Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I know this much is true.

Sometimes during the holidays I feel like the Ghost of Christmas Present. You know the one - when Scrooge first meets him, the Ghost of Christmas Present is buoyant, energetic, like a sixteen year old kid totally high on life, and by the time they depart, the Ghost of the Present has aged into an old man and is ready to pass the torch onto the much more terrifying Ghost of Christmas Future, who freaked me out when I watched Scrooged as a kid. (I have a low threshold for absolutely terrifying things.)

I feel like I spend the entire month of December as the Ghost of Christmas Present, starting off the month giddy, young, charged with fire and ready to tackle on the world, loudly. But by the time December 31st comes along, I am a wizened, tired, slightly cranky senior citizen who kind of just wishes those damn kids would get off my lawn already.

So here we are, in my olden days. I am feeling aged, slightly cynical, more relaxed and less neurotic after having celebrated another beautiful Christmas with my family, a bit saddened to once again have spent it apart from That Boy I Adore, (who heads home to the East Coast for Christmas) and just kind of wishing 2011 would pop its head in already so that I could be done with it and go take a nap.

But as I am in my Wise(r) and Old(er) state right now, I thought I would use this post to impart some of the wisdom I have learned through the year, and invite all of you to do the same. So I ask each and every one of you: what's something you learned this year, about yourself, life, the universe, the mechanics of gravity versus coffee... whatever it is, I'd love to hear it. And, for what it's worth, here are my tidbits:

Get your tires rotated every time you get your oil changed. Two birds, one stone.

Everything is comedy. If the memory still hurts and it's not funny yet, give it more time.

Don't hang out with anyone who revels in your failures and don't hang out with anyone who doesn't get high off your successes.

There are two types of critics. The first are critical because they think you can do better, and they're willing to point out how and help you reach your full potential. The second are critical because they're threatened by how well you're doing without them. Keep the first. Ditch the second.

The amount you are offended at something is directly proportional to how much you need to work on coming to peace with it in your own life.

People who can't respectfully disagree about politics or religion are just children in adult's clothing. You grow up the day that you are able to look people in the eye, people who completely disagree with you on every political or religious matter to which you hold dear, shake their hands, and wish them well. Children demonize those who look at things differently. Adults learn that there is always more than one perspective and learn from it.

The only difference between a leader and a follower is that leaders are able to get people to work together, and followers are too busy trying to be leaders to bother.

Criticism is the first form of violence. Humiliation is the second.

Have at least one friend who would be willing to pick you up from the airport at 2 am. Or willing to help you stay awake until 2 am if you're the one picking someone up.

Nobody likes a martyr. They say they do, but they're lying.

and finally, one of my new favorite quotes:

"The truth is that things don't really get solved, they come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy."


(photo credit: I got it here)

Happy New Year, everyone! And don't forget to share your own sage advice when you comment :) I need all the help I can get...

(oh, and PS - I'm over at Tay's blog today telling people what other things I believe in. Go check it out! Thanks Tay!!!!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

the space between

Do you know what the space between is?

No, it's not a Dave Matthews song, whoever said that, you're fired. (Does anyone else associate Dave Matthews Band songs with making out with people in college? No? I'm the only one? Right then, moving on.)

The space between is the space that exists between where you are, and where you want to be. It can be an emotional space, a physical one, a spiritual one...whatever. It's the gap between reality and expectations, it's the sinkhole into which unconditional love and radical self-acceptance falls and cannot get across. Mind the gap and all that jazz.

During the holidays, the space between grows even wider for people like me (read: people with abnormally high expectations of themselves.) In my own mind, I'm supposed to host parties, make homemade food, have enough funds to buy each family member and friend the perfect thoughtful-yet-unexpected-present-that-each-person-was-missing-from-their-lives-yet-didn't-think-to-ask-for, make quality time for my loved ones (not just buy them perfect presents, that's shallow), and constantly express the Christmas Spirit while others are driving me crazy with a lack of their own. The natural sadness that comes during the holidays is to be shoved down and carols are to be sung even louder, otherwise I'm a Grinch.

Holidays are hard like that. We try to have the perfect Christmas, or Hanukkah, or New Year. We build up our expectations, or we look around at what others have, and what others are doing. We are told that this is a time of rejoicing...and any feelings that seem less than joyous are put aside, judged, or squashed down. Mixed emotions at the holidays are never quite as accepted as they are during any other time of year, no matter how normal it is to experience grief, loss, disappointment, or longing. We judge ourselves for not feeling what we think we should feel... and it is there that the space between widens even more.

