CFN – Recently I got sidetracked by wanting to make more money so that I could pay for some extras. I decided to take overtime at work and after doing five extra two-hour shifts, my brain turned into what felt like a brick: it literally could not process any more information. My right eye developed a tick, something like Inspector Clouseau’s boss had – remember that from the Pink Panther movies? Having become aware of how my body was reacting, I decided to respect my limits and do right by my clients too, as they would not be well served if I could not think properly.
I had to admit to myself that overwork was taking its toll on my health and it would be better to scale down this “want” to have more things. The point of this is that if we take the time to listen, we actually do know when we are over the limit stress-wise. If we take the time to reconsider, we could have a really wonderful time without going into the stress zone and overdoing it. Having said that, it’s up to each individual to learn how their system works and what overload feels and looks like. As I continue on the path to break up with codependent behavior, I see many opportunities for improvement and learning. This brings me to the subject on the minds of many this month: Christmas and the holidays.
The Christmas season is upon us and so are all the pressures to make it the best time ever. To me, the holiday season is a fabricated event. How many people actually connect Christmas to a significant event like the birth of Christ? Not many, it seems. As someone who does not participate anymore in the usual traditions and festivities, and hasn’t for the last thirty years, I often encourage people to tone down the stress. What is all this pressure about after all? To what ideal are we trying to conform? Who are we trying to impress? And does this all lead to happiness? Do you really want to have a whole pile of debt to deal with once the season is over?
I think the greatest gift we can offer to people is the gift of our time and attention. A good conversation, a chance to relax together over something warm and delicious, a time to kick back and just be ourselves – that’s what makes life worth living and makes us feel connected and alive, vitally aware of our humanity, of our shared relationship and the importance of being present to each other. I think that there is a certain “cost” associated with giving of ourselves. We have to become deprived of selfishness – we have to let go of unrealistic expectations – we have confront our fears of appearing less in the sight of others. It’s a big shift in thinking. It’s breaking up with tradition, but it can lead to unexpected learning and greater rewards.
This holiday season I wish you lots of time to relax, to laugh and to have a good time. I hope you all share in the work of making the meal and cleaning up. I hope you stay safe and please don’t drink and drive!
Shirley Barr lives and works in Cornwall ON and is a member of the Baha’i International Community. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org