feeling or showing an appreciation for something done or received.
We all feel it this time of year. Trying to get work finished before the break so the new year feels super fresh, trying to accommodate as many Christmas parties as you can physically get to, devoting hours of thought to the perfect gift for family and friends (only to race maniacally around the shops on Christmas Eve making somewhat rash purchases) and still trying to fit yourself and your regular, everyday needs in among all that busy-ness.
That’s how December rolls for me. Every year but this one.
Somehow I’m so far ahead of myself at work I could go back to the office mid February and still be in front. I’ve managed to successfully decline all invites to upcoming parties – I’m not really sure why. All my gifts miraculously bought themselves or so it feels and hell, there’s 4 days to Christmas and they’re all wrapped already! I don’t even know myself anymore.
The scramble to get everything done in time for Christmas is like no other scramble before a week or two’s leave. And I’ve worked out why. It’s because those weeks over Christmas are in fact… magical.
The Christmas/New Year break is the only break that changes time and shifts our perspective as a collective. It moves us from the old used-up year, that could have gone a whole lot better quite frankly, and into the shiny new year that’s full of promise and we just know it will be our best year yet because… well, because it just will be.
And we’re refreshed, motivated and keen to get stuck in and watch our best year yet unfold. It’s very easy to start well here in Australia, we’re in the height of summer in January and it doesn’t really start to be cardigan weather until May.
January is the month to ease back into work, spend time at the beach soaking up happy Vitamin D goodness and living easily. So far so good. We’re on the right track for the best year yet.
The memory of an excellent Christmas break with people we love starts to fade around February, work and deadlines ramp up quickly and life falls back into it’s usual rhythm by March. And it looks a lot like last years rhythm… remember last year? It could have gone a whole lot better quite frankly. And before we know it, December rolls round and we’re eager to throw off that used up year that happened in the blink of an eye. And it gets said again… well it could have gone a whole lot better quite frankly.
Every year I’ve heard that phrase, I may have even used it once. But this year is different, I’ve been hearing it since November (!) and it also appears to have gone viral on Facebook. I’ve started to feel very sorry for 2013. But that would be silly right? Because 2013 isn’t a being or consciousness to feel sorry for, it’s really only a concept. A modern construct to measure the distance between two points in time, tally those bunch of intervals, bag them and slap a 2013 label on them. Poor 2013, nobody likes being labelled.
But time itself isn’t to blame for anybody’s shitty year.
Before I went off on the ‘you reap what you sow’ Tough Love Lisa tangent, I took a back step and thought about what makes for a really shitty year. It wasn’t hard, my family have a close friend who is dying of a cancer he was only diagnosed with months ago. The words ‘lasting’ and ‘the week’ are regularly tied together in the negative sense and to visit with him you’d understand why. If he is sublimely lucky, he will live a year from his diagnosis. That’s a shitty year.
I thought up so many other shitty year possibilities that a warm bath, bottle of vodka and a razor blade might have seemed a positive prospect if I was that way inclined.
Most of us don’t have the luxury to escape to Bora Bora or other exotic, escapable places when a shitty year settles itself in for the duration. And who says that works anyway, I’ve been at my most stressed and enraged running to the departure gate only to be told by a sickly sweet hostess that the flight is closed. Ok, that happened more than once. Bora Bora is out folks.
After much circular thought my entirely unfounded and debatable conclusion to having a shitty free year is this:
We need joy and we need it daily.
Joy isn’t jetting off to Bora Bora, that’s short lived excitement and temporary fun times.
Joy comes from the little things that fill your heart with gratitude.
I heard about the concept of a gratitude journal years ago and so impressed by the idea, I tried to keep one – several times. Apart from this 40 for 40 Challenge I haven’t been able to truly stick to any daily commitment.
The thing about joy is that you have to be present to recognise the peace and stillness that moment grants you. And as a side effect you can’t help but be grateful for it. The two go hand in hand, like Jack and Jill or M and M. My cat Mr Smokes gives me joy. Most of the time I just have to look at him and my heart bursts with love for him. He makes my life joyful.
My untested theory, more hypothesis, is this… if I’m having an inconceivably shitty year and still experiencing joy every day – how shitty can it really be? Hard perhaps, trying definitely. But shitty? I don’t think so.
In light of this untested theory/hypothesis I pledge to myself that from this point forward, I will do one thing a day that brings me joy.
I love sitting in the park and watching the world go by, that brings me joy.
I love being in the water at the beach and making shapes out of the clouds.
I love writing for this blog.
I love having real-time with the people I love.
I love reading.
I love sleep. A lot. A real lot.
I am learning very quickly to love meditating.
I love cooking not to fuel myself but to bring friends together with wine. I love wine.
I love waking up in the morning at my sister’s place and seeing my niece loitering in the doorway wanting to jump into bed with me and read stories together.
I seriously love my cat.
I love road trips and weekends away with friends.
I love making my garden grow.
I love running.
I love sewing, making jewellery, getting the hammer out and getting creative.
A humble list and in no way ranked but these are some things that make me grateful to be alive.
Do things I love, be present and breathe in the joy.
Until writing this post I don’t think I’ve truly appreciated how necessary ‘being present’ actually is. The untangling ways of writing is so wonderful – a moment of joy!
Here’s to us all experiencing a joyful 2014 xx
With big and beautiful thanks to you 2013… just don’t go on fb for a couple of weeks, friend.