There are two scenarios for this holiday season that come to mind when I think of what’s worthy of effort.
Scenario 1: Putting up Christmas decorations, particularly outdoor lights, is a tough job. It requires precarious positioning of one’s self while attempting to securely attach, mount, or hang the lights in a way that is both esthetically pleasing and able to withstand potential blizzards. Once the lights are in place and any necessary medical attention has been sought, the display of glowing Christmas spirit can warm even the coldest of Grinch hearts. Was it easy to get those eight pre-lit reindeer with Santa’s sleigh AND the inflatable Snoopy snow globe on the roof? No. Could you ever imagine the amount of time it would take to assemble your Made-in-China nativity using words that baby Jesus should never have heard? No. But you do it anyway, and it’s worth every watt of energy and effort because you are letting ALL your Christmas lights shine.
Scenario 2: The second scenario of the season is a bit tougher. As our world continues to battle the COVID crisis, I encourage you to envision a holiday where you loosen your hold on what tradition says we MUST do to make Christmas happen.
2020 has felt like a year that would never end, and yet, I experienced a slight panic realizing today is the last day of November. Where did the year go?
While much of my time has been spent at home, I hope my efforts were impactful outside the boundaries of our family and farm. I volunteer as library lady two afternoons a week at my children’s school and am a lector and song leader at church. In spite of hell and high water, my friends and I work sporadic lunches, happy hours, and lengthy, meme-filled text messages into our chaotic schedules. Making weekly phone calls and sending cards manifests my desire to keep connected with those I love, but I continue to wonder if it’s enough. Do you ever feel the same?
Discipline – the classic struggle between what we want right now and what we want most.
Abraham Lincoln was an expert on making tough choices based on what he wanted most. He built a career and defined a nation by working for what he knew was necessary to unite our peoples and continue to establish America as a world power. After all how could a nation divided be the most powerful country in the world?
Discipline is something that many feel is a violation of their rights. They believe that if they want to do something, go somewhere, buy something, or say anything, it’s not “fair” to have to work for it or take into consideration the impacts their impulses will have on the big picture for their lives and what they want beyond that moment in time. The demand for instant gratification and knee-jerk reactions to the work and words of others has cast an ugly shadow over what we really need and want as a society.
The sound of the alarm clock is not the most pleasing to my ear. The cool air hitting my skin when I finally do roll out from under my quilts is less than reassuring. The fussing of my tired children as I attempt to rouse them less than inspiring, but the possibility of a new day is a smell that I can’t resist.
Today I would like to give you a sensory challenge. Consider the sights, tastes, touches, sounds, and, YES, smells that this day has to offer. Find ways to appreciate all you can physically experience. The joy you find may come in the softness of your socks, the smell of a shop as you enter, the calming noises of nature as you walk to your car or the hard rock blaring from you car speakers, the sight of someone’s smile, or the taste of your favorite snack. It is in the words, bites, hugs, high fives, fresh brewed coffee, and morning breezes that we know we are alive and that the day offers us possibility. And there is nothing I love more than the smell of possibility in the morning.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. If you’ve lost your sense of smell, you know what a gift it is.
Refillable, as in the ability to be replenished, has to be one of the most optimistic words I can think of.
When the coffee has all been chugged, the ice cream has all be inhaled, or the treats have all been taken, it may be a downer. You may feel depleted, but that doesn’t mean you are defeated. It means you have an opportunity to scavenge for something sweeter, saltier, or just a bit more savory.
Let me give an example of how easy it is to tap into some positive purpose when your energy cup is empty.
My 7 year-old son has started reading chapter books and it is ROUGH. He struggles with phonetics and may have a hole in his attention span reservoir. He loves the book we are reading (Ready Freddy!: Shark Tooth Tale By: Abby Klien), but EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT. we struggle, cry, throw fits, and read in a slow, robotic cadence through the chapters. Last night was no exception. The enthusiasm was not flowing for my boy, but once he read the next chapter title things turned around.
Chapter 4 – “If You Have Lemons, Make Lemonade” was all about Freddy finding ways to make money to buy a fossilized megalodon tooth (My son is obsessed with megalodons and lemonade stands.) Freddy’s elderly neighbor Mrs. Golden had broken her ankle but still had a friendly dog that needed walking. Her situation was a bummer, but my son started understanding that even sad situations can lead to happy opportunities. Freddy was able to help Mrs. Golden care for her dog AND earn money towards the purchase of that precious megalodon tooth.
When it comes to being far from perfect, I’ve got imperfection in the spades. I often beat myself up for having so many flaws and petty insecurities. It’s tough being human. (Do you ever get down on yourself for being less than perfect?)
