Monday, January 31, 2011

The Misdefinition of Materialism

     I have a confession to make. I am one of those people. The ones with dream boards, dream journals, pictures all over my fridge of my future lifestyle and inspirational quotes on post-it-notes just about everywhere in my home. I intentionally seek out things that I desire, that I cannot currently afford, to motivate myself. And I have to say that it never ceases to amaze me just how much opposition I encounter for simply dreaming of a better life for myself and my family. When I talk to people about dreaming I tend to get a lot of the same responses over and over again but the most disturbing argument against having such aspirations is the notion that it is inherently materialistic. I believe this response to be a defense mechanism of sorts, and a product of our countries unhealthy understanding of success and economics.

     First, let me just say that desiring material things is natural and all human beings do to some extent, though some do more than others. Second, desiring material success and being materialistic are not mutually exclusive. Materialism is defined as "preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values". Therefore it is entirely possible to chase after material success without being materialistic, as long as the person doing the chasing is a) doing it for the right reasons (to provide for their family, etc) and b) not at the expense of their values. The problem is that it is all too common in today's world for people to assign a higher value to material success than they do to their personal character and they go about trying to obtain it in unethical ways, making it their priority above all else and causing much destruction along the way. 

Image c/o SweetOnVeg
    It's a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in when it's completely normal to go out and buy things we don't need (and often times don't even want) with money we don't have to impress people we don't like, but it's considered materialistic to set a goal for a dream car (or house, or any other thing) and save and stretch and grow as people in order to obtain it. Maybe it's because the later requires us to think more about the material thing itself, and do so for an extended period of time and the former only requires that we sign up for a credit card and allow the mainstream culture to dictate for us what is and what is not a necessity. When we buy things on whim, or don't deny ourselves for a time until we earn them then we do think less about our "things", that's true; but just because we may value our things less this way doesn't mean we value our intangible blessings such as faith and family any more. I would prefer for the material things I do possess to hold a greater meaning to me than their monetary cost, because of what it took me to acquire them. 

     As stated in one of my favorite books on the subject of success and leadership Launching a Leadership Revolution there are three levels of motivation for all people. 1) Material Success 2) Recognition and Respect 3) Purpose or Legacy. Of course a person's purpose in life, their passion, and the legacy they leave are far more important things to strive for than material success, but often times until one obtains at least a small measure of material success they do not have the freedom to chase those higher goals with their full drive; they are generally caught in a survival cycle. As Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady point out in the chapter on this subject (Foundational Qualities) "With material success in the hands of those who care, significant differences can be made." There will always be those that take goal setting in the material success category too far and wind up allowing themselves to be lured in by the stingy type of money love they portray in movies and on TV, but more often material goals are tools to great personal growth. I believe that those desires were put inside of each person for a reason and just as good people do good things with money while bad people do bad things with it, so too do good people use material desires to gain leverage on themselves to grow into the person they were meant to be. That is, if those good people don't get suckered into believing the myth that aspirations equal materialism. Sure if people were 100% altruistic they wouldn't need material motivation to become who they were intended to be... but not a single person on this planet is. That being the case it is far better to use those dreams to create positive than to deny yourself on principle to the point of martyrdom (which is a self-focus presenting itself in the opposite direction).

Photo c/o merulu5
     If the true definition of materialism is someone who puts material things ahead of more important matters, how then did we as a society get so confused? When did we start labeling entrepreneurs with big dreams and correct priorities as materialists and yet those people who would rather spend money on cable television and the newest iPhone every time their plans expire are the altruists because they don't spend thought time on what they desire. Instead they buy small luxuries the moment the impulse arises, leaving themselves no space left to dream of bigger successes in those previously mentioned categories. 

     Instant gratification has replaced the American Dream. It's easier for the individual and seems more rewarding in the short term because with instant gratification comes pleasure, however fleeting it may be. This mindset is reinforced at every opportunity by the media because that's how they make their money. TV executives, advertisers, credit card companies, banks, loan agencies and mortgage brokers all make money by keeping people in their debt. You will never see a furniture store advertising "save up this next year and come buy your new leather couch from us when you have the cash in hand". Of course not. The truth that most people have been blinded to is: bad is not the enemy of great, good is. We've sacrificed the happiness we gain from the process of earning material success (notice the happiness comes from the process of earning not from the things we earn) in order to get the pleasure that comes from small luxuries along the way... things we've been told we need like a phone per person instead of per household, central air, microwaves, a TV for every room, and cable programing to go with them (I'm pretty sure it's called programing for a reason; it programs the viewer), etc. These things are usually good (though I won't vouch for the cable) but in almost all cases there is something great just around the corner if we pass up distracting conveniences and entertainments in favor of stretching ourselves enough to get that next great thing in our path. I wonder how much farther along we all would be if we lived by this principle. I wonder how much farther along I would be if I were more consistent in practicing it myself. 

