• terry-lynn hemmerling

Dear Holiday Season 2019...

Dear Holiday Season 2019,

I feel your approach... It is hard to miss since many of the big box stores have been decorated for Christmas since before Halloween. I meet your arrival each year with mixed feelings. I am older now. When I was a younger woman, I used to try to mirror the marketing image that was peddled to me. I exhausted myself trying to be only "Merry and Bright." I tried to do all of the things: the baking, the shopping, the decorating, the socializing. I know now that this level of activity at this time of year goes entirely against the natural rhythms of the earth. Right now where I live, She is asleep and resting. The days are dark early, inviting quieter activity and earlier bedtimes. And yet, the holiday season begins in November and lasts until January. I believe our ancestors enjoyed one day, one meal of festiveness to shake up winter. I know they did not keep this kind of social pace going for almost two months. 

Age and experience have taught me well and I respect their lessons. This holiday season I commit to mySelf the following: I will rest more. I will sleep more. I will eat treats consciously, mindfully. I will not drink alcohol. I will welcome ALL the feelings wholeheartedly. Even the ones that do not fit in with the marketing scenes I am fed through media and societal pressure. Yes, I will be merry and bright AND I will also experience moments of sadness and dark. These moments will be jarring when they arrive as they are so out of sync with the "Happy Holidays" surrounding me. I will wonder if it is because of my own shortcomings that these feelings exist. Age has also taught me to question my thoughts. I commit to welcoming all as Rumi's poem (below) advises me to do. 

Perhaps a memory of a Christmas past with a loved one who has also passed will bubble up and catch me so unaware that the breath in my lungs, for a moment, will be also caught... When that happens, I will free the breath with a long slow inhale, relax, feel the sadness, watch where it is landing in my body, and most importantly I will ALLOW (welcome) the memory and the accompanying emotion with a long, slow exhale. I will not push it away, drink it away, spend it away or busy it away. And through my acceptance of its presence, it, like all things, will pass. 

Perhaps for some reason we are not able to spend the holiday season with those we love... Maybe because of a dysfunction in the relationship, an unhealed hurt, or maybe the onset of dementia has irrevocably changed the relationship... No matter what the reason, sadness has been left in its wake for which there is no solution, other than acceptance, surrender and honouring this "new normal" that has arrived. I will do my best to meet this present-moment reality. Inhaling and exhaling.

Perhaps this Holiday Season finds our grown kids making their own traditions with their own significant others, making the empty nest achingly obvious. The missing of earlier times when they were all mine in their footie pjs will also be welcomed. I will remember and I will not refuse this new and different season of mothering. Deep inhale, deep exhale.

Self-care is the buzz word. Trendy. But the reality of self-care is that it takes time, commitment and hard work. For me, self-care means committing to being fully present in body, heart, mind, and soul for all that this Holiday Season has to offer. The good. The bad. The happy. The sad. I will lean hard into Nature: walks, the ocean, healthy food, skiing, standing under the dark, beautiful night sky. She can handle a lot. I will lean into Her and truly experience all that arrives. I will not force my human experience to fit into a Norman Rockwell meets Coca Cola Christmas commercial scene. That's the illusion. I will be here, feeling all the feels and grateful for the one true thing I know at this age and stage of my life: impermanence. Everything changes. Be here now. Experience this moment. Do not miss this moment. This is life.

So Holiday Season 2019, I welcome it all. I am choosing to live it DELIBERATELY.


Older, wiser me

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honourably.

(S)he may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.

Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes,

because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.


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