Holiday Season Recap

Happy New Year! So far, January has been a productive writing time for me. Thank you, subzero temperatures? Despite my best efforts, I didn’t produce much during the latter part of 2015. There were many reasons, most of them mundane. In general, I introverted out. Too much stimulation and end-of-year tasks. I wanted nothing more than to put everything down and sit in front of the fire with a blank expression on my face.

(I compromised by zoning out during a drive across the Midwest to visit family. Don’t worry – I wasn’t behind the wheel.)

I may not have written much these past few months, but I did read a lot. Books, articles, blog posts. Several of them stuck with me so much that I kept opening new windows on my phone to keep track of them all. I’m sorting through them now and will share some them over the next few weeks, including the reasons why I found them so compelling.

Here we go.

I struggled with anxiety and stress during the holiday season. The world felt so dark, after the Paris attacks, after San Bernadino, after no justice for Tamir Rice….so much grief. So much evidence of the horrible things humans do to each other. These incidents are awful, no matter the time of year, but they seemed especially terrible juxtaposed with a season that celebrates light, joy, and peace.

I drew on my meditation practice, reminding myself that it was fine to feel whatever it was I was feeling in any given moment. I reminded myself that not everyone feels happy during the holidays. I remembered the importance of simply sitting with whatever comes up and not judging it. This helped. I wasn’t struggling to make myself feel or be a certain way. I was able to note my expectations for the holiday season and observe the tensions that arose when those expectations met reality.

And I stumbled upon Common Grief, a collection of blogs and articles from the Huffington Post. Reading other people’s reflections and experiences of grief reminded me that we are all interconnected. We’ve all grieved. And even though it feels like it sometimes, we are not alone in our grief.

So I’m sharing this, even though the holidays are over, because grief continues. But so does our interconnectedness and our shared expressions of peace, joy and light.

New Year’s Eve in the Cemetery

I went to the cemetery today, even though it was bitingly cold. Many of the gravestones were decorated with wreaths and clusters of holly.  One had a feeder that was being heavily used by deer and birds, judging by the tracks in the snow.  There were paths worn by (human) footsteps around many of the graves, bearing witness to families who visit loved ones in the cemetery every holiday.  I wasn’t visiting anyone in particular today but the tracks in the snow reminded me of the many griefs I carry, both new and old.

I was going to use this space to comment on the past year and talk about my intentions for the one that arrives tomorrow.  But that seemed somehow trite in the face of grief, both mine and yours.  Instead, I’m going to watch the sun filter through the branches of the Christmas tree and simply sit with these feelings of loss, as well as the ones offering possibility and hope.

I wish you time and space for your own reflections today, both of the happy times from 2014, as well as the losses and disappointments that occurred in your one beautiful and precious life.  Be well.