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Craft Your Own Holiday !

The holidays can be fun.  Or not!  Want a welcome change from the usual pressures of buying presents, bad-weather travel, non-stop cooking (what my daughters and I call a “cook-a-thon”), irritable visiting relatives, and the resulting exhaustion and secret resentment?

This article suggests innovative ways to help you and your family uncover and celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and other end-of-the-year holidays.

Years ago, when Lewis and I were living in the Bay Area, my daughters would choose to spend one or another of the “big” holidays with my ex-husband.  We could have moped about the house feeling sorry for ourselves because there were no squeals of childish joy around our Christmas tree on that special morning– but we usually went to the beach instead.  There was something truly sacred about the light of a Winter Solstice sun illuminating the waves that kissed the sand at Baker Beach. These quiet times put the holy back into holiday, and our beach-y Christmas came to mean more than the traditional one ever had.  (One year I even made a Christmas door wreath from kelp and seashells– unusual and attractive!)

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No, we didn’t go surfing!  But we came home refreshed and happy, truly in touch with the joy of the season.

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Surviving a Scorpio Moon

This new Scorpio Moon packs a punch!

As we’re busy getting ready for Thanksgiving and other celebrations of autumn, we may be feeling more pressure than usual. What is it that’s pushing our buttons?  Health?  Relationships?  Money?  Or just the usual challenges of the holiday season? Tension around holiday travel; family expectations; a sense of not enough time; obstinate kids; problems with co-workers, supervisors, employees; even our pets can add to the pressure cooker, and before we know it, we’re steaming!

It helps, especially under pressure, to remember to B-R-E-A-T-H-E.  Sometimes a deep, calming breath is all it takes.  And sometimes not!  So what else can we do?  A little time in Nature always makes a big difference for me.  A walk in the woods, a quick walk around the block (if there are no woods nearby), sometimes simply glancing out the window at the falling leaves and taking a moment to acknowledge the beauty of a changing season, can reconnect us with the peace of the natural world.  A regular healing practice like Yoga, Aikido, or Chi Kung allows us to find our center and in our center, to find calm.  Curling up with a good book is a blessing.  A cup of tea with a friend doesn’t take much time, and there’s nothing like “kitchen table counseling” from someone we trust to help us get back on track.

The point is not to allow the pressures of our fast-paced culture to stress us out.  This new moon encourages us to reflect on what, with Spirit’s help, we’ve been able to achieve in this past year, to feel gratitude for all the good we’ve experienced, and to let go of what was painful.  We don’t need to do more, buy more, or be more.  As we are, we’re enough–  and the feeling of confidence that comes with realizing this simple truth creates an energy field that emanates calm, compassionate acceptance of everyone and everything around us– a healing in itself!

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Depression — And How To Help

Communication Counts!
November Moon

As we move into the dark time of the year, the sun sinks lower, leaves fall from the trees, and nights grow long and cold.  It’s easy to feel depressed.  But this article is not about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  It’s about how to be truly present, and in that way perhaps be able to help a seriously depressed loved one.

There’s a huge difference between clinical depression and simply feeling “down.”  Clinical depression often requires professional treatment.  But in our everyday world, a person with any form of depression, whether clinical or non-clinical, can respond to empathy.  Real empathy doesn’t try to fix,  downplay, or remove the pain our loved one may be feeling. It simply holds the space for that person to express whatever needs to be expressed.  We may not have a solution, but we can still be there for our family member or friend, and often that alone helps.

My first teacher at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Kate Wolf-Pizor, used to say “What people need is a good listening to!”  Listening from the heart is a skill that may take some time and patience to develop, but it’s well worth the effort.  If we can let go of our own agenda– even though we’re very worried about our loved one– and simply listen, we can do a world of good.