Christmas Doesn’t Come From A Store, and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

Have We Lost the Meaning of Christmas?

The Grinch is slowly becoming one of my favorite Christmas characters. As a middle-aged woman who is feeling more bittersweet about the holidays the older I get, I feel myself questioning what all the running around is even about. 

This week I found myself, like many of you, rushing to the mall in a shopping frenzy trying to nail down the perfect gift. Weeks leading up to this week I fed myself lies about how I was going to opt-out of gift-giving this year, only to find myself in the holiday rush like I do every year. 

The Christmas spirit is nowhere to be seen at the mall. Big bows and stocking stuffers are thrown in our faces as we walkabout. Looking around for what we can afford, our stress rises and the overwhelm of choices takes control. We try to shop with a conscience while living on a made it china budget.

I get caught in the rush, but like most people, I seek something deeper as I succumb to the pressure of the holiday gift brigade. 

  • Am I going to be the only one to show up without a gift to the holiday party? 
  • Am I the one to be labeled a Grinch? 
  • And what if the Grinch is right? What if someone came and stole everything from your home? 
  • Is that what it would take to see the meaning? A thief? 
  • What if instead you simply decided no gifts this year? Do you think it would ruin the holiday? Or perhaps mean a little bit more?

I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas this week and found myself feeling like him. Annoyed with the sounds, the facade, the desperate plea to keep the magic alive for the young ones in our lives. I feel more tuned into the stress, depression, and anxiety of pressure to conform. Where have we gone astray?

I have so much to be grateful for and am trying to keep sight of the people in my life who are the real gifts. But just because I’ve hit this milestone doesn’t mean everybody else has. Christmas is the most anticipated time of a young person’s life, yet I am left feeling like we have turned a gift from Santa into a huge array of never-ending gift-giving that is leaving us hollow. 

In a time where it is clear that human life is disposable, where we value things over people, is Christmas really store bought? 

Where is the spirit of Christmas when we walk over homeless people living outside in the cold to arrive at a function filled with an overabundance of stuff? Trees are cut down for our pleasure and outdated rituals control our actions and thoughts. 

What are we celebrating? And what legacy are we teaching our youth by doing so?

As you go about your holiday this year, take a moment to reflect on those unable to find joy in the season. Take a moment and see other humans walking through this world, not just objects we pass on the street or mindless cars traveling about. 

We live in a very challenging time and joy will not be found in the hearts of many. We have become polarized and live in pursuit of showing affection through things because no one has taught us any other way. 

I know this sounds grim, and it’s kind of where I’m at today, but I do believe the Christmas spirit is still alive. I do believe that peace on Earth is possible. I do believe in the kindness of strangers and the unending joy of children on Christmas Day. 

I also believe that change starts with us. I encourage you to stop stressing over the perfect present and offer instead the greatest of gifts… Your presence in the lives of those you love. 

We are living in a time of change, and perhaps now is the perfect time to reel in our long-held Christmas traditions for more meaningful gifts of the heart. I wrote a list, 6 Ways to Gift From the Heart, and am doing my part to bring about the change I’d like to see in my holiday experience. Changes I believe will bring me and those I love most more connection and peace. 

The truth is I see the spirit of Christmas daily. I saw it today when a stranger held the door for me at the grocery store. I saw it in the eyes of a mother watching her child skip down the street. I see it in the affection my honey bun bestows upon our cats. The Spirit is alive and can be drawn out of all of us at any given moment. 

Time spent in the company of love spreads joy faster and can heal deep wounds. It does appear that Christmas is bought in a store, but once you widen your vision, just like the Grinch, you will find that maybe Christmas means a little bit more.

Merry Christmas.

6 Ways to Gift From the Heart

Trade-in Shopping Madness for Thoughtful Thinking

The holiday approached with a mixed bag of emotions. One of joy and gratitude for the opportunity to get together with family and friends after spending last year apart. The other of dread with the obligation of finding that perfect gift.

With so much already on our plate, it’s easy to run to the mall or Amazon and buy a ton of unnecessary gifts in the act of showing others we care, but this mindset has me thinking that there has to be a better way to make the holiday a special one. 

As my family gets older and the need for gifts is less, I want to make a conscious effort to fill my loved ones’ stockings with love. It’s 2021 and we are well aware of the landfill problem that grows by the day. So as you rush to find that perfect gift consider something meaningful both for the person and for our environment. This should be a joyous occasion when we reflect on love, family, and hope, yet this time of year is too often stressful, overwhelming, and exhausting. 

