2011

At the risk of being, what? Fill in the blank. Here’s my end of the year reflections. It’s not the best of or worst of – I recommend the awesome lists compiled by the New Yorker for that. So again, at the risk of being ____? Here it is:

2011.

I started running barefoot. I stopped eating bread and pasta.

I began writing a journal, and a blog, and short stories.

I dug up dandelions and violets in the front yard. I got to talk to a lot of people. Sometimes I would just sit soaking up the sun. All the landscape trucks passing by would wave hello.

I’m working on balancing my chakras. It feels good.

I worry less about what people think of me. I worry more about how I feel about myself.

When I’m feeling sorry for myself I look around and find what I’m grateful for. That sounds like a cliché, I know. But it works.

I started seeing more light than dark.

I don’t vacuum up the spiders in the house. They’re useful.

I feed the birds.

I say hello to our fish in the pond whenever I go outside. “Hello Fishies!” The boys make endless fun of me for this. I love them nonetheless. The boys and the fish.

I walk the dogs pretty much every day. It makes them so happy. That makes me happy. Even in the rain.

Even in the rain.

Interlude

Sometimes, with a story, or a post,  you get out of it what you need. You write it down. And there it is. It illuminates part of your life that needed light. And that is enough. No revision necessary. And there are other times, when you are searching. What is it I’m looking for? What do I want to say. You give your story to the world with these questions. You take in the replies. Ah yes. I can do this and this. Much better. Or –  ouch. Really? That’s what you saw? Ok then.  What to do with that. And so it goes.

A Puzzle Means Time to Celebrate

Every Christmas we put together a jigsaw puzzle. We’re working on “Road Trip America” right now. It’s one thousand pieces. Some years they’re bigger. Never smaller. This one is kind of tough, because it’s shaped like America. No straight edges to start with. We had to find the state names first and work from the inside out. Thinking outside of the box, we are.

The puzzle presence can’t be missed. Its spread out for days, weeks even, taking up the entire coffee table in the middle of the living room. It’s kind of a mess. And it’s a total time suck.  It can even be somewhat burdensome, what with the cats often laying on top of it, stealing pieces that you spend hours pursuing, gone for ever. That’s annoying. Sometimes it sort of seems like maybe it’s a waste of time when progress is slow.

However, that is simply not the attitude to take. It is not a waste of time! Rather, it’s a fun challenge. It’s playful. It puts you in slow-mode. It’s an excuse not to do the dishes. It’s a real stop and smell the daisies sort of endeavor. A reason to spend time gathered in front of the fire with the family for hours searching for the right shape, the exact color. And feeling totally exhilarated when you find the piece your looking for.

And so. Why bring this up? Where’s the metaphor?

The holidays can sometimes bring out the crazy rather than whatever it is that they are supposed to celebrate. Say, family, spirit, sharing, tradition, ritual. So, this puzzle building for me is kind of meditative, kind of playful, kind of celebratory. It puts me in a real holiday frame of mind. Who knew! I always thought I just liked putting together puzzles.

Keeping it Real

The holidays are well upon us. And there is a lot of extra stuff to do and enjoy. But let’s all admit it – with that extra joy, also comes extra stress. And what I’ve noticed about people, when they are feeling stress, is that they can take that stress and fling it at you.  It comes out in lots of different ways. Maybe they make a snide remark they wouldn’t otherwise. Maybe they are thinking they are the center of the world and no one elses feelings, thoughts, or opinions matter. Perhaps they are being a bit selfish.

So. What to do? You certainly don’t want to be sullen and resentful around the holidays right? So do you ignore the stress your feeling and the stress that is being thrust upon you? Do you go back to an earlier blog post and reflect upon being nice and being kind?

For me, in the past, I might have thought I was ignoring the behavior. I might have tried to act like I wasn’t mad. Or wasn’t hurt by being thoroughly disrespected. But then, ouch, those feelings would come out sideways when I least expected. And I’ll admit it, that could be embarrassing. I might, for instance lose my grip and shriek an amazing streak of blue at those I love most. Or maybe at the driver in front of me with very slow reaction time to the light change. Or maybe I would just cry at the drop of a hat.

And so, here’s what has taken me a very long time to figure out. And I’m still not that great at doing it, but I’m working at it. If someone is being irrational, or unreasonable, I don’t have to heed them.  I don’t have to go along with their crazy. They’re wrong and I know it – so why try to placate, or figure it out, or reason with them? What’s to gain?

Rather, I acknowledge to myself, that they are irrational and unreasonable, and here’s the thing that I find really hard –I move on. For me, to move on means I really need to sit with the feeling of being mad. Or hurt. And validate that this is a reasonable way to feel when dealing with someone who is being a jerk.  I’m going to take up the slogan, “Jerks make me mad and that’s ok.” And then I’m going to move on (hopefully!) and realize this is the most kind thing I can do for everyone.