Things have been both quiet and busy around Chez Mess lately. I haven’t had much to report here on the blog because I’ve just been keeping on the same old way. Do the work, see the results, blah, blah, blah. Nothing all that motivational in maintenance. Except that everyone no matter what path you are on has to deal with times of keeping on to keep on, AKA maintenance. Whether it be spiritual growth, weight loss, overcoming addiction or just not falling back into whatever bad habits, patterns or relationships, we all face times when making big strides forward may be too much to ask and just towing the line and staying the course is the best we can expect. I don’t feel like in the past few weeks that I’ve had any great break-through’s or epiphanies but I’ve also not had any backslides or break-downs so I’m counting that as a win.
We’re in the Advent season and theologically this is supposed to be a time of great expectation and anticipation. My personal experience is that it is a period of dread, angst, pressure and stress combined with a feeling of impending depression and fatigue. I attribute these feelings to the growing darkness inherent this time of year as we approach the winter solstice in addition to the societal pressures and stress associate with this jolliest of seasons. More than any other time of year this season and the holidays celebrated carry so much emotional weight and baggage for so many of us.
At some point in my life I went from the kid who had unrealistic dreams for the holidays to the adult/parent who felt the pressure to fulfill all those unrealistic, magical expectations and in both circumstances fell short or felt short changed. And I’m not just talking about the material or faux magic of the season like Santa or Elf on the Shelf. Society and popular culture also often sets us up with unrealistic expectations spiritually this time of year. We look for magical moments of grace and love and peace and when we see greed or impatience or indifference we lose heart. Why do we expect different in December than we do in June?
This year I’m doing much better because I set the ground work months ago. I’ve been looking for grace and striving for gratitude and acknowledging the everyday magic. I’m also keeping tabs on me and my feelings moment to moment.
For instance, last night was the night we could finally decorate our tree. We cut it last weekend and Steve put it up and I finally got around to putting the lights on it Monday night. But neither Emma or I wanted to put the decorations on it either alone or without Steve & Sarah. We had to finally accept that Sarah wouldn’t be here to decorate the tree but we did want Dad to be here at least. When one of his meetings was cancelled this week and he was able to come home a day and a half early we were very happy to have a “free” night to do the tree.
Emma and I looked forward to it. But then I got home from work after 5 and we needed to eat dinner, she was tired, she had homework, I was tired, etc. etc. Steve and I had a cocktail and put on some holiday music. I got silly and started dancing and singing around the house like an idiot. Emma came downstairs tired and hungry and grumpy and didn’t appreciate my goofiness and told me to “stop” and was basically a buzzkill. At first I was pissed and I reacted by clamming up and firing back with angry actions of silently pulling out decorations and putting away stuff. I was hurt and pissed and starting to cry. I realized that this wasn’t the way I wanted this night to go so I shut myself in the bathroom for 2 minutes and pulled my shit together. I took a deep breath or two and looked myself in the mirror and decided how I wanted to remember this night and started over. I looked at it from Em’s perspective and Steve’s. I knew that when I told Steve that we waited for him to be home and wanted him to be part of the decorating that it meant a lot to him. I knew that even though it was a school night this tradition meant a lot to Emma. I knew that over all traditions like this meant a lot to our family story and were what I had been working for our entire lives together.
Once I relaxed and leaned into the mood of the evening it was all good. Emma and Steve relaxed and enjoyed my presence and the activities. I got over myself and also enjoyed the night. We were able to laugh and goof around together and made a memory. A positive memory instead of another memory of Mom being all pissy because her feelings were hurt and things didn’t go quite like I had envisioned.
The past few days I’m starting to feel physically sketchy again. Mornings are hard. Afternoon often mean headaches and an occasional back ache. My feet hurt almost all the time. My digestion is off. I just want to sleep, but often I can’t. But still, I feel like life is good. I’m happy. I’m not a victim of my body or my emotions. I’m in control. Walking, yoga, meditation; my triumvirate of power isn’t as easy to maintain. But again, I’ve built a foundation. And I’ve gathered a team. I’ve shared my struggles and triumphs and friends have come to my side. Some to cheer me on, some to hold my hand, some to listen to my story, and some to walk by my side because they are on a similar path. All of them have given me strength and love and grace. Some don’t even know that they have lifted me up just by their being, by my being witness to their love and grace.
For the first time in many years I am truly and wholeheartedly feeling the true meaning of advent. Goodness is on its way and I am making myself ready to receive it.