Happy Winter Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy Yule and all other holidays!
I had the plan to write out a post explaining the Pagan origins of the Christmas holiday many of us celebrate and also include how Christianity adopted it as their own. But honestly? That’s not where my heart is at right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and learning more about the traditions and all. But something that feels more prevalent is the topic of mindfulness.
To be mindful is to be aware of the present moment. Not thinking about what you need to do later today or what you should have done yesterday, etc. Just being 100% present in this moment.
This is tough, honestly. It’s a lesson I have been learning for years, and only most recently do I feel like I’m truly understanding. And understand that I truly struggle with this lesson.
As someone with anxiety, a lot of my unsupervised mind is focused on “what ifs” and the future. As someone with depression, a lot of my unsupervised mind is either focused on the past or on my flaws. For many years, I was only living life through my unsupervised mind’s eye. Practicing mindfulness teaches me to let go of the future, the hypotheticals, the shoulds and should-nots, and teaches me to just be. That’s it, to just be.
Let me emphasize the fact that this is hard. Like, really fucking difficult at times. Because it is SO damn easy to start daydreaming about my goals, which then turns into me comparing my life now to what I want it to be, which then just snowballs into me being overwhelmed with anxiety (if not also anger).
This holiday season looks different for each and every one of us (in America, at least, where COVID is still very relevant). And it is all too easy for me to think about how I wish it looked like and how I want it to look next year and what I’m going to get everyone next year and how I need to plan ahead better and…yeah, it’s exhausting. And unhelpful!
A therapist I had years ago had tried to work with me on mindfulness. We did exercises during our sessions, but it felt very difficult to implement this. I was in a point of my life where my conscious mind was asleep. I was living on auto-pilot, and that auto-pilot flew me right into a shitstorm of feeling unsettled, to say the least.
Now I don’t want to come across like being mindful is unattainable, because it is very attainable. I personally think being mindful is the key to living a truly happy life. Think about kids, for example. There are not many 4-year-olds thinking about yesterday or tomorrow (unless it’s Christmas or their birthday). They are just in this moment, and that’s it. It’s so refreshing when I get to see my fiancé’s nieces, ages 9 and 4 (almost 5). They’re the sweetest girls, and just so present.
That childlike oblivion to everything isn’t necessarily always realistic, because we do have to pay bills and honor responsibilities and all that. But, be honest with yourself. How often are you doing something and you’re not really present with it?
Probably a lot.
And that’s fine! We are having this human experience, and being preoccupied with all the external factors that come with this life are going to happen. But. We also owe it to ourselves to really drop in to what truly matters to us and what we can actually do right now.
Without going into too much detail, my fiancé and I had a little disagreement a few weeks ago. On the surface, I felt unsupported and unheard. I felt like he was casting off what was important to me because it didn’t matter to him. After some sleep and some honest tough-love self-talk, I realized that I was not being present and I was being impatient.
Y’all don’t have to agree with me about this next point, but I sometimes forget that the circumstances of my life are unfolding the way that they are meant to. I do have control of my destiny and I am the creator of my reality, but I also can’t build Rome in a day. I can’t *snap* have the life I see in my dreams, I need to give it some time. I need to take the steps to get there. I can’t just jump the whole damn staircase, I have to go in order. (I know that’s vague, but hopefully you get what I’m saying).
Bringing that back to mindfulness: It will feel aggravating and frustrating and anger-inducing, but be honest with yourself about what you can actually do about a situation in this present moment. Most likely, there’s not much you can do about the big-picture in 1 day. You can make an effort to move in the direction of what you want, but more often than not, you need to let go of what you think things should be and just make the most of the way they are. And understand this is how they are for now
Your holiday traditions probably look different this year. With the risk of COVID-19 still rising, family gatherings for the holidays might not be happening. And it sucks. But, this will pass. We live in a wonderful age of technology, where Zoom/Google Meet/any other video chats can still bring people together. And it’s not the same, videochatting is not the tradition that many of us know, but stressing out about how we think things should look like is not doing anything other than stressing us out and wasting our energy.
Or maybe you want to get your degree, but financially can’t swing going back to school right now. Or maybe you want to move somewhere, or change jobs, or get a new car, or whatever. You can take conscious steps to help you move towards what you want, but it’s important to remember that if you’re not happy along the way, you won’t be happy long-term once you get whatever it is that you want.
As we embark on this new holiday season, I wish you and your family good health, tidings of joy, and also a peace of mind that this storm will pass.
Allow yourself to have bad days, but make it a point to not wallow in the negative.
Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, and Happy Holidays! ❤💚