In years past, I’ve survived Christmas. No thriving about it.
My childhood Christmases were magical and teenage Christmases were fun. Christmas in my twenties was pretty go-with-the-flow. I thought Christmas was going to explode with magic again after we had a child but, lemme tell ya, I was wrong.
Jamie’s first Christmas was sweet. He was 9 months old and didn’t really get it, but a few toys wowed him. It was cute.
The next four Christmases are a complete blur. I worked in retail for 3 of those 4 years and the stress at work took over my life. In fact, it was late fall of 2015 that drove me to seek help for anxiety and depression. (I didn’t realize that’s what I was experiencing at the time. I thought if I had a pill to help me focus and have more energy it would give me what I needed to do all of the things. More on this journey another time.)
I sit here thinking, wanting to drop some little memories from those years, and I truly can’t think of anything other than the precious, over-the-moon excited look on Jamie’s face when he discovered that Santa Claus brought him toys. Christmas had become a huge burden. It was an energy suck. A money suck.
Some years (in retail) I was disgusted with the collective superficial hype to spend ridiculous amounts of money on people, and the pressure the retail industry puts on customers to buy more, more, more knowing they don’t want it and they surely don’t need it. Other years, I was nearly-debilitatingly depressed after months of spinning out of control and not being confident that my “dream career” choices could bring in enough money.
I remember rushing at the last minute, buying things for the sake of giving something. Rarely was a gift I chose thoughtful and truly considerate. I hated decorating. I was totally over Christmas music by December 3rd. I was constantly worried, constantly stressed, constantly unhappy. As grateful as I was for the gifts our family received and the time we spent with loved ones, there has been a dark, dark cloud hanging over me during Christmas for years and, quite simply, Christmas has sucked.
Until this year. This year, I started playing Glee Christmas tunes at the beginning of November. This year, I shopped way ahead of time and was thoughtful with my purchases. This year, decorating our home was so much fun! This year, wrapping gifts was exciting. This year, cleaning and cooking (preparing our home for our family) was a truly cheerful experience. This year, baking cookies was a blast! This year, watching Jamie and Arthur open their gifts was magical. The whole season was magical and I am so grateful.
What changed? Well, a few things.
First and foremost (as much as I want to tell you it’s all of the personal development work and nutrition work I’ve done, which has helped A LOT) it’s my job. We spend so many of our waking hours at work and if our work is unfulfilling and the main cause of our stress and chronic unhappiness, it impacts our entire life. On the flip side, for me, not having a reliable income created it’s own experience of panic and depression.
This year, I enjoy my job so much. The environment is super healthy, my coworkers are all lovely, my boss is an exceptional leader and I generally enjoy my tasks and responsibilities. I’m happy with my income and my schedule is ideal for me in this phase of our life. Spending 6 hours a day, 5 days a week in this environment is healthy for me. When I leave work, work stays at work.
Secondly, my spiritual and personal development work has transformed my mindset this year. I have stayed committed to inner growth and spiritual development and, even though there were many times I felt like I was making zero progress, I can see how my work is paying off in a huge way.
I’ve learned to set boundaries, I’ve learned to say no. (It’s still really hard for this people-pleasing gal.) I’ve learned so much about intention and what it truly means and how to keep it front and center in my life. Activities that are proven to drain my energy and make me tired, unhappy or stressed I have allowed to shed and fall away from my life - releasing the things that no longer serve me. I choose to fill this time with things that do give me energy and fill my cup like reading, beach combing, or visiting with friends. I’ll always be on this journey of internal exploration, personal alignment, and overall bettering myself.
I want to say clearly that, for a person who seeks instant gratification, I am so grateful for the slow and steady transformation I have invited into my life and allowed to take place at a pace far slower than my ego finds acceptable. It’s the slow, thorough nature of this journey that makes it so effective and special. Whatever it is you’re seeking and desiring in your life, I hope you continue to chip away at it, even just a little bit, every day because over time you’ll see incredible progress.
Lastly (but not really lastly, more like subsequently) my deeper understanding of how precious and fragile life really is. A huge part of me has always known this and been fearful. Now, I thank fear for it’s valid concern and I dismiss it. Instead, I consciously call in gratitude. My mom’s cancer recurrence in May shook me. Two things happened. First, I realized that I’m given this moment with the people I love, and that’s all that’s promised. I’ve been a lot better at soaking up the moments and feeling gratitude for this life, this body, this human experience. Second, my interest in wellness skyrocketed because I know (deep down we ALL know) that we are what we eat and if we 1) don’t nourish our bodies and equip them to detect and fight disease or 2) feed our bodies things that cause disease, then we’re consciously choosing disease.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are diseases and disorders that take down even the healthiest of people for no reason at all. I’m talking about our society as a whole. We are eating fake food that makes our life much less enjoyable than what we are capable of experiencing. We are eating food that ultimately kills us. And by we I mean me too, by the way. I’m far from perfect.
It has become my personal mission to share my own rocky transformation in hopes of encouraging you to begin or carry on your journey to wellness - mental and physical wellness.
My biggest goal for 2019 is to share, share, share. I’m doing so through this blog, through live workshops and events, and through digital programs I feel inspired to create.
I shared my condensed story of how Christmas became magical again for me. I also want to make sure I hold space for those of you who struggle with the holidays. I honor you right where you are. I send you light and love and acceptance. This is a season of your life and the season will eventually change for you. I encourage you to genuinely thank your ego/mind for wanting to be and do so much, and then dismiss it. Invite love and gratitude to settle in in the ego’s place. Easy? Nope. But, practice (and intention) makes progress.
Merry Christmas, friends.