My favorite holiday hands down is Thanksgiving. Not only is there a magnificent feast of food, family, and friends, but also an amazing gift of time.
The older I get the faster time seems to go. The thing I relish more than anything lately is having a few unclaimed days before me to metabolize my life through writing, walking, or having long conversations with dear friends.
When I took a job four years ago at Clinton Community College the tempo of my life shifted from a spacious and relatively solitary existence to one crowded with information, people, places, and challenges. I now interact with more people in one week than I previously had in a month. I will admit I was a bit of a hermit compared to socially acceptable standards. But as a writer, the silence fed my soul on a deep level.
Of course having a job feeds my body on a very practical level. Accepting a “real” job was nothing if not a testimony to my ability to have my head in the clouds and my feet on the ground. Consequently I am extremely grateful that this particular job allows me to have holidays plus a few extra days off.
A stretch of days that demand nothing more than minimal interaction with the outside world is what my mind, body and spirit consistently crave. Yet for most worker bees, that stretch of days is usually accompanied by a holiday or two.
Since holidays are notorious for bringing out bad behavior, the trick to negotiating these potential stress fests is to have stress reducing strategies firmly in place. Several years ago I came up with my Top 10 Tension Tackling Tunes to Keep You Humming through the Holidays. (Click on the link and I’ll be delighted to email my list to you.) While even I find it hard to follow my own advice on occasion, I do find that knowing myself helps a great deal.
If I move and I write every day, I will feel better. If I speak the truth, even if it isn’t popular or preferred, I will not have to carry around the guilt of betraying myself. If I say no to requests that aren’t important, I will have more time and energy for those that are. If I don’t pluck something from every party platter that parades across my path, my physique may no longer resemble that of Mr. Claus. If I can focus on what I can give instead of what I might get, I can be more present in relationships. And if I can keep my wits about me, I may see the humor in it all.
Of course knowing and doing are two different things. As I mentioned in the last post, regular practice is required to defy gravity. It is also required to get through the day. If I am too busy, too traumatized, too distracted, or otherwise engaged to plan a healthy meal, squeeze in a little exercise, write a thank you note, or simply stop instead of snap, it’s unlikely I will default into forgiveness or gratitude.
That’s why time outs are so necessary. Even in sports that thrive on edge-of-your-seat action, time outs prevent that action from being chaotic or even disastrous. Like a GPS, time outs remind us of our destination and give us a chance to recalculate so we might spend our time and effort wisely.
Whether you have the opportunity to rejuvenate this weekend or just manage to muster up a moment in the middle of midnight shopping, may your time out bring you clarity, a spot of grace, and remind you of reasons big and small to give thanks.