Tis the Season

holiday

Does anyone else sense that something is different about this holiday season? We all know that Christmas and the winter holiday has become very over commercialized. For some time now, it has seemed that stores have pushed the season up. This year seems different to me.
It seems as though the season is early, but it’s the people and not the commercial establishments that are off to an early start. I notice on social media that lots of folks put up a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. Now, there are no rules about when to put up your tree, but it does seem a bit early. Driving home from my daughter’s house on Thanksgiving evening, I noticed several houses that had their tree shining and decorated, on display in the window for the world to see. Quite a few houses had holiday lights trimming the house.
What’s this all about? I have a theory that we are craving the joy that comes associated with the holidays. We are all out there looking to “make spirits bright.” I’m hopeful when I see this if I’m even close in my analysis. It seems like we’ve all been at each other’s throats this year, and anything that serves as a distraction from that can’t be all bad.
As an optimist, I look for the good in things. I am usually excited about the holidays and the end of the year. I am a firm believer in our ability to change course and reinvent ourselves if we’re unhappy with our current situation. I love the end of the year. The new beginning. Starting over and pledging yourself to new resolutions.
Some people are more cynical about the holiday season. I know that there are lots of people that are lonely and unhappy at Christmas time. Emotions run high, and patience seems to be in short supply. We’ve all had someone cut us off and give us the finger during the holiday season. It seems to be more unsettling when you’re in a holiday mood.
Is anyone else experiencing this sensation of people pushing the holiday? Are you striving for that warm feeling yourself? What’s different about this year?
2017 is my first year in a long time without having to be in a retail environment at Christmas time. I enjoyed sleeping late the day after Thanksgiving. Not having to be somewhere at 5:00 am is something to be thankful for, to be sure.
I know I’ll be making more posts about the end of 2017 as the month continues. But, you know, I thought I’d just get started early. I wish you and your friends and family a beautiful holiday season and end of the year.

– Cat

Great Expectations

 

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So often in life, reality falls short of our expectations.  I think that some people marry because they are in love with the idea of marriage.  The idea of marriage, as it turns out, is a lot different from actually  being in a marriage.

I think that the biggest gap between reality and expectation comes when you have your first child.  When you are expecting… you are “expecting” something in particular.  There is the ideal of a two-way bond between mother and child.  You will know just what to do, and when to do it.  You and your child, in perfect partnership, will form a circle of unconditional love.

Then, you give birth.  It’s a little more uncomfortable than you were expecting.  Most babies cry a lot.  It’s a puzzle that you often can’t put together.  You think you will know just what the baby needs, and how to stop the tears.  Hmmm… not so much.  But, Oh!  Look at that little angel sleeping!  Nap time is indeed magical.

Will you ever sleep again?  Let’s say that your sleep habits are going to evolve for this point on.   Just as you muddle through the days feeling a bit overwhelmed, your baby smiles at you!  And so it goes, as you move through the phases of parenthood.  You are joyful, and tearful, at times.

When I started this blog, I wrote about my friend, Maryann.  She had children older than mine, and used to joke, saying, “It doesn’t get better, it just gets different”.  So true!  Every age brings it own unique challenges and moments of beauty.  It’s an amazing thing to watch your children grow.

Going into it, you think it’s an eighteen to twenty year commitment.  When do you stop worrying?  Well, my first baby is 38 now, and I haven’t stopped yet.  Even when your children are grown up, and have children of their own, you can’t help but think about them and their families.

Another thing that comes completely unexpected when you have your first child.  You finally “get” your own mother.  You understand a lot of her advice, and a lot of her worrying.  It’s definitely an “aha” moment.

I have four children.  With each one, I became a little more familiar with the process, and confident with my parenting skills.  Of course the more children you have, the more “crazy time” you have at your house.  If you have children, I don’t need to explain what that phrase means.

I’ve mentioned before that my daughter is “expecting”.  Since it’s her second child, she knows a little bit more about what to actually expect. She’s a wonderful mother to my grandson, Carl, and I know that her new son will be a blessing to our family!  I also know she will be tired and feel overwhelmed at times.

