Post Holiday Blues, Mindfulness and Keeping the Heart Open

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“Smile, Breathe and go slowly. Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s usually sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve that my heart starts to close. As I unknowingly disconnect from home base, my BS upstairs tends to throw an embarrassing fiesta.

I barely notice the mindless partiers, at first. But as the holiday busy-ness winds down, I start tripping over their wicked heavy baggage. I feel sufficiently indignant, Grinchy and miffed, which only causes them to snuggle in closer.

There are good times, of course, but the holidays are also decked out in not-enough solitude, self-care or creative-time. This leaves the welcome mat wide open for past disappointments, high expectations and my BS (Belief Systems) to wipe their snowy feet.

Quietly ready to pop out from behind curtain #1 is the familiar BS – “I’m not enough” – and the scary feeling that my humanness is quite unsightly. “I didn’t give enough, spend enough, care enough or do enough.”

I do eat enough, however.

The goodies soothe the not-enoughness for exactly the same amount of time it takes to enjoy them. Someone called it filling “the God-sized hole.” (By the way, if you want a great book on emotional eating, I love Geneen Roth’s, Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything.)

I often blog about the not-enough-crew, I speak about them, I invite them in for hot cocoa and cookies… but I still don’t want to accept that they are me… and that life can get confusing and dark in here sometimes. So I’m just not gonna be a happy joy machine, 24/7. Got it.

Until.

I’m lulled by the unrealistic picture perfect Christmas ….or a New Year of “All Your Dreams Come True!” ~ it’s in the media, magazines and the restless hum of more, more, more. I’ve let those promises give me hunger pangs for years. I dangle the fairytale out beyond my reach instead of truly loving what is right in front of my red nose.

By New Year’s Eve, I tend to be secretly pouting. Growing up, we always had a rousing celebration with our family friends – 16 of us at least. We’d play Charades, Pictionary, and cards, we’d sing around the piano and eat deli sandwiches with pickles and potato chips til 2am. We’d wake up in the morning to scrambled eggs and buttered toast and maybe go skating on the lake nearby. It was remarkable.

In stark contrast, my hubster and I tend to have a quiet evening at home with our two boys. It’s like any other night….except that we watch a big ball drop and a throng of folks freezing their buns off in Times Square. We mumble things like, “why on earth would anyone GO there? How do they get out of the city afterward? Aren’t they feeling claustrophobic? Crowd-aphobic?” But suddenly I find myself wishing we HAD made New Year’s Eve plans…

I heard Christmas music playing in Staples yesterday. And that pine-scented BS in me started to whine. Where’s the magic now? The presents? The happily ever after? Why does the wonder fade?

“You suffer because of the thoughts you believe. Byron Katie

Cue up BS #2 – “The happy times from childhood are gone, sister.” I fear that I’ll never be able to create a rockstar childhood for my boys, but that I should. (Note the “I’m not enough” wiggling back in here.) And, BS #3, “I must suck at mothering.” Right now I resent it (eek) and I wanna build a couch fort and retire from the whole parenting thing. Could someone else just step in and arrange a blissful, easy life for my boys, hubby and me? Oh and a long vacation in the Caribbean. Or Disney.

Next I feel inundated with New Year’s newsletters about resolutions, goal-setting and “Your best year yet!” and it makes my butt twitch. What about the stuff I didn’t make happen this past year? Do I put it on my list, again? Trust again? Just to disappoint myself again? Is a bliss-filled life unrealistic BS?

My drama queen chimes in with BS #4 – “It’s now or never, all or nothing.” When I’m feeling joyful and grand, I tend to believe that I will never, ever close my heart again. All will be merry and bright. Always. When I’m feeling down, though, I tell myself that I never really felt all that great in the first place. I’ve finally seen my true yucky nature and it isn’t princess material.

When I believe “I’m not enough,” I try to do more and be more. But when I do more, I feel overwhelmed and disconnected, and I feel like “I’m not enough,” and then I try to do more and…

You get the cycle.

Best solution? Extreme self care. When my messy mind gets a death grip on the wheel (tell-tale signs are hopelessness, blaming, eye-poking, candy-grabbing…) my heart needs to gently pry the grubby fingers off. For me that requires uninterrupted solitude. Lots of it. I need to breathe. Write. Draw. De-clutter. Lighten Up. Read. Meditate. Feel.

Slow down.

Eat simply.

Open.

Be.

So while Bill was home on vacay, I slept in and stayed in my polka dot pajamas for as long as possible. I didn’t shower, blow dry my hair or put on a bra or make-up for days. I closed and locked my door. Ignored the phone and email.

