Self-care at Christmas
Day 342/366 days Towards Self-Mastery.
With Christmas excitement all around me, I've also become wrapped up in Christmas planning and Christmas baking. The house is beginning to fill with the smells of cinnamon, cloves, star anise and cardamon, baking Christmas mince tarts, panforte, and Christmas truffles drenched in rum and brandy.
It's a rainy, stormy morning here in SE Queensland, the time of the monsoon season, and it feels as though it began this week. The rain has been pouring down since last evening, and continues in torrential sheets. Quite the perfect morning to stay snuggled up in bed.
Reflecting on Christmases past, and Christmas music, I've taken a while to compile a Christmas Spotify list this morning, and delighted to have all my favourites in one list. How wonderful is technology. Seasonal favourites, old times, ELVIS!, as well as new mixes, new voices and new Christmas lyrics to explore.
There was a time I'd sit down to write dozens of Christmas cards to send to friends and family. I don't send any these days, and I'm wondering about the merits of that. On a recent visit home I discovered just how much my family enjoy checking the mail each day hoping against hope for something special to arrive. This year it will be a Christmas card from me. Today, I'm crafting Christmas cards of my very own and will pop them in the mail.
Snail mail. How exciting to receive something from the old days, amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas.
A while ago I started writing a Christmas letter to family and friends. It didn't really fly. I wanted to bring a closer connection into this time of year with each other. What I probably didn't account for, was that everyone lives unedited lives, and receiving a letter of all the good news didn't really feel that it had that authenticity that we really need to feel part of each other's lives.
Yet being authentic at Christmas brings up lots of scary and uncomfortable feelings. Closeness that hasn't been experimented with since this time last year can be frightening for anyone who has a trauma-filled family history.
Even if the mind is willing, the body is not. I wondered why I wasn't feeling great. The closer we come to Christmas, the more my body has the impulse to run. My head is becoming foggy and my stomach is aching. The joy has drained out of my life and I have to work hard to reconnect with my life, the life I've created for myself.
Staying in touch with my reality while immersing myself in someone else's will take all the self-care that I can muster. If you too have this experience, do prepare yourself well. I'm seasoned at this process and it still takes every ounce of energy I've got.
With a little experimenting I'm able to differentiate myself from others, and see more clearly what is triggering me, however it takes work and lots of self-care.
When those triggers are clearly visible to you, it's easier to navigate your way through. I have an album on my phone of images of my home, my life, my pets, my garden, my indoor plants. As I decorate my home for Christmas I'll add images to that album. This then is my connection to my life. Whenever I need to, I'll sneak away and thumb through the album to connect me back to my life.
What ideas do you have to support you through this time that will often trigger memories that don't feel especially great to you?
Another idea that I keep front and foremost if I'm invited to a family event, is that it's because they are attempting to make connections as well. Even though it doesn't always go well, or maybe it does seem to then sometime later you hear the fallout, that thought keeps me on a steady keel.
An interesting meme crossed my timeline yesterday...
Sometimes you are the collateral damage of somebody else's internal war with themselves.
That said so much to me. Plan well, stay safe. Breathe deeply, a lot. Take time out. Walk in nature. Listen well, say little. Breathe. Take your medication if you have to.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.