A couple weeks ago, I was seriously feeling down. I wasn't where I wanted to be in most aspects of my life - career, friendships, health, family, job, funds in my bank account, personal sanity time allotted - and Benni, my favorite of favorites and the only relationship I'm kicking ass at these days - sat me down for a bit of a pep talk.

Life is like a game of miniature golf, he said. If you only have fun when you score holes in one, then you're not going to have much fun. Learn to enjoy playing the game again, no matter how well you do.

That's what he said, more or less, between feeding me cheese while I sat crumpled on the kitchen floor and letting me interrupt to blow my nose in a very pathetic-like fashion.

Learn to enjoy the game again. Remember how much fun it is to play, to be playful, to be unconditionally accepting of whatever knocks on our door, whether it be joy or grief or anger or love? It's all part of the game! It's supposed to be there!

And it is there that the space between closes a bit.

There is a bridge between where we are and where we think we should be. It's called love, and it's the only way to get across. The holidays give us ample opportunities to see love expressed everywhere - but most of all, in ourselves, towards ourselves. We don't need to be anything else than what we already are, and we don't need to be anyone else than who we already are. We are enough - and we are loved because, not in spite of that.

(photo credit: I got it here)

Happy holidays, everyone. May your days be merry and bright (and brimming over with unconditional love.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

what gratitude looks like

Benni and I hosted my family for Thanksgiving this year. It was Benni's first turkey (I'm a pro, having hosted about four Thanksgivings now) and he was so worried, and I kept saying, baby, it's not that hard to cook a turkey. Just baste, and everything will be fine.

Are you ready to get basted, turkey??

And it turned out fine. Better than fine, actually. (The vegetables we roasted underneath the turkey made it smell AMAZING.)

After dinner we all watched some football, and then I decided to have a Gingerbread House competition. I had purchased two gingerbread house kits from Bed Bath and Beyond the evening before (the woman at the counter: "How cute! Are these for the kids?" Me: "No, they're to keep my parents occupied so they don't ask me why I'm not married." I love talking to total strangers so much). And my family peeled themselves away from the television and worked hard. We separated into two teams, and my brother Scott was deemed Judge and Executioner of the Gingerbread House Contest. (When you put things in caps it makes it sound more official.)

Here's Val, my cousin Tom's girlfriend, concentrating hard.

Here's Team One's Gingerbread House! (Team One consisted of: Benni, my mom, Val, and Tom.)

Here's my aunt Darlyne and my brother Jeff working hard on Team Two's Gingerbread House (Team Two consisted of: me, my aunt, and my brother Jeff.)

Jeff puts the finishing touches on our Gingerbread House. He created the frosting "icicles" by using a wooden skewer to drag them down. Can you tell he's the artist in the family?

Here's Team Two's finished house! (I think ours is pretty awesome.)

Scott decided it was a tie. But I just think that's because he doesn't want to jeopardize his chances at getting Christmas presents.

Two houses, both alike in Gingerbread, in fair Burbank, where we lay our scene... The required family photo behind the two houses. Left to right: Benni, Me, Aunt Darlyne, Jeff, Scott, my mom, Tom, and Val.

Of course, we never really do things the same way everyone else does. So, just in case you were wondering about me... yes. The Weird is genetic. I was born that way.


And finally, to move on to the holidays... Lori over at Lori Times Five makes the cutest little coffee cup sleeves ever. She knits them and then sews on different plants that represent qualities like courage, and compassion. (Her Etsy store is here.) She calls them Green Sleeves and I sort of fell in love (not that I don't already adore Lori - she's beautiful, inside and out, and takes breathtaking photographs and is the owner of the world's CUTEST DOG) when I first saw them so I had to buy a couple to hand out as gifts to my coffee-loving friends.

So when I got my very own Green Sleeve over the Thanksgiving holiday (along with everyone else's), the first thing I did was rush out to our neighborhood Starbucks with Benni and ask that he take a picture that I could send back to Lori.

So Lori, this is for you... thank you, a hundred times over, for making my day every time I get my hot chocolate fix. :)

And yes, I did get whipped cream up my nose in order for Benni to get this shot. Because I'm professional like that.

Love to you all,
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