In his homily this past Sunday, Fr. Tony addressed the challenge that is posed to us by All Saints Day. With tremendous understanding and the right amount of humor, Fr. Tony reminded us that the canonized saints were human too. They struggled with jealousy, anger, fear, and weakness (among other things). In his narrative, Fr. Tony dared us to be like the saints. His All Saints Day challenge is to live with love, compassion, and faith at the center of our thoughts and actions in spite of our struggles.
Nobody is born a saint, but we all have the power to be saintly in our words and works. In the bulletin “Message from Fr. Tony,” he thoughtfully stated, “The simple but reassuring fact is that nobody was born a saint. It’s something we have to strive to become… All Saints Day calls us to something beautiful. It reminds us of our great potential – the promise that lies within each of us. The promise of holiness.”
Relationships are hard. Friendships should be easy, but as an adult making friends and having healthy friendships is way too stinking hard.
Even if you have lifelong besties, finding time to get together is more challenging than giving the heads of Mount Rushmore a facial. There’s too much ground to cover, too many variables, and the critics condemning your efforts can be relentless.
Here is what I have discovered.
Hell and high water are going to come. Keep your plans anyway.
When hell and high water get there, be willing to support your friends; keep dates with those still available; reschedule with those who need it; go with the flow.
Friendship in adulthood is tough but necessary.
When camaraderie happens, it must be celebrated.
Great friends can be found in weird and unexpected places. Accept healthy friendships when they present themselves.
We are all familiar with the “If you can’t say something nice…” adage, but how often to we put effort into leaving our lousy thoughts out of what we say?
Last week I was angry. Angry at someone I care a great deal about. Angry at the choices they had been making. Those choices felt unfairly selfish to me. When I voiced my anger to my friend Emily, she helped put things into perspective. Emily reminded me that the person I was mad at wasn’t necessarily being selfish; they were being human. Each decision they made was done so because they thought it was the appropriate choice for them.
Of course, Emily was right and I needed to quit being so judgmental.
This week, as I was taking a drive with my friend Chelsea, she was lamenting the overly critical nature of one of her family members. The nature of their hypercritical haptics was exhausting her. We came up with the brilliant idea that people should quarantine their fault finding fascination. The quarantine of unfair judgment and social criticism would be a great way to cure the world with kindness and understanding.
There are many things I love about technology, but video games are not necessarily one of them. However, I do enjoy a game of Tetris. It’s about the only video game that doesn’t send me spiraling into a fit of vertigo (at least until those crazy blocks start dropping at 60mph).
Halloween is also one of my FAVORITE times of the year, so this particular Wednesday Addams meme made my heart happy. It also provided inspiration for today’s Intentergy post.
For 10 years I taught high school. In those 10 years, I watched A LOT of kids do things to fit in that I knew were not true reflections of who they were as individuals. After one particularly troublesome instance of two 9th grade girls allowing their alpha-friend to bully another 9th grader, I had to discuss the situation with a fellow teacher.
My brilliant co-teacher had a way of putting new perspective on situations. He referred to the students who followed peer pressure as “lemmings.” He said, “They will run themselves off the roof of the school just to fit in. It’s our job to show them there are other ways down from the situation and hopefully to avoid those tragic falls.”
This reference, of course, is centered on the belief that lemmings will run off the edge of a cliff just to stay with the herd. In many ways this metaphor accurately reflects the Tetris mentality of disappearing to fit in.
People will rush into or follow any crowd if they believe it will help their social survival, but often forget that if they are a crowd follower, it is really hard to be a leader or to stand out with success.
The task of keeping families masked has become one more chore we must consider before heading out the door each day. It is a task that we are using to protect lives from the perils of the Corona virus pandemic. It is a responsibility that now presses on us in our homes and adds to our laundry list of ways life has change in the shadow of COVID 19.
My washdays are definitely not holidays as I wrestle with washing masks in a special bag and drying them on the special rack because the face coverings require special care.
While I know it is a method for warding away COVID 19, I can’t help but groan at the daily dilemma of washing, finding, and coaxing my children and husband to wear the required face-coverings.
The masks’ appearance defined our first day of school photos. Never before did I view my children as bandits heading off to steal the treasures of their unsuspecting teachers. (Now I can’t un-see it.)
Each night the masks have joined our bedtime ritual in on the “Do you know where your ________ is?” fun.
My Sunday evening anxiety seems to flare up midweek as I scramble to re-locate and wash the masks my kids will actually wear so as to make it through the week in their concealed coolness.