Some (not so) Squirrelly Advice for Pleasant Holidays

Mixed Nuts
What do you think about when you think about squirrels?  Ravaged bird feeders?  Acrobatic acts?  Rabies?  The park?  Nuts?  Well, yes, nuts.  That also comes to mind when I think about the December holidays.

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Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

Not just the type of nuts we eat — like roasted chestnuts, walnuts on that sumptuous apple pie, or honey coated peanuts in the snack dish, but nuts as in gathering frantically like a squirrel, and nuts as in foolishly excessive holiday behaviors.   It’s a bountiful season for sure, but will it fill us up or leave us feeling exhausted, robbed and empty?

Filling Up More than Stockings
Each of us can choose to step back and celebrate in simpler, more meaningful ways.  You can create a holiday celebration of choice and one that enriches, rather than depletes, you or loved ones — physically, emotionally, and financially.  Take time to think about what Christmas really means to you.

  • Is it that important to try and create the perfect Christmas of yesterday, or a happier one now?  If so, dig deeper and ask yourself why.
  • Will taking on additional activities amidst an already crammed schedule affect your ability to give others your undivided, in-the-moment attention…or leave you feeling distracted, tired and resentful?
  • Is it worth it to over-spend, searching for an ideal gift when expectations and disappointments often cancel out efforts of holiday goodwill?
  • Are your actions obligatory or from the heart?  Compulsory sentiments and gifts noticeably lack holiday cheer for both the giver and receiver.
  • Will you honor your self-care with adequate rest, nutritious foods, exercise, asking for help, and being financially responsible?  Or will you set yourself up to sour your holiday mood?

Do your actions make sense?  Do they seem a little nuts to you?  Be honest.

Enlist Creativity
If you own a bird feeder, you’ve witnessed a squirrel’s analytical creativity accessing it — including those supposedly “squirrel proof” feeders.  Be as innovative.

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Photo by Anthony Intraversato on Unsplash

If others are involved, ask each person to select the one thing about the holidays that makes their heart sing.  Avoid the inner critic’s beleaguering to add just one more thing then another because you’ll be right back to the overload you tried to lighten.  Determine what is absolutely necessary then sew those pieces together to broaden smiling faces around a more joyful holiday.   You may be pleasantly surprised to discover it’s not a holiday of lack but one of overflowing abundance from the spirit within.


Apply Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh‘s sentiment to the holidays… “Once you identify your deepest intention, you have a chance to be true to yourself, to celebrate the kind of holiday you’d like to have, and to be the kind of person you’d like to be.”


Trudging through Tradition
Several years ago I happily exchanged some traditional activities for what means most to me.  Quieter gatherings, tuning in to nature and the gifts she generously offers day in and out, gladden my spirit.  (This is not to say I don’t host or attend holiday parties.  But I keep them manageable, not falling prey to Madison Avenue’s message that I must decorate my house with a thousand lights, bake cookies, and overextend my bank account purchasing lavish gifts.)

A friend, looking frazzled and slumped in her chair, told me yesterday how overwhelmed she felt filling out 300 Christmas cards!  Three hundred cards?  Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed?  But, was it really necessary?  It’s important to connect with others and tell them how much they mean to us but if it adds a layer of stress it doesn’t make sense to me — it’s nuts.

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Photo by remi-skatulski on Unsplash

All in a Nutshell
Make the holidays what you want them to be and create cherished memories.  Don’t worry or fret.  Otherwise you may become like the red squirrel whose coat turned grey from stress.   🙂

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Photo by Arthur Rachbauer on Unsplash

Paradox of Winter

December often conjures up complaints about the cold, snow shoveling, and dangers of falling on ice, but just as often I am awestruck by winter’s beauty contrasted against a backdrop of barren starkness. And so is life. One is necessary for the other.

So, rather than more of the usual holiday hype for this month, I’m focusing instead on Mother Nature’s vivid gifts.  What comes to your mind this season…?

 

 

Nature’s wRest

Gold Leaf Landing

Everything

needs

a place

to

land.

 

 


grav·i·ty
/ˈɡravədē/
noun
The force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth,
or toward any other physical body having mass.

And a time to rest.

The frozen pond

bare branches

and ice encrusted grass.

Winter’s Purpose

Piled high snow conceals the beginning of what we cannot yet see —   seeds, bulbs, and leaves busily working behind the scenes, preparing to come alive and burst forth in spring.

Not knowing yet what lies ahead, time is endless — one long stretch of a simple moment. All the while winter whispers to us, “Stay present.  Have faith.  This too shall pass.”  girl contemplating spring

When efforts feel stalled — like nothing is happening as we take baby step by baby step in the direction of our dreams — think of winter.

Gradually receding snow slides back the covers of change.  Be patient.  Stay true to course.   The next thing we know, winter has become spring and all right before our eyes.

42060 to Go

There’s only 701 hours or 42060 minutes until spring!  29 days.  Yes, I know.  People tell me not to rush my life away.  I don’t think I am, really.  Just wishing to rush passed the frigid temps and ice we’ve had for the last few months.

snow flowers
Sometimes Spring can’t wait either!

I’d happily linger in spring, not rushing away a single minute.  But, the older I get the colder I get.  And after a few months of oppressively grey, gloomy skies I’m craving sunshine, warmth and spring’s freshness.  I’ve been admonished before that I hurry up to wait.  Well, truth be told, yes, I’d like to hurry up spring so I can wait and lavish its lushness.

 

 

 

Nature Teacher: We’re All in this Together

We knew the storm was coming and wondered how their fragile bodies would surviveWere there any still alive in these frigid 3 degree temps?  Topping off the bird feeders, we later fell asleep to the hush of heavy snowfall then awoke the next morning to more of the same — nearly a foot of snow and more still falling.

1-17-18 winter heavy snowfall 013

A flurry of birds lined up on the tarmac of tree branches, each waiting their turn for food — the mysterious cardinal whose been pecking at the windows for a year, the usual tiny chickadees, a tufted titmouse or two, and a pudgy new family thought to be dark-eyed juncos (although they may have been plump simply to stay warm).

 

 

The feeder was nearly empty by noon…

 

 

…but my heart overflowed with gratitude

for taking time to care.