Year End Reflections: Thank You, 2016. Farewell!

https://pixabay.com/en/mural-girl-balloon-heart-graffiti-1331783/
https://pixabay.com/en/mural-girl-balloon-heart-graffiti-1331783/

 

Today is the last day of 2016.  How will you turn off the lights, close and lock the door on 2016?

Many of us will go to, or watch on TV or the Internet, some type of celebration.  Some of us will participate in some type of ritual whether it’s spiritually or religious based, or some other  way to mark the passing of one year into the next.  Others of us will wait quietly in our homes with friends or loved ones—or by ourselves—as we watch the final ticks of 2016’s clock.

I will spend the day alone in silent contemplation, even as I go about practical tasks such as clearing out those items that no longer serve me, putting the final touches on systems to help me achieve some of my dreams in 2017, and finalizing and archiving files for 2016.

I’ll be reflecting on all the good that came to me in 2016, such as you, Dear Reader, sticking with me—thank you!  I’ll even reflect on the “bad stuff”—reflect, not wallow or angst or beat myself up over it.  I’ll be grateful for the benefits that were wrapped up in the rough patches, even though at the time I didn’t always see the good.  To me, this is the best way to show my gratitude of having had the honor and privilege to live every moment of 2016 when so many I knew did not.

So, at 11:59:59 local time, with deep reverence and profound gratitude, I’ll be turning off the light, closing, and locking the door on 2016.

What will you do?

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

 

Year End Reflections After Holiday Blues One More Final Thought (!)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neon_sign,_%22CHANGE%22.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neon_sign,_%22CHANGE%22.jpg

 

All week we’ve been talking about the blues we often feel after the holidays—the adult version of a crash from a sugar high.  😉

Today I’ll leave you with one final thought I’ve realized for myself.

Several years ago I happened to watch a program on either the History Channel or Discovery Channel…one of those.  It featured anthropologists and one idea they mentioned has stuck with me and served me well all these years.  I think it can help you, too.

The anthropologists said that each generation defines for themselves their culture’s age-old practices, traditions, and customs.  They said that’s one reason why older generations pine for the “good old days” and worry about what the world will come to when the younger generation takes over.

The anthropologists quoted from ancient Roman texts where elders were concerned over young people’s lack of respect of long-held practices and customs.  They worried over young people’s lack of decorum and how they were dismissive of their elders’ values and standards.  The ancient texts denounced young people for their single-minded interest in frivolous, valueless things.

Sound familiar?  Sounds like these conversations could have taken place today!  🙂

The point is, though, that we work so hard to make the holidays great, especially for our kids.  It’s like we’re trying to re-create our childhood for them. Times and sensibilities and what people value has changed so to get upset because things aren’t exactly like what we experienced growing up is setting ourselves up for a huge letdown and disappointment.

Of course it’s fine to do the best we can to create conditions that are conducive to a good holiday, but then we have to remember to step back, chill, and let the kids—and grownups, too—create the memories that are meaningful to them.

In the meantime, remember to enjoy!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Year End Reflections: After Holidays Blues—A Final Thought

https://pixabay.com/en/rude-blowing-child-gesture-girl-151093/
https://pixabay.com/en/rude-blowing-child-gesture-girl-151093/

 

Yesterday we were talking about those gifts that we think are klunkers and that if we look a little deeper or from a different perspective, we might find they aren’t klunkers after all.  I want to share with you a thought about gifts we give others with the intent that they enjoy the gift but we realize they think our gift is the klunker!

I happened across a message of Joel Osteen’s where he was talking about this very thing.  One particular sentence resonated so strongly with me that I was stunned when I heard it.

Joel said that once we give the gift and it leaves our hands, it’s no longer our responsibility.

He went on to say that it isn’t our duty, obligation, fault, problem, etc., how the other person receives our gift or what they do with it.  We gave with good intentions, a generous heart, and hoping to please/help the person, and that’s all that we need to do.  If they have the bad manners and ill grace to see only the surface of the gift and not the goodwill it was wrapped in, then that’s on them, not us.

So, don’t feel bad.  You did the best you could, putting thought and love into the gifts you gave.  That’s all you need to do.

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Year End Reflections: After Holidays Blues—One More Thought

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christmas_Sweater.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christmas_Sweater.jpg

 

Sometimes we get a gift that’s a definite klunker.  We’re tempted to feel insulted because how could that person have gotten us so wrong that they thought we’d like/appreciate the particular gift?!

