“Such a simple concept, yet so true: that which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.”
Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain
A Grief Recovery Project Post
Sometimes the Universe just slaps me upside my stubborn head until I learn the lesson it has assigned. Case in point: setting intentions. You remember my two weeks of hell in November, the ones that kick off the six-week holiday season? Well, they were an ass-kicker. I’m talking brutal lows that I haven’t felt in two years.
But it was pointed out to me, by someone I love and trust, that they were awful because I willed them to be so. Ummm, excuse me? I did no such thing. But the minute I started to get defensive, I realized the truth in what he was saying. Son of a biscuit eater! I DID will them to be awful, because I said they were going to be awful. I even call them my two weeks of hell! (Note to self: find a new description for this time period, stat!)
I can laugh about it now, but I actually hit a low point that had my finger hovering over the “confirm ticket” button on a flight back to Ireland. I knew that wouldn’t solve my problems, so stayed right where I was, but it sure was tempting. Instead, I chose the harder option and I adjusted my mindset about the looming Christmas holiday. I decided it would be whatever it would be, and I’d deal with it accordingly. Good or bad.
Somewhere along the way, my “No Boundaries, No Expectations” mantra must’ve fallen out of my suitcase on my way back to the US, because I instantly set all kinds of expectations the minute I got home. Including for the six-week milestone season I’d been dreading.
A Christmas Miracle
So how was Christmas? It was AMAZING! Major props go to Baby Sister for working overtime to make it extra special, but I could totally have screwed it up if I’d have set the intention it was going to be sad, painful and lonely without Dan. Instead, I set the intention that it was going to be whatever it would be, and I couldn’t wait to see what that was.
To my fellow bereaved, this isn’t a judgment on feeling the feelings of grief. Instead, it’s a reminder of how easy it is to get stuck, and how powerful our minds are when we tell them what to expect. I would have been equally okay to have been sad all Christmas, but because I didn’t limit myself to that expectation up front, I wasn’t sad. At all. Not once. I know, I’m shocked too.
I can’t make any promises that I won’t get stuck again, but I hope the next time I’ll be a little quicker to remember that when I set my intentions, and release those boundaries and expectations, it frees me to just live in the moment. And that moment might be pretty damned good.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.
The Christmas GRP:
You know I go all in on my Grief Recovery Projects, so here’s a quick breakdown of Operation Christmas.
1. Go home for Christmas
My first Christmas in three years needed to be at home. I had to force myself to return, but it was worth it.
2. Be Festive
This can be harder than it sounds, but I did it. I went to places that were all peopley AND festive, including parties. I rocked dresses, ugly Christmas sweaters, and Santa hats. And I had a great time.
3. Eat Christmas cookies
Two of my friends are the most amazing cookie bakers on the planet. I’m happy to help them sample any and all recipes. I’ll be one of those dorks who joins the gym next week.
4. Go look at Christmas lights
Driving around town in our matching Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve, with hot cocoa and my favorite two-year-old, was a favorite moment. It reminded me of all the Christmases as a kid when mom and dad would drag us out to Candy Cane Lane and Honolulu City Hall to see all the lights. The Winter Garden Aglow paid homage to my last visits there with Dad and Dan. Wistful, but also beautiful.
5. Wear Christmas jammies
Y’all rock. After blogging about getting some, I had Christmas jammies show up in special delivery from both Santa and one of Santa’s amazing helpers.
6. Spend as much time as possible with friends and family
At the end of the day, it’s all about the people we love, and the time and experiences we share with them that matter. Thank you to everyone who made time in their busy holiday lives for me.
7. Christmas music
The boycott is over. I listened, I sang, and I Christmas music’d the F*out. And as for the singing, I didn’t say it was good, I just said I was all in. That’s right, that was me belting out Rocking Around the Christmas Tree at the top of my lungs in my car.
8. Honor traditions
Baby Sister dug my Christmas stocking and ornaments out of the trash pile when I left town a year and a half ago, and they were hanging up at her house when I got home. Some traditions are good. I’m grateful she had the foresight to rescue them, on the off chance I ever chose to do Christmas again.
9. Say His Name
I talked about favorite holiday memories of Dan and Dad, and didn’t cry! After Thanksgiving, where no one mentioned his name at all, I participated in the Hope For Widows Foundation “Say His Name” campaign this year. I know it’s scary to talk about the deceased because you don’t know how the bereaved will react, but it’s good to share happy memories of them. You aren’t reminding us they died. You are assuring us they are remembered.
10. The magic of Christmas
Waking up Christmas morning to have my little prince take a flying laughing leap off the stairs into my arms to see what Santa had brought was my absolute favorite moment. It’s true, kids really do help us see the magic of Christmas. Talk about No Boundaries, No Expectations. Kids just show up and live in every magical moment as they happen.