'People often overestimate what they can reasonably achieve in a year. But they vastly underestimate what they can achieve in 5 years."Steve Pavlina

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The DVD Cabinet Debacle of 2011

The time of baby/child-proofing is creeping up on us fast. Bastian is rolling over now, from his back to his tummy with the greatest of ease throwing in an occasional maneuver in the opposite direction (though this was is still a source of frustration for him most days) and he has skillfully begun the art of pulling his legs up underneath himself raising himself up on knees and belly... only to flop back down again moments later. The motivation is there. This means Mommy and Daddy need to kick project "get our place in shape" into hyper-drive.

As I mentioned to a potential babysitter visiting our condo for an interview last week, we are (at best) recovering slobs. Most people marry their opposite, and while Jason and I do have many glaring differences, in many of the major personality traits we are the same. Unfortunately for us I don't have a neat freak to balance out my inner pigpen, and neither does he. The odd thing is that we both have strong melancholy tendencies, which equates to over-organized perfectionists. What many people don't realize about the melancholy crew, however, is that if we can't get something completed up to our own standards in one foul swoop... well then we'd just assume not start at all. We are those people who buy artwork and stack it up in the corner against the wall for years, never to see the light of day, because we just can't decide where it would look best, and if we did decide it was highly unlikely that at that very moment we had a bubble level, measuring tape, picture hanging kit, etc. and so on.

Also, we are both major packrats. Especially when it comes to toys, and I don't mean toys from our childhood that have sentimental value, Bastian's toys, or other types of toys... I mean "Oh look hunny isn't this figurine of Jack and Sally
adorable? How about this mini Superman lunchbox? Did you see that hilarious little bobble-head over there?". I digress...

Today I became all too aware of my attachment to my "things". The discussion started rather innocently by way of me bluntly informing my husband that our DVD shelves are both heavy and unstable, a dangerous combination with a soon-to-be mobile baby in the house; we would need to replace them with "real furniture"; cabinets with doors that close (and preferably lock). It was going to be expensive, and that was that. Or at least I thought that was that, until he came up with a completely brilliant idea that would not only get rid of our old flimsy shelving units, but would also eliminate our need for a new expensive cabinet and thus give us more space (something we are sorely lacking)! Bonus, right? Wrong! At least in my head it was. I instantaneously had a strange sinking feeling in my gut and I quickly jumped in on the defense coming up with every asinine reason possible why his idea wouldn't work until finally I realized just how silly I was being. I wanted to spend upwards of $300 for the privilege of cluttering up our home further, all so that I could keep my precious physical DVD's in favor of a system where I could simply turn on my TV choose a movie and press play. I wouldn't even have to get rid of them, they would simply be going into storage, FREE storage, until a later date when we have a house large enough to accommodate my compulsion to have them properly on display... behind a cabinet door.

Why was I so quick to assign a higher value to my "hard copies" than creating more space for the things that are necessities. At first I thought to myself "for the same reason that I detest eReaders" but that didn't hold up, books are tactile, you can hold them while you read, write notes, dog ear pages, underline, highlight, draw pictures in their margins, sometimes even allow their pages to soak up your tears. Plastic discs and their plastics cases provide none of these comforts.

There were of course multiple reasons for my reaction. One being that this solution would not warrant me buying something new, and buying new things gives me a thrill, a cheap, fleeting thrill. The cabinet I had chosen wasn't even pretty (the pretty ones cost more), and I had no intention of keeping it around long term. I'm sure there was also a tinge of "but I'm right" in there somewhere too; probably mixed in with a little "this is the way we've always done it". There may even have been some of my technology fear tied in there. But I believe the main reason for my upset to be this; I am just, plain and simple, far to attached to my things. Somewhere along the way I began to equate the size of my music and movie collection with my level of adulthood. It could have been due to the withdrawal I suffered when I moved out of my parent's place and no longer had any Christmas movies or CDs when that first holiday season "on my own" rolled around. All those movies I grew up on that none of my friends had even heard of now required a 45 minute drive for viewing. What I never consciously realized was that it took years... a decade or two even, for my parents to get where they were.

