It’s the first week of December, but let me guess – you’re already feeling overwhelmed. Are you taxed by even the thought of the holiday season, let alone the doing?
Maybe the key to successfully navigating December isn’t doing more, it’s being selective. Being choosy about what you undertake or leave off your To Do list. Discerning about the events you attend or don’t. And certainly thoughtful about what you leave behind or take into the New Year. We’ll look at letting go with grace in the December series, No End to Love.
Vice President Joe Biden has had a tough year. In May 2010, his eldest son Beau was admitted to a Delaware hospital after complaining about headaches and numbness. The initial diagnosis was a mild stroke, but his condition never improved. 2013 brought a brain cancer diagnosis and he died in May of this year.
It would be understandable for Joe Biden to take an indefinite leave of absence after Beau passed. Instead, he gave his team a new directive: keep going, but leave the schedule loose. He’s let go of his former routine of having his day planned to the minute. His family needs open space as they continue to come to grips with their loss. His staff now confirms his calendar only two weeks ahead.
Two weeks ahead is a good model for anyone who finds the holidays exhausting. This is the time to use mindfulness skills to keep your focus on today, or if things are really tricky, just the next 5 minutes. At the very most, don’t go farther than two weeks ahead.
Dominique Brown’s 60th birthday brought an unexpected silver lining: it wiped out some of the anxieties that dominated her thinking for decades. She observed, “What torture we inflict upon ourselves. If we don’t whip ourselves into loathing, then mean girls, hidden like trolls under every one of life’s bridges, will do it for us.” Whenever she’s in a hard spot, she jokes, “I’m too old for this.”
Like Scrooge, this could be the year you release the chains of Christmas Past. “I’m too old for this” may not resonate with you, but how about being too wise? Too smart? Too experienced? Too compassionate? Too blessed to fall for the same old emotional traps? Ms. Brown gives the ultimate checklist:
“Take a pass on bad manners, on thoughtlessness, on unreliability, on carelessness and on all the other ways people distinguish themselves as unappealing specimens. Take a pass on your own unappealing behavior, too: the pining, yearning, longing and otherwise frittering away of valuable brainwaves that could be spent on Sudoku, or at least a jigsaw puzzle, if not that Beethoven sonata you loved so well in college.”
This week, let go of the meticulous master plan for December. Release the stress and anxiety creeping in from ridiculous expectations (either someone else’s or ones you’ve created for yourself). You can even send them off in style with RuPaul’s expression, “Sashay away!”
Stay awake – there’s a lot of joy waiting for you in the next two weeks.