Where are you Christmas?

 

A song that I like during Christmas is the song “Where are You Christmas?”.   There are Christmases that I connect with it more than others. The Christmas after my father passed away was one of those that I felt disconnected from the holiday season. I didn’t know that I would just have 2 more Christmases with my mother after my father passed, that she would pass away as well. Though those aren’t the only times that the song has applied.

Life is about change and that change sometimes is hard to adjust to. My first real coherent memories of Christmas was the Castle Family Christmas when everyone tried to make it in to my grandparents to enjoy Christmas together. I remember the love felt during that time. The gifts weren’t special but the love was very special. Then it disappeared when my grandparents passed away. So Christmas changed.

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Sandi’s mom appreciating a christmas basket we put together one year

Then I got married and we would juggle which parents would get Christmas and which one would get Christmas Eve. With the kids, it became a special thing to me again. Watching their little faces light up to all the magic of the season. My wife’s father would do a Christmas hunt for her and myself every year and the kids would get such a kick out of watching us try to figure out the clues. We’d have Christmas at home as well. You know the kind where everyone is in their pajamas, you have hot cocoa and you watch with anticipation as the kids open their gifts.

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My Dad wanted a record player for sometime so surprised him with one.

The Christmas after my father passed felt so empty to me, but I never really said that to anyone. My father had a special place in his heart for Christmas, and with him gone it just felt empty to me. So Christmas had changed again. After mom passed, I found myself thinking how we needed to work out whose house we would go to on what day only to remember that we weren’t going to one house anymore. That was a hard change for me.

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My Mom would get excited over any gift no matter how small.

Christmas changes again as my wife’s father has Alzheimer’s. With some things becoming more difficult some traditions are going to the wayside because of his disease.

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Sandi’s Dad loves Labradors. Doesn’t matter the size.  Love seeing a smile on his and my daughter’s face.

Though one of the interesting changes for me is as the kids have gotten older and our own traditions change. Christmas was always me finding events for us to go enjoy. From a candlelight Christmas in Vandalia to a candlelight walk in Augusta. I was always finding different things to do with lights, etc. I would spend quite a bit of time on event sites planning out the holiday season. Those things have kind of gone away, especially with busy schedules and etc. Something I miss quite a bit.

This year is an off year for me. I am finding it hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit. My tree was just put up today but no decorations yet. I can’t even explain what is wrong, just that this year is different for me. Though I know one thing about Christmas will always remain with me and that is the Love. Love is the biggest connection I have to Christmas from that of the Christmas story to the love of family and friends. Love is the one thing that doesn’t change.

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Duquoin has a great light display with an inside thing with trees, shows, etc. My kids and wife being patient with me taking the pic.

 

In fact it is Love that makes some Christmases harder than others.   So no matter how Christmas changes for me, as long as I can feel the love it is a good Christmas.

I hope you have a great holiday season and hope you feel love this season and always

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To thine ownself be true

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“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”
― Diane Von Furstenberg

Today Pastor Ron’s sermon touched on an issue I have. He spoke about loving yourself. He spoke of God loving everyone and loving us for who we are. He spoke of society’s push for us to be different and better through commercials and various other methods. Now I’ve never been bothered by commercials, peer pressure, or various other societal pressures. My problem is my own internal voice that came from my upbringing.

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” ― Mark Twain

Some things you can do to help love yourself:

1. self talk: this is probably one of the most important things you can do for yourself. So many times we use self talk in a negative way. We have no problem beating ourselves up but have a hard time lifting ourselves up. So the first real change you need to do is to lift yourself up in your self talk. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful. Accept things about yourself. Be good to yourself in your self talk. Whenever the voice says something negative counter it with something good. I’ve been married 19 years going on 20 years. My wife still constantly smiles when she’s around me. When I ask, she says I just make her smile. My self talk is that I must be doing something right if after putting up with me for 20 years (dating plus marriage), she still can just look at me and smile. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to a friend, would you put a friend down or try and lift them up?

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“Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

2. Our perception of ourselves, related to self talk but slightly different. It is more related to how we think others see us. See much of how we think someone else sees us is based on our perception of ourselves. Unless the person directly says something or gives an obvious gesture that would indicate their perception, it is more our own view of ourselves that we see. I have a tendency to sometimes talk a lot or feel I bother people. So my immediate assumption is that people perceive me as a nuissance because they want to get things done and here I am bothering them or etc. Then I reinforce this idea with only focusing on the things the person does that would indicate my perception is correct. So how do you change this? Well really the best way I have found is to focus on the other things the individual does, such as actually converse with you on things, and realize the moments that I use to reinforce my perception while may be accurate for that moment are not accurate as a whole. Meaning, at that moment I may be bothering someone, but that is because they are truly busy and trying to get something done, but at a different moment when they have time, they take the time to chat. I’m rambling now I do believe (another trait that helps reinforce I’m a nuissance).