In all actuality what I experienced on this small scale has become somewhat of an epidemic in our country. Generations growing up and moving out, expecting to live the same lifestyle their parents live right off the bat, never stopping to think about how long it took them to acquire what they have. What it took to earn it. They went out and purchased houses they couldn't afford on jobs they assumed would have forever. Creeping essentials.

My goal for 2011 is to live entirely within my means. I have every intention of expanding those means, but before that can happen I need to learn to make the absolute most of what I have, and that includes taking advantage of creative space/cost saving ideas instead of resisting for the sake of being surrounded with what I have already accumulated. Which is quite a lot if I do say so myself.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Moon is Baby's Best Friend

When we brought Bastian home from the hospital he would sleep just about anywhere... in the arms of anyone who would hold him, his cradle, the car-seat, our bed... anywhere. It wasn't long however before we found out (as most new parents quickly do) that this was a temporary condition. More like a cruel trick to lure us into a false sense of competence regarding our newborn's sleep habits. A similar ruse took place a few weeks later when he slept 7 or 8 hours straight every night for almost a full week. It has not happened again since. 

After those first few days he would sleep in his cradle now and then for short periods of time but he woke up more often and more angry. We were all exhausted due to countless unanticipated feeding problems, and so if he feel asleep in our arms we let him stay there in hopes that we could get at least a little bit of shut eye ourselves. Of course that backfired and soon he wouldn't sleep anywhere but on us (or I should say on me, because Jason was unable to fall asleep with baby on chest). We considered it a huge success when he became willing to sleep on his back on the bed between us! But small improvements aside we hit a breaking point... he passed up his four month marker and was still waking up several times a night, not going to sleep until 11:00 or 12:00 at night, every night, and no longer willing to even attempt sleeping in the cradle (which he had outgrown anyways).

Last week my Dad came over with the crib we had been storing in their garage to trade us out for the cradle. Trying to figure out how we would fit the thing in our one bedroom was somewhat of a nightmare... but to be honest I'm kind of relieved that the change pushed us into getting rid of some furniture we didn't actually need. I love the idea of a minimalist home, but I don't know that I would ever obtain it without extreme coercion. Pressing needs, like, you know, a decent night's sleep, do help (the amount of drop offs we've made at Goodwill in the past 6 months alone likely exceed my lifetime's worth of donations up until that point). Having a kid ultimately makes you reevaluate what is important in your lives (material stuff and otherwise).  Right now I'd have to say sleep is currently gunning for the top of the list.

The transition is proving to be difficult, which I had anticipated. Yet another thing to add to the list of  "It gets worse before it gets better" challenges.

The crib was purchased at a local thrift store for under $20 

it was the same exact one we registered for 

only $180 cheaper. 

My mother lovingly striped and repainted it this amazing shade of orange... matches his stuffed octopus just perfectly. 

Why, hello Moon!
It's mighty nice to make your acquaintance.
I'll See you again soon
Same time, same place
Right back here, tomorrow night.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

24th Birthday Redux

     I have always been big on celebrations and was never (and will never be be) the type to see birthdays as "just another day". Nothing makes me happier than planning a surprise for someone or finding the perfect gift that I just know their going to love... I think I often get more excited to watch someone open a gift than they are to be opening it. That being the case I used to be rather keyed up for my own birthday as it drew near. Now, however it is awkward at best. A few years ago, on the day before my birthday, my Papa (Grandpa) passed away and it has been bittersweet (if not just plain bitter) ever since. I know in my heart he would want me to be happy and celebrate like I did every year before that, but celebrating only serves to remind me of his absence. I miss him dearly and the days leading up to my birthday no longer hold excited anticipation, instead I tend to be increasingly out of sorts.

     That being the case, when this past birthday rolled around I did what any self-respecting woman does... I sent mixed messages to my dear husband. Not intentionally of course. I didn't know if I was ready to be celebratory again or not. I lamented about how I just didn't want to have a birthday at all anymore, but secretly hoped that there would be some mini-celebrating going on. He of course was incredibly sweet and did the best he could to be sensitive to my emotional state while still showing me that he remembered the special day and was happy to have me around (who doesn't love a man who comes home with chocolate??), but I ruined the night with my sour mood.