It. Was. Unprecedented. Heaven.

It was a permission slip to go away. And return to myself.

Wild applause please!

My attitude shifted like tectonic plates. Oh the epic relief!

“You’ve seen my descent. Now watch my rising.Rumi

My BS will insist I’m selfish, spoiled, guilty, greedy, and I’m not living up to my potential. With a bit of quiet time, I can smile at my little girl fears. I know she’ll pull out of this. She’ll forgive my imperfections and humanness. She’ll re-remember that harsh judgment just sends me chasing my sorry tail. She’ll believe, once again, that she belongs. That the world is safe for her. That I’m her champion. Even though things didn’t work out before, there is still enough time, energy and love to make it so.

It’s safe to keep dreaming.

Suddenly when I’m loving myself again, I realize that my holiday blues (or any sadness for that matter) visits when my gratitude is in the can. The hubster that I ached for, and didn’t believe I deserved, and the boys I wasn’t sure my body could ever have, are right outside my door. That’s phenomenal! And some fab friends from childhood are still by my side. Whahoo! And two fur friends on the bed nearby. Aw! And this rawkin computer that lets me reach YOU in 50 different countries (50!) Totally cosmic!

I could go on and on. And so could you. We have endless bounty going into 2015. We get to wake up to powerful gifts every day – that hot shower, food in the frig, trees in the yard, things to do, pets to hug, people to love. And I find that when I appreciate what I already have, and I let it be “enough,” it tends to grow three sizes that day.

Even though bank accounts can’t record these many, many intangible treasures, we are still rich. The goodness of a lifetime, the love, hopes and joys, are real and lasting. They are the foundation for daily magic.

We all face heartbreak, uncertainty, loss… but the world is experiencing a major metaphysical makeover. We’ve got a lot to live for! We’ve got so much to give and express and enjoy and love and believe in. We have a beautiful world to explore, inspiring people to meet, adventures to create.

Instead of bashing ourselves over the noggin every time we forget this truth, let’s just welcome the wondrous remembering. Yin and yang gives life it’s punch and aliveness.

The years we were asleep bring us more wonder when we wake up. The ways we deviated from our hearts make for an indescribable reunion with our truth. The long dark nights of the soul, make the recovery of the light even brighter. The blessings we forgot to count, inundate us when we finally remember. The times we follow fear and negativity makes learning to follow our own starlight a major WOW today.

And the BS? It’s unbeBLEEPable. It’s born of fear. Under despair, anger or numbness are the BS thoughts (not the circumstances) that are wreaking havoc. Any thought that frightens us isn’t coming from our soul. Fear doesn’t protect us – awareness does.

Michael Singer, in his beautiful book, The Untethered Soul, says it this way: “You can learn to keep your energy centers open. You do this by just relaxing and releasing. You do this by not buying into the concept that there is anything worth closing over. Remember if you love life, nothing is worth closing over. Nothing, ever, is worth closing your heart over.

Not even our losses, mistakes, failures, our inner nastiness, dreams that didn’t come true, someone else’s dreams that DID, our critics, our past, our partner or lack of one, kids, bad habits, finances, fears and flaws. Believing the BS closes our heart. Letting it all be, re-opens the flow. It takes mindfulness and courage to open. Sometimes, a donut seems quicker.

When you discover any BS driving your school bus, no need to slam on the brakes and screech at your students (we’re all life-long-learners, after all.) Just make the next legal u-turn. Gigglesnort with the passengers. They’ll probably be riding with you again, next month. Slow to a safe stop and go do what makes you smile (even if the closest you can get is in your imagination. It’s a powerful place to engage.)

Your life is beautiful. Even when a deep ache keeps you awake at night. Even as your partner walks away. Even as the bank takes your house. You have something much more radiant inside you, behind you, and ahead of you, waiting to be reborn.

You have air in your lungs and sun on your skin (or snow in your face.) You have a lot of living to keep on loving.

Whatever the question, you’re still the glorious answer.

“Who you are in not an option. You are love. Byron Katie

That amazing heart beating in your chest is willing to believe in you, again and again. That’s not foolish, that’s fabulous. That’s the joyful creator inside you who knows how to pull her head out of the sandbox, dust herself off, breathe in the present moment and enjoy the path through this luminous playground.

Here’s a wonderful poem by Rumi, to leave you with~

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 honorably.
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.

— Jelaluddin Rumi “I was in an abusive relationship once, and I found a way out. That relationship was with myself. Byron Katie

with much love, wholehearted living and chocolate
truffles,

Julie signature copy

 

16 responses to “Post Holiday Blues, Mindfulness and Keeping the Heart Open

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