If you’re like me, you are more excited about making the holidays an experience. You may be ready to ditch the traditional abundance of gifts in exchange for something more heart-felt. 

Below are 6 ways to show love and gratitude this holiday that are far more meaningful than any material gifts. 

  1. Give an Experience

Sharing an experience with someone you love is a blessing that lasts for years to come. Not only are you creating memories, but you are building on a bond. After the Christmas rush is over we are often let down by the overwhelm of the day. When you give an experience it gives you more excitement to look forward to. These types of gifts allow the recipient to explore their interest and go experience something in a way that will leave an effect on them that goes far beyond Christmas day. So skip the clutter of a novelty gift and splurge for cooking lessons or tickets to the big game instead. 

  1. The Gift of Time

Make someone feel extra special this year by spending time connecting with them. 

  • Take your kids to a retirement home and connect them with their elderly relatives. Bring a gingerbread house that they can create together. 
  • Have a list of questions that you share to spark conversation. 
  • Invite a friend or a neighbor over for lunch and build a stronger community that stays with them all year. 

Time is one of our most precious resources and we don’t give it consciously to others often at all. We waste so much time on social media or watching trash tv and not enough time listening to our children or parents. The gift of time is a gift of self and the memories could transform someone’s idea of you and the holidays forever. 

  1. Donate to a Charity

A great way to pay it forward is to make a charitable donation in someone’s name to their favorite organization or cause. You could support something local that is dear to someone’s heart or make it more global. Donating to charity lifts everyone up. It shows the recipient that you listen and care about the causes and things important to them, and it makes you feel good too. The organization benefits and might even adopt a new yearly donor. 

If you have trouble choosing a charity start asking your loved one what kinds of issues matter to them. You can always take clues from their life as well. Are they a vegetarian? An animal lover? A civil rights activist? A promoter of women’s rights? Are they always posting about our school system and ways to support it? Or have a tender heart for the homeless. 

We all leave clues to who we are and what things matter to us. Pay attention. This attention and action say a lot about who you are as a listener in the lives of those you love.

  1. Send a Card

Over my lifetime I have seen the number of holiday cards get less and less personal. I love getting pictures of all my loved ones’ families but it is clear this was done on a service where the family has little to no contact with the card at all. When I do still get the Christmas letter from my college friend in California I absolutely love it. It always comes with a sweet hello and a message of gratitude and love. 

One of the most powerful ways to show you care is as simple as saying thank you. A holiday card is a perfect time and place to do such a thing. Say thank you to those who make a difference in your world. Personalize it. How many baristas or bartenders get Christmas cards from customers they serve daily? Not many, and there is no doubt that that simple act leaves a huge impression. When you look around your life there are so many reasons to say thank you and who doesn’t love to get a card in the mail.

If cards aren’t your thing, you can find other ways to send messages of thanks to those that make your life easy. Perhaps it’s a couple of cookies left in the mailbox for the mail person or a box of sweets for the janitor in the office. Small tokens go a long way and the interaction with these individuals will be lasting and improved for years to come. 

  1. Recommended Reading

A couple years ago a friend gave me a used book for Christmas. It was the best. She wrote on the inside about how the book impacted her life and why she chose to share it with me. It was meaningful and impactful. Not only was it one of the most throughout gifts I received that year, but it gave her and me an opportunity to connect later in the year once I had read the book to chat about it. It also inspired me to do the same. The following year I started collecting books I found at the thrift store that I wanted to share and two weeks before Christmas I headed into Half Price Books and picked up a couple more. Everyone got books and it made for great conversation and opened an opportunity for my family and friends to learn a little more about me. 

  1. Give the Gift of Breath

We are more stressed out, depressed, and anxious than at any other time in human history! We have become disconnected from our breath and it’s killing us slowly. My online course, Breath Mindset was made and designed to help people connect with their breath and disconnect from the cycle of anxiety and overwhelm that is running their life. Help someone you love to reconnect to their intuition, confidence, and purpose through the gift of breath. The lasting effects will pour out into their lives in powerful ways which will shape their experience from this moment on. They will be forever thankful for the gift that led them away from depression and into abundance. 

However you decide to give this year I hope it is done from the heart. We all have a unique way of showcasing our love and appreciation for another. Don’t waste an opportunity to open your heart and share your gratitude with those you love. This is the perfect holiday to show someone you care. 

Let me know how you decide to give from the heart. 

