Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world your beautiful self!

Posts tagged ‘blessings’

Is Old Baggage Weighing You Down?

Baggage From Our Past Can Haunt Us For Years

https://www.flickr.com/photos/58972357@N05/5680789916/in/photolist-9DZwVJ-fgdGm6-a7SYcH-j5jSC4-bGN8dZ-aJn5JF-bExNVg-mSGMdi-ZHWqmm-7LMiyj-9TwjCJ-5AtELB-og1PZ9-4tVBpH-WTy2SC-EYkqoA-9Whomq-qMuq1D-GKUFur-aGDwDa-baLAor-cigULC-dD9LSa-7LFh2P-4LQn4r-fSLy1g-28pzedw-auCkkH-RfUzXE-ap1CA8-4wLABT-9GLXQH-dSP1Wa-7SfMF9-4eBRX6-MUhNVs-7MbCEk-obXLkM-9aGddR-Ns2VHy-jrsEXB-b1D8J-gch9Kk-ouhpzq-e2HHU1-9W9F11-xGa8K-23rp1Yb-am4k5G-ahouP7By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve experienced a lot of things which can and do weigh us down and hold us back—if we allow them to. We don’t always realize we’re hanging on to the old crap until we find ourselves triggered by past events and wallowing over something old, moldy, and no longer useful.

Sometimes we’re aware enough to recognize it ourselves. More often we rely on real friends who aren’t afraid to tell us as gently as possible it’s time to stop letting old news drag us down into the dumps where we wallow over things we can no longer change.

Think about it. It happened in the past, whether that past can be counted in months, years, or decades. Even if it happened yesterday, we can’t change it now. Maybe yesterday is too fresh to let go of, but what about the things we’ve carried around for decades? Sure, some of them might have been horribly traumatic, but is it really helping to hold on to how awful we felt at the time? How embarrassed, or humiliated, or devastated? Wouldn’t it be better to use that space for new and happier memories?

Past Traumas Can Drive an Empath Crazy

I’m learning it’s even more important as an Empath to let go of past traumas and depressing events. In some ways, holding on to our own pain makes us more sensitive to deep-seated trauma in other people. That’s a double-edged sword. Sure, we understand why they’re holding on, but frankly, it’s hard enough feeling recent pain from other people. Old, settled in pain is a world in and of itself. It’s a close cousin to ancestral pain which has grown deeper and darker with each generation. When we’ve held onto something for years, we tend to magnify it, making the cause and result larger and more unpleasant than the original event.

As a visual Empath, I not only feel the pain, but can often see and experience the original event which embedded the pain into a person’s psyche, whether the event happened in the current lifetime or a prior one. For a few moments, I’ll share an experience complete with the misery, helplessness, and frustration that went with it. Unpleasant, at best, but sometimes, painful enough to hurl me out of the experience before I get drawn down too far, especially when the traumatic event was an untimely death.

For example, while studying healing a few years ago, one of the class members had issues with her knee. As I worked with her, I was taken back to a time in her distant past where she was forced to carry a heavy load for a long distance while her husband walked alongside carrying a lesser load. At one point, she fell on the dirt road and landed on a rock, damaging her knee and causing a great deal of pain. Her husband showed no sympathy. Intead, he forced her to get back up without his help, and without dropping her load, and continue the long trek to market. The combination of both emotional and physical trauma followed her into future incarnations as she had yet to resolve it. The class worked together to help her release the pain and the experience. She said the knee felt better afterwards, though I don’t know if the entire issue was resolved that day. It’s likely it took her some time working through the rest of it on her own.

One thing I’ve learned is healers don’t actually provide the cure, whether they’re working with energetic, emotional, or physical dis-ease (and often, a combination of the three). They merely serve to facilitate the healing which we have within ourselves to exact.

Reaching Out For Help

Which brings me back to releasing baggage. There are times we need some outside assistance to recognize when we’re shlepping around an old suitcase full of pain, anger, and hurt that should have gone in the dumpster long ago. If you’re fortunate, or have learned to drop your walls enough to let people in, your circle of friends acts as an extra set of eyes, pointing out to you when you’ve let something drag you down long enough.