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“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” ― Laozi

3. Be willing to fight: Accept we are the way we are for a reason. Even if you are facing an addiction or living in the past, etc. If you are willing to fight to change, then things will change even if it takes time. You will fail sometimes, but never hold up your failure as proof that you are a failure. You are not a failure. Everything is a learning moment and happens for a reason. Just keep fighting. Changes happen in baby steps, not grand transformations. It takes time for the caterpillar to become a butterfly and it faces many challenges along the way. Just remember you are beautiful and deserve to fight for yourself.

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“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit”
― E.E. Cummings

4. Find inspiration in others and let them find inspiration in you. You can find inspiration not only in people we know, but from virtually anyone. If you look at some of the most successful people and read about their journey to be successful, whether that be spiritual or physical, you’ll find they failed many times along the way, sometimes even wanted to give up, but either pushed themselves or had someone help them up. Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, and so many more have truly inspiring stories. One really good example is the life story of Nelson Mandela, who has been in the press recently due to his passing. You can find inspiration in their stories or even in the stranger that you take the time to talk with for a moment.

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“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

5. Help others: Helping lift someone else also lifts us up. We are all in this journey together and helping lift someone else or just being their so they have someone to talk to. You’ll find there are many that would just like someone to hear them. I have spoken with so many people that I will probably never meet again that release their troubles and tell me stories and thank me for just listening. I see every human being as deserving of my time. Everyone should be seen as needing that moment of interaction and not a nuissance. As a friend once told me, when he asks someone how their day is he does it just as something to say, but doesn’t really care. Whereas when I ask someone I truly come across as I want to hear and care. Which when he told me that, I didn’t give much thought to it. Though it stayed with me over the years, because I do truly care about people and when I ask how their day is I want to truly hear it, if they need to vent then they need to vent.

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“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
― Charles Dickens

6. Realize we all have a purpose along this journey we call life. You may never realize what that purpose is, but you have one. Whether it is to touch just one life or change one thing for someone. Maybe you made someone smile that was about to end it all and that moment you made them smile changed everything for them. You have a purpose and while you may want to know what that purpose is you may never find out. Though I can tell you that if you treat every person you interact with as they are the reason you were put here to change that momentary interaction for a positive moment for them. It will change everything.

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“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” -Wayne Dyer

7. Smile. Yes, something as simple as just smiling. Find anything to smile about. Even if it is just one smile a day, build from that. I had a few times in my life that I was at the deepest darkest hole that I thought there was no way out of. Yes, I had moments in my life that I thought of ending this journey before it was complete, but the smallest things kept me from going there and helped lift me up. Seeing a flower, a smile, or just a drive through the country side taking in the beauty that is out there. If you can…turn that smile into a laugh every once in awhile.

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“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.”
Washington Irving

8. Which brings me to the next thing and very important….Hope. Never let anything break your hope. Hope is a powerful force. If you read the difference in survivors of Nazi camps you’ll find that hope played a key role in their survival and willingness to endure. Hope makes all the difference in the world.

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“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson (this is one of my favourite quotes)

9. Then comes action. To have hope, also means we must take action to help keep that hope alive.
We must not just say we will change but take action to do so. We must take action to make a difference in one person or to change our attitude. As the old saying goes “action not words”. You must take action to see yourself differently.

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“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”
Thomas Jefferson

10. Be yourself. Above all else be you. You were made to be the way you are. Be happy that you are the way you are. We all bring different talents and traits to the journey we are on. Never ever compare yourself to someone else. You aren’t them. You will do things differently, have different reactions to things, and your journey is unique to you. Comparing yourself or mimicking someone else probably causes more misery than anything else. You are you, embrace who you are. You are beautiful inside and out. There will always be someone that finds you beautiful. Someone that accepts you. We may not be aware of these people that see us as beautiful but trust me, there is at least one person out there that sees you as beautiful, because of that you as well should see yourself as beautiful.

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“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”
― C.G. Jung

You were created to be beautiful, unique, and with purpose. It doesn’t matter your upbringing, the things said to you, how you were treated, or anything else, you need to see beyond the negative and see yourself as beautiful and worthy of love and acceptance.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I hope you have a wonderful day. I apologize if it bounced around a bit. This is my nature to be slightly unfocused in things. As my daughter mentioned earlier today that I can be cooking and all of a sudden say “I need to get laundry soap.” Something kicks in my head and it may seem unrelated to anyone else, but somehow my brain made a connection.

May you love yourself and love others. May you see the beauty in others not the flaws, but may the same be said of your view of yourself. We all have flaws, but the most brilliant diamond has flaws even if they can’t been seen by the eye. Also just like a diamond, the beauty comes from the facets. All your facets that make up you, make you beautiful.

During the sermon today I almost cried a couple times. I have no idea why, but maybe because I still haven’t found a way to love myself completely. Though I’m getting better about it.

I’m hushing now. 🙂 Promise. May you truly be blessed.

p.s. Don’t get disheartened when things don’t go the way you expect in life. It doesn’t go the way anyone expects. So don’t hold it against yourself, just accept it happened the way it should have for some reason beyond our grasp.

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“7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. “ 1 John 4:7-11

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Siddhartha Gautama

“If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.” – Siddhartha Gautama

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