That Time of Year

Last Friday, on Veterans' Day, my husband and I said goodbye to a greatly admired friend who, along with his wife, has been an integral force behind the successful passage of important national victims' rights laws. It was a beautiful service with military honors. We could not help but ponder the meaning of our individual lives; how the best of us endures in the hearts of others. During the sixty-mile drive home we received word that the baby girl we had been waiting for had just
Baby Maya born Friday Night
arrived. She is the first child of young parents with whom we are close. As we barreled along the 605 Freeway heading south we were more aware than ever of the rhythms of life all around us; of the precious nature of our mortal selves. We knew also that in two days we would again be celebrating the passing of a wonderful lady, who has been an important part of our small town community. It seems essential that we honor our personal losses and take solace in the fact of having had such special people in our lives to begin with.
Television ads are beginning to show glittering holiday decorations and a trip to Home Depot is almost a walk into Santa's Village with the dozens of decorated trees and brightly lit lawn decorations demanding attention. It might be important to remember that for many this season
Dixie finds peace through Meditation
can be loaded with emotional landmines. Even the most positive of us may succumb to feelings of anxiety or depression. The enormity of gifts to gather, a house to decorate, or delicacies to prepare, could cause the most hearty of us to feel a bit overwhelmed! Memories of past years, perhaps with one's original family, or the loss of a loved one, could also trigger the grief response. Some of the participants in my Loss of a Loved One support group last week expressed the idea that they are preparing to white-knuckle it through the holidays. Truly it can be a tough time. One lady brought me a Holiday Bill of Rights from Memorial Care Hospice. Among the many "rights" were these: You have the right to be kind to yourself, You have the right to create rituals that honor your loved one, You have the right to change your mind at anytime, You have the right to do something totally different from in the past, you have the right not to celebrate if you feel it will be too painful, You have the right to cry, You have the right to make your own decisions, You have the right to laugh and have fun without guilt, You have the right to go out of town, or stay at home, You have the right to plan ahead.
Recently I heard the statement that "without adversity we would not be
Finding Joy visiting a friend's puppies
able to cultivate our resilience." In a grim way it puts a positive spin on agony. It's like reframing the situation, seeing something from a different perspective. Without the downside of life, we could not truly appreciate the upside. So we need to "cultivate" our strengths and dig down deep into our wells of perseverance. For sure, we can help ourselves by scaling back and not letting the holiday traditions run away with us. We can come up with a new plan, something delightful in the future to do. Happiness is a lot about having something to look forward to. We can search out joy in new corners of our lives. It is more important than ever during this season to take extra good care of ourselves; being around loving, supportive people, eating properly, getting enough sleep, and always taking at least twenty minutes a day for exercise. I can still hear my grandmother's wise words in my head, "Donna, no one can take care of you besides yourself."
Doing Something New_ Teaching Caroline china painting
Sheryl Sandberg's Option B book about finding joy through adversity is all about making the most of what we have. For her, Option A, having her husband by her side to raise their children, is not available. She is choosing Option B, moving forward as best she can in gratitude for what she does have. I know that with the attitude of gratitude we can celebrate each day we are alive on the planet, knowing that it is a gift.
I always love to hear how things are going with you. I wish you a peaceful Thanksgiving.