I spent the first few decades of this lifetime adding to the suitcase of negativity. In those years, I didn’t let anyone get close (least of all the man I married) and never asked for help. Not only had I been taught you don’t share what’s inside or ask for help, but the help my mother gave without asking, or what she offered always came with strings attached. As I got older, I became less inclined to accede to those conditions, and as a consequence, less likely to ask for help from anyone. Her example set in my mind that all help came with strings. We all know what a crock that is!

By the time I was 40 and, as an added bonus, was six months into dealing with my mother’s suicide, those traumas and baggage had become a lifeline; my only connection to sanity and solid ground. Little did I know my “solid ground” was as riddled with holes as a good Swiss cheese, and equally stable.

Turning Curses Into Blessings

What seems like a curse in one moment, can turn into a blessing in another. So it was with a lot of what I carried for years. The sensitivity and easiness with which I could be brought to tears was the bane of my existence for a long time. I learned to cover it with aggression, or simply retreat deep within myself until it passed. The latter earned me a reputation for being incredibly scary when I was angry enough to go silent, and caused many a strong man to give me a wide berth until it passed.

I won’t say I don’t retreat when especially angry these days, but in the first place, it happens rarely, and in the second, I’m not carrying around a lot of old garbage so minor events become the straw that broke the camel’s back. Learning to talk things out with my friends and get a different point of view has given me much better insight, and a lot more compassion towards people when they do something thoughtless or even mean.

Understanding Anger at its Source

I’ve learned to use my Empathy to take a step back and look beneath their surface for pain that has nothing to do with me. Quite often, I reach the conclusion rather quickly that what was said or done isn’t personal. It’s simply them lashing out at the first available opportunity because of their own pain; their own inner turmoil.

These days, when I see someone who acts like they’re angry with the world, I’m not as likely to dismiss them as a crabby person. I’m more likely to send them a ball of healing energy, neither knowing or caring whether they use it or not. That will always be their choice. I’ve learned to recognize the anger as an expression of pain, or, as it was in me, an inability to reach out in a healthier manner. Like I used to, they put up a big, prickly wall so people will leave them alone and not try to interfere or touch them while they’re vulnerable. I’d like to tell them allowing that vulnerability to show is their strength, but know it’s their journey. They’ll listen when they’re ready, just as I did.

We go through our own challenges so we’re more understanding of the challenges which face others, but also so we can make a difference, even if it’s only for one person. I feel incredibly blessed to have experienced the pain, the trauma, and the decades of loneliness. Those experiences enable me to understand what others are feeling, and, if nothing else, refrain from adding to their load of misery by treating them unkindly, or worse, ignoring them.

When you learn to let go of the old baggage, when you learn to allow others to help you, and when you accept your vulnerability as an asset instead of a liability, you become part of the solution. Think about it.

Finding Gratitude at Every Turn

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I am grateful for the challenges I’ve been given, the lessons I’ve learned, and the compassion I’ve gained in the process.
  2. I am grateful for the time I’ve spent emerging from my personal chrysalis. The process may have been painful, but in hindsight, was worth every second.
  3. I am grateful for the people in my life who show me new roads, or widen my old ones. Many have no idea how much difference they’ve made in my life, and I don’t think I could show them my gratitude if I had another 3 lifetimes in which to do it.
  4. I am grateful for getting ahead. I lost some ground on my plan to be a month ahead on blog posts, but am quickly bridging the gap as ideas have filled my Morning Pages, and I’m quickly working my way through them.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; life lessons, challenges, inspiration, motivation, friendship, opportunities, new horizons, giant leaps and baby steps, love, insight, guidance, encouragement, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

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It Takes a Little Wallow

For Some, Mother’s Day is a Day to Wallow in Self-Pity

Mother’s Day 2018. I slept in as I hadn’t slept much the night before, and had danced and walked my way to 13,000+ steps 3 days in a row. I got up and started my day even though there was really nothing to start, but I no longer sleep all day, even when, like today, I’m feeling lower than the underside of a mushroom in the forest.

Tossing the healthy eating aside for the day, I made myself gluten-free pancakes and chicken breakfast sausage with a bowl of fresh strawberries so the meal wasn’t a complete lost cause, then nibbled on the strawberries and sausage for another few hours. I lolled in front of the TV until after 8 watching sappy Hallmark movies before deciding I was TV’d out and tried to switch to computer solitaire.

