I haven’t been here in a while. I have been experiencing some resistance to writing this blog, and I am not exactly sure why.
Well, that’s not totally true. Part of the reason is that I feel like a cranky elf who has been shot out of a Christmas cannon in the middle of Macy’s. The blinking lights, the aggressive shoppers, the store windows filled with freaky lounge-act puppets….
My brain feels like the Spin Art toy I had as a kid – the one where the paper spins around while you squirt it with different paints to create a beautiful kaleidoscope of color. I was an overly-aggressive squirter and my spin art usually ended up looking like dog poo.
It just all feels too much this year.
I know, I know. Bah humbug, right? Believe me, that only thing worse than my Grinch-like attitude is the guilt I experience as a result. This Christmas season reminds me of a party my roommates and I had in college. We had a brand new apartment on west campus, and threw an awesome party in our shiny new place. Everyone was having a great time until one of the party-goers – let’s call him Mike
because that’s his name – projectile puked into a standing, oscillating fan. He was a human puke sprinkler, showering the world with his bad choices.
This year, I feel like a Christmas Party Foul. I fan-puke on merriness and cheer.
I decided that If I couldn’t find my game face, maybe I should take myself out of the game. The first thing to go was the cards. I couldn’t seem to find the energy for it. The cheerful slogans seemed to be mocking me. But not doing a holiday card seemed so….scandalous. I tested the idea out on my friend Kat:
Great. It was decided. No cards.
But then I started thinking about it…what if the card boycott scarred my kids for life? What if this was their absolute favorite holiday tradition and I was fan-puking on it? By not doing a card, would they forever see me as the mother who simply could not “hold on to the magic,” or be “merry and bright?
Emma was helping me with the photo calendar we give my parents every year when I gently broached the topic with her.
“Hey Em, I am debating not doing a card this year.”
“I don’t know…we never got around to taking a picture.”
“Whatever Mom, it doesn’t need to be like a Vogue cover.”
“Yeah, I know…maybe…they are just kind of expensive. I thought maybe we could give the money to a good cause instead.”
She thought about this. “How about Max? We could donate to the hospital so the doctors might figure out how to make cancer medicines that only kill the bad cells and not the good ones.”
An old friend of mine has a 3 year old son with metastatic retinoblastoma. He has been at CHOP since September, and Emma I have been following their blog charting his progress and many challenges.
“Wow, Em. That is an amazing idea. That is exactly what we will do.”
“Ok, cool. Can I go play the IPad?”
I made the donation to neuro-oncology department at CHOP, and then finished up the calendar. But as I scrolled through the photos of my two healthy girls, I thought of 3 year old Mighty Max going through what no child should have to endure, and thought….
How can I not share these beautiful faces with the world?
So, I made a card. And it felt good.
Sometimes I think our resistance to resistance is what really sinks the ship. We feel like we need to be or feel certain way, and then when we don’t, we wonder, what the hell is wrong with me? When the only thing wrong with you is thinking there is something wrong with you.
Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at. Compassion isn’t some kind of self-improvement project or ideal that we’re trying to live up to. -Pema Chodron
I was at a yoga teacher training last Saturday, and I taught a 30 minute class for the other trainees. It was the first time I had taught in a while, and I was nervous about getting feedback. But the comments on my teaching style brought tears to my eyes:
“I felt like you were really present and yourself.”
“You are loving but not in a creepy way.”
“You are warm and welcoming.”
Huh. Who knew? Maybe I am not 100% Grinch, after all. Not the yoga percent, anyway. So that’s something.
The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves. Yes it’s never too late or too early to practice loving-kindness. -Pema Chodron
Maybe this Christmas season, the best gift we can give ourselves is a little compassion. Send the cards, don’t send the cards. Bake the cookies, buy the cookies, eat the cookies, screw the cookies all together. What if you can’t go wrong?
What if anything you choose to do is the perfect choice?
What if we stopped labeling choices as good or bad?
What if all choices were just….choices?
What you choose might surprise you.