Can You benefit from 5 Life Lessons?
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Hello,
December 25th is the day that my family celebrates Christmas. This year it started out as a very hard day for me, got positive, flowed back down hill and ultimately turned out just the way it should have. The universe (or God, if you prefer), has a way of doing that. Perhaps Christmas or another day was a tough day for you too. However, there are lessons in everything that happens in life – should we chose to look for them.
Many people have this image of what Christmas is supposed to look like. We get these images from TV, movies, stories,, magazines – the list goes on and on. I refer to them as “Hallmark” events, since the greeting card industry does such a beautiful job of putting these images into beautiful cards. But are these images reality for you? The same images are offered for other traditional holidays and events, like Thanksgiving, Birthdays, Graduations, Anniversaries and more. When the “image” we have does not turn into the reality that we live in – it can be not only hard but down right depressing and emotional.
I am normally a very up beat and positive person. I LOVE my life, and I always try to find the good in everyone and everything. For the past few months, there has been a lot of stress in my world – mostly related to sources outside my sphere of influence. I consciously know that there is nothing I can do, but the feeling of overwhelm can be immense. I can be happy one moment and in tears the next. (Please don’t worry about me, I have strong support and know that this is a temporary thing).
Christmas was one of those rollercoaster days for me. Our family is not only divided, but blended, AND extended and yet we all love one another even with the flaws of reality. We have never had what many would call a “Hallmark” Christmas. Since my boys were very little, there has always been juggling to ensure that each set of parents and grandparents could spend time with them, and although it was never easy, we always made it work out for everyone concerned.
The longest standing tradition, has been that everyone capable comes together for breakfast at our home on Christmas morning. We open our stockings, share a great breakfast and then back to the tree where we open our gifts, one at a time. We don’t spend a lot of money on gifts, but we always have a nice time. Each family member is then free to leave without any guilt or expectation from our side. Those that want to stay for the day can do so, those that want to visit elsewhere, or simply go back to their own home, go without pressure from me. We enjoy our times in the morning, and never feel disappointed in one another’s plans.
This year was going to be different and I knew in advance this longstanding tradition was going to be broken. When I went to bed on Christmas eve - I mentally prepared myself to wake up in a positive state and was determined to stay up beat. I wanted the day to be the best it could be. In the morning, when I awoke, it was perfect. It was a great weather day for those travelling on the roads. My husband already had the coffee brewing and when I came downstairs the fireplace was lit, the tree lights were plugged in, the house looked beautiful and then……things started to go wrong.
A phone call was made to make sure one of our family members was on his way. He informed my husband he would not be coming – he was mad at someone else that would be there. I discretely called him back and explained that this was not the time or place to allow frustration to impact the rest of the gathering. I gave him the option to attend or not, but did put pressure on him to think of other people. (he did choose to attend and arrived a short time later) Shortly after the phone call, a different family member noted that I was not myself, and asked why. Normally I would have just brushed off the concern, but my sense of overwhelm kicked in and I broke into tears and explained the situation. My tears impacted him and more feelings were hurt.
Christmas? where was the “Hallmark” moment of people laughing and gathering round. The situation got way too emotional, way too quickly. Feelings were hurt, a few people prepared to leave, others stood back in disbelief and others pretended they didn’t know what was going on. I felt like everything was getting out of control and out of context.
I took a short few minutes to calm myself down, and then I applied and re-considered the following Life Lessons;
Life Lesson # 1 “when emotions are up, intelligence is down.” I forced myself to stop being emotional and then calmly approached each person who was involved. I spoke to them from my heart, I asked them to choose to stay and acknowledged that Christmas day did not have to look like any other Christmas’s past or like on TV. When we chose to run away when things get uncomfortable, things just get more awkward over time. I asked them to stay and to trust that the day would work out fine.
Each person choose to stay. It was a bit awkward at first, but as we sat down to open stockings and later sat down to breakfast, things settled in nicely. I don’t want to say that everything turns out rosy… just better, by being willing to communicate, and not to let emotions make our decisions for us.
Life Lesson # 2 “we cannot change what we do not acknowledge”. If we are having a hard time with something, the best we can do is acknowledge and communicate, both within our selves, and when appropriate, to the other people involved. Acknowledge the situation, decide if you are willing to take steps forward to make it better and then take a small step in the right direction. Give yourselve permission to “As is it” , meaning acknowledge the way it is, and move forward.
Life Lesson # 3 – “a small step forward in the right direction, is far better than a held position of righteousness or hopelessness”. At least you have forward momentum in the right direction. A small step of action lends itself to a better view. Will the picture or viewpoint be perfect. No, but it will become less blurry and become clearer as you move forward.
Life Lesson # 4 – “Being willing to look from a different perspective – gives you a better view”. Put yourself in someone elses shoes. Decide how you want to live on your side of the event. With head held high and hope on the horizon or with hurt in your heart and anger or resentment building.
Life Lesson # 5 – “Taking responsibility to initiate communication, gives you the power to take control of how you think and feel”
I wrote this blog in bits and pieces on Christmas day, and part way through the process, I got a phone call that touched my heart. I did not expect to hear from these family members, but they took the initiative to phone me. ”A”. “J” and “J” & “M” Thank you, I love you with all my heart.
Later, as I was reviewing the blog, just prior to publishing it, I got another phone call – this one from one of the family members that was here for breakfast and the chaos. This time our conversation was not at all emotional with tears, but with love. Thank you “C”.
Big hugs to all of you.
I’ve got a few other people in my life that I have chosen to reconnect with - and if it turns out the way I hope, beautiful. If not, at least I know that I tried, and that I have the power to keep trying as often as I feel able. Family and friends are important – and although we cannot always pick our family, we can pick how we choose to stay in touch and how often. We can also pick how we feel when rejection happens or when bridges get built.
We are in control of how we feel. No one can “make” us feel any particular way, we “chose” how we feel. Start to mindshift from the negative into the positive, or at least from the “poor me” into the “potential of me”, it feels great to be in control!
2011 is fast approaching, and with a new year brings new hope, and a fresh start in the minds of many. I chose NOT to wait for a particular date to move forward, and I respectfully suggest that neither should you. I hope you will take at least one of the 5 life lessons I have shared above, put it into play as soon as you can, and see the positive changes that you can apply to your life or circumstance.
Finally, somewhere along the way I learned this saying;
Yesterday is History
the Future is a Mystery
Today is the Present …. A GIFT
Take today for the Gift that it is, warm thoughts to each of you who reads this! Norma
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