Archive for November, 2010

picturing REFLECTION

ribbon_reflection

If you are like me, you might have cringed when you noticed that this is a picture of Christmas ribbon that I snapped when I was decorating (yes, decorating) over the weekend. Is it really that time of the year already? Are people seriously decorating before December? I did wait until after Thanksgiving, though some of my neighbors decked out their houses immediately following Halloween. Are the stores really open on Thanksgiving this year?

The truth, however, is that the holidays have officially begun. Whether we like it or not. We kick off the season with Thanksgiving, offering gratitude for all of the good in our lives — friends and family, health, meaningful work, shelter and food (oh, so much food…). Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa follow with a time to celebrate and share the light in our lives. The grand finale is New Year’s, providing a time for hopeful dreaming for the future.

Every year, the holidays sort of sneak up on me. Mostly, I go into avoidance mode. I tell myself that I’ll really celebrate once the semester is over, the holiday shopping is done, or I’ve trekked up to our families in Minnesota. Unfortunately, more so than not, I am left feeling a bit empty. Feeling like I somehow missed seeing the extra in the ordinary. Feeling like I missed a special moment to savor the sacred. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly eat enough food and I certainly spend enough money, but I often can’t help but feel like something was lost. This year, I’m trying to find some balance in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Some peace while enjoying the special moments.

At the outset, I’m taking some time to personally reflect on what I want this season. I’m asking myself what will help me remain mindful of the magic. In a season that is full of excess, we sometimes need to make a list to focus on the bare essentials and purposeful excess (excess that we purposefully engage in and truly enjoy) to deeply experience the season. I’ve begun making a list and here’s what’s on it.

1) I love watching the Christmas specials, especially the animated ones, but because they are shown early, I almost always end up missing them. I’ve looked up the dates and times for my favorites.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas ABC Nov 30, 7:00 PM

Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer CBS Nov 30, 7:00PM

It’s A Wonderful Life NBC Nov 30, 8:00 PM

A Charlie Brown Christmas ABC Dec 7, 7:00PM

Frosty the Snowman CBS Dec 11, 7:00 PM

2) I developed a new ritual for holiday shopping. I decided to do all of my Christmas shopping online. Shopping in stores around the holidays is stressful. I popped in a Christmas CD one evening, gave thanks for having a little extra money to show my appreciation for my family and friends, and peacefully ordered gifts from the quietness of my laptop.

3) Cut down on my blog posts. I’ll still be taking 1 photo each day, but I’ll only be updating my blog 1-2 times per week. I enjoy taking the pictures, but sometimes feel like updating my blog is just one more thing that I have to do. I hope to take some time to reflect on what my blog is and what I want it to be.

4) I’m filling several boxes of things — clothes, shoes, food — for charity. It is a time to give to others who are need.

5) I planned a special weekend with my mom to bake my favorite Christmas cookies.

6) I’m going to listen to some of my favorite Christmas tunes each night while I drink a special beverage.

None of these things are extraordinary. I think I’ll find more joy in the season by focusing on the extra meaning in my ordinary actions, like baking and watching television. Do you have any additional suggestions for me to ponder? What do YOU need to make this season meaningful?

picturing BURSTING WITH GRATITUDE

gratitude

Bursting. I am bursting with gratitude right now. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of all of the things that I am grateful for. A wonderful partner and puppy. Close family and friends. Health. Meaningful work.  Creative outlets. Also, I have some (very) exciting news…a new creative opportunity has recently opened my soul. It has made me feel both joyful and vulnerable at the same time. You know the old saying that “if you build it, they will come?” Well, I’m feeling like “if you picture it…who knows what will happen?” Over the past few months, I have been moving toward a more creative me. Carving out some time for work, play, and rest. Buying a dSLR and compact macro lens. Taking a couple of photography classes. Posting one new picture on my blog each day. I am enormously grateful for those of you who have been reading my blog. Thank you. Thanks to those of you who read and comment regularly and thank you to those of you who just check it out sporadically — just when you need a quiet moment to focus on something other than the hassles of everyday life.I feel like these small movements toward creativity have a way of turning into bigger opportunities. You take one small step and the universe leaps forward.It turns out that I am going to get the opportunity to display my photographs – yes, you heard me, SHOW MY WORK!!!! (bursting may be an understatement). I will be showing my photographs, along with the poetic photographer (and my very dear friend), Meghan Davidson of Life Refocused, at the Lincoln Community Playhouse during their upcoming show in January (thanks to another dear friend, Jenni). We even get to host an opening on January 21 (please let me know if you are interested in coming to Lincoln that weekend — it would be great to have you here — the more the merrier).This opportunity makes me giddy and nervous at the same time. The sense of sharing and possibility makes my heart grow bigger. Nervousness (what will people think? is it too soon? what photos should I choose?) has made my heart contract just a bit. However, I’m choosing to focus on possibility, not perfection. Being open, not closed. My heart over my mind. Acceptance, not evaluation. Love.

picturing REARVIEW AT SUNSET

rearview at sunset

picturing CHOO CHOO (HAYMARKET IN LINCOLN)

Haymarket train

picturing ONE LAST LEAF

leaf_reflection

picturing LAST BITS OF FALL

last_bud

picturing PLUM

plum

picturing FORGIVENESS

self forgiveness

We are often reminded of the importance of forgiving others. When we fail to forgive and harbor resentment, we usually only hurt ourselves (though we often feel self-righteous certainty that we alone were right. And sometimes we are right, but we certainly don’t hurt the other person — at all — by holding onto negative feelings).

However, I think it is much harder to practice self-forgiveness. Once we give up the illusion that we can (or want) to be perfect, we are going to have to come to terms with the fact that we aren’t perfect and that can be OK. In fact, we are going to mess up…sometimes we are going to mess up royally (at least I have anyway). Or at the very least, we are going to piss other people off because we aren’t going around with our usual people-pleasing antics.

In her book, the Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown talks about a related concept of self-compassion and the gifts that forgiveness and compassion of the self can bring us on daily basis. I’m trying to keep them in mind.

Self-kindness: Being understanding rather than critical when we fail or feel inadequate.

Common humanity: Recognizing that feelings of failure or inadequacy are common to everyone and in fact can be the key to connecting with others.

Mindfulness: Staying in the present moment and neither minimizing nor exaggerating our current feelings about the situation.

I don’t think that it is a coincidence that I got this stone from a friend (thank you Ms. Moser)…  I think it can be hard to have the guts to practice self-forgiveness unless we get permission from someone else. Today, I hope to pass that gift onto you — forgive yourself — whether it be for a small or large transgression. By doing so, you give others permission to do the same.

picturing APPLES

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apple2

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picturing MORE CORKS

corks