Category Archives: Advent

Happy Holidays?

Normally by now I am full of Christmas spirit, immersed in our family holiday traditions as another year draws to a close.

But not this year. I am struggling. I feel the weight of the uncertainty 2020 has brought for me and everyone I know.

With all I have learned about Emotional Agility this year I know it is okay to feel this way. In fact, I think we should all acknowledge that Christmas will feel different this year.

In my search to find growth in my present discomfort, I have found the following helpful…

I found this article from The Conversation an interesting read – Christmas will be different this year.

I found this post from Action for Happiness a comfort.

I found Susan David PhD’s Instagram posts like this one insightful.

I found reading up about Kwanzaa inspiring and uplifting.

We are all grieving some sort of loss this year. My wish for us all is to find some Peace as this year ends and some Hope as the next one dawns.

So I will wish you happy holidays wherever you are and whatever your circumstance. Have Courage and Be Kind. 💙

Kindness

I have been learning a lot about kindness recently. I like to think I am kind. However, what I am beginning to realise is that I am kind usually when its easy or convenient. I find it easy to be kind to Nature as this is my strongest Value. I am mostly kind to those I know and love. Although I do think there are times when I am not as kind to those closest to me as I should be. Also, I feel like I can show kindness to individuals easier than to groups of people.

At present I’m in the middle of huge project, a steep learning curve. This is a chance to reinvent myself and truly change my career direction. If I get this right, a dream from my dream tin will come true. The personal stakes are high. Kindness towards myself has been essential.  But it turns out this is where I really fall apart in the kindness department.

My inner voice has been so critical, so judgemental. I wouldn’t talk to anyone like I’ve been talking to myself.

So I have had to stop and take a pause. Then get really introspective. I needed something visual to help me put kindness in some sort of perspective. This is what I came up with:

My take on kindness – a set of concentric circles with Me at the centre

It seems to me that kindness to myself establishes a strong core. If this kindness is sincere then kindness outward to kin, community, humanity and nature will be more authentic. Well, it is worth a try… but it certainly is a journey.

Getting prepared for Advent has been an appropriate time to spend on this sort of reflection. And funnily enough coincides with the arrival of #DoGoodDecember and a Kindness Calendar for the month of December from Action for Happiness.

I know I have mentioned this before, but I really have found the resources from Action for Happiness invaluable this year!

So we wind down this strange year and I set time aside from my project to focus on my Christmas rituals and traditions. One of my rituals is reflecting on the year just been and dreaming of the one to come.

I want to encourage anyone reading this of just how fallible we are when it comes to it. Fallible, and that is okay. Kindness, just like any other growth path, is something we have to choose anew every day. Thankfully, it is a grace-full universe.

The words of John O’Donohue continue to be a great comfort to me. This blessing in particular.

This is what kindness to myself looks like at the moment.

Whatever your beliefs or circumstances, I wish you space to reflect with gratitude and dream with hope. Happy Advent 🕯

Advent

One way to define advent is the anticipation of a coming event. Historically Advent has been associated with the lead up to Christmas and involves particular rituals and traditions in the Christian faith.

These days advent has taken on a number of different meanings. I think for many people today the “anticipation” is simply the stress of being caught up in the consumerism juggernaut that is the lead up to the festive season, worries over finances and being able to afford the “expected” way to celebrate or sadness at what can be the loneliest time of year for some.

For me, it has always been “the most wonderful time of the year”. And what I have come to realise is just how much this season means to me and my mental and emotional well-being, of all things!

Anticipation of a coming event. To me this anticipation is the expectation of a positive experience, a child-like excitement. At my age I certainly can’t put this down to getting up at the crack of dawn to open Christmas presents…. those days are long gone!

Now advent is steeped in ritual.

Some advent rituals are around preparation for the coming celebration that is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the family time we are so privileged to share. Advent in my world is a way of keeping those loved ones who have passed or that live far away close by…. part of our reflection and celebration, always in our hearts.

Other rituals centre around my need to reflect – on the year that has been as it winds to a close, checking in with my dream life goals, a gratitude practice…. and gradually beginning to set the intent for the coming year.

A reflection this advent is just how lucky I am to have these positive, uplifting memories of childhood Christmases to draw on. As well as a rich source of family ritual and tradition to continue observing. And how lucky I am, being so wired to the idea of seasons and cycles, that my work allows me to take the time at this time of year to acknowledge advent in my own quirky way.

Here are some wise words to ponder…. a Celtic blessing by the poet John O’Donohue from his book “To Bless the Space Between Us”:

For Beauty:

As stillness in stone to silence is wed,

May solitude foster your truth in word.

As a river flows in ideal sequence,

May your soul reveal where time is presence.

As the moon absolves the dark of distance,

May your style of thought bridge the difference.

As the breath of light awakens colour,

May the dawn anoint your eyes with wonder.

As spring rains soften the earth with surprise,

May your winter places be kissed by light.

As the ocean dreams to the joy of dance,

May the grace of change bring you elegance.

As clay anchors a tree in light and wind,

May your outer life grow from peace within.

As twilight pervades the belief of night,

May beauty sleep lightly within your heart.

John O’Donohue

And if that is all just a bit too deep…. here is a pic of my rhino-shaped peppakakor !

This year’s peppakakor to give away….

Happy Advent!