I know I'm not alone when I say that the holidays are a tough time for many. They may be for different reasons but I can be confident that most are dealing the loss of a family member. As we age, it is only natural for that number to grow.
Knowing that this holiday would be especially sad for me, I set out to prepare myself by facing my feelings head on and acknowledging them early. A few weeks back when I was in the gift shop at the hospital, I can't remember what I was looking for, but when "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" came on overhead I stopped dead in my tracks. People around me were talking, one person was angry about something...it seemed all my senses were heightened and I thought to myself "why is that person so angry about something so small". And then they were gone. I was left still not moving but listening to the words of the song I've heard a million times.
From now on, our troubles will be miles away
Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more
Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
So hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now
My mind immediately went to past Christmases. Every year when we decorate our tree, Craig will hoist one of the girls up so they could place the angel tree topper on top of the tree. It's a big deal and the tree is not complete without this ritual. So when the words "hang a shining star upon the highest bough" rang through the shop, I couldn't hold back the tears anymore. I was caught up in how grateful I was to have my husband and daughters in my life. I thought about my dad who will have been gone 8 years on Thanksgiving day. I miss his comments and silly jokes. I miss conversations with him. Every holiday big or small, my mom would celebrate the day with my family. But this year her chair will be empty. Although we had our differences, I still loved her. And when my daughter was diagnosed with lymphoma, interestingly I missed being able to reach out to my mom. Even though we didn't see eye to eye sometimes, she was always very supportive when it came to things like this. I thought about my brother who isn't doing well and if he will be here for Christmas. And I couldn't help but feel the overwhelming sadness and the reason why I was even in a hospital gift shop to begin with.
Fast forward to yesterday. We decided to have Thanksgiving today because we couldn't all be together. I pushed through the day yesterday keeping busy. My husband and daughter made the plans. We would go to Frankenmuth to one of their breweries to watch the game and have a few beers. The food wasn't that great but the beer and conversations were. I love the little town of Frankenmuth. So many great memories with my kids. Although I was sad that we couldn't all be together yesterday, I realized that not dwelling on it made all the difference. It's okay to have a bad day. Just don't unpack and set up house. And by all means, reach out to a close friend when feeling down. I am grateful for all my wonderful friends. And it always seems like one of my friends will reach out to me in a text or message just when I need support the most. Thank you Marie, Gail and Reeta for knowing what to say to make me feel loved.
It is so important to acknowledge your feelings and give them the attention they need. I find that meditating or doing something with my hands like coloring, or even wiping down the kitchen counters helps tremendously with stress and feeling a sense of calm. If you don't acknowledge your feelings, then you are setting yourself up for extreme sadness and health issues. Yes, our mind and body are one. Treat them both with love and kindness and you will reap the rewards of a healthy body and mind. And speaking of kindness, please remember that there are people walking amongst us that may be battling their own problems, issues, or sadness. Don't judge. Don't get angry. You don't know what battle they are facing. When I find myself being inpatient with someone, I will smile at them and usually I will get a smile back. That my friends will do your mind, body and soul good.
I read a book a very long time ago titled The Four Agreements. I gained great wisdom from this book and it sits alongside many other great books I have read over the years. Little did I know after reading The Four Agreements, that one day these agreements would come back into my life over and over again. Agreements that rerouted my life and habits that I changed which have helped me through out my life so far. It even helped me with raising my daughters. One in particular agreement I taught them was "Always Do Your Best". Ironically I am going to talk about this agreement today.
When I first found out that Emily was diagnosed with NHL I went into this crazy fact finding, research guru. I researched everything from what the hell is this, to what needs to be done to get my daughter through this and back to living her life. I thought I was doing my best and what was best for her. And I was. To a degree.
I found my days were consumed with searching articles, recipes, and anything I could get my hands on. I had no idea what was going to happen, what I needed to do, and how best to attack this terrible disease and help Emily through it all. Even though I have learned a ton of valuable information, I literally became a person I didn't even know or want to be.
It didn't dawn on me until I was gently told that I over did things. I didn't know when to stop. At first I thought, no that's not me! I'm doing my best. But sometimes the truth hurts and it takes a few minutes or a day to let honest words sink in. I would have to agree that I do go over board with certain things. And I really go over board when it comes to my family and their health. You may be thinking I have every right to, and yes I do, again to a degree.
I took these words as a reminder that I can do my best and not over do it. If you are constantly trying to do your best and never feeling like you are achieving it, you are always going to feel like you aren't doing enough. This is where I was a couple weeks ago. You end up missing out on so many important other things in life. Like living. And in living, you are giving your best to yourself and to your loved ones. Also known as self-care.
A good example is taken from the book which I have adjusted to save time :) If you meditate 30 minutes a day it will take you less time to achieve your best than it will if you meditated 2 or more hours. Because you may feel if you meditate longer you will achieve your best. When in fact you are being taken away from living and enjoying your life when you over do it. More time does not equal your best.
I still will look up things if I think they are interesting. But I no longer dive deep into anything anymore. I realize that what I have researched is enough for me to do my best. If something is of interest to me I'll look it up. Other than that I know I am equipped with the best information to get us to where we want to be. And at the end of the day when I'm laying there ready to fall asleep, I can truly tell myself that I've done my best. Nothing more, nothing less.
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