Yeah.  It’s happened to me, too:  my cousin gave me a Chia pet (really?!), the co-worker who gave me after shave (ummm…not a man…but maybe you missed the company-wide memo…), the loved one who gave me something from a flea market….

But then, I heard a story that made me think of this situation in a little different light. 

It was about a woman who wasn’t looking forward to the holidays because it seemed that her whole family didn’t know her and always got her gifts that, to her, were off base.  But, one holiday, her attitude drastically.

She unwrapped a gift from her college-aged son.  It was a blouse in a color and style that was all wrong for her.  Just as she was going to disappointedly put it to the side, she caught the look on her son’s face:  he was smiling with the warmth of love in his eyes.  At that moment, she realized he saw her as someone who was stylish and confident enough to wear the color.  It turned out that the style and color of the blouse actually looked stunning on her.

So, in my own case, I realized my cousin enjoyed my sense of humor and thought I’d get a kick out of the Chia pet; I appreciated how my co-worker tends to be quirky and think out of the box and is not limited by gender/race/creed, etc.; and the flea market gift, I understood that my loved one had hit a rough patch and was doing the best they could to give me a good gift.

So, those gifts–you know the ones–if you look under the surface, perhaps they really aren’t klunkers after all.

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Year End Reflections: After Holidays Blues—Another Thought

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Classic_view_of_The_Thinker_(8437831806).jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Classic_view_of_The_Thinker_(8437831806).jpg

 

Yesterday we talked about the blues we often get after the holidays are over.  Today I want to mention that another way to look at this—just a thought to keep in mind.

Oftentimes we feel disappointed because we’re looking at a situation from our point of view, not other people’s.  We’re comparing things to the idealized version we have in our heads and we assume others are, too.  We think they’re thinking and feeling the same way we’re thinking and feeling.

That isn’t always the case.

Most likely, others don’t have that same idea so, to them, the holidays were probably much better than what we assume they’re thinking.

As I said, just another thought to keep in mind.

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Year End Reflections: After Holidays Blues

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=15614&picture=headache
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=15614&picture=headache

 

We spend weeks—sometimes months—planning and preparing for the holidays.  We’re excited as we anticipate a wonderful holiday celebration.

But, instead of the Hallmark-channel-type loving holiday dinner as we dreamed of (actually, we hoped for it with fingers crossed…), Aunt Tillie and Uncle Albert were at it—again—over whether or not the turkey was overcooked, and the kids were running around screaming because of their sugar high, the teens were glued to their phones, our spouse/partner seemed to have disappeared from the melee, and one of the neighbors palmed off on us the Infamous Fruitcake (and what could we do but smile and thank them?), and the house looked like a cyclone hit it….

Then, before we know it, the holidays have come and gone and everyone’s on to the next thing.

We’re left wondering; is that all there is??

All that planning, all those preparations and, blink, over and gone!

We wonder if it’s all worth it.  We might even vow that this is it, we’re done.  We’re not doing this again!

!!!  (for good measure!)

It’s at this point that we have to stop and take a step back.  We definitely need to take a deep breath and we probably need a nap.

Perhaps our holiday traditions and celebrations really do need to be tweaked but the more important question to think about it why we’re doing this—why are we putting in all the time and effort?

If we’re doing it for the adulation and glory, then we shouldn’t be surprised to be let down.  Even if our friends and loved ones thank us and are grateful for our efforts, it probably still won’t be enough.

On the other hand, if we’re doing it because we want to share our traditions with our friends and loved ones, and if we want to make sure our loved ones can look back at these holidays with warm memories, and if we decide this is how we want to mark this time of year as special, then it makes it easier to deal with things when they don’t go as well as what we had hoped.

It’s about doing what we think is important and then letting go and allowing others to celebrate the way that’s meaningful to them.

Happy Holidays!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Year End Reflections Merry Christmas Quotes

Copyright 2016 Artisans Workshop Designs
Copyright 2016 Artisans Workshop Designs

 

Merry Christmas!  I wish you and your loved ones all the best the Season has to offer.