But my heart wasn’t in it. I’d hit my wallowing stride around 4PM and it was all downhill from there. One daughter hasn’t spoken to me or acknowledged any kind of holiday or special day in years. The other wrote a quick blurb around mid-day I didn’t even bother to respond to. Too little, too late. Would it be too much to send a card or a text, or pick up the phone? Yep, I was really feeling pitiful now.

Finding Something Wallow-Worthy in Everything

Thought about the cruise and how the table I was at with people I barely knew (my own fault for cancelling, then re-booking late) was set off by itself away from the rest of the group. And how the people who were so excited I was going after all never did manage to meet up with me for lunch or breakfast.

Then I got started on the place where I dance. I wander back and forth from one end of the club to the other talking to people, but I feel like a nomad despite still sitting at my regular table. I feel like I don’t belong…again.

I go through this periodically, and I know it’s me and not the people around me. I’m somehow isolating myself in a crowd of people. I detach, and pretty soon, I might as well set up a play list of the line dances I like and dance alone in my living room. At least I wouldn’t have to get dressed, put on makeup and wear a bra.

The trouble is, I can’t figure out why I feel the need to isolate nor even when I started doing it again. I just know I’m doing it, and feeling like I’m going to burst into tears any second. And as the song goes, you can’t cry pretty.

Finding a Little Light in an Otherwise Gloomy Day

Sure, I managed to get the Roomba working again and cleaned up the kitchen from all my messes, but if that’s my claim to fame this Mother’s Day, it’s a pretty pathetic one.

I admit, I’m the Queen of Wallowing. When I get a good wallow going, even my kitties can’t drag me out of it until I’m good and ready. Years ago, when I saw myself going down a really bad path (somewhere in between my parents’ suicides and finally starting to write about it) I made myself a promise that no wallow would last more than a day and a half. But this one seems to have snuck up on me.

I was doing fine, or at least OK, then suddenly, WHAM! I’m at the bottom of my personal pit of despair. Nothing is really wrong, but then, nothing is really right either. So there’s nothing for me to grab onto to pull myself out of the pit this time.

All the cheery Mother’s Day pictures and greetings certainly aren’t helping, nor are the sad ones from the suicide survivors support group or the empath group. And apparently, nobody knows me as well as I thought, because none have picked up on my silence, my pathetic excuse for Mother’s Day breakfast, or any of the things I, as a friend would have picked up about someone else.

The No Reason Wallow is the Darkest of All

Through it all, I keep asking myself “what’s wrong with me? Why do I not give anyone a reason to care?” I even left the post for today undone because I didn’t care enough to keep to my schedule. I figured it was one less post I need to write for next week.

My memoir lies untouched since March as I don’t even know where to go with it right now. My business is still limping along. I’m half-heartedly looking for something part-time, but am still trying to keep it remote. I’m pretty sure I’ll fail at that too.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing such a whiny, negative post. If you’ve gotten this far without closing the page in disgust, I’ll tell you why.

Why Share My Misery?

Each of us gets down sometimes. We don’t have to have a reason. We just start seeing all of our failures and none of our successes. All of our challenges and none of our blessings. We feel alone but don’t remember how to fix it. Even in a crowd, we feel like an outcast, and can’t seem to figure out what’s changed.

So I started writing this, partly as therapy, but partly to try to reach even one person who feels the way I do right now on occasion. I want them to know it’s OK to feel down like this once in awhile. What’s not OK is to let yourself keep feeling this way without reaching out to someone, somewhere for help if you just can’t break out of your funk alone.

Reaching out, asking for help is by far the hardest lesson I’ve ever had to learn, and frankly, I have only just broken the surface. I have a long way to go before I’ll ever be good at asking instead of trying to muddle through on my own, believing everyone I know is too busy to help anyway. I know I have several friends who, if they’re reading this are calling me all sorts of stupid for not reaching out. They’re also the ones who know how hard it is for me to do so, especially when I’m feeling down.

