This past summer I spent several weeks camping and hiking through the woods with a dog named Kaos. I desperately crave the time and space of walking in silence with nature as I quench my thirst for peace and tranquility. Trees and water satisfy my thirst and this particular morning as we trekked through the woods we came across this mini waterfall. As I crouched down to get this picture the spray of the water felt cool on my skin. It was a tough picture to take because I had to hold Kaos back with one hand while taking the picture. No sooner had I taken the picture, Kaos leaped through the air and ran through the water like an innocent child quenching his thirst for purity and playfulness.
Today is the day I walk through the woods
to find a wooden walkway,
as I cross the path
I imagine my life behind me,
forward I move and
focus on my steps and breath,
slowly my soul emerges
as I breathe in the pure air
look up to see the beautiful sky and
the magnificent and wonderous trees,
I begin to let go of the strains of life
and feel God’s love within me,
this is who he wants me to be
at peace and at one with the world
At this moment I ask God
to give me the strength to carry
this peace and tranquility
into my everyday life,
to remind me that no matter
what storm my life is churning
it is he who sees me.
Lately I’ve been sad, there has been bad news all around me. Cancer in my family, cancer in my friend’s family, possible Alzheimer’s there as well and the list goes on and on. The feeling of helplessness can be depressing as all you can do is reach out and be there the best you can. No magic wand to make it all better. Right now everything is good in our lives, the boys and my husband are well and I don’t want to spend time thinking the sky is going to fall and being generally negative. The truth of the matter is that there are good times and bad times in life. Everyday I pray for everyone I know who is suffering and I thank God for all the blessings I have in my life right now, I also pray for strength when things go wrong. I’ve decided to start a new ritual that helps me cope with some of the sadness that I’m feeling, every day I find something that makes me laugh and smile. I find a funny video, read a funny comic, laugh with the kids and my husband. Laughter is a healer, a wonderful healer that we all take for granted. I think for so many of us right now life is on a fast track and I feel that this fast track lifestyle disconnects us from our authentic selves. We have to take a quiet moment and reflect on what we are thankful for and then add some laughter in there as well. Our family has started an exercise program, we all workout together three days a week. Last night my husband was too tired from working his shift work and my youngest decided to skip the running part of our workout. I joined my oldest son on a mother – son jog and when we got home we did some stretching and yoga. My youngest decided to join us for the yoga session. All three of us side by side practising downward dog and just as I’m focusing on my breath and feeling the stretch throughout my body, my youngest son reaches over and tickles my stomach. At first I was really annoyed because I was trying to focus on my breath and he was making it impossible for me to focus. He then reaches over and tickles me again, this time I started to giggle and then I remembered a time when he was just a little wee toddler. Ever since the boys have been very young, I’ve always incorporated exercise into my daily routine. When they were really young I often did yoga at home and the two of them would stack their toys near where I practiced my positions so they could be beside me while I exercised. Whenever I did the “cat stretch” or “downward dog” my youngest would giggle and crawl over to go under the “bridge”. Once under the “bridge” he would reach up and tickle me and then laugh himself silly. I had forgotten that memory until last night and listening to him giggle brought me right back to that special moment. This very small wonderful act connected me to my authentic self and brought a moment of tranquility just when I needed it the most. It’s important that we all take the time to smell the flowers, smell them every day by really listening to your loved ones and find a reason every day to smile and laugh.
“Walk in the rain,
stop along the way,
go on field trips,
find out how things work,
say the magic words,
trust the universe.”
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Christmas. Christmas to me is a celebration, a celebration of life and new beginnings. Celebration of Jesus’ birth, sharing his love for us to one another and let’s not forget peace on earth. I love giving gifts, especially to see a child’s face light up upon receiving a gift they’ve been waiting for. I love hanging around the house with my family watching Christmas movies, new ones and oldies. This is why it’s hard for me to admit that at times I can hardly wait until Christmas is over. I hate consumerism, hate shopping malls, hate waiting in lineups to see fake Santa (thankfully I don’t do this anymore), hate when people run me over with buggies while I’m shopping and don’t even bother to apologize. I have this peaceful, lovely Christmas in my head and then I get out of my house into reality and everything annoys me. I try not to spend too much time in the shopping malls, I write everything I need and fast speed through the stores and get everything in one day.
Christmas can be stressful on relationships as well, especially relationships amongst family members where things are strained to begin with, then add Christmas and the expectations of Christmas – one big headache. We have experienced this situation in our family. Family members that we don’t really see all year and when we do see them the situation is definitely strained. I’m not sure what went wrong but it’s one of those situations where it’s pretty obvious that things have taken a downer; nothing has really happened, no fight, no exchange of words but the whole relationship is one of forcefulness when we get together. I have many theories and if I could say it in one word it would be – alienation! Now let’s throw Christmas at this relationship and we’re getting together to exchange gifts and being, I’ll say it, very phony. Pretty much Christmas day was the only day we saw these family members and every year the visit got shorter and shorter. I drew the line to the big happy party the year that the guests’ coats didn’t even come off during our annual visit and someone kept looking at their watch and declaring “we have to go,” took their gifts and went. The visit lasted all of twenty minutes. After they left my husband and I got into a fight because quite frankly we were both upset, I was upset about the insulting behavior and he didn’t know what to say. I had plenty to say and wanted to hear him say the same thing, which led to a fight -tis the season to be jolly, fa la, la,la,la,la,la,la… The next year I told my husband that I simply could not do the whole happy family scene anymore and that we had to put a stop to the madness. He was a little stressed and said “how am I supposed to handle this one?” Neither one of us want the door closed to these family members and I suggested that he tell them that they are more than welcome to come by for the annual Christmas visit, but it seemed silly to exchange gifts as we don’t see each other all year. This is what he did and last year our annual Christmas visit didn’t happen. Even though this is a frustrating situation we are thankful and blessed to have friends and family that we spend time with throughout the year and when we visit at Christmas, it’s more than a 20 minute visit. I really think everyone has to work at getting rid of tensions from their lives, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year. I know I’m not the only one who has a crazy Christmas family story – I think most people have similar stories. The fact is life is too short and if someone doesn’t appreciate you or doesn’t like you for whatever reason, you’ve tried to rectify the relationship and it’s not working, get out of the situation, move on, even if it’s Christmas, don’t settle for less just because it’s Christmas. You never have to accept rudeness in any relationship. Christmas is a time for happiness, celebration, peace and tranquility. Keep it that way and spend the time with people who truly enrich your life and while you’re at it – keep away from those crazy malls.
I’ll leave you with a few pics around the house decorated for Christmas. I like very simple decorations at Christmas, my husband likes lots of decorations so we compromise – he decorates at Halloween and I take Christmas – it works – he can go overboard at Halloween with all his ghosts and goblins and I can go subtle at Christmas with my angels, nativity and Santa. Enjoy the coming days, may there be peace and tranquility in your house and hearts this Christmas.