It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more! ~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect. — Oren Arnold

Enjoy your celebrations!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,
Lauren

Year End Reflections: Holiday Quotes

Copyright 2016 Artisans Workshop Designs
Copyright 2016 Artisans Workshop Designs

 

Many cultures, spiritual and religious traditions celebrate during this time of year. It’s been this way for millennia, reaching back to ancient times when humans lived in small tribes.

Even though the following quotes mention Christmas, substitute the name of your special holiday and the meaning still holds true.

 

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that? ― Bob Hope

 

As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the sameDonald E. Westlake

 

There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions. — Bill McKibben

 

Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves. ~Eric Sevareid

 

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. ~ Francis Pharcellus Church

 

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness. ― Bob Hope

 

May these quotes inspire you to generously and compassionately share the spirit of the holidays throughout the year.

Enjoy!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Year End Reflections: It’s Okay to Feel Down Part 3– Old Faithful

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=56656&picture=princess-lying-flat-on-roof
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=56656&picture=princess-lying-flat-on-roof

 

There are many people who feel left out, overlooked, or forgotten this time of year.  No wonder those around us can feel down and out of sorts.

If this describes you, a reliable way to pull yourself out of the doldrums is to volunteer.

https://pixabay.com/en/human-personal-children-girl-blond-770690/
https://pixabay.com/en/human-personal-children-girl-blond-770690/

Here are a few suggestions:

~stop by a nursing home and read a short holiday story or poem to the residents–or just sit with someone who usually has no visitors;
~visit an elderly neighbor who can’t get around like they used to;
~help a local organization gather gifts and food for people of very limited means;
~deliver holiday meals to shut-ins;
~offer to babysit for a friend’s kids so your friend and his/her spouse can enjoy a quiet holiday date night;
~volunteer to run errands for a single parent friend.

Let me know which one of these suggestions worked best for you.  Let me know, too, if you came up with others not mentioned here.  Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,
Lauren

Year End Reflections: It’s Okay to Feel Down Part 2–What to Do

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:13-12-16_Christmas_house_decoration.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:13-12-16_Christmas_house_decoration.jpg

As we said yesterday, it’s okay to feel down this time of year in spite of what friends, loved ones, Hallmark movies, and advertisers may tell you.   We discussed a few things you can do to take care of yourself if you’re feeling down.  Here’s another tip to keep in mind:

The important thing is to not isolate yourself.  

Phases of solitude are not the same as isolation.  Solitude is stepping away from people and the world for a period with the intention of returning to it at some point, feeling refreshed.  It can be meditative, a way to reconnect with yourself.  It can help you get a handle on where you are in life and it can give you the space and peace to work on a new project or take your life in a new direction.

Isolation, on the other hand, is shutting yourself off from people with the intention of severing ties and connections either mentally, emotionally, or physically, or some combination of these.  It’s usually motivated by hurt so it’s natural to want to step out of the stream of life in order to heal.  But it becomes unhealthy when you stay there.

If you’re feeling really down, more so than what you feel is natural or normal for yourself, please contact a professional or someone who’s trained to help those in distress or crisis:

~contact your religious leader or spiritual advisor;
~contact a counselor or therapist;
~contact a health care professional;
~call a prayer line;
~call a crisis hotline;
~meet with a trusted and compassionate friend or loved one.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_choir_of_Natural_History_Museum,_Science_Museum_and_Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_staff_members_sing_carols_in_the_central_hall_of_the_Natural_History_Museum_03.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_choir_of_Natural_History_Museum,_Science_Museum_and_Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_staff_members_sing_carols_in_the_central_hall_of_the_Natural_History_Museum_03.jpg

But if you’re feeling out of sorts, then here are a few suggestions of where you can go and what you can do to stay connected but not have the pressure of interacting with others:

~Sit in a coffee shop and sip a beverage of your choice;
~Go to your local library.  Read the newspaper, a magazine, or a book;
~Attend a group event such as your town’s tree lighting ceremony or the carol sing or the annual snowman making contest;
~At this time of year, churches usually host special concerts that are open to the public and are often free;
~Civic organizations sponsor fundraisers this time of year such as pasta dinners or pancake breakfasts–why not give one a try!
~My favorite thing to do:  drive around different neighborhoods and enjoy the lights and decorations on people’s homes.

Try one of these suggestions to help yourself stay in touch.  Let me know which one worked best for you–or if you’ve come up with your own.  Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,
Lauren