Sunday, December 14, 2008

An update... and seeking advice from anyone who reads this blog!

It's been a while. Fall has come and gone. BYU football has come and gone. Thanksgiving has come and gone. ... but all is well and it has been such a wonderful few months. BYU loosing to UTAH was a sad, sad day but I'll never forget watching the game at my friends condo with 50 other BYU grads all shouting the Cougar fight song after BYU scored each touchdown! My heart swells with pride everytime I hear it!

Thanksgiving was perfect. Just perfect. I stayed here in Boston and celebrated with my 2nd family here in Boston, but also spent some quality time with my Dad in RI and other friends. I took a nap each day, continued my tradition of the Macey's day parade (while putting up plastic on our windows), stayed as far away from the malls and shopping as possible, didn't have to cook a thing, and just relaxed. It was perfect! :)

Work has taken on a new meaning for me as I've now become the "head" counselor at school. My co-worker left on maternity leave early and we hadn't hired someone to replace her yet, so I've been filling in for her duties as well... and it's been a little stressful with longer hours than I used to do, but all very rewarding and I LOVE IT! Our long-term sub starts tomorrow so hopefully things will ease soon. If anything, we have the holiday break in just over one week. WAHOO!!! LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT!!!... more details later

But, what I wanted to blog about today was some thoughts on this holiday season. More than anything this year, I've tried to cut down on the things that stress me out (like shopping for the PERFECT gift and trying to get to EVERY social engagement) and to really take time to reflect on the Savior, my religious beliefs, and my life.

Music has such a powerful effect on our emotions and I find that especialy true with religious music, especially those songs that cause us to reflect on our many blessings and the life of the Savior. I've had the opportunity to attend a number of holiday concerts over the past few weeks and it has had a lasting impact on my mood and outlook.

I was reading today in a book that included reflections on Christmas by Chieko Okazaki and she made so many wonderful points. One that struck me in particular was:

`If you feel like a soldier instead of a shepherd, you can remember that we worship at the stable and not at the palace. If you feel that Christmas has you marching in lockstep toward a destination you don't like very much, step out of line. It is more important to be kind than to be on time. It is more important to show love than to show efficiency.... Don't underestimate something as simple as a smile. As one person said, "I've learned that a warm smile beams, 'Welcome to this moment." And someone else noted, "Every moment is a gift from God. That's why it's called the present."

"Presence and presents are homonyms. ...The gift of being fully present to another person--not distracted or simply dutiful but deeply and timelessly loving." During Christmas season we are looking for "the perfect gift" to give a loved one. But, truly the best present you can give anyone is your own presence, your willingness to be fully present for a neighbor, child, family member, or friend. An encounter which is a loving encounter."

WOW - I love that!! Too often I am not "fully present" when talking to another individual. I'm too busy working on "my checklist". And, in the big picture... what's of more value? My checklist or the other individual? I'm going to really focus on this over the next few weeks. Have a daily check-in with myself and I'll report back after the holidays. Can I put my checklist off to the side? It's my crutch... but I really do want to run free without it!!! Let's see how it goes.

So, here's where I seek advice...
Any thoughts on how to do this better???

P.S. - Evan - how will you react if I just give you a card for Christmas with my picture in it just saying you get the gift of having a 'fully present' me in your life!!! :)

1 comment:

Maylene said...

I like that idea...actually I love it. I get so stressed out trying to get all the "gifts" and holiday engagements taken care of. Every year I tell Mark that I wish I could leave on a plane to some remote island (without phone or internet access) and just skip out on everything and enjoy a quiet simple Christmas. Ahhh, but that would be way too good to be true! I think as we get older, we really would rather talk to our friends or spend time with them or even just get a simple letter from them, than a gift anyway.