Something was different about this holiday season, though I can’t quite put my finger on one specific thing. I think perhaps that for once I allowed myself to really immerse myself in being in the moment, enjoying the time at home with Dan and the animals and all of the little things that made it all so special. I kept catching myself feeling gratitude and love bubbling up, an awareness of all I have to be grateful for in life (Dan and I say, “I feel it coming out!” when that happens). I never want to let that go, and am especially mindful of holding onto that mindset as I begin what will be a very full and hectic spring semester at school. I think of it as points of gratitude, those markers that I hold tight to when life gets challenging, as it always will for all of us. Anchoring myself to those markers, those people, events, and things that remind me of life’s gifts, gives me strength no matter what I am facing.
It’s not that the holidays were perfect- there was sadness over the loss of something I held dear, as well as the usual stress of the season. There were painful reminders of loved ones not with us this year. There was a lot of hard work in completing some home projects we’d been waiting to do. There were even two scary days of severe storms and tornado threats- and a birthday that took me deeper into the fifties. However, there were quiet talks by the fire, gatherings with dear friends, lots of laughter. We cooked great meals, saw a couple of movies, took long walks…just enjoyed being together in our funky old home. Oh, and there were Christmas lights- lots of them- and how can that not make you smile? I took time each day to walk around our home and yard and just appreciate all of the hard work we’ve done over the years on Chez Gainey, the house that love built. I spent time with our animals and thanked them for the joy they bring to our lives. I made sure Dan knew how much he was loved and appreciated. There were no fancy presents (of the material sort, anyway), but I felt showered in gifts.
Perhaps the difference this holiday was that I was just more aware of what was going on around me- the little things that are truly not little at all. The more we are grateful for those little things, the more of them come our way. A never-ending source that we draw in simply by being there in the moment to recognize and appreciate. What a great feeling to realize that we are in control of our thoughts and how we react to things in our lives. It’s really quite empowering, isn’t it? We get to choose happiness, no matter the circumstance.
The new semester started yesterday, bringing with it the usual butterflies of stress in my stomach. So many deadlines, performances, obligations…but also such excitement and possibility, and so many things I want to accomplish. I am going to choose to hold tight to my points of gratitude, remembering all I have to be thankful for in life. I have a good feeling about this year…I think it will be a special one.