Friday was the kind of day beckoning a toasty hat, and if you left it behind your ears would wonder why. I’ll be honest. Climate change does concern me. But seeing more green grass than snow this winter was appeasing — and particularly when approaching the age where snow is more perilous than pleasant. The dry but blustery 10 degree cold made it the kind of day I didn’t want to pump my own gas yet the car cried empty.
I’m not suggesting I’m declining or even readying retirement but I am a “boomer.” I grew up when a full service gas station meant getting windows washed — front and back, and an oil check with a tank of gas. As a bonus, they might even check and fill the tires’ air pressure. Those almost forgotten services exist only in memory and especially on a frigid day.
When I pulled up to the fuel pump at the Gas & Food Express, the young guy gingerly attended my car and the one across the island. Whether he was a Young Millennial or Gen Y, I couldn’t tell nor how he could stand the cutting cold. Hopefully that tiny booth for the cash register blasted heat. His medium-weight jacket looked anemic to me knowing I shivered walking 40 feet from home to car.
Contemplating how he felt working a shift in the below freezing temps, I wished I had a hot drink to offer. Instead, I reached into my purse and handed him a few bucks with the signed credit card receipt. “Thank you for being so pleasant on a very cold day,” I said. “Please get yourself a hot drink.”
“Well, thank you. Thank you, miss,” he responded.
Internally echoing cheerful surprise, I wondered if he knew the gift he gave an aging gal.
I find common courtesies previously taken for granted are often passé. Little in-between gestures of human significance make all the difference in a high tech world of downcast eyes and empty idioms such as “Here you go” instead of “Thank you.” It may have been a 10-second interaction but I drove away fueled with appreciation for a new kind of full service.
With the New Year beginning, I’m adding a new page called “Fertilizers for the mind & spirit.” Based on the miraculous results compost produces in the garden, I believe the same holds true for enriching our minds. Please feel free to add some of your own tidbits to that page for all of us to turnover, stir and nourish our perspectives…
Have you noticed how emotions buildup steam around the holidays, emulating a runaway train? Far reaching stressors often halt the holiday joy ride — be it time with difficult personalities, over-spending, trying to mirror picture-perfect celebrations, too little rest, dashed hopes on a “Dear Santa List,” and of course alcohol consumption (usually in excess at this time of year). But those unscheduled stops don’t have to become your final holiday destination.
This may be a time of traditions but it can also be a time of breaking them. Are you the caboose chugging along well-worn tracks, or the engine choosing more fulfilling activities? Only you know how you feel around the family contrarian, when you over-indulge in special holiday treats, or struggle to pay bills. No matter when or how holiday difficulties appear, step back to see how to handle them differently, rather than traditionally.
Challenging opportunities can be unexpected sources of strength when initiating change to rise above them.
When approaching a disquieting juncture, try the unfamiliar. Respond instead of react. Shorten the visit at difficult family get togethers. Politely walk away from an argumentative platform to an affable track. Prioritize time-sensitive tasks on the schedule, and include self-care on the timetable. Ask yourself if overloading on those tempting holiday sweets is worth risking diabetes. Good old fashioned discipline still works. Set a budget for gift giving and stick to it. Better yet, offer a gift from the heart. Most of all, be kind. To yourself and others.
A few sayings I find helpful, and particularly at this time of year:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Let it begin with me.
May your holidays fill your heart with joy, peace and love.
Cross them right off the list and out of your mind.
Tell yourself you are going to be open and grateful for whatever comes along.
Play the game of life and look for the gift. No, not the ones tied with pretty bows sitting under the tree — the ones that are wrapped in all things, pleasant and not so pleasant. The ones not so readily seen. Simply adjust your sight to see.
The best gift you can give to yourself or anyone is Xing out eXpectations.
It’s free. No racking up credit card bills or standing in return lines — for anyone.
Set the tone, the jingle, the merry, the happy in your holiday.
It’s as easy as making a choice.
Xmas…the other meaning
When seeing an X in Christmas, use it as a reminder to eliminate those self-defeating and disappointing holiday eXpectations. You may find it’s one of your happiest holidays yet.
As I’ve posted in the last few months, my beloved border collie Bess was the love of my life. She gave me 14.5 years of unconditional love, companionship, and fun. As I continue mourning her loss, I reach out for other canines (and four-legged friends) in need of help because there is no one to speak up for them.
At this giving time of year the tag line at the end of my e-mails asks folks to consider donating to a pet shelter. This morning, I read this very worthy post on a 2019 Christmas Charity Appeal for dogs and cats that also offers to help bloggers. Seems like a wonderful circle of giving. I hope you will join in too.
Raised in an anxiety-ridden home, it was stressful to live in the “now.” Far better to prepare for “what’s next,” I thought, even with its own undercurrent of anxiety.
A friend recently invited me to a year-long meditation but the voluminous information and instant marketing hype quickly drove me away. Unsettling. Like when I attempted meditation years ago in the standard seated position. Arduous. As soaking in a tub. Has this happened to you? Meditation offers many benefits but feeling stressed is not the goal.
Far more agreeable to me, are movement meditations such as hand drumming, walking, or being in the moment with Mother Nature. Fixed on berry picking, the smell of sun-ripening tomatoes and basil brushing my arm, or the infinite colors and textures of nature are far more relaxing and in-the-moment experiences for me.
One size doesn’t fit all. In many things, but meditation too. Giving myself permission to discover what works for me is key. Don’t know where to begin? Try leaving the cell phone behind and taking a walk outside. You may be pleasantly surprised by the calm in connecting with Mother Nature.
It’s been a relatively long winter. Of course, I always feel that way after half a year of Northeast cold and grey. And although Spring appeared on the calendar a month ago, it waits until about now to dazzle me with her show. Each day the bleeding hearts rise taller and taller, and more garlic greens dart through the earth, the scintillation sets my soul ablaze.
Kindling the grey winter landscape aglow in green, Spring wondrously ignites death with life. Saucer magnoliasspark purple blooms, smoky lavender clouds flicker above eastern red buds, and delicate pink weeping cherry blossoms shimmer in the wind while the glowing white flowering pearexplodes in the sky. Like yellow-suited firefighters, showy forsythias arrive first on the scene. Dwarf blue iris, orange-eyed daffodils and red tulips are next responders.
Intoxicated with Spring’s opulent beauty of textures, shapes and hues, I am mesmerized by the magic appearing before my eyes. And so grateful I have eyes to see.