What Does This Time of Year Mean To You?

During this time of year, between Thanksgiving and the New Year, there are many different holidays that are celebrated depending on your faith or your family heritage. What does this time of year mean to you? Do you like it or does it make you feel stressed out? Do you have a strong sense of community or do you feel more alone than the rest of the year? Does it bring back fond childhood memories or does it bring feelings of sorrow and loss? I think over the years I have felt all of these various emotions at sometime or another during December.

If you go way back before the birth of Christianity; people celebrated holidays according to what they called the wheel of the year. Winter Solstice, which happens on approximately December 21st, was a celebration of the light returning. The days getting longer again. The wheel of the year was based on the farming year. This time of year was considered a time for rest and reflection. It was not a time to start new things, but rather a time to evaluate how the last year went and what to do differently when the Spring Equinox rolled around again and it was time to start preparing to plant the crops. That being said, many of our ancestors used this as a time to go inward. It is in such contrast to the busy hustle and bustle of the holiday season of today. For many this is the bushiest time of the year. Many people pick up seasonal jobs to pay for the gifts they have to buy. Holiday parties and get-togethers fill up all of your free time. There is shopping and baking to be done. Lists to make and check twice. Children are in holiday plays or other performances. It is all very busy and much more focused on community and others, rather than that inward journey.

Please be aware that if you are feeling like it is all too much, this just might be the ancestral roots within you. They may be calling to you to say; “shhhh, just be quiet for a bit now”. They may be asking that you rest, gather your strength, and prepare for the spring. Having clear communication with others, when it gets to much, can help you set boundaries for yourself around this. Have a dialog to clearly express what you need during this busy season. Perhaps you want to delay that get-together until after the first of the year, when your calendar is open. Maybe it is setting limits on gift giving or, as I said on a friends post, “giving the gift of not having to exchange gifts” with someone. You are not alone. Many people are feeling the stress and expectations this season places upon us. My hope for you is that with clear communication and firm boundaries, some of the stress of the holiday season can subside and you can return to reflecting on what does this season really mean to you. How do you best want to enjoy this season?  There is much beauty in this time of year. Find the peace to be able to enjoy it.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May the peace of this holiday season infuse you to the core, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in our back yard

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Busy for the Sake of Busyness

Do you ever feel like you are doing something just to be busy? Is it hard to find time to be still? This is definitely something I struggle with. On a nice day I will plan to go spend time outside in the hammock or on the Adirondack chair. I will get myself ready with a cup of tea and maybe bring a book or journal and plan to spend some peaceful time just relaxing. After about 10 minutes (if I make it that long) I will no longer be able to ignore all of the things that need to be done, that are jumping around in my head. I will get up and get busy getting something done. Am I doing things just for the sake of doing something? Why do I feel there is no value in resting and being quiet?

This is one of the things I appreciate about my trips to the BWCA with my Adventure Sister Emy. There were times when it was raining and there was nothing that needed to be done. We would sit under our tarp, listening to the rain, drinking tea and chat. After a couple of hours of this, there would be nothing more to talk or even journal about. All that was left was to sit peacefully and just be. Even in this beautiful, remote area this was very hard for me. I would feel anxious but then typically have a  bout of anxiety, followed by some kind of emotional breakthrough. Almost as if my subconscious was trying to protect me from the pain. As if it was trying to keep it pushed down deep inside and hidden away. I would get anxious and feel the need to do something, anything, rather than just sit peacefully and rest. There were times this feeling of anxiousness was so strong I felt I wanted to leave the Boundary Waters all together. Once I got past the anxiety though, a rush of bare emotions would flood up in me. These were not fun emotions but, by allowing them to come up, I was able to process them and eventually move past them.

This begs the question; is the constant busyness of our time really just a manifestation of emotional disconnect. When I have free time at home I am seldom able to just be quiet and let time pass. I always feel the need to be multitasking. When I am on the plane or the bus to the rental car center, I seldom just sit peacefully. Typically I am scanning emails or playing silly games on my phone. I heard Deepak recently refer to it as the “illusion we are doing something”. Why do we feel guilty when we do nothing? How often does this really happen? Even when we relax, it is typically in front of the TV. Take a look at your life and see if (like me) you find that you are always doing something.

So all of this begs the other question; how do we change it? It is safe to sit peacefully and do nothing sometimes? Is it even honorable? How do we get there? Currently I am trying meditation. I feel it helps me see that it is healthy for me to spend sometime quietly, just feeling the rise and fall of my chest while I breathe. I hope that from meditation I can move to a place where I can sit in quiet contemplation. It was so powerful when it happened organically, as it did, in the BWCA. Even having the chance for a once a year retreat to allow for some quiet, seems like an excellent idea. I certainly do not have all the answers here. In many ways this question is as individualized as we all are. There is power and awe in those quiet moments. They are worth looking for and fighting to protect.

Thank you for reading my blog today! I love you! May you find many peaceful moments throughout your life, as if by magic.

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