Some things remain the same, whether you have children or not.  You might be experiencing the ups and downs of marriage.  It doesn’t matter if you are single, divorced, widowed, in love, or lonely… you will have good days and bad days.  The trick is to remember the good days when you’re in the middle of a bad day.

Parenting is an adventure that I can recommend without reservation.  But watch out for those “great expectations”.

– Cat

 

 

Reaching For Joy

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It’s easy to be overcome by events in our lives.  Sometimes, we go through things that are so profound, and so tragic, they can stop us in our tracks.  We may have trouble moving forward again.  People lose loved ones… parents, friends, and children.  Ending a marriage, or losing custody of children  can be devastating.  Stress, depression, and anxiety can bear down like a cloud that will not break.

When you are grieving, other people sometimes decide when it’s time to “get over it”.  When I hear of instances like this, I pause to wonder.  Are we ever supposed to “get over” these life altering events?  Waking up one day during a period of mourning and saying, “there, I’m better now”, seems stranger than a prolonged period of sadness.  It becomes part of who you are.

I think that that’s the key.  Accepting that it is part of your story.  The trick is not letting it define you.  It’s something that you carry with you for the rest of your life, but it’s not the essence of who you are.

We must be kind to ourselves, and allow ourselves to heal.  This recovery usually has some real twists and turns.  I think it becomes difficult to let people in to help.  Often, we feel as though we have to fight these battles alone. It can be hard to reach out to people who can nurture us.

Accepting that you deserve to be happy is tough to do, sometimes.  You may fall short of the mark as you reach for joy, but keep reaching.  Staying positive is crucial.  Twelve step programs advocate taking a “One day at a time” approach.  I’ve written before about my strategy that I call “Keep putting on foot in front of the other”.  Forward motion, however small, is necessary.

The struggle is worth it!

– Cat

Making A Difference – Going Viral

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I was going to use the starfish story to make my point here, but I think that’s been overdone. Instead, I’ll go with the marketing of Faberge Organics shampoo.  These commercials ran in the eighties, so the story might be new to some of you.

The premise is that you’ll use this shampoo.  Then you’ll tell two friends.  And then they’ll tell two friends.  Who will tell two friends.  And so on, and so on…

This is a perfect example of viral marketing, although it didn’t have a flashy name in the eighties.  Let’s apply it to making a difference and impacting your circle of influence.  Oh, you didn’t know you had a circle of influence?  You do.  It’s made up of the guy that gets your coffee in the morning, the guy pumping gas next to you at the gas station, and the lady at the bank.  It includes your boss, coworkers, and customers.  It even encompasses your family, your friends, and your neighbors.  You get the idea. When you tally all this up exponentially, you’re a pretty big deal!

So, starting every day with a clean slate, you make a choice with each of these interactions.  You decide whether to make a human connection.  You can smile and say “good morning”, or you can avoid eye contact. You can approach with a pleasant attitude, and recognize that everyone needs encouragement.  Perhaps you’d rather go around with a chip on your shoulder.  It could be that you feel stressed and rushed, and you can’t be bothered.  Maybe you are shy, or maybe even snobby.  Or, you might think it’s better to stick to yourself and mind your own business.

It’s definitely safer to stay in your shell and avoid the world.  There’s not much risk in that.  Neither is there any reward.  Make yourself unapproachable, and there’s a pretty good chance you won’t be approached. But, you’re not cashing in… remember, you’re a big deal.

Here’s my strategy:  Let people know who you are, and that it matters to you whether they have a good day.  Say hello, and offer your warmth.  Exert your superpower and unleash your sunshine on everyone that you meet.  Some people will roll their eyes.  Some people will look away.  But, most people will respond in kind.

Back to the shampoo commercial.  These people will use their influence, which has been lifted by you, with the people that they meet in the course of their day.  And so on… You get the picture.  Instead of going viral with videos of silly stuff, let’s be serious about being joyful and spreading that joy.  Take it to the next level!

Who wins in this scenario?  Everyone that responds to you, and everyone that they pass it on to.  Do you know who benefits the most from this?  It’s you!

See what you can do tomorrow!

-Cat