Sometimes, You Have to Reach Out Any Way You Can

The hardest part about being depressed is feeling like nobody wants to be around you. You isolate yourself even more because of the voice in your head that says “you have no right to bring others down to this dark, dank place you’re in right now. Stay away until you’re not such a drag to be around.”

Well, I may not be making any phone calls right now, or private messaging, or texting to ask for help. In my own way, this is how I let the people in my life know I’m not as OK right now as I might seem. I could use some help, but don’t really know how to ask because I’m not sure what kind of help I need.

I will, however, urge anyone reading this who can relate to please, Please, PLEASE call someone who loves you and let them know you’re struggling. Text a friend, a child, a parent; whoever you have and know they care and love you even when you’re not your bright, happy, cheerful self. Someone out there really does want to help you get through whatever it is that’s taking the sparkle out of your life. They want to help you clear the clouds and find your sunshine. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for me and the millions of others who might be wallowing with or without a good reason right now.

Grasping at Straws for Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful that I can use my writing to help others feel less alone.
  2. I’m grateful that I recognize a wallow for what it is even if I can’t yet find my way out of it.
  3. I’m grateful I refrained from spending too much time on Social Media on a really depressing Mother’s Day, if only to keep from bringing anyone else down with my desperation and loneliness.
  4. I’m grateful for the one or two people who may have recognized I’m not in a good place, even if all they could do was send me some good thoughts.
  5. I’m grateful for the end of a long, dark, lonely day because I can start over tomorrow, and tomorrow is a gym day which I actually look forward to these days.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for ghostwriting to help your business grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your uniquely genuine self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

The Mind Might be in Denial, But the Body Knows!

Inattention Provokes Physical Reaction

Writing my morning pages today after doing the unthinkable yesterday and skipping it without a valid reason (gasp!) I realized how little attention I’d been paying to my writing, among other things, since November began. I’d like to say it was a gentle realization with soft music playing, and a gentle breeze teasing tendrils of my hair from my customary messy wad on top of my head. But the truth is, the Universe gave it to me with both barrels, as usual.

Yesterday, after sleeping until 11, which I haven’t done in months, I recognized the tell-tale signs of infection in my right ear. I took the entire day off to be lazy, improve my eating habits which had been pretty awful lately, and supercharge my body with homeopathics and natural remedies (turmeric and propolis are my go-to’s, in case you’re wondering).

I woke this morning slightly later than I’d like to find the pain had subsided but now the ear felt like it was filled with fluid. Moving around has helped a bit, but the pressure remains. However, that didn’t stop me from immediately grabbing pen and notebook (after feeding the resident furballs, of course) and resuming my morning routine.

Morning Pages vs. Brain Dumping

If you’re not familiar with “morning pages” you might want to pick up Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. It’s a great book if you’re a creative who needs to learn to honor the artist within, begging to be allowed to come out and play. One of the biggest take-aways I got from the book was the practice of writing 3 pages longhand every morning, aka “morning pages”. The idea is to sit down and write before you do anything else in the morning (coffee and cat feeding notwithstanding) to clear your head of all of the accumulated folderol from both the previous days’ challenges and the dreams from which you’ve just awoken. If you’re like me, those dreams alone can clog up the works as they’re quite vivid and memorable most days.

In many ways, I guess you’d call the morning pages journaling, but in a very raw, directionless way. In the past, I’d have called it a brain dump, though those typically were a fingers-to-keyboard kind of exercise as I type much faster than I write.

The purpose of the morning pages is not to pour out your guts as fast as possible but instead, to slow your mind down, forcing it to connect with your entire being instead of running amok like a hyperactive child on a sugar high.

I’ve found a great deal of insight from my morning pages though admittedly, there are days when I struggle to sit still long enough and slow my mind down sufficiently to write those 3 pages. Today was one of those days when the process worked.

Recognizing the Wake-Up Call of Physical Ills

I’ve learned that maladies in the body are simply a reflection of dis-ease in our energy field, which, left uncleared start manifesting in ways meant to get our attention. Yet it took slowing my mind down, getting the words on the page to connect the dots this time.

Once I started putting it together, I realized I’d not been communicating via my writing for quite some time. My ear was giving me a huge wake-up call that my hoarse and phlegm-y throat had failed to do.

I needed to get back to my writing!