     Then comes Christmas and what do I get in my stocking? A coupon for a second birthday celebration!!! Seriously, how awesome is that!!?!! So Sunday night he drives the baby to my folks house while I got all dolled up and once he returned we went out to the most amazing dinner I've had in... well, a very long time. Afterward, despite his distaste for dark, creepy movies he took me to see Black Swan, which I have to say was awesome! I knew almost nothing about it before we entered the theater except that it was supposed to be a pretty intense thriller about ballerinas. It was devastatingly beautiful. Sad, creepy and inspiring all at the same time. I'm definitely a sucker for psychological thrillers. Jason of course wasn't a fan, but we both knew that would likely be the case going in as it is not his type of film, but he he was extremely gracious and didn't begrudge my choice at all.

     The best part of the evening though was that in spite of the tried and true "movie and dinner" routine it felt like it was all brand new again, like we had just met and were getting to know each other. I guess in a sense that's really what we were doing. We have both been changing and growing so much this past year that it was as if we each had a whole new dimension to ourselves to share and discover together. No, marriage is not what we thought it would be when we were young dreaming of our future with nothing to base our expectations on but Hollywood's myths, but there is something so much better about falling in love with your husband all over again over a simple dinner than exhausting yourself trying to recreate an elaborate romantic comedy montage. There's something deeper and much more real about loving someone in spite of, and sometimes even because of, their imperfections and not because of their lack thereof.

Dress - H&M
Scarf - Denise's (gift from my wonderful Mom)
Shimmery footless tights - Can't remember (Kohls I think)
Ankle Boots - Also a gift from my Mom
Earrings - Kohls
Bracelet - Thrifted (it's actually a necklace)
Also, it's not pictured very well due to poor lighting conditions but I rocked my new Buttercupcake eyeshadow from Sugarpill's Burning Heart palette that I just got in! I'm in love!

Oh, and as if he hadn't earned enough bonus points with the second birthday coupon, during dinner Jason handed me a gift bag containing a print out of a QR code that upon scanning with my Evo (which was my Christmas gift) took me to this beauty from Blue Anchor Jewelry!!

He ordered the very last one they had and it should be on it's way to me soon!
Can you say spoiled!?!!

What's your favorite birthday memory? I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Admitting Regret in a World of Justifications

It seems as though it has become taboo to admit to regret these days. I mean I guess it makes sense, in a world where it seems as though politicians, CEO's and celebrities alike have taken a secret pact to deny any personal misdoings til the cows come home (and pass the buck when that inevitably fails), how can we expect the subject of regret to be handled with anything but dissent. To regret something we have to first admit 1) that we did it in the first place and 2) that we were wrong. It's much easier for us to pretend that our past blunders never happened, and when that isn't possible for one reason or another to pacify our egos by falling back on a cliche phrase like "I don't regret anything because good or bad everything that I have done/experienced made me who I am today."

I am so ready to blow the lid off that saying! Don't get me wrong it has it's inherent values; but it so easy to use it as a crutch and I personally feel that while it is a well-intentioned train of thought, intentions aren't everything and this mindset stands on rather shoddy foundation if you ask me. The main problem with that saying, and so many others exactly like it, is that it presupposes that we as people have arrived and we are completely satisfied with who we are today. People, however are ever changing and growing (or at least they should be), and I am of the belief that after ripe comes rotten. When we convince ourselves that we have nothing left to learn, no more growing left to do, that's when we truly rot as a person. There is always room for improvement and when we're not moving forward we are coasting backwards.

The saying also implies that the ends always justify the means, i.e. that if we are in fact as happy with ourselves as we say we are, then a.) there was only one possible way we could have wound up this way and b.) those personal errors in the past don't require amends because they were absolutely necessary in accomplishing this final product we are today. This ideology is an extremely dangerous slope to begin sliding down, and I am not going to go into it entirely today, but suffice it to say that there is always more than one way to get to a given destination. Justification of past errors based solely on current satisfaction with oneself also completely discounts our ability as humans to learn from the mistakes of others!

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.  ~Douglas Adams

I personally believe in a Creator who made me in his image, and though I do value my mistakes for the lessons they taught me I feel that God is powerful enough to have provided me with a more righteous path to get to where He waned me to be. That being the case, then me skipping out on some of those past mistakes wouldn't have been such a crucial loss as mainstream media would have me think. 

