that 2012 brings to you and yours
joy that keeps you jumping
hope that helps you hang in there
fortitude to sustain you
trust that is true
a year full of graced moments
and a sweet lingering legacy of love
Happy New Year
I love the beautiful Christmas song “Mary Did You Know?” It talks about how Mary came to discover that she had birthed the savior of the world. Despite her elite appointment as the mother of Jesus, she had to go through what every mother has had to go through. The months of carrying a child. The pain of labor. The miracle of birth. The daily care and feeding of an infant. The watching and the worrying and wondering if she’d done this whole parenting thing right or if she could have done it differently or better.
I never quite experienced what love was until I had my first born son. I remember feeling like a co-creator with God. I thought I had earned an academy award or at least a thunderous round of applause. It was such a magnificent feat yet so ordinary really. Women do it every day.
But the miracle for me was how my life changed in every facet. I lived each subsequent day in love with this little infant. I had become a conduit of love. The love I received from my own mother who labored to deliver me. The love of both my parents. The love of my siblings and my extended family. The love I’ve received from friends and people who have touched my life in a significant way. The love and blessings and forgiveness I have received from my God.
All this love infused into my first born son.
To love is to take on a huge responsibility. It is a promise to be true and to stand by and watch from a safe distance sometimes rather than rush in and fix. Love can be fierce and protective or it can be consistent and dependable. When we take on the challenge of loving someone we open the floodgates of all the love we’ve received into our lives and allow it to flow freely into our new found love.
I am so thankful for this legacy of love that I have been gifted. Perhaps it is the most precious Christmas gift I have ever received. And the most invaluable gift that I can give.
On Christmas morning my sons and Brianna wrenched me out of the kitchen in order to take a walk with the pups. I was torn- feeling like I had so much to do before the 16 guests came for Christmas dinner at 4pm. Then I stopped and asked myself. What is the important thing right now?
It was a beautiful crisp morning and we went to the corner park so that Willow and Lua could get their wiggles out and Robert and Peter could play on the equipment.
I couldn’t have planned it better myself. No Christmas card picture would have come out better than this one. Perhaps the unstaged is the most representative. If this is true, I feel especially blessed.
It was a graced moment. An unplanned trip to the park with cups of coffee and a chill in the air and the people who mean everything to me. Much more than a perfectly cooked and served turkey.
These are my two beautiful great nieces at our annual Shaheen family Christmas party. Can you see the anticipation in their eyes as they wait for one of the grown ups to holler “Time to open presents!”
Do you remember those days? You know… when Christmas was all done for you and all you had to do was wake up and be surprised? And you knew that your mom and dad would get you dressed and make sure you had good healthy food to eat. They protected you and nurtured you and if life rolled out the way it was supposed to and you were very lucky you developed this thing called TRUST.
We trust the mailman to come. We trust that Nob Hill will have fresh turkeys the day before Christmas. We trust that a good friend will be there for us.
But sometimes things don’t go the way we plan and our trust wavers. We worry about our kids having jobs after we’ve paid for the exorbitant cost of their college. We worry about how long an aging parent will be able to live alone in their own home. We worry about our health care or whether the plumber is going to overcharge us or if that mole on our back is going to pass inspection with the dermatologist.
As we get older we find more things to not trust and then we become mistrustful.
Try taking a break from worry today.
Rest in the Grace of the World
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…
Do you remember this song? I sang it quite a bit when I was a teenager; however I didn’t really think much about what it meant back then. But as I think about the words today a light bulb goes on for me.
We seem to project into the world whatever is going on inside of us. If we feel disorganized, the world is chaotic. If we feel anxious, the world is a scary place. How can we have peace on earth if we do not have our own personal peace of mind?
When I was in high school I attended a YMCA camp every summer called Camp Fox. Those were formative years for me and my experiences at this camp made a deep impact on my life. It’s been more than 30 years and I still remember the following campfire story.
It was about a father and his son. The father wanted to get some paperwork done before he took his son to the park. To keep his son occupied until he finished his work, he cut a picture of the world out of a magazine, and then tore it into twenty pieces. He told his son when he had finished putting the puzzle together, they would go to the park. He was quite surprised when his son returned after just a few minutes with the completed puzzle.
The father asked his son, “how were you able to finish the puzzle so quickly?” His son answered “There’s a picture of a man on the other side. When I put the man together, the pieces of the world just fell into place.”
Michael Jackson echos the same sentiment in his song Man in the Mirror.
I’m Starting With The Man In
I’m Asking Him To Change
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
We may not be able to establish world peace before the New Year but if we look in the mirror and make a positive change in ourselves perhaps we can come one step closer.
Let peace prevail in your hearts this Christmas.
Give the gift of your peaceful self to someone you love.
Fortitude is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as a strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage.
Dictionary.com defines it as guts.
Backbone, boldness, bravery, courage, determination, endurance, fearlessness, grit, perseverance, pluck, pith, spunk, stamina, tenacity… (Don’t you love that word, pluck! It makes you want to have it!)
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
The experiences that build fortitude are not always the most pleasant. Who would choose them? However, if you look at the woman or man you have become due to some formidable and unpleasant challenges, what do you see? Who do you see?
Harold Kushner, a rabbi and inspirational author, wrote the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People following the death of his son, Aaron, from the premature aging disease “progeria”. Kushner acknowledges in the Introduction that this life changing and painful experience made him a more understanding and compassionate rabbi for his congregation. He also admits that he would give it all up to have his son back.
