"All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle." - Francis of Assisi
This post is my little gift to all of us, wishing all a wonderful light filled holiday season and revo'lution*ary new year! I have noticed that this time of year is often filled with mixed emotions, high hopes for a delightful holiday and for the year to come, maybe a little bit too high, so with the links and inspiration, I hope to address some of that.
First of all I really like Gretchen Miller's Revo'lution*ary way of working with intentions for the new year. Do take a look at her blog and consider creating an altered book of intentions, a portable reminder that you can carry with you into the new year. Last year I chose to work on Simplicity, Stillness, and Friendship, creating a collage for each of those word/intentions. This year I believe that I would like to continue to study Simplicity, Stillness, and Friendship and I'd like to spend more time pursuing my PostGraduate Studies (click here for all the blog posts related to this idea), more time answering this question: What do you chose to do today, in this moment, to live a life filled with creative expression?
Another interesting idea (or maybe it's 20 interesting ideas) is 20 Free Gift Ideas from Scott Dinsmore. Here's his list but check the blog, because there's a whole lot of inspiration there:
*Cook dinner. Who cares if you can’t cook. Pick an easy recipe. Search “easy healthy quick recipe” on google. No excuses.Want another list? OK, this is for folks who are having a rough time of it, from the blog positively present; living happily ever after now. We've all been there, we all know what a hard time is, so check out this list of 5 ways to stay positive during the holidays:
*Write a note. Taylor it to them and your relationship. Deliver it in person. Be there as they read it. Maybe read it to them. Heck, try singing it.
*Share a powerful article or book you know they’d love.
*Focus on the message and presentation, not the gift – don’t just forward a blog article in a one line email. Print it out or write a thoughtful note along with it. It’s all about the presentation.
*Build something – a collage of pictures, a calendar through iPhoto. Keep it simple.
*Hire someone on Fiverr.com to create a custom song or poem. Only costs $5 and it’s a blast. Fiverr has an awesome Christmas section.
*Regift something of value – your trash is someone else’s treasure. Start with your book shelf and then hit your closet.
*Give a massage – Stick to hands and feet if you want to get personal. Everyone one loves someone messing with their toes.
*Create a YouTube playlist of your most inspirational songs and videos. It’s super easy.
*Throw a party with all your favorite people – so everyone can enjoy each other.
*Make a connection – Introduce two people who could really help each other.
*Create a workout or eating routine to help them achieve a goal.
*Give a fantasy. I’ll let you run with that one. C’mon, we’re all human.
*Be their guide on your favorite workout or outdoor adventure.
*Share your expertise in a way that will make life better. If you’re an accountant, help with a budget. If you’re a career coach, help find a job they actually like. We’re all experts in something. Teach them.
*Find an inspiring video and share it in a way they’re most likely to watch. Burn to DVD or sit down and watch it with them if that’s what it takes.
*Give a bottle of wine – that must be drank between you and them within 2 weeks of gifting. Block off an entire evening for the good conversation.
*Babysit some rugrats – the ultimate gift for young parents.
*Save someone some time – Is there anything more valuable? Take down their holiday decorations, declutter their stuff, clean their house.
*Share something you love – a sunset, sunrise, a walk, a new museum. Get creative.
- Focus on what's going right. No matter how tough things are for you, there is at least one thing that's going right. It might be a small thing -- like your ability to still get out of bed in the morning -- but size doesn't matter. Instead of focusing on the hardest things, the things that are bringing you down, choose to focus on the things, however small, that are going right for you right now. There are good things happening around you, but it's up to you to open your eyes and look for them. You will see what you're looking for.
- Realize you're not alone. As much as you might feel like you're only one suffering during the holidays, you are not alone. Sadly, there are many who are having a hard time this holiday season. Just remembering that you are not alone in dealing with the difficult holiday season will help you to feel more positive. Also, keep in mind that there are others who are in much, much worse situations than you are and, as bad as things are now, they could probably be worse. I know that doesn't sound very positive, but it's always good to put things in perspective. Doing so really will help you be more positive.
- Make an effort to interact. When you're unhappy it can be so tempting to stay inside, tucked away from others, but that's one of the worst things you can do for yourself -- especially during the holidays. You might not feel like interacting with others at all, but if you motivate yourself to get up, get out, and interact, you'll certainly improve your mood. Don't let your unhappiness hold you back. Get out there and give others a chance to cheer you. You definitely won't feel better if you stay alone all of the time, but you might just get a mood boost if you venture out and give others a chance.
- Spend time with those less fortunate. A great way to lift your spirits is to realize how lucky you are. One of the quickest ways to put your life in perspective is to spend time with others less fortunate than you. Around the holidays there are often great volunteer opportunities. Check your community's website or contact an organization you'd like to help out. When you find an opportunity to help others, take it. It will brighten your mood to spend time with others, especially those who are also struggling during the season.
- Look at the big picture. Right now you might be feeling down. Everyone else's cheerful moods might be driving you crazy. But take a step back and try to see the big picture. This year might be tough. Next year might be hard too. But you know what? There will be a holiday season when you will be one of those laughing and smiling and spreading holiday cheer. Stay positive and focus on the good things in your life and you will once again be lifted up by the spirit of the holidays.
Nice, eh, and all so doable. Why a person could actually have a great time over the holidays if they did a few of these things.
My next inspiration comes from an eCard I got today from my friend jaihn. Here's the image, SO sweet and then the links below, follow them with delight (and of course drop in on jaihn for more inspiration! Whew!)
You can find a larger version of this image here and a whole portfolio from Hamid Sardar here. There are films on this same website, just breathtaking. Once again, thank you jaihn!
Finally I'd like to give some thought to the concept of inner satisfaction and "conditions of enoughness" which you can read about Jennifer Louden's website. The way I understand inner satisfaction or satisfaction which comes from within is very similar to Jennifer Louden's "COE" concept. Often, especially at this time of year, with the media doing its very best to create feelings of lack and dissatisfaction we tend to find ourselves creating conditional happiness. I will feel happy if darling hubby gives me the perfect gift, I will feel happy if there is no family feuding during the holidays, I will feel happy when everyone opens their presents from me and says "oh this is perfect, this is just what I was hoping for." (What planet do I live on?) OK, well the best point for me, that Jennifer makes in her conditions of enoughness is that we can make new conditions totally dependent on our own creations. So I will feel satisfied when I finish wrapping my gifts. I will feel satisfied when I try some of Scott's 20 things (see above) or when I try the 5 things from Positively Present (see above). Make these conditions of inner satisfaction things that you can actually do for yourself and when you have done them, feel the satisfaction.
That's it for the moment. Make sure you have a light filled holiday and try out some of these ideas for yourself. Let me know how they work for you. Remember, "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle."