disappeared, so did my body. All that was left was a buzzing awareness… alone with the Divine Presence of the One Mind. Only the present moment. I breathed.

This blissful state of being was my answer. I am consciousness and energy. I am love and joy and compassion. In this state of awareness, I am truly an expression of God. There is only God. There is nothing else. There doesn’t need to be.

In this state of connection to my true Source of Life, all relationships, though temporary on this plane, are holy and precious; we all come from the same Source. This awareness can resolve any difficulty, forgive any person, release any unpleasant experience, or heal any hurt feelings. Our earthly relationships give us opportunities to grow in consciousness and to practice being God-like. Some of us need a lifetime to get it right; others, not so much.

Yes, I’m still here. I still have work to do. And I am grateful for the glimpse of who I really am.

You Can Lead a Horse to Water…

A couple of recent experiences brought this saying to my mind: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

According to information found on websites, this adage is said to have originated in the 12th Century, having first been found in Old English Homilies, a volume dated 1175 A.D. The claim is that this is the only English saying to be in continuous use for this long a period. The original proverb was written as Who can give water to the horse that will not drink of its own accord?

So what does this have to do with spirituality? Why am I bringing it up here? I’m truly impressed by how many times this idea can be applied to situations in life and have no doubt that this versatility is the primary reason this saying has survived so long. It’s not just for horses and ranchers.

You can send a child to school, but you can’t make him/her learn. You can do an excellent job at work, but your employer doesn’t have to keep you employed or give you a raise. You can plan meetings and events of the highest quality or the most engaging, but attendance can still be low. You can offer classes that will change lives, but some people just aren’t ready consciously or spiritually for that journey.

But you can still lead. You can still do your best. You can still offer the highest quality products and services that you know how to do. You can be available to teach those who are willing…and that is where your focus needs to be – on the gifts you’re willing to share and with those who are open to receiving the experience.

If your focus and concern is only for the ones who are missing out or not in attendance, then you do not serve those right in front of you or yourself. Not everyone moves through life or their spiritual path at the same pace or with the same interest or intensity. Not everyone wants what you have to offer. That’s just how it is. Offering your gifts is what’s important. Doing the best you know how to do is what brings satisfaction. Gratitude for what is already in your life keeps you in the now moment and satisfies the soul.

You can complain to God all you want, but you are loved anyway!

Tea Leaf Wisdom

Ignorance of certain subjects is a great part of wisdom. (Hugo De Groot, 1583-1645)

Anything too stupid to be said is sung. (Voltaire, 1694-1778)

If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. (Moshe Dayan, 1915-1981)

The palest ink is better than the best memory. (Wise saying from the Orient)

The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness, rather than in its value. (Charles Dudley Warner, 1829-1900)

Why should I buy expensive art when I can make my own. (Piero Milani, 1964 –    )

In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not the man to whom the idea first occurs. (Sir Francis Darwin, 1848-1925)

Tea Leaf Wisdom

Time as he grows old teaches all things. (Aeschylus 525-456 BC)

I make the most of all that comes, And the least of all that goes. (Sara Teasdale, 1884-1933)

Strong reasons make strong actions. (William Shakespeare, 1564-1616)

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself. (Mark Twain, 1835-1910)

The cure for boredom is curiousity. There is no cure for curiosity. (Dorothy Parker, 1893-1967)

The first duty of love is to listen. (Paul Tillich, 1886-1965)

Let each man exercise the art he knows. (Aristophanes, 450-388 BC)

Tea Leaf Wisdom

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.  (Chinese Proverb)

As we grow old…the beauty steals inward.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882)

He who would leap high must take a long run.  (Danish Proverb)

Our patience will achieve more than our force.  (Edmund Burke, 1729-1797)

You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.  (John Adams, 1735-1826)

The longest journey is the journey inward.  (Dag Hammarskjold, 1905-1961)

Art is either plagiarism or revolution.  (Paul Gauguin, 1848-1903)

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.  (Carl Gustav Jung, 1875-1961)

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882)

Tea Leaf Wisdom

Always bear in mind that your resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing. (Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865)

When the heart is at ease, the body is healthy. (Chinese Proverb)

In mathematics you don’t understand things. You just get used to them. (Johann von Neumann, 1903-1957)

Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content. (Paul Valery, 1871-1945)

Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up. (Chinese Proverb)

Teaf Leaf Wisdom

Every artist was first an amateur. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882)

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. (Chinese Proverb, 1831-1881)

God has two dwellings: one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart. (Izaak Walton, 1593-1683)