A Different Kind of Christmas
Hope you all have been well.
I have been enjoying the cheer of the holiday – cups of hot cocoa, warm sweaters, crackling of the fire, twinkly lights, and the warmth of laughter with friends and family.
There was definitely a time in my life when I did not allow myself to enjoy these simple joys of the holiday. It felt wrong in the midst of knowing the hurt and struggle in the world.
But I also know, I must nourish my soul with a simple gratitude. And when my soul is nourished and my spirit is grateful, I am able to extend myself in caring for others.
So, I first ask you, how are you nourishing your soul and spirit in this season?
And secondly I ask you, how are you nourishing the souls of others?
As my husband and I enjoy the simple pleasures of the holiday, we are also looking into what gifts we can bring to those in difficult situations. Currently we, along with a small group of friends, are preparing care packages of winter clothing for refugees living in our city, along with a note translated in their native language, simply telling them that we are glad they are here.
Let’s feel the simple joy of the holiday. Let’s be grateful and full of cheer. And let’s also not forget this season is about giving and bringing light to others as well.
Nurture the light of your own candle. But also, extend that light to others – bring light to the darkness they may find themselves in.
I know this holiday season can be frustrating watching what should be a time of spirit, joy, and hope become a time of consumerism and materialism.
If you are shopping for others, consider shopping at shops that empower human rights, such as Ten Thousand Villages or Preemptive Love Coalition. Or choose to shop at small locally owned shops and empower small businesses. Or make purchases on Etsy and help support someone’s creative passion.
And, also, give yourself grace if you find this challenging, or too difficult to do.
We are looking to make more meaningful choices this holiday – but we will not be able to do this perfectly. We are not perfect. And the world is not perfect. And we give ourselves and our world grace.
And we press on, as meaning makers. Allowing ourselves to experience joy, giving that joy to others, and embracing grace for all the imperfection in between.
End of Year Reflection & Hopes for the Future
I know it’s a bit early, but I have begun my end of year reflection and hopes for the new year. As I reflected on some questions – I was actually a little blown away with how much I have grown over this past year and how much a little intention can do.
A little over a year ago I was feeling really lost in my life – I felt a lack of meaning and deepness in my life – and it nagged at me in distressing ways. There was an emptiness I couldn’t shake.
So, I decided 2016 would be a year in which I lived meaningfully – I would focus on mental health, spirituality, and living a meaningful life. I would help others on their own journeys and would try to make a positive impact.
First I attended a conference focused on living a meaningful life. Which led me to take a writing class. Which led me to start this blog. Which led to thoughts and growth and ideas…which led to internal and external change in my life.
I can happily say, one year later, I am living more meaningfully. Not perfectly. But meaningfully.
I don’t know where you are on your own live meaningful journey, but I can’t encourage you enough, to set your intentions, journal and reflect regularly, seek learning in the direction you want to go, and take action. It doesn’t always take big life altering action…small steps will get you there too. Just take the step.
I invite you to partake in your own end of year reflection. If you’ve been on your live meaningful journey for the past year as well, I hope it is exciting to see how far you have come.
If you are just starting out, don’t be too down on the past, and focus your energy on the future that lies ahead.
I have some questions below to get you started. The majority of these questions are from (or inspired by) Susannah Conway’s free workbook Unravel Your Year. There are many, many more questions in her workbook than I listed here, so I definitely recommend you get it! Just make sure you carve out time to do it – it is a deep dive!
Are you ready? Grab a hot drink, your journal, and let’s begin…
Focus on feeling gratitude & recognizing progress in the past year…
1. What worked well this past year? What brought you joy? How have you grown and changed? What gifts did 2016 bring? (Jot down everything that comes to mind!)
2. If you had to summarize 2016 into one meaningful (& positive) word – what would it be? What was the theme of this year? If it was a movie or book, what would the title be?
3. What did you fully and wholeheartedly embrace in 2016? What did you allow yourself to let go of in 2016?
4. What changed for the better in the past year? What did you discover about yourself?
5. Where did you practice bravery?
6. What is something wonderful that happened this year, that you did not expect at all?
7. What is your end of year conclusion?
8. In what ways did you make progress on your mental health? In your spirituality? In living a meaningful life? What other accomplishment or progress did you make?
9. What challenges did you face this year? What new tools did facing those challenges bring you?
10. What were your favorite moments of 2016?
11. Consider the gifts that 2016 offered on your life’s journey. What were they?
12. What are the top 3 words that come to mind for 2016?
Anticipate and set intention for the future…
1. What are your values for 2017? What are your intentions?
2. What word would you like to choose as your intention/hope/what you want to embody for 2017? What comes to mind?
3. In what ways would you like 2017 to look different from 2016? In what ways would you like it to look the same?
4. What are actions you can start in January to make small shifts in moving toward your word, intention, or value?
5. What part of yourself do you need to focus on nurturing in 2017?
6. What unhelpful beliefs do you want to let go of in 2017? What negative attachments will you release yourself from?
7. What 3 skills would you like to improve in 2017?
8. What are the 3 interests or hobbies you’d like to explore in 2017?
9. What 3 dreams do you have for 2017?
10. What will you say yes to in 2017? What will you say no to?
11. What will you carve out time for in 2017?
12. This time next year you will know you are different because….. And you will be able to see that your life is different because….
If you are open to sharing any of your end of year reflection answers, I would love to hear them!
Or if you have ways that you are living more meaningfully this Christmas/holiday – I would love to hear about that as well!
Wishing you happy & cheer & meaning this holiday season…