Tag Archives: Connection

How to have the holiday you want: Part 1

Most of us experience a great deal of pressure to make the holidays AMAZING. And through a sort of collective amnesia, we also forget all the ways in which past holidays have been challenging, frustrating or even disappointing.

I’d like to suggest that this holiday can contain way more of what you love and less of what you loathe… and that you already have the power to make it so.

Step 1: Desired Feelings
Start by asking yourself, “How do I want to FEEL this holiday season?”
*Note: I learned this question from Danielle LaPorte’s work.

When I asked myself this question, I decided that want to feel:
* Peaceful
* Joyful
* Connection (to others and myself)

Step 2: Getting Specific
Once you’ve chosen HOW you want to feel, think about what specific activities, events and people would help you feel that way. In this step, we are employing our powers of discernment to choose both what we’d like to do and what we don’t want to do. We are choosing wisely.

Under each of your desired holiday feelings, make a list of specific things to do and NOT do. Note: You may want to include small turtle steps you’ll need to take to make an item on your list possible.

Here’s my list: {Note: DP is my partner.}

PEACEFUL:
* Create spaciousness. Not too many things in any one day.
* A cathedral of time on my own to dream about projects including my podcast
* No devices in our bedroom at night
* More quiet in the house + less music, television, podcasts that don’t feel special/meaningful
* 8 hours of sleep + early to bed
* No alarm clocks
* Fewer distractions: less email and social media
* No coaching or structured work during this three-week holiday
* Gift giving: only with DP and on a very small level
* Living this holiday entirely within our financial means
* At holiday meals, I’d like to be nicely full but not stuffed

JOYFUL:
* Loads of time with DP
* Talk to family and friends via phone/Skype/chat
* Sit by the fire (Learn how to use our wood stove + get a temperature gauge)
* Walks down to the Point in Blue Rocks
* Read
* Take photographs
* Read out loud to DP at night (Start with Harry Potter series)
* Have a Christmas tree in Nova Scotia
* Put up Christmas decorations in Nova Scotia + in our apartment in Japan
* Make a yummy meal on Christmas Day
* Watch films that make me happy (Family Stone; Arrival; Guardians of the Galaxy; About Time; La La Land; Moana; Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; Star Wars + Star Trek films)
* Christmas music in moderation (one member of my family enjoys it more than the other): Simply Christmas by Leslie Odom Jr. and White Christmas by Bing Crosby

CONNECTION (Others + Self):
* Give + receive love
* Social time with people we really enjoy
* Meet some interesting new people
* No to social obligations if we are tired or if they feel like work (Listen to my body)
* Christmas cards are completely optional
* Less time online
* Write in my journal

Our Christmas Rituals:
Last week, DP and I had a conversation over breakfast about the kind of Christmas rituals we’d like to observe and create this year. We decided that we’d like to make a traditional Christmas dinner which we’ve never done. We’ll spend Christmas and New Year in Nova Scotia where we have a large, sunny kitchen and an OVEN. {This is not the case in Japan.} In choosing our menu, we talked about the kinds of dishes our mothers prepared for Christmas dinner and, in the next few days, I’ll contact our moms and ask them for recipes so that we can make the most authentic versions of those dishes. When we get to Nova Scotia, we’ll buy a Christmas tree and decorate it ~ another thing we’ve never done. We decided to have our small gift exchange on Christmas morning, followed by a late pancake breakfast which will leave us the whole afternoon to make Christmas dinner at a leisurely, low-stress pace. We’ll attend a neighbour’s party on Christmas Eve and, on Boxing Day, we’ll go to the cinema in Bridgewater. On January 1st, we’ll have Chinese take-out which is a tradition from my father’s extended family. I actually started a Google doc to keep track of our plans and the preliminary steps we need to take before we can create those rituals.
 


Join me tomorrow for Part 2 of How to have the holiday you want.

This was first published as The Sunday Reader. If you’d like to receive these posts directly in your mailbox, every two weeks or so, you can subscribe here.

I’d love for you to share this post with your tender-hearted, like-minded friends.
 

Grace, wherever it finds you

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{This post was first published as The Sunday Reader.}

It was half past eight on a summer weekday morning and we were running early for an appointment in Merrickville, a small Ottawa Valley town, so we stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s in the nearby community of Kemptville. I got in line to order our food and Damien said he’d find us a table. He walked towards the only empty booth in the main seating area and looked back at me with one eyebrow raised. Every one of the tables around him was occupied with senior citizens having what felt way more like a party than breakfast.

We ate quietly and watched the action untold at the four tables around us. There was a table of eight men engaged in a lively discussion of politics and sports, a table of 12 boisterous and gorgeous white-haired women, a table of four men speaking a curious mix of English and Italian and one mixed-gender table with four brave men and two spunky women. The vibe was like high school: loud, boisterous and charged with energy. They all knew each other and called out to each other across the restaurant. A man named Harry was having a birthday and the entire place, including the staff, sang Happy Birthday in Harry’s honour.

I couldn’t help but feel curious about how often they gathered in this way. Once a week? Every day? Had someone organised this breakfast or had these gatherings happened spontaneously, taking on a heart-warming life of their own?

Whatever its origin, it was clear was that this breakfast at McDonald’s was one of the most brilliant social programs ever devised to help people in their eighties feel young and vital. And for the very low price of a coffee and a McGriddle.

This reminded me of the Rat Park research conducted by Professor Bruce Alexander at Simon Fraser University in the late 1970s. He was trying to understand the nature of addiction and found that rats who lived in the company of other rats, unlike rats tested on their own, were far less likely to become dependent on the morphine-laced water placed in their cage. The rats who lived communally in Rat Park consistently chose the water that did not contain morphine; they did not become addicted to drugs nor did they overdose. Alexander concluded that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety but connection.

At this moment in our human history, we are witnessing terrible events that reflect back to us the profound significance of connection and the dire consequences of losing that connection.

Is there someone you’d like to reach out to? A friend you haven’t seen in a long time? Someone you know who is having a rough go of things?

Is there anyone you’d like to ask for help?

I’m wishing you grace, today, wherever you find it… and create it.

Cheers,
Monna
xo

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