Some Thoughts on Living Intentionally During the Holidays

Some Thoughts on Living Intentionally During the Holidays

Yesterday morning I woke up to the local newspaper laying in the driveway. What made it unusual is that I don’t have a newspaper subscription.

A nice gesture from the local rag sheet to send out a complimentary paper on Thanksgiving: How nice. I get to read the three or four articles in it for free this morning—it’s a small town paper.

Well, didn’t take but a few blinks of the lids to see what was going on.

The Black Friday ads were overwhelming, and I had to search through layers of advertisements to discover anything that resembled a newspaper—the inserts were more than double the actual newspaper.

One particular ad shouted, The More You Buy; The More You Save!

I figured I could save more money if I simply stayed home and not buy anything on sale, but who am I to say what’s what.

If I stay home, then I have to contend with Amazon and every other online retailer jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon to include Black Monday…all of which seems to include Saturday and Sunday.

Why aren’t those days called Black?

I dunno, this whole time of year can be so confusing.

Not that the rest of the year isn’t, but the whole year seems to get funneled into the next four weeks hard and fast. It’s like all our fears, stress, anxiety, and guilt gets shoved into this round opening on top, and some unseen force causes us to swirl around and around till we hit a small tube, and then down we go.

Debt piles up by the time January first hits and every one I know says this one thing (Every one!)…

“Man, I’m so glad the holidays are over!”

Why is that?

Probably because we felt like we had to buy stuff for people we don’t like, with money we don’t have, and the stuff we bought will more than likely be recycled through next summer’s garage sale at said person’s house.

Well, we probably do like the people we buy stuff for, except for the acquaintances at work, but then again, even at work, we sorta get funneled into the whole cultural corral of being apart of the Secret Santa thing.

Why does Santa have to be so secret anyways?

I ask too many questions at times.

Oh, and not to mention the guilt we all feel at this time.

I hate that feeling when someone gets you a gift, and you didn’t even think about buying them anything.

Or, you do buy something for so-&-so, and because you only had a few dollars to your name, you got them a small cute item within your budget; but someone else whipped out the credit card and bought them the latest Thingy-ma-jig that you know cost more than you could afford even with overtime tacked onto your paycheck.

Or, the guilt you feel because you want to get something nice for your kids, but you can barely make the monthly rent.

The internal dialogue within each of us is so different than the dialogue running through the person you think you should buy something for.

And that’s something that took me a long time to realize, and even today, still struggle with.

***

What if we could actually relax and enjoy this time of year rather than what we normally experience over the next few weeks?

What would we need to do, or act, or be to accomplish that?

What if we could say No to some of the events and parties we don’t like going to anyway?

What if we did not worry or feel ANY guilt about what to buy, how much to spend, or who to get a gift for?

What if we didn’t send out Christmas cards to everyone we “think” we “should” but instead just send cards to those whom we want to?

Living an intentional life every day is a very fulfilling and rewarding experience.

To be comfortable in your own skin and not be guilted into doing or being someone or something you’re not, is always very rewarding and satisfying.

May this holiday season be a new season for you…one that is filled with the joy of living and making decisions that line up with your values; to remain free (or at least keeping on track to getting free) from the harsh taskmaster of debt; and shake off the guilt of others, or yourself, imposed upon you for whatever reason.

AND(!), take the time to stand in awe of the pretty Christmas lights your neighbor puts up without having to wrestle with the feeling of having to out do them.

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Intentional Living, Life Hack, Purpose, Self, Self-Improvement
<em>My Grateful List</em>

My Grateful List

Marcus Aurelius is said to have penned the following…

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—To breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

I prominently affixed this quote to a bathroom mirror at the place I moved to after launching myself into a new life a few years back.

It was a difficult time. My life had turned upside down, and I needed a constant reminder to focus on things I was grateful for, even if it meant that all I had to be thankful for was the air I breathed.

Now, as I write this, it sounds a little corny in a way, for I would wake up and read that quote, look myself in the mirror, and tell myself, “I love you, Christian.”

Then I would come up with 10 things that morning I was grateful for.

The fog was thick in my soul then and the only direction I had at the time was to let the dust settle from major life events and fully embrace the changes taking place.

Practicing Gratefulness helped me through some of those dark days.

Today, I have that quote affixed to my computer’s desktop so that I see it every time I open the lid. It serves as a great reminder to practice gratefulness every day even if things aren’t going how I want, or expect them to.

I figured I’d share that quote with you today in case you’re looking for a source of inspiration to help you through some difficult times.

I also want to share my grateful list. A list of 10 things I’m grateful for as part of my daily practice to stay focused on that which is upbeat, positive, and help rewire my brain and emotions to see the good in life instead of always seeing the negative that invariably drags me into despair.

***

My list this morning…

  1. Venus. Huh? Yes, the second planet from our sun. As I write this, it’s cloudy but Venus is the brightest star in the heavens right now, and it’s the only thing that is piercing the cloud cover. It’s beautiful. It’s the perfect picture of hope—a shimmering point of light in a vast sea of darkness.
  2. The Moon. It’s full this early morning hour. It has a beauty all to its own as it reflects the sun through the clouds to an area beyond the window I’m sitting.
  3. Woke at 3:30 a.m. without an alarm. I know you wouldn’t think that’s something to be grateful for but to have my internal clock to get me up each day about this time so I can write and publish these articles over the past few weeks is pretty great. It means I don’t need to hear the alarm (I don’t like waking to alarms) and that I’m not rushed for time getting ready for my part-time gig later on.
  4. Just yawned and stretched. Felt good to get some blood moving through the joints.
  5. My breathing is not labored. I grew up with lung issues; asthma, bouts of pneumonia more times I care to relate, and this morning? <deep breath> I can breathe!
  6. #5 reminds me of my overall health. Never take your health for granted. Cherish it. Protect it. Nourish it.
  7. Running. In a few hours, my girlfriend and I are going to run the Turkey Trot; a local road race of 1 to 4 miles. Pick the distance. Proceeds go to the local run club and from there to several charities. It’s a good cause, it’s fun, it’s in support of #6 above.
  8. Early morning blueberry snack I just woofed down. Delish!
  9. Soft socks and soft flannel jammies. Sounds a bit foofoo-ish for a guy but I recall many times when life isn’t soft. I appreciate a few niceties in life.
  10. My girlfriend. I appreciate being intimately connected to another human being.

Some of the items above are big and weighty, some not so much, and some might be a bit silly for some out there reading this.

That’s okay.

Some days the list is filled with some pretty simple things that I walk over or under that are easy to take for granted.

I don’t want to take one moment for granted.

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Change, Life Hack, Living Better, Self, Self-Improvement