My point here, however, is not to trudge up old feelings of guilt, but to break free of the shame that admitting regret seems to impose. I can regret things I've done in the past, I can wish with all of my heart that I hadn't done certain things that I did in fact do, without devaluing the lessons I learned as a result of those mistakes. And, my main point here is that I do. I have regrets. (insert big sigh of relief) 

It is so much easier to move forward when we are not ashamed to admit that we aren't perfect. I haven't arrived, nor will I ever. Regret is something we can learn from once we admit to it. There is something cathartic about saying "Yes, I absolutely do have regrets. My mistakes made me who I am today but I don't need to cling to them to feel like me. I could still be the person I want to be without them. I do value the lessons I learned from personal errors, but those errors are not essential to who I am, and therefore I can let go of the guilt associated with them.

When discussing this subject just yesterday with my husband he kindly reminded me that "you are not that person anymore." And he was right, I am not. If I were still the person I was when I made the mistakes I did... then I wouldn't regret them now would I? If I had to cling to something I'd rather cling to my feeling of regret than to my justifications. The great thing about admitting regret, though, is that I can now let go of the guilt associated with it. I may not be able to make amends in the traditional sense, but I have been forgiven by my Creator, and now I can finally forgive myself.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Midwinter Flowers

She hid away in the attic that morning along with the dried flowers and packed away spring decorations...
it was the beginning of January and it seemed only right.

It wasn't long however before something caught her eye... it was... light.
It slowly seeped in through the shaded window from outside.

Just a peek couldn't hurt. Right?

Astonished at how bright the afternoon sun had become on such a cold winter's day she collapsed on the stairs to gather her composure.

Some strange thing was taking her over...
something not common during the first week of the new year (to her anyway)....
it was...


Bright, bold, life-affirming COLOR!

All it took was a breath of fresh air and she was no longer ashamed to sport flowers in spite of the frozen ground. Unabashedly she stepped down the walk and out onto the street, the vibrancy of her apparel seemed to thaw the icy air around her as she walked.

Soon birds were chirping and woodland animals began singing tunes of spring.... 
or so she quietly wished to herself. 
The End.

  • Faux Fur Collar - Was once attached to a cardigan that most likely came from Kohls (remixed)
  • Pin/brooch - thefourthstar
  • Blazer - Target
  • Shirt - Borrowed
  • Dress - Modcloth
  • Footless Tights - don't remember
  • Socks - Target
  • Boots - Two Lips
  • Bracelet - gift

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Mommy Paranoia or New Level of Awareness?

Am I the only one, or does parenthood really bring out a whole new level of paranoia in a person? It may have something to do with the fact that I'm already somewhat of a paranoid person to begin with, but since giving birth I have discovered a plethora of new preoccupations.

I know plenty of completely sane individuals become obsessively protective and overly worried when they become parents for the first time; it's almost cliche. "I logged every diaper's output with my first child and got up every hour during the night to check that they were still breathing, but now that I've been there and done that I'm just happy as long as they're not running out into the street or drinking Ajax from under the sink!" That makes sense to me and I do not worry when my little guy sneezes or goes two days without pooping... but I'm beginning to think about a lot of other things in a different light.

Does my lotion/shaving cream/face wash have chemicals that are seeping into my body and more importantly my breastmilk? What exactly do they put on those sticky hand thingsto make them stick? Does the adult humor in kids shows/movies get stored in a child's subconscious for future recollection when they are old enough to understand it?

Over the past couple of years I have begun to heavily screen what I let into my mind. The husband and I canceled our cable a long time ago and we don't even have our TV set up to get the basic channels (I do not miss it). We also don't get the paper or subscribe to any online news sources. Trust me, we still find out important happenings in our world with plenty of ease (if it's important enough somebody inevitably tells us about it) and the purging of all the excess negativity that comes with almost all news media sources has done wonders for our attitudes.

We put garbage in our bodies and we all know what happens (the obesity epidemic in America is no secret to anyone these days not to mention heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.). Our mind works exactly the same way.

Input > Thoughts > Actions > Habits > Results

I'm nowhere near I want to be in terms of ensuring the proper input for my mind and body on a daily basis and to be honest I was ok with that as long as I was making progress... until Bastian was born. Now, I am truly scared by the amount of things I am entirely ignorant of. What really is in all my frozen meals and my beauty regime products? What about all my household cleaners? And how about the "kids" media they have out there today? Why does every baby toy have to have an electronic mechanism inside to make noises and flash bright lights at them? Heck, my son is still discovering the different textures of fabrics and noises things make on their own without the help of batteries! Does he really need to learn the distinction between the noise a wooden toy makes when you throw it and the man-created noise a plastic one makes when you press a particular button at 4 months of age? Better yet, can he? And if so, does it cause more confusion than curiosity? Overstimulation instead of internalizing and learning?