While pouring out the contents of my muddled and over-stressed brain through the fingers of my right hand, I saw what I’d been, unbeknownst to me, making a concerted effort to ignore. I hadn’t written a single blog post, or even started one since the end of October. I hadn’t edited more chapters of Forgotten Victims as I’d planned. I had barely even interacted on social media for the last 25 days. In fact, I’d developed a bit of an aversion to it. No, more of an ennui. Nothing held my attention. I spent my days (when I wasn’t working on accounting clients) watching sappy Christmas movies and playing word games on my computer.

Finding the Blessing Buried in the Muck

On the up side, I increased my vocabulary a bit and kept my mind somewhat sharp, but my creative side was screaming for attention. Have you ever tried to quiet a 2-year-old mid-tantrum? Well, Creative Sheri knows exactly which buttons to push to get Unproductive, Slothful Sheri’s attention. In fact, administering physical pain is a particular favorite.

I may have created a bit of a monster when I chose to release my creative side, because once released, there’s no effective way to stuff the creativity back into a box permanently. What Pandora released when she opened that box has nothing on the creative monster once I gave her permission to come out and play. She is especially cranky when I make excuses for sitting down in front of the computer and writing. The words that come out don’t really matter. They just have to find their way to page, screen, or whatever medium I choose.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs

https://www.flickr.com/photos/swampa/8512656992/in/photolist-dYeAm9-5MBAS5-4wH48T-5M2k2z-9j9QT2-8RVu1X-6juK2V-a18M9W-5taS34-fMS1SQ-cDQLUb-6GZmA2-oUv5Wv-5AvF8V-paqKFx-4LicMW-s48LVr-57gaP7-39DFEc-nu6Svm-bCRkBB-21uvr7L-7H9fXU-h4hoeh-8kP7PC-3F7yE-AXQ82E-RCHfaj-ftXr8F-6agM2v-pCAFRA-57uGKU-5qGnVx-gYU9Q-6aCF6B-7SC734-5hDawR-6pT1cL-58x9Gg-7tPaUX-pfNVHB-7BnSAE-a56YeV-83T4NJ-6wgZex-e58EmP-9tnDYY-gmjSdW-55pwGE-4CCrfbMaybe it was the Hallmark movie I watched last night about a writer who left home to follow his passion. Maybe I related well to his being stuck and needing new inspiration. More important was his regular routine. He went to the same coffee shop every day, sat at the same table with his laptop and wrote. Writing my morning pages every day only gets me halfway there.

I choose to believe that things are put into our path for a reason, be they physical pain, a message delivered via movie or book, or a person who helps us find our way back to our true path. When we do our best to ignore the signs and signals as I’ve been doing for the last month, those signs and signals become more persistent, and eventually, painful. Like the lessons we’re given, the signs that we’ve wandered off path are not about to be ignored indefinitely.

Sure, I could be one of those who self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to shut those voices and the pain out. Fortunately, I’m not. I have a strong aversion to drugs of any kind and if I have one drink per month, that’s a lot. So I’m forced to acknowledge the signs, the warnings, and especially the Universal head slaps which tell me I need to get off my ever-lovin’ arse and do what I was meant to do—WRITE!

Getting Back on Track…Again

This is my long-winded way of saying I’m back and will do my best to entertain you with regular blog posts like this, both here and on my website. I welcome your comments and would love to hear about what motivates you and gets you back on track when you stray.

The Many Faces of Gratitude

What would a blog post be without my gratitudes? Here are a few for today.

  1. I’m grateful for the subtle and not-so-subtle reminders that I’m not being true to myself.
  2. I’m grateful for family and friends who inspire and challenge me.
  3. I’m grateful for the reams of words I’ve poured out on pages like this one as well as all of my works-in-progress.
  4. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met lately on social media. Some inspire me to greater things, and others show me what I don’t want to be or aspire to. All are helpful in their own way.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; the words that flow from my fingers, the portfolio I don’t always appreciate, the dreams that fill my head at night (and other times too), love, friendship, communication, health, joy, compassion, kindness, generosity, peace, hope, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

December 31, 2014 The one New Year’s resolution we should all make.

As I see it, most New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken.

