How to Progress when we need to Regress

Simplify Life

Get rid of stuff. Let the thoughts go. It’s time for spring cleaning.

I began writing this last December:

As my husband and I fill up the car for the third time this season we pack the freshly baked bread and the wrapping papered gifts (with bows that fall off into the snow) into the backseat. We ask each other one question. Is this right?  ‘Pathological consumption has become so normalised that we scarcely notice it.’

George Monbiot’s article published in December of 2010 The Gift of Death,  here, published just before Christmas that year received a lot of attention from me and my sustainable friends.

Just after Christmas this year as I was combing the house for things to purge my husband pointed out that my reaction to the end of the season every year is the same -get rid of stuff! It’s easier said than done. Accumulating everything is easier than getting rid of anything. Cleaning is my way of keeping calm and maintaining the sense that I have control over my household things. I can clear my mind while cleaning my physical environment. I’m always looking for ways of an improved lifestyle, and the less is more mentality has always served me. As I ask myself about an optimum work/life balance this spring I start with this lesson number 1: Simplify Life, Get rid of Stuff.
I’ve started meditating lately. Deepak has teamed with Oprah to offer free 21-day meditations throughout the year and this series has focused on true success. From allowing life to lead with it’s own rhythm to reflection on personal balance, the time I’ve invested to practice with Deepak’s centering thoughts has proven to be rewarding.
Man has always had the reaction ‘I want it all.’ Life is too hectic to believe we should continue down this path. Stick with me over the next few days as I explore a journey to discover my own work/life balance.
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Gifts of Christmas

Presents

To unwrap the ribbons and hours
and boxes of tissue
so beautifully folded
so carefully to have held
the golden piece
that had been my mother’s

friendship
sitting at the kitchen table
steamed milk over coffee
every Christmas
a piece of china chipped
away from the years
spent using the excuse
of ‘an old mug keeps good stories.’

……………………………………..

I came across this article in the Ny Times with the direction from a friend.  It is That Hobby Looks Like a Lot of Work and is about this online community empire of home-made items from Etsy.

http://www.etsy.com/ http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/17/fashion/17etsy.html

Here are some other home-made gifts exchanged in my Christmas.

By my fiance

By a friend

and a collage

by me.

Time to Be a Christmas Example

I am preparing to get married in June.  My now fiance proposed to me last June atop of Mount St. Helen in Washington State.  After a five hour climb, sliding down ash every few steps for the last mile, to look into the face of a volcano, a half cauldron with a blown out side, still steaming, he got down on his knee when my mouth was full of bread, trail mix and water, and proposed with a ruby ring.

At Christmas Time each of us begins to reflect on relationships we hold with our families, friends, coworkers and others who we communicate with by chance of encounter.  The day of Christmas and those leading up to it hold expectations, surprises, the joy of traveling and making an effort to visit. During the preparation time for Christmas a lot of us spend more time outside of the home and spend time at home making cards, baking cookies and cakes. It is busier because we have learned to think of everyone in the pretense of defining them as they might relate to a gift we can present to them and that is sometimes a tough nut to crack.

My fiance and I have had the Christmas gift conversation many times and are in the middle of trying to figure out how to be an example of the one gift Christmas.  This year we exchanged our wedding bands as our gift to one another.  That gift, symbolizing our continuity, our circle of life, family and love means so much to me because I can concentrate on my wedding band.  There is not another gift that could compete or want to.  I’d like to be an example of what Christmas is, not how much it is.  Christmas is a time for giving, for sharing, for expressing, for remembering, for celebrating the relationships we have on earth as they join with the meaning of Jesus. What about exchanging the  time spent debating gifts with time spent making them? This provides a creative focus for the maker and allows the time spent creating something to open our minds to the reason we celebrate.

In preparation to be married my fiance and I are meeting with a young priest to prepare for our unity.  We are the first couple he will be marrying and in our discussions we have talked about being one body, one for one another, and selfless giving.  We have discussed faith in God, faith in one another, trust, love and longevity. Something that has come out of our meeting has been my fiance’s description of how he knew me in the beginning of our friendship. We were debating the ways in which we were Christians and what it meant to be a good person when I realized how much of an outward impression a happy and giving person could make on others as they may try to imitate good deeds. I think with an attitude based on giving and not wanting, we receive more than we asked for when we realize the few and perfect things that are in our presence.

The young priest gave us a few things to take home.  He gave us the prompted discussions that I remember with gladness, the way that the person I am to marry describes and thinks of me.  It was a good reevaluation moment for each of us to see the perfection at which we will join ourselves, the gift of giving ourselves to one another, making each other better in this combination of our two pasts and future. Thoughts of life with a priest at this special time for the world of all prayerful people reminds my fiance and I of the reasons Christians celebrate Jesus’s birth as well as the celebration of preparation for his time to come again.  I had forgotten that since attending religion class.

So, perhaps Christmas is not the time to profess or push the differences in ways of thought between giving, gifts, the amount spent, the time taken, but to be thankful that together we come to celebrate the gifts that are apart of each of us in grace, and look forward to the second coming of Christ together at the end of each year. With many things are in the mix now: gifts, marriage preparation, families, tradition; it’s a time for making things, remembering one another and the reasons we give. Time to be a Christmas example.