It's almost dizzying!

We are so constantly bombarded by input of all different kinds. Mentally we a are barraged by information, advertisements, and other people's opinions. Physically we are constantly taking in unknown toxins through our food, our medicines, topical products be they beauty related or cleaning agents. Even the air we breathe has all kinds of pollutants we are not consciously aware of when we inhale and exhale!

For now I simply resolve to silence the "noise" where I have the control to do so in my life and in my Son's. I will ask the important questions, and seek the important answers. Most of all I will try to let be those things that are outside of my sphere of influence.

“One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.” – Socrates

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Love Letter

My Dearest Pumpkin Carving Heels,

Your name alone was the first indication that I was about to embark on a long term love affair... I have long been smitten with anything and everything Autumn related, particularly those things associated with Halloween and the festivities that surround it. Fallen leaves crunching beneath my feet, a crispness to the air, spooky decor popping up all around, and of course carving Jack-O-Lanterns. I have yet to find something about pumpkins that I do not like, and your association with my all-time favorite gourd-like squash only helped to solidify your standing (get it?) as number one shoe in my arsenal.

You were out of stock when I discovered you but I waited patiently, hoping that someday you would make yourself available to me. It seemed at the time that you were intentionally spurning my advances, however a day soon came when the news I had been awaiting arrived in my inbox. You were ready to make your home with me!

I had been warned many times of the perils of online love; told horror stories of things not turning out to be as they had seemed over the soft glow of a computer screen. We proved them wrong, you and I. You were just as amazing in person (if not more so) when you arrived on my doorstep that winter day. You may have been designed for Fall weather, but you accompanied me to my birthday dinner despite the cold night air. Everyone I introduced you to was impressed as well, and they could tell right away that you were right for me.

You make me feel just as glamorous in my trusty old purple leopard print cardigan... I do when I'm all decked out in my Thanksgiving best:

Your witchy silhouette combined with your vintage button-up feel and warm pumpkin color make you what you are. The way you make me feel when we're together is what makes you the perfect shoes for me.

I love you.

The End.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Saying Goodbye, So That We Might Say Hello

The "holidays" are finally winding down... in a few short hours I will be heading to my folks house for the final celebration in a long string of celebrations. Each year is different, but this year was especially so. It would be the obvious route to assume that it's because this is my first year experiencing the holidays as a mom, and that is definitely a big factor, but there's something else I can't quite put my finger on.

Maybe it's that this is really the last year we will be able to do things the way we have been in terms of our old family traditions. It's time now to create our own. Honestly I'm stumped. I know what Christmas felt like to me growing up and over the years I've learned from my husband what Christmas was like for him, but what will it be like for our son and future children? And just how much should we shape that experience?

When you're little the holiday's just seem to happen. One day you're eating turkey around the table with all of your Aunts, Uncles and cousins then the next snow is beginning to fall and presents start making their home under the freshly decorated tree. Next thing you know you wake up Christmas morning to all kinds of wondrous surprises that magically appeared overnight. Even later as teenagers and young adults when we knew that it all didn't just happen on it's own we still didn't really think about the hours that went into making the holiday meals as we consumed them or the budgeting behind the gifts as we unwrapped them.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't lost the magic, not entirely; watching my son experience it all for his very first time was indeed awe inspiring. But, this year was the first that I felt as though I observed instead of experienced. I made every attempt to remain in the present, but despite my best efforts I was watching the director's commentary version of the film instead of the story as it was meant to be experienced.

Maybe it was the new mother in me, trying to figure this all out. How it's going to be from here on. We have to take inventory of the way things are in order to change how they're going to be. It was a bittersweet season. I didn't expect going into it that I would have anything to grieve... but to make way for wonderful new experiences (things I truly desire in my life) I need to be willing to give up some really amazing things. So many things that I don't want to change, that, for all I know I could be experiencing for the very last time. I've heard it many times that good is the enemy of great, but I never realized how that applies to the process of growing into a new family unit until now. Sure it makes sense in terms of business, and success building habits... but, coming to terms with what it means to leave behind family traditions I've cherished my whole entire life to make way for new traditions my kids can feel the same way about was not something I expected. It took me by surprise.

It's time to say goodbye, so that next year we can say hello.

I'll miss you Christmas. We shall meet again next year as new creatures. Until then, I thank you for what you have been to me all these years.

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