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions as a rule. After all, aren’t most of them broken within the first month? But this year, I realized that there was one resolution, more a promise to myself, that I wanted to get on record. It is the kind of resolution which is both all encompassing and sufficiently vague as to be break resistant. So, without further ado, here is my single 2015 New Year’s Resolution:

I hereby resolve to be kinder to myself, beginning with 2015.

If I learned nothing else in 2014, it is that kindness, like forgiveness, begins at home. When we are kinder to ourselves, that kindness overflows into the rest of our lives and positively impacts everything we say and do. Sure, I’m still working on the forgiving part, and will, along with kindness, be working on it for the rest of my current human existence…and probably well beyond that! I believe that making a promise to yourself to begin is the first step we need in order to succeed.

So this is me, promising myself kindness, and taking the first step to make it so.

A New Year blessed with kindness, please
To self, to nature, let’s all believe.
It matters not to whom we pray
Take one step forward every day.
Try love and forgiveness with every breath
From now until this body’s death.
A loving gift, our soul will take
Into the next life that we make.
This is the gift I give to thee
As I will, so mote it be.

A blessed and Happy New Year to one and all.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the people who allowed me to touch their lives this year.
2. I am grateful for my daughter who helps me be a better me.
3. I am grateful for my friends, both old and new, who have, by their wonderful examples, helped me see where I need to make improvements in myself.
4. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned this year. Many are invaluable if I’m going to follow my true path.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, lessons, joy, harmony, understanding, faith, happiness, health, peace and prosperity. May we all find what we need in 2015, and carry our lessons well into the future.

Blessed Be.

December 25, 2014 Another Christmas has passed, leaving love and joy in its wake. #shericonaway

Basking in the glow of another beautiful day.

As Christmas 2015 joins the legion of Christmas pasts, I find myself oddly introspective. The day was joyful and full of silliness, sweetness and the love of my extended family as we shared our version of the day. With our annual Jewish Christmas Eve dinner, the Christmas morning breakfast and shenanigans and our Christmas Day movie now just memories, I sit in the comfortably quiet house,the only sounds, the humming of the computer and my fingers tap dancing on the keyboard. And it is good.

My daughter and grand puppy arrived home safely and my adopted son made his girlfriend cry when he gave her a beautiful jewelry box he’d made himself, with her particular preferences in mind. And it is good.

I’m all warm and cozy in the Looney Tunes pajama pants my daughter gave me. The cats are snoozing on desk and bed, no longer needing to listen for the pitter patter of the feet of a 40 pound bundle of love puppy. And it is good.

My tree is somewhat the worse for wear after two kittens saw their first Christmas tree. Pyewacket contented himself with pulling the string of beads further and further from the tree while Scrappy Doo bent the lower branches because he insisted on perching on them. But it is all good.

Wrapping paper and boxes have been broken down and crammed into the barrel designated for recyclables. Leftovers have been divided up and put away. The kitchen is clean and the gift boxes collapsed and returned to their bin. All that remains is to undecorate the tree and stow tree and decorations carefully away until next year. Life is good.

Warm and comfy in the tender embrace of my introspection, I am exactly where I need to be at this moment in time. What tomorrow brings is for tomorrow. I know it will be good, even if it should appear challenging at first. Gifts come in many sizes, shapes and colors, and are wrapped to reflect the hand of the giver. None of these things make them any more or less valuable. They are simply different gifts which serve us in different, but equally important ways.

My introspection takes me along a path of appreciation where I see each gift for what it will ultimately mean to my journey and not necessarily for any frustrations they might temporarily cause when I think they’re leading me astray.

Whatever challenges come, whatever shape the gifts might take, the one thing I can be sure of is that I am blessed. And because I am blessed, I am grateful.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the gifts I have received and those yet to come. All are there to move me along my path and teach me what I need to know to follow my journey.
2. I am grateful for traditions both new and old. Each year, we add something, and each year, we revisit many things.
3. I am grateful that we find new things to laugh about and new jokes to share each year. It is the humor which truly nourishes my soul.
4. I am grateful for the quiet after the chaos, the introspection after the expectations, for therein lies my balance.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, joy, harmony, family, sharing, giving, receiving and joining. Also for health, peace and prosperity.

Namaste

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