…or at least embracing the season with joy and calm
I rely heavily on snarky comments and sarcasm in my sense of humor and daily discourse, supplemented with a symphony of sighs, huffs and general complaints. Sometimes there’s eye-rolling involved.
I am hoping you do not realize this, as I work hard to keep this voice out of my blog posts.
And last month, I was inspired to keep all of these things out of my life entirely, when a particular note from the book Raising Girls by Steve Biddulph struck a chord:
“Your daughter learns most by watching you. If you are happy, exuberant, silly and fun with her…then her capacity for being happy will grow. If you are friendly to people you meet…are kind to people in shops or in the street, speak well of people, get cross when you see something unjust or wrong, then your daughter will be taking in and making these attitudes her own, from a surprisingly young age.”
Biddulph made mention of being aware of the passing/less than positive comments that we all make in any given day…
“It’s worth checking up on this — especially for moms, who are the number one role model for their daughter’s whole approach to life. Spend a day having a close look at yourself. Do you frown, stress, grump and hurry your way through life? If that is so, being the mother of a [newborn] little girl might make you want to change that.”
So, since I could answer a resounding yes to that last question, I decided at that very moment to eliminate those things as much as possible. I even wrote about it in early November, with the intention that sharing my plan with you all would hold me more accountable.
“…I have recently made the deliberate decision to eliminate complaining, both in spoken words and unspoken thoughts. I’m also trying to stop with grouchy comments and outbursts. You know the kind: like when someone cuts you off in traffic, or just generally behaves in a way which is irksome. It’s only been two days, but I feel a weight lifted, not to have a running commentary of annoyances stealing my joy throughout the day.”
Not surprisingly, these little attitude tweaks make me feel more joyful, they also provided me with a greater sense of calm.
“Calmness is not a character trait, it’s simply a skill… made up of certain actions: breathing deeper, dropping your shoulders, settling your muscles, feeling your feet strongly planted on the ground, focusing your thoughts on the job at had in a steady, easy way, and not going off into panicked thoughts…
Practice this for a few days, and soon the natural appeal of calmness will pull you more and more into that peaceful and steady place…
This is so different from our idea of how to live: rush, hurry, and being busy are the keystones of modern life. But our babies are Stone Age babies, and modern madness does not serve them well. If you possibly can, make this time a break from the rushing world you may have lived in all your life….”
–From Raising Girls
My plan went well during the entire month of November, a month when, at least in America with the Thanksgiving holiday, a collective attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude is prevalent.
And then along came December. And with it, Christmas. Surely I could not make it through the season without complaining? (Or at the very least, grumbling.)
Friends, I’m not that good at Christmas, for lots of different reasons, probably many of which trigger stress in plenty of people worldwide. (I’m not the most prolific decorator/baker/present-wrapper)…but the main reason boils down to the fact that my love language is quality time, and all the things associated with Christmas pull me away from just being with the ones I love.
But this year, given the success of the ‘November plan’, I was determined to do Christmas joyfully. Without stress. Or complaints or huffs and puffs, period. A daunting prospect indeed. I tried to remember that things always gets done, every single year, and ultimately, our family enjoys a lovely holiday together. The presents always get bought, wrapped, and placed under the tree, if not by St. Nick then certainly at least in the nick of time.
And speaking of time, this is the time of year to take stock, set goals, resolve to do things differently, or better, or even brand new in the coming year. I decided a couple of years back not to make resolutions for the coming year, but I am inspired by the One Word 365 movement, which seems to still be a thing. (“One Word 365 is more than a new way to approach resolutions. It’s a global tribe committed to journeying together and living intentionally.”)
I can’t pick just one word, because these words I see as more of a team. For 2017, my words are:
These tre amici were the driving force in November when I struck complaining and grouchiness from my discourse. (Watch out, sarcasm — you’re next!) They were the force behind my choices to deliberately enjoy Christmastime, even when we didn’t have our tree until December 17 and we were hosting festivities on the 18th and 19th. They were there with me when I was still addressing Christmas cards on December 23, and still wrapping presents on December 24.
And they walk with me now, and hopefully every day in the coming year.
Are you picking One Word for 2017 and if so, what is it?