Today is my last day of work for 2023. One of the great privileges of being self-employed is how I get to set my own schedule, and don’t have to ask anyone for permission to take time off. The difference this makes to my quality of life is immeasurable – and it’s a privilege I mourn that most people don’t have.
I don’t like writing “traditional” holiday newsletters. So many of the ones I receive from various entities feel all schmaltzy and formulaic and transactional. The holiday season seems to come with a script – one written by machines that turn out bland words that sound good but feel hollow.
So no to that. (And yes, this message is written by Sue, not ChatGPT!).
But yes to wanting to connect with and acknowledge you all as we come towards the end of yet another trip around the sun. We’ve been on a journey together this year, as I got into a rhythm of monthly newsletters, pivoted my business, redesigned the website, did a series of webinars, and dealt with life happening along the way – from the mundane and personal (hello, brakes failing on the car and computer meltdowns in the middle of things), to the profound and global (no need to spell that out!)
Thank you for being with me on this journey. I’ve heard from so many of you how what I’m writing and sharing resonates and lands with you. Thank you for your encouragement and support.
A time of contradictions
This is a time of year where contradictions seem to abound. It’s a season of connection, joy and celebration. And it can be a season of profound loneliness, grief and heartache. It’s a season of giving and generosity. And it can be a season of conspicuous consumption that can exploit and marginalize so many, human and otherwise.
And those contradictions can play out beyond this time of year too, with the feeling that the “world out there” is all going to hell, even while life “in here”, for our family, in our community, feels genuinely great.
Wherever life finds you at the end of 2023, however you celebrate the holidays, or not, know that you have someone over here who takes quiet joy in you just being you – wonderfully messy, contradictory, imperfect, human.
Finding the gifts in the small and ordinary
My morning practice has me notice the small things that are so easy to gloss over, and yet provide me much comfort and hope whenever I am feeling the sorrows of the world press in on me: that first cup of tea in the morning, a long hug with a loved one, laughter at the antics of a beloved pet, the coziness of a favorite blanket, the warmth of holiday lights sparkling in the winter dark, the crunch of snow underfoot.
If it feels available to you, can I invite you to notice whatever those small moments are for you too? Maybe even share them in a comment below, in a collective spirit lifting?
And my hope is that you too can find joy, peace, solace, comfort or whatever it is that you are needing at this time from those small, insignificant, ordinary – but profoundly human, quietly magical – moments.
My “gift” to you is a “prayer” that I turn to whenever I feel that I am not doing “enough” for others or feeling particularly challenged by others. And the holidays can really ratchet those moments up! The words are not mine – but are from Kristen Neff and Susan Pollak, two teachers in compassion from whom I have learned so much.
Maybe they can be a source of inspiration and hope to you too, to stay connected and present with other messy humans, even when it feels hard to do so. I know they are for me.
An Equanimity Prayer for the Holidays
Words: Kristen Neff and Susan Pollack
Everyone is on their own life journey.
I am not the cause of this person’s suffering, nor is it completely within my power to make it go away.
Moments like these are difficult to bear, and yet, I will try to help if I can.
May I be able to care for and nurture myself so that I can attend to the needs of others with generosity, balance and presence.
May I develop equanimity and let go of expectations of healing, curing, or fixing others.
May I see this person with a freshness of mind and an openness of heart. May I see the goodness, intelligence and vulnerability in this person.
While I care about this person’s pain and suffering, I cannot make choices for them, control their life, or make it go away.
May I see this person, hear this person, and know this person in their wholeness and beauty, not just in their suffering and pain.
May I accept the limitations of others with warmth and compassion. May I accept my own limits with the same kindness.
May I let this moment be as it is, not as I want it to be.