Unfortunately for us, we have no choice but to go forward with life. We are forced to make sense of accidents, unnecessary deaths, traumatic experiences and misfortune. But we do have the choice of how we digest and assimilate these experiences. And this process fosters fortitude.
No matter how you’ve acquired it, you’ve earned it.
Embrace the gift of fortitude.
Hope is the feeling that what you want can be had or that things will turn out the way you’d like them to.
Hoping is a daily activity. I hope therefore I am.
I hope he’ll call. I hope they are safe. I hope the chemotherapy works. I hope the turkey comes out juicy. I hope today is better than yesterday. I hope there is not a run in my tights. I hope I find my keys. I hope they can can come for Christmas. I hope I find a job soon.
I hope my car starts. I hope he gets home on time. I hope she feels better. I hope it doesn’t rain. I hope she has a good trip. I hope I have enough time. I hope it’s not too late. I hope we can make it. I hope you will forgive me. I hope I get a raise. I hope I can find the perfect gift. I hope she feels better.
I hope I get an A. I hope he likes my dinner. I hope I can go to yoga. I hope gramma comes for Christmas. I hope we can all be together. I hope this skirt is not too short. I hope she likes me. I hope I’m not being a pest. I hope we can still be friends. I hope it snows. I hope she didn’t suffer too much. I hope he fed the dog. I hope she has a good time. I hope to get away this weekend. I hope I can be home for Christmas.
I hope I don’t miss my plane. I hope I don’t miss my opportunity. I hope my prayers are answered. I hope you dance. I hope they serve beer in hell. I hope you’ll join me. I hope he’ll pop the question. I hope she’ll say yes. I hope I can keep up. I hope it’s not too late.
I hope to lose 10 lbs. I hope we win. I hope I have time to wash my hair. I hope I get the promotion. I hope we can still be friends. I hope you will hear me out. I hope I can return the favor sometime. I hope you can come. I hope you’re feeling better soon. I hope it’s not an imposition.
I hope you’ll stay for dinner. I hope you like it. I hope you will consider all the options. I hope I find a parking space. I hope I make the cut for the soccer team. I hope you’ll meet me half way. I hope I get to see you. I hope the results are positive. I hope he let the puppy out.
Who are we when we lose hope? What drives us forward, gets us out of bed in the morning, tickles our funny bone and makes life worth while?
What is your heart’s desire? What would you like to be when you grow up? Is there an old friend that you hope to reconnect with some day? What is stopping you?
People who are hopeless are emotionally bankrupt.
Fill your coffers with HOPE.
Watch Patrick on YouTubewatch?v=YJH65jLvmv0
This is my son, Patrick, at our annual day after Thanksgiving Karaoke night at El Toro Brewery in Morgan Hill.
Talk about JOY!
Joy is having your family together for the holidays and making it user friendly by doing some of the activities that THEY like to do! This annual Karaoke night has become a real crowd pleaser and is a great way to launch the holiday season for the Healy family. Being that it’s Thanksgiving weekend, my sons have friends home from far and wide who come and reconnect with them over good beer and great entertainment. Us “grown-ups” come along for the JOY! (And sometimes we can be coerced to get up and sing… oh somebody twist my arm!)
Life is hard. The holidays can be difficult. Feelings, memories, emotional baggage can all get stirred up inside us and we can get blue and nostalgic for the way things used to be or fantasize about how we would like our lives to be different.
OR we can take moments of JOY and string them together in order to get through the tough times.
When I think of the popular song Joy To The World I have visions of angels and peace on earth and heaven and nature singing. How does that translate into the real world?
Perhaps it is at a Karaoke bar on a Friday night listening to your son singing Foxy Lady like nobody’s business!
BTW the beer is about $8 a pitcher. The JOY is free!
I’ve always thought of the Christmas holiday preparation and grand finale similar to taking up an additional part time job in December. The question of what would I like for Christmas seems to be the last thing on my mind. I’m thinking more in terms of how the heck I’m going to get my Christmas shopping, decorating, and baking done with the final push being the full sit down dinner with turkey and clean sparkling glassware. All the while showing up for my full time job and being a positive presence for students who are stressed out studying for finals! (Well.. at least I don’t have 7 finals to study for!)
Yesterday one of my students came in to chat with me about a project she’s been working on. She has a blog that has taken on a life of its own and has become quite popular internationally. www.justlittlethings.net is a daily reminder of things we should appreciate in life. She is coming up on the one year anniversary of her blog and gets thousands of hits a day. If you take a look you will see why she has attracted so many followers.
The things she appreciates are all free. Free for the taking.
Unfolding a paper snowflake.
Getting a compliment you’ve never received before.
Remembering there are good leftovers from the day before.
Getting your hair brushed.
Glancing over at someone and he/she is already looking at you.
Logging on to Facebook on your birthday!
As of today there are 537 things to appreciate. All realized by a 16 year old girl. That’s a gift in itself.
My meeting with Nancy made me think about the gifts of Christmas that are free for the taking. Gifts that make a significant difference in our lives. Forgiveness, faith, love, hope, kindness, mercy, grace, joy, peace, countenance, patience, piety, discipline, integrity, courage, acceptance, knowledge, fortitude. There are too many to list. All available to us. All free.
Perhaps these are the real gifts of Christmas.
If a 16 year old girl knows what’s most important in life, shouldn’t we?