Are You Asking Yourself the Right Questions?

Your Daily Conversation Can Move You Towards Growth or Keep You Stuck in Place

The quality of your life is dependent on the quality of the questions you continue to ask yourself. If you’re not asking questions to help yourself grow and become a person of value, then what your life looks like today is what your life will look like 10 years from now. Play, rewind, repeat.

When you take time to reflect and refocus you offer yourself space to better understand what things are most important to you. Are you living your own dream or the dream created by another? Think deeply about this. Are you working towards a life you love, or are you just busy being busy?

You have one precious life to enjoy. Only one opportunity to shine out into the world all the wonder and glory of who you are. 

In order to truly live a life worthy of all your potential, you deserve to take time and seek out the answers to life’s big questions. 

How often do you hear someone say things like…

  • Next year I’m going to start…
  • When I have more time I will…
  • Once the kids are older I’ll…
  • After I lose 10 pounds I’ll begin…
  • When my bank account is bigger I will…

And we all know that these are just excuses. I get it, you’re busy. I’m busy. But I do know that if something is important to us we make time to do it. So ask yourself, are you happy? And if not, then what’s stopping you from doing differently?

I know, not an easy question to answer, but an important one. One worthy of time and energy. Asking these types of questions opens you up to opportunity to make changes now for your future. 

When you start asking deep questions and looking for your truth in them you find learning opportunities everywhere. The failings of your past are now lesson books to grow from. In order to take charge of your future, you must start by looking at the events of your life and choose to either be a victim of them or to grow from them.

Reflect

Reflect on the choices that have brought you to this point in your life. Ask yourself if you’ve been asking yourself the right kinds of questions. Ask those questions now. Because next year’s goals will keep turning to next year’s goals if you don’t take action today. Taking time to figure out what type of life you want and then executing it takes time and deep meaningful thought. Thoughts that can be game-changing, so be prepared to get uncomfortable with any and all answers that come up. 

When you start to examine your life, do it with a kind heart. Don’t start the conversation by beating yourself up over things that went sideways in the past. Feed your mind with compassion. You are a work in progress, use your insecurities as a guide for improvement. Ask yourself…

  • How can I find a way to improve my situation?
  • How can I cultivate a healthier mindset to move me forward?
  • Why do I keep making this same choice over and over again?

Listen

Listen to what comes up and where your resistance is. These are clues to guide you forward. Brainstorm and stretch your limiting beliefs. Magic lies outside your comfort zones, you just need the right mindset to get there. Asking the right questions will help move you towards the magic found there. Listen and believe in your gifts to this world, they help guide the direction of your life. It takes practice, and it starts with asking the right questions. 

Asking the right questions opens you up to potential that you couldn’t see before. If you don’t take time to design your life in a way that feels right for you, then you are living by the rules of someone else. If you don’t ask deep questions you stay stuck. 

Pay attention to where you look for validation, and ask questions around that. Ask questions about what makes you happy and dig deep into that. Ask questions.

Asking questions helps you to unlock hidden potential. It’s a guide for untangling thought patterns you’ve been stuck in for years. Asking the right questions helps you get clear with how you want to move forward in your life. 

We are so busy in today’s modern world that it’s hard for us to be present from moment to moment. We busy ourselves with social media and online games and we forget to allow our minds to rest. We forget to truly listen to what is happening in the world around us. 

When you start asking questions you must be open to receiving answers. This means listening to the information coming to you. When you look for answers to the pending questions of your life you need to be ready because information we tell ourselves daily isn’t always necessarily true. That story you’ve been selling everyone for years about how you were done wrong isn’t going to fly anymore. New results take new thinking patterns.

If you are at a crossroads in your life now is a great time to ask hard questions. 

  • What am I good at?
  • What do I love?
  • What are my natural traits?
  • How can I show up more present in my life?

If you don’t take time, especially in the challenging times to ask these questions of yourself then you will continue to run your life on a roller coaster and end up repeating the same patterns that got you into a situation you didn’t want to be in. 

It is essential to ask yourself…

  • What am I doing well?
  • What do I need to start doing?
  • What do I need to stop doing?
  • Where do I have room for growth?

These questions and ones like it will guide you down a path towards inner enlightenment. You can choose to continue not growing, or you can do the work that brings you to a happier healthier life. And those answers are all wrapped up inside of you. It’s time to quit being busy just to be busy and start living with intention. 

Start today with a simple yes